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Focus on the Family Canada’s Hope Restored intensives offer marriage counselling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce. Hope Restored intensives are all-inclusive, extended periods of counselling over multiple days that allow our team of marriage counsellors to get to the root of the problem.

A Hope Restored intensive includes:

  • 20-32 hours of counselling over 3-5 days
  • 3-5 nights of lodging
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner each day

The 4-Day Group Intensive structure has proven to be the most powerful format for helping couples move past the barriers that keep them from experiencing the marriage of their dreams. While it’s common initially for many couples to be reluctant to discuss their relationship in front of others, our participants repeatedly offer high praise for the group format on post-intensive surveys.

The 4-day format includes:

  • Approximately 32 hours of marriage counselling with our team of counsellors.
  • A safe and supportive environment with a maximum of five couples and two marriage counsellors.
  • 4 days and 5 nights in luxury accommodations with all meals served on location.
  • A participant manual and other follow-up services.

The 3-Day Private Intensive utilizes the same powerful principles as the 4-Day Group Intensive, yet is perfectly designed to provide additional privacy during marriage counselling, enhanced individual care and greater scheduling flexibility.

The 3-day format includes:

  • Approximately 20 hours of exclusive marriage counselling with one or two Hope Restored counsellors.
  • 2½ days and 3 nights in luxury accommodations with all meals served on location.
  • A participant manual and other follow-up services.

The 5-Day Premier Intensive is our premier private intensive experience, providing the most focused care of any Hope Restored intensive. In this program, you will receive both individual and joint counselling over a period of five days from a male/female therapy team. While all of our individual programs are tailored to couples’ specific needs, this longer format allows for much more flexibility as you determine, with the counsellors, the direction of each day’s sessions.

The 5-day format includes:

  • Approximately 32 hours of marriage counselling with a male/female team.
  • A safe, supportive, and private environment.
  • 5 days and 6 nights in luxury accommodations with all meals served on location.
  • A participant manual and other follow-up services.

See the programs page to learn more.

The 4-Day Group Intensive formats are held at the Focus on the Family Canada retreat centres just south of Calgary, AB, and east of Winnipeg, MB, as well as at Nestleton Waters Inn, an hour outside of Toronto, ON.

Private marriage counselling programs for the 3-day are available only at the Focus on the Family Canada retreat centres in Alberta and Manitoba.

Program schedules are posted on the website, along with availability.

The 5-day Premier Intensives are available in Alberta and Manitoba, but are scheduled as requested. Please call us (1.833.999.4673) to discuss if you have interest in this option.

There are several things that distinguish Hope Restored intensives from weekly marriage counselling:

These include:

  • If you’ve taken part in traditional marriage counselling before, you may have experienced a situation similar to this: you spend the first ten minutes of your session catching up from the week before, the next thirty minutes getting into the real issues, and then a few minutes getting ready to close, with little to no time spent on making actual progress. Before you know it, your time is up for the week!
  • Traditional counselling can be very effective and beneficial; however, progress may feel slow and frustrating when the issues feel overwhelming. The intensive format was designed to allow individuals to get to the root of their issues quickly, with ample time to focus on resolution and growth. The extended amount of time spent within the intensive setting gives couples the opportunity to go deeper without many of the distractions of daily life, and time to stay long enough to consider the solutions available to them.
  • One of the first steps in the intensive process is an extensive assessment and questionnaire prior to your arrival. This allows the counsellors to efficiently gather background information and get an idea of the best way to proceed before you arrive for your session.
  • Our counsellors are specialists in the area of marriage counselling. One analogy we like to use is that of the Mayo Clinic: people go to their regular physician, but they may also be referred to a specialist for help in specific areas. Hope Restored marriage therapists have been trained in the intensive counselling format to maximize its effectiveness. In addition, several of the intensive programs provide the perspectives and insights of two professionals, rather than just one.

We have researched other major programs across North America and found that they are similar only in that they are trying to help marriages. While we are encouraged by those efforts to minister to those in struggling relationships, we believe there are several things that set Hope Restored intensives apart:

  1. The couples seeking help
    Most programs are what we consider “enrichment” focused – meaning that they can facilitate growth or rekindle romance in a relationship that is generally healthy or has a solid foundation. By contrast, Hope Restored intensives target couples who are often in a marriage crisis (separated, divorcing, hopeless). These couples feel “stuck” and discouraged, and often say they have tried everything else without having a breakthrough or seeing any positive results. Couples often take part in a Hope Restored intensive as a last-ditch effort to save their marriage, not as a booster for enrichment. Our research suggests that frustration and, in some cases, additional harm can be experienced by couples who take part in programs that are not designed to offer what they really need. Some of these programs can open emotional wounds and stir things up even when their design and leadership structure is not sufficient to help find resolution or navigate emotionally charged areas.
  2. Leadership
    Leaders in some programs are not trained professional counsellors/therapists or psychologists (this training requires either a Masters Degree or a PhD, professional affiliations, thousands of hours of experience and supervision, and so on). One key distinction of the Hope Restored intensives is that all of our counselling staff members are trained professionals. While pastors, lay helpers and marriage mentors can be wonderful facilitators offering compassion, life experience and testimonies, that is very different from the type of assistance provided by a trained professional equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experience to address more complex dynamics and deeper needs.
  3. Format
    This is the most significant distinction. Hope Restored intensives are NOT a typical seminar, workshop or retreat. There is not a fixed schedule of specific lectures and presentations. They do not offer a cookie-cutter or “canned” approach to the situations and problems clients are experiencing. Our team of clinical professionals has collaborated very closely over the years to develop a personalized approach along with specific techniques that best meet the needs of each couple and encourage change in their relationship. We gather detailed information from each spouse prior to their arrival so that our counsellors can get a sense of the unique concerns to consider for every couple.

A Hope Restored intensive addresses a variety of topics including communication, infidelity, intimacy and sexual issues, financial strains, blended families, children, and career conflicts. It offers a unique, holistic and scripturally based counselling approach that combines the heart, the mind and a couple’s faith. This approach has proven amazingly effective. In fact, Hope Restored in the U.S. routinely surveys intensive participants about their experience. Responses to the survey have shown that over 80 per cent of those who attended are still married two years later.

We understand there are unique circumstances in many situations. Please call 1.833.999.4673 for further help in this area.

We understand how intimidating it can be for many people to open up in a group setting. We hear this concern quite often. Many couples arrive dreading the group marriage counselling format, and yet by the end of their time at the intensive, they would not have it any other way! Even so, we are here to serve you, and in the end, we will work with you to determine which program is the best fit for you. In the group setting, Hope Restored marriage counsellors create a safe environment for individuals to express concerns and struggles and to help couples learn through observation and feedback. The group setting also helps facilitate relationships for continued support after the intensive. Each couple works specifically with the marriage counsellors on their issues within the group setting. The group setting does not utilize a cookie-cutter format, and is actually very customized and practical.

Many individuals who have concerns about affairs, pornography or childhood abuse have found it very therapeutic to let their “secret” out in the safe setting of the group intensives because it becomes less of a burden for them to bear alone. Often they find empathy and support from others with similar struggles. Again, the atmosphere of the location is very private, and the Hope Restored counsellors are specially trained to create a safe environment.

We recommend you call our intensive consultant at 1.833.999.4673 to discuss your options and find the program that's right for you and your spouse.

There are three circumstances when we may suggest that a couple seek an alternative route:

  1. If there is currently a substance addiction, the individual would need to complete, or be actively involved in, a rehabilitation program prior to participating in a Hope Restored intensive. In order for the experience to have a fair chance of being effective, individuals need to be attentive throughout the intensive without any chemical influence or impairment.
  2. If there is currently an ongoing physical or emotional affair, the intensive will not be as useful. The program’s effectiveness depends on two individuals who are focusing on their marriage. The affair must be cut off, and both partners need to focus and commit to the present relationship prior to registering for an intensive. Even if you are unsure about the future, there needs to be at least a temporary commitment to focusing on this opportunity with an open heart.
  3. If there is a case of domestic abuse or violence, we would need to do additional screening to determine if our programs would be the best fit for the couple.

We realize that rooming arrangements might be a concern for some couples because they are currently separated or they simply don’t feel comfortable staying in the same room together. We are committed to making sure each couple’s stay is as safe and comfortable as possible. If additional rooms are needed, our team will be able to provide you with the necessary information to make these arrangements (the additional room cost will be the couple’s responsibility). Depending on our capacity, we may be able to provide an additional room onsite at an additional cost. Please discuss this requirement with our registrar.

4-Day Group Intensive:

3-Day Private Intensive:

5-Day Premier Intensive:

*Prices listed are per couple

We do have some funds available to assist with registration if needed. We encourage you to see what you can afford and what help you might be able to obtain through your local church, family, friends or even workplace. Consider this an investment in your marriage and family. However, if finances remain an issue, contact our registrar to discuss how our financial assistance fund may be able to help.

If you have extended health benefits, Focus on the Family Canada recommends that all clients contact their insurance company to ascertain if they will reimburse you for any fees associated with this experience. Typically, marriage counselling and/or group counselling is not covered by all Canadian insurance providers. You may be able to claim some of these costs on your income tax, however. Focus on the Family Canada does not submit to insurance companies on behalf of participants of Hope Restored intensives.


For intensives in Alberta, we recommend Calgary International Airport as it is approximately an hour’s drive from our Calgary centre.


For intensives in Manitoba, we recommend Winnipeg International Airport as it is approximately 1½ hours’ drive from our Manitoba centre.


For intensives in Ontario, we recommend Toronto Pearson International Airport as it is approximately an hour’s drive from our Ontario centre.

Unfortunately, we are over an hour drive from the airports and cannot pick up guests.

Yes, we do recommend guests to have their own transportation.

Taxi service is available to all centre locations, but you may want to check with cab companies regarding the fee.

A Hope Restored marriage intensive is more than just a one-time service – our goal is the long-term health of your marriage. With this goal in mind, we have put in place several resources for our alumni:

  • Participants are given a Hope Restored manual to work through to supplement the experience following the intensive.
  • Each couple will receive an additional resource, The DNA of Relationships for Couples, which will remind and reinforce the principles taught.
  • Each couple will receive two follow-up calls from one of the therapists who worked with them in the three-month period following an intensive to check in on their success in applying the principles to their relationship.
  • For couples who were working with a therapist in their area prior to attending a Hope Restored intensive, our counsellors can connect with those local therapists at your request in order to update them on progress made during the intensive. This is subject to the disclosure process.
  • If further help is needed, alumni couples are eligible to participate in a second Hope Restored intensive at a 25 per cent discount should they feel it would be helpful to work through issues that arise following the intensive.

We want to assist you in getting all the information you need to make informed decisions about our programs. If you have additional questions:

  • Call Focus on the Family Canada’s Hope Restored: A Marriage Intensive Experience at 1.833.999.4673. Our intensive consultant will confidentially and sensitively answer any questions you may have in determining what program is best for you and your spouse.
  • Email your question to [email protected]. We will respond as soon as we can.