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Advanced Loving Retreat

August 1, 2017 - August 7, 2017


Removing Your Barriers to Love

If you want to be a great counselor, you have to be a great lover.

Great lovers know how to create, and sustain, an extraordinary depth of intimacy. What about you? What’s the closest you’ve ever felt to another person? How deeply have you been able to connect with a lover? What about a client? Most of us don’t know how much intimacy is really possible in either kind of relationship. Even when we do know, we often don’t know how to create it. We settle for something like closeness, but really, we want more.

Research by psychologists on the effectiveness of counseling shows that the quality of your counseling relationships is twice as important as the techniques you use. Your counseling is only as effective as your loving.

Research by human beings everywhere on the impact of loving shows that the quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships. The deeper you can go into love, the more you’ll enjoy being alive!

We all wish for closer connections, yet we put tremendous energy into keeping our connections superficial and tame. Why? Because withstanding intense intimacy is challenging. It presses you up against defenses and barriers to love that you didn’t even realize you had built. You inherited many of these defenses. Most have been with you as long as you can remember. A few are more recent creations. You’re conscious of some and can’t wait to get rid of them. Others you’re unaware exist, or perhaps they appear to be working for you. Some feel like an essential part of your human nature.

The Advanced Loving Retreat is an opportunity to examine your barriers to love. We’re going to check them out and hold them up to the light, find out what they can do for us and what they can’t. Together we’ll experiment with what it’s like to love and counsel each other with our defenses in place. Then we’ll start removing those barriers to love and see how our counseling and our relationships change. What is possible for your clients and for you as a counselor when you drop your barriers to love? What is possible for all of the relationships in your life? Let’s find out together.


We’ve got the best laboratory around for this kind of high-stakes, high-impact love research: a group of Interchangers who’ve done their work and are ready to go deeper. Be brave! Join us. We’re excited to get to really know you.

  • Testimonial

    I have done courses that have taught me what to think about love and relationships. But this course was on a whole new order.

    It taught me how to think, see, and feel in a relational way. Now every relationship and every interaction is coming from love to start from. It's like the difference between being in heaven and being on tour in heaven. What more could you ever ask for. Guy Sengstock, Owner and Course Leader, The Circling Insitute
  • Testimonial

    I've been to the Advanced Loving Retreat the last two years and both have been life changing.

    The first time in particular came after my first year of interchange and I experienced as much transformation in that one week as in the entire year of IC. (I now believe that week's shifts probably wouldn't have been possible without the year of work leading up to it, but that's another story.)
    In one week, I experienced profound changes in my relationship to the chronic physical pain I have daily, my tendency to merge with others and get hooked into their story, and my relationship to conflict and confrontation. It was radical and awesome. There's something about not leaving the "container" for all those consecutive days that is both immensely challenging and super helpful for growth and change.
    Janet Frishberg, Interchange Grad
  • Testimonial

    Just in the past week of returning, I've had several people tell me that I seem different, that my face looks different.

    The retreat gave me a greater appreciation, trust, and love of all humans….and myself. For years at the beginning of my yoga classes during meditation, I'd simply ask for "clarity". That's what I finally got at the Advanced Loving Retreat! The filter of fear and self consciousness was finally replace with compassion and love. Adia Millet, Artist


What Are Your Relationships Made Of?

We all use complex strategies to manage our 6P1A9014relationships, and to manage our moment-to-moment experiences of relating. These strategies are probably invisible to you. They just seem like the only way to relate. If you’re forced to pay attention to the funny things you do when you’re with another person, you’ll find some common relationship strategies operating incognito.

Our retreat will consist of a series of relational experiments designed to expose our unconscious
strategies for relating.
We will make these conscious, then try to disrupt our normal operating systems, finding out what happens when we relate less strategically. We will be trying out conscious relational practices as a way to create the kinds of relationships we all wish we had more of.

Consider the relational strategies in the left column below, strategies we will be examining on our retreat. Which of these might be running your relationships without your consent? Then, look at the alternative practices to the right of each strategy. What might be possible for you, in love and in counseling, if you could drop the strategies and adopt the practices instead?


When making contact with someone feels overpowering or aversive, in what subtle ways do you contract, or reject, or turn away from them?


Can you keep your heart soft and connected while maintaining clear boundaries? Can you help the people around you to develop cleaner boundaries?


When you don’t feel safe with someone, what are you scared of? What do you protect, inhibit, or hide, to maintain a tenuous feeling of safety?


Could there be a more durable kind of safety, one that transcends circumstances, one that requires nothing of the other person? Can you be that safe for others?


What kind of relationship personality have you developed? What parts of it are designed to defend against intolerable feelings, beliefs, and impulses?


When your old survival strategies are no longer needed, is it possible to let them go? Do you have the courage to embrace your shame, to help others to face theirs?


How do you fake it to earn conditional love? What roles do you chronically fall into? How much effort do you exert to maintain connection?


What happens when you relax into contact, instead of requiring yourself, or anyone else, to get it right? Will you risk realness? Can you foster it in others?


How do you manage other people’s behaviors? In what unaware ways do use power over others to get your needs met, or to manage your own feelings?


Can you share power with people who are different from you, trusting that inclusion will yield richer outcomes than doing things the way you already know?


How do you lose yourself in others to keep from feeling alone? What kinds of self-sacrifice, obligation or dependency do you believe it’s your duty to uphold?


Do you sense your own internal core, even while communing with others? Can you help others stay connected to themselves while they get progressively closer to you?


What do you need to believe about other people in order to feel okay about yourself? What beliefs keep you from seeing people’s true natures?


Can you welcome judgments, mining them for gems instead of internalizing them? Can you meet yourself with radical empathy, and extend that courtesy to others?


What roles do you unconsciously cast people in, to play out unresolved positive or negative fantasies, or to make them into disowned parts of yourself?


Can you reclaim the parts of yourself you’ve been imagining belong to other people? Can you see through surfaces, see people as they truly are, in all their complexities?



  • Testimonial

    I attended this workshop both times Steve has run it, and I'll sign up again if I can.

    The material is so deep and powerful that each time I've gained new superpowers both as a counselor and in making sense of the patterns at work in my own relationships. As well as the concepts we work with, the workshop has been a chance to accelerate my own healing and growth more than anything else I've tried, and my relationships are immediately easier and more loving as a result. Robin Barooh, Counselor
  • Testimonial

    I think this retreat needs to become an annual tradition for me, to re-boot my spirit and help me be in highest integrity with my self-knowledge, communication, and my relationships.  It was an incredible experience I would absolutely do again. 

    Learning about the unconscious things I and we all do in relating to others was very enlightening- leaving me both wanting to be better and also with a lot of compassion for myself. I loved that we not only broke down those strategies- we actually were taught how to replace them with more conscious, supportive ones that allow us to connect more deeply and authentically with others. I so appreciated the container of a group in which we could connect to everyone and form real, loving relationships in which to practice all our learnings. Eva Orbuch, Community Organizer

Interrupting unconscious relational strategies makes way for relationships where:_P1A8518

  • You can be your real, whole, unprotected self: at ease, effortless, without needing to perform or hold yourself back.
  • You make it safe for others to be their real selves: not needing to control them or make them be more like you.
  • Your relationships, with lovers, clients, and friends, are rich, improvisational, and adventurous. You make mischief together, make a difference together, spur each other’s growth.
  • You take great pleasure in one another, falling in love as a matter of course, without needing to strategize, or be more than or less than who you really are.
If you can find and uproot unconscious strategies in your closest love relationships, you will instantly become a better counselor.

You’ll make more complete contact with your clients, the single most important dimension of effective counseling.

If you can disrupt these strategies in your counseling relationships, you’ll instantly become available for deeper connection in the rest of your life. Liberate your counseling, and you’ll become a better lover, generating more intimacy and attracting more love everywhere you go.

  • Testimonial

    The retreat gave me a sweet relief that it is possible to let go of all the unconscious things I do to distance or protect myself from others.

    And when I drop them, the love and connection that can be created is one of the most enlivening and fulfilling gifts I could ever receive. Jessica Libbey, Coach
  • Testimonial

    As we all look back upon our lives, we can note the moments when something big shifted. This retreat was one of those big shift moments for me!

    I flew all the way from Africa to attend this particular retreat - simply on a hunch - and what I got back was a launch into something quite spectacular. A true sense and knowing of myself and a 100% acceptance of everyone else. Jane Kirby, Workshop and Course Facilitator
  • Testimonial

    This is a proper retreat. Magic happens here. It is all sorts of amazing, and continues to be.

    Daniel Chang, Event Organizer

The Advanced Retreat Experience_P1A8502

The Process

We will have 6 uninterrupted days together to dive deep into our relationships!

Because counseling relationships involve clear roles within a relatively simple container, they’re ideal places to discover unconscious strategies for relating that are harder to see in more complex relationships. We’ll take advantage of this simplicity to expose barriers to intimacy, and counsel our way through them. We will be striving to make undefended contact with the people we counsel, to bridge our separateness, to wend our way in to our clients’ inner worlds.

You’ll be taking this journey with a community of 60 advanced people, mostly Interchange grads, with a few other experienced folks thrown in. You’ll also be a part of a small pod, people you’ll meet with each day to support one another in your accelerated growth and learning.

  • Testimonial

    I just spent the one of the most relationship-changing weeks of my life, falling deeply in love with a whole mess of people, honing my skills as a lover, counselor and preciously vulnerable human being.

    Artemesia Shine, Intuitive Healer
  • Testimonial

    What I would like to say is WOW!

    I have been exploring transformation and liberation work for 30 years and have been through many hours of counseling, health education seminars and workshops, I have never been to a workshop that was more powerful than this one. What I got out of it was priceless. I would highly recommend it for everyone. Scott Snow, Chiropractor

What to Expect_P1A8695

Here are some things you can expect from the Interchange Advanced Training Retreat:

  • The Perfect Setting
    A six day retreat in a beautiful private valley in Mendocino County. Experience time in nature, and a break from the busy-ness of normal life at a retreat center with pristine forests, a meandering stream, open views, a swimming pool, and hiking trails.
  • Everything is Taken Care Of
    All of your meals (delicious and organic), lodging, and activities are included in the tuition price
  • Deep Dive Connections, Big Transformations
    You’ll do part of your work in a small pod who you will go even deeper with, radically shifting your relationship with your greatest personal challenges
  • Quality Time with Awesome People
    60 kick-ass human beings to dive in with, learn with, share meals and rooms with, play and hike, and transform your experience of yourself with. We won’t just be working together, we’ll be socializing and playing together too. We’ll spend a full week together building a network of relationships to continue this advanced work after the retreat is over.


To apply, click the Apply Now button below and fill out the brief application form. Our application process is meant to ensure that everyone joining has a minimum level of experience and groundedness in counseling, and is the right fit for what we’re trying to create. If you think this is a good next step for you, but you’re afraid you don’t have enough experience, please feel free to check in with us. You may be the perfect fit!

Space in the class will be extremely limited, so if you’re interested please don’t wait to apply. Most of the spots will be filled by Interchange graduates, though we will try to leave a few spaces for experienced non-grads.

Please come join us on this journey! It’s going to be unprecedented!

Love, Steve

  • Testimonial

    Looking at our unconscious strategies and conscious practices made me realize how much protection I carry around, even though I come from a place of love so much!

    I already consider myself an advanced lover, but this retreat made me feel like a masterful (Wizard, if you will) lover. It made me realize that I am a teacher, just not in the way people traditionally teach. It has helped motivate me to start my own business and transition out of my job I've been at for 13 years! BE-ing with other Interchangers day and night for 7 days was pure MAGIC. Angela Doyle, Counselor



100_3217The Advanced Loving Retreat will be held at the Saratoga Springs Retreat Center. A private 260-acre pristine valley, in the beautiful rolling hills of Mendocino County, 2 1/2 hours North of the San Francisco Bay Area. We will be gathering daily in The Heart Lodge, a beautiful 2,400 sq ft multi-purpose room with radiant heated floors & floor to ceiling stone fireplace. There is also a large swimming pool (60ft x 30ft) and hot tub with plenty of space for relaxation and sun bathing. Plus, there’s a stone labyrinth. Really.
Address: 10243 Saratoga Springs Rd, Upper Lake, CA 95485


Tuesday, August 1st – Monday, August 7, 2017.

The retreat will begin at check in time of 3pm on Tuesday, and will end at 3pm on Monday.


The cost for the retreat is $1950* per person, and includes all meals, lodging, activities, taxes and fees.  Applications received by June 30th receive a $250 Early Registration Discount. 

*Double occupancy room or tent cabin.

Please indicate the room type you prefer on your application. There are cabins with multiple double occupancy rooms or there are screened-in double occupancy wood tents. Rooms are assigned out on a first come, first served basis. The availability of your housing preference is not guaranteed. It will depend on how fast the rooms fill up.

Cancellations will be accepted, minus the $500 non-refundable deposit, before July 1st. After July 1st, no refunds will be given.

  • Testimonial

    I feel with Interchange, like I have found my people.

    And the Advanced retreat was just a chance to get closer to everyone, to break down more barriers to Intimacy. It was an amazing experience of connection, closeness, honesty, realness and just a chance to spend some time with a great group of people! Jessica Sosin

How to Apply

To apply, click the Apply Now button below and fill out the brief application form. Our application process is meant to ensure that everyone joining has a minimum level of experience and groundedness in counseling, and is the right fit for what we’re trying to create. If you think this is a good next step for you, but you’re afraid you don’t have enough experience, please feel free to check in with us. You may be the perfect fit! Preference will be given to Interchange graduates, though we will try to leave a few spaces open for experienced non-grads.

  • Testimonial

    Feeling so much spaciousness, room to breathe and feel into the love everywhere.

    This week expanded my awareness and self-compassion! The depth of intimacy and relaxation with others was unprecentrd! Gratitude is all I can feel. No more words, only love. Kat Steele, Permaculture Instructor


August 1, 2017
August 7, 2017
Event Category:


Airial Clark


Saratoga Springs Retreat Center
10243 Saratoga Springs Rd
Upper Lake, 95485 United States
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(800) 655-7153