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Couples Counseling

What is couples counseling?

A relationship can be exposed to various risks, disappointment, and grief. Even the healthiest relationship experience turbulence, cracks, and result in conflict. Couples counseling can offer psychological support for couples who are going through a rough patch, conflicts, and emotional breakdowns. Some couples choose to do couples counseling even when there are no problems or misunderstandings to create more intimacy and a stronger connection. 

Couples counseling is psychotherapy which can help with anxiety, depression, trauma, intimacy loss, sex issues, conflicts, broken trust, polyamory, addiction, divorce management among other issues that may arise between a couple. Couples counseling can also be used to make a strong relationship even stronger. It offers the opportunity to discuss uncomfortable and/or important topics in a more calm and impartial environment.

What are the different types of couples therapy?

Partners or spouses can choose the type which fits their concerns and the style they are most comfortable with. Today, there are 8 major forms of couples counseling.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (ETF)

Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) was first introduced in the 80’s’ by Canadian psychologists Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. It is based on John Bowlbly’s theory which explains relationships as a shelter for safety, and protection. People seek their partner’s comfort relying on behavioral patterns formed in childhood. The main goal of EFT is to help understand emotions and emotional triggers that people may not realize they have, and help them break these patterns. EFT couples counseling is usually ongoing and involves regular meetings with the therapist. 

Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT)

Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT) is based on the work of Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly, a couple who experienced marital conflicts themselves. Together, the couple wrote a bestselling book called Getting the Love You Want, which explains in detail how to work on a relationship and save a marriage using this therapy. 

IRT follows the theory that everything a couple experiences during adult relationships takes root from “childhood wounds”. Allowing each person to understand their emotional patterns and identify why these were formed based on “childhood wounds” is believed to help each person to become more aware of their own emotions and behaviors, as well as become more empathetic of their partner. 

The Gottman Method

John Gottman, a professor at the University of Washington introduced this method using his knowledge of mathematical and statistical analysis. Using statistical data, the Gottman Method models can predict various outcomes of a relationship, and suggest interventions to help a couple break the negative pattern they are in. This method fits those who are in a long-term relationship or committed to strengthening a marriage or their relationship. It helps to develop intimacy and break barriers between a couple. During the conversations with a therapist, a couple talks about conflicts and the therapist focuses on the process of the conflict, rather than the content, to help break their patterns and achieve more respect, affection, and closeness. This helps the couple resolve conflict, generate greater understandings of each other, and to keep conflict discussions calm. 

Narrative Therapy

Michael White, alongside David Epston, introduced this form of couples counseling to help people view themselves as separate from their problems, instead of being defined by them. In Narrative Therapy, the therapist helps the couple “re-author” their narrative, which helps them to identify and acknowledge their own worth, and helps them develop a skill set to address the problems they face. 

Solution Focused Therapy

Solution Focused Therapy was introduced by psychotherapists Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. This form of couples counseling aims to help couples by focusing on their present and future goals, rather than the past. To do this, the therapist discusses the plans and dreams of each partner, alone and together. A therapist helps the couple plan for the future and monitors the progress of each session. The therapist helps encourage the couple to recognize what is working, and encourages them to celebrate successes.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was pioneered by psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. CBT is a form of psychotherapy which helps people, or couples, change from a negative mindset into a more positive one. After identifying the root cause and triggers of a couple’s problem(s), or which thoughts dominate, a therapist may assign exercises to the couple to help them change how they perceive or react to these triggers.

Relational Life Therapy

Terry Rail, a family therapist, first introduced this form of couples counseling therapy which aims to address traditional gender stereotypes so that couples can enjoy more well-balanced relationships. Traditional male stereotypes pressure male-identifying individuals to adopt aggressive or defensive attitudes, as these attributes are commonly associated with masculinity. Males who do not conform to this view may be perceived as weak and feel guilt. 

Relational life therapy aims to address and dispel these social constructs as they may negatively impact modern relationships. Addressing these can help bring a sense of balance to the relationship, by helping each partner understand and celebrate the roles each partner plays in the couple without judgment. This therapy encourages partners to express themselves, without fear of blame, anger, retaliation, or condemnation.

Discernment Counseling

Discernment Counseling was introduced by Bill Doherty, a professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. Discernment counseling is different to traditional couples therapy,  as according to Kristin Sliwicki (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Discernment Counselor), “it is a structured assessment process, not a treatment”.

This style of couples counseling aims to help couples to decide whether they should leave a partner or stay together, regardless of the cause of their problems. A therapist discusses the ongoing problems and helps balance the pros and cons of such a decision.

Why should a couple decide to do couples counseling?

While this is not a complete list, many couples decide to do couples counseling for the following reasons:

  • Learning how to spot the root of the problem in a relationship
  • Learning how to resolve arguments without provoking conflicts
  • Identifying the triggers which lead to conflicts within a relationship
  • Developing communication skills to elevate the positive experience in a relationship
  • Learning how to speak sincerely without hiding the truth from a partner
  • Managing conflicts and restoring positive emotions
  • Boosting the strengths of partners that previously tied them together and inspired them
  • Learning holistic techniques to reach peace of mind such as Meditation, Yoga, and Qigong

What should a couple expect during couples counseling? 

Couples counseling usually starts with a briefing session. A therapist will discuss the couple’s goals, learn the history of their relationship, and find out what brought the couple to counseling. During the first few sessions, a couple is building a mutual understanding and respect with a therapist. If they are unable to do so, the couple can choose another therapist. The first few sessions are also an opportunity for the therapist to see how the couple speak of their plans regarding each other. A therapist may offer individual counseling as well if they see that an individual approach can help the trigger of the conflicts.

It is difficult to predict how long the couple should stay in counseling.  The therapist may or may not be able to give an idea of how often and how long the couple should expect to be in counseling.  

What do experts say about couples counseling?

Anita Chlipala, a licensed marriage, and family therapist says “if you keep having the same fight, a couples’ therapist can teach you to identify which issues are situational and perpetual. For the latter, those are the arguments that are recurring and need to be managed, not solved. We have tools for that!”

When do you know it’s not working?

Couples counseling does not work for every person, and also it may not be fit for some couples. If partners do not feel comfortable with a therapist, and they are uncomfortable to address this concern with the therapist they should consider an alternative therapist or style of therapy. A good therapist is a specialist who should be open to accept criticism and not become defensive. If a couple believes they do not feel able to continue, it is necessary to speak about it to change the direction of therapy or look for another therapist. However, keep an open mind because the root of your dissatisfaction may lie in a lack of motivation to change, or a reason that is not related to the counseling.

How to find a good couples counseling therapist?

You have a choice between working with someone in-person or online. To help make the right decision, contact a few therapists in your area or online. Prepare to dedicate time to this search, as finding the right person for you may take speaking with a few therapists. Ensure you share your thoughts about the counselor with your partner, as they may have other preferences such as gender or a certain cultural mentality.

To find a couples counseling therapist in person:

  • Ask for a referral from friends & family
  • Use Google or Yelp, pay attention to reviews and feedback from clients

To find a couples counseling therapist online:

  1. Review services provided by BetterHelp

BetterHelp is the private e-counseling platform. It accommodates professionals in psychotherapy and couples counseling. They are licensed and accredited psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and board licensed professional counselors. 

  • 98% of clients reported significant improvements with BetterHelp, 94% admitted it works better than face-to-face therapy, and 70% reported improvements in their depressive symptoms.
  • This platform offers around-the-clock services for people who may require help, even late at night. You can access unlimited sessions by paying a fee.
  • BetterHelp has experienced and licensed marriage and family therapists as well as other psychotherapists that focus on couples counseling
  • BetterHelp couples counseling is not covered by all insurance plans, unlike face-to-face therapies.
  1. ReGain online counseling platform

ReGain is an online platform that focuses on relationship counseling services. All therapists matched to a couple are licensed and accredited specialists in couples counseling.

  • The platform matches the couples to a counselor within 24 hours. A counselor will assess the relationship using a thorough questionnaire.
  • No extra fee if you want to start couples counseling after individual therapy.
  • Some of ReGain’s therapists are focusing and have extensive experience with couples counseling and even more specifically focus on certain issues and/or goals that couples have.  
  • Response from the therapist to messages that come outside of the scheduled session may not come immediately, it may take up to one day.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911

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Pride Counseling Review

We independently research and recommend the best products and services. We take objectivity seriously. We may receive commissions on purchases made from some links.

What is Pride Counseling?

Pride Counseling is an online therapy service for members of the LGBTQ community. The service is staffed by licensed and accredited psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, as well as professional counselors who all have practice with LGBTQ members. Individuals can get assistance for their mental health conditions including anxiety, stress, and depression, speak to the counselor about identity crisis, or receive support and guidelines on how to get through addiction, anger, family conflicts, difficulty parenting, grief, religion-based discrimination toward the LGBTQ members and more.

Pride Counseling is not fit for individuals who have persisting thoughts of hurting themselves or others, minors who are under the care of a legal guardian, adults who are in an emergency situation, diagnosed with a severe mental health condition, or psychiatrically supervised. It is also not suitable for individuals who are required to undergo therapy by court order.

What we like about Pride Counseling

  • Counselors are matched following the individual’s preferences, objectives, and issues. An individual may change a counselor until they believe it is a good match;
  • They offer online counseling through text messages, live chat, phone chat as well as video conferencing;
  • An individual may chat through text messages with a counselor at any time;
  • The subscription for online counseling costs $40-$70 per week. The price includes unlimited text messaging;
  • An individual does not need to identify themselves for counseling, as a nickname may be used.

What we don’t like about Pride Counseling 

  • It takes 24 hours on average to match an individual with a counselor;
  • Many federal and state insurance plans do not cover this online counseling or coverage is limited;
  • Lengthy questionnaire to sign up for online counseling.

Therapist Qualifications 

Counselors who work with Pride Counseling are: 

  • Licensed and accredited psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and professional counselors
  • All hold a Master’s degree or a Doctorate in their relevant fields
  • All qualified and certified by their states professional board
  • Possess at least 3 years experience and 2,000 hours in practise
  • All specialize in LGBTQ issues as well as  mental health condition management

Treatments Available

Pride counseling offers online counseling for many mental health conditions or identity crises, as well as therapy with counselors for managing negative life circumstances.

Treated Conditions

Pride counseling therapists address a variety of different conditions and topics, with a focus on:

  • Addiction
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety, Depression and Bipolar Disorder
  • Career Goals or Failures
  • Conflicts in Family or with a Partner
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Grief
  • Health Education
  • Healthy Sexual Life
  • Transitioning
  • Parenting
  • Couples Counseling
  • Religion Discrimination Toward the LGBTQ Community
  • Self-Esteem
  • Sleeping Problems
  • Social Behavior
  • Chronic Stress
  • Substance Abuse
  • Childhood/Adult Trauma & Abuse

Other modalities are also available with Pride Counseling.


The cost of counseling through this platform starts from $40 per week. It includes unlimited text messaging with one of the counselors. This cost is billed monthly but you can cancel the subscription anytime. In comparison, the cost of traditional face-to-face counseling starts from  $150 for one session.

Reimbursement or free-trial is not available. The majority of federal or states insurance plans,  as well as Medicare and Medicaid, do not cover the therapy including Medicare and Medicaid or coverage is limited. 

Sign Up Process

To sign up with Pride Counseling, you have to complete a questionnaire to be matched with a counselor who fits your objectives, as well as select topics you’re looking for help with. The questionnaire will first ask you how you identify yourself, what is your orientation, age, relationship, and financial statuses among others. The second half of the questionnaire is focused on mental health conditions, symptoms, and challenges you may experience in your daily life. In the end, you specify which language you would like to get counseling in.

After completing the questionnaire, you are redirected to create a private account. You may choose an alias and create an email for signing up anonymously. Ensure you have access to the email, as the platform will send notifications every time a counselor responds to your messages in the chat room.

When your account is created, you start choosing the counselor who has experience in your preferred areas including relationship issues, eating disorder, trauma and abuse, depression, anxiety among others. Within a few hours to a few days (on average 24 hours) you are matched with a counselor. If you believe a matched counselor is not a good fit for your particular case, you may change them.

Ongoing communication with a therapist

Pride counseling offers therapy in four ways:

  • Text messages
  • Live chat
  • Phone chat
  • Video conference

Text Messaging

When you are matched to a counselor, you get access to a private chat room to communicate. You write questions, discuss problems, and receive answers or feedback from a counselor. This interaction is unlimited, and a chat room is available 24/7 since this way of communication is not ongoing in real-time. When a counselor responds to your messages, you receive a notification by email.

Live Chat

To have a live chat, you may need to schedule time with a counselor for real-time communication, and at that time you log in to the chat room.

If the scheduled time is not convenient for a counselor, you will be informed to reschedule it.

Phone Chat

For landline or cell phone chat, you have to schedule a time with a counselor. At the scheduled time, you need to log in to the chat room and start the phone session. A chat room will ask you to indicate a phone number. Note, it is not shared with your counselor and kept as confidential information.

If the scheduled time is not convenient for a counselor, you will be informed to reschedule it.

Video Conference

Pride Counseling uses face-to-face video conferences, similar to Skype. You schedule a time with a counselor and log in to the chat room at that time.

If the scheduled time is not convenient for a counselor, you will be informed to reschedule it.

You do not need to be connected to the Pride Counseling chat room all the time. Pride counseling sends notifications to the email when you have a message from a counselor.


Similar online therapy/counseling for the LGBTQ community is available with the TalkSpace platform as well. However, it is not the main specialization among their counselors and therapists.

TalkSpace, unlike Pride Counseling, may take more than one day to match you with a counselor, and the weekly cost starts at $79. TalkSpace offers a few free sessions for the LGBTQ community, while Pride Counseling does not have such a free option. 


Product Name – Pride Counseling

Price – $40-$70 weekly

Usability – Easy-to-Use

Mobile Platforms – Android and iOs

HIPPA Compliant – Yes

Payment options – Credit card and PayPal

Prices – Starts at $40 per week. They also offer a Premium plan at $316 per month, which includes 1 live therapy session.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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Best Online Therapy Platforms of 2020


It can be a struggle to find the best online counseling, particularly with a busy schedule. You may simply be unable to visit a therapist or stick to appointments. However, recently, there has been a rise in people switching to online therapy services. Online therapy is a convenient and affordable option, particularly if you are buying a subscription. However, as with any form of therapy, it may not be a good fit for everyone. We have done the hard work and researched the benefits and drawbacks of the best online therapy for you. 

Read on for our list of the best online counseling platforms to save you time as well as money.

What is online therapy? 

Online therapy, also known as e-therapy, is the delivery of counseling via the Internet. The best online therapy platforms are staffed by licensed therapists, family and marriage counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists alongside registered nurses. These board-certified professionals have years of practice, training and they serve to help people improve their mental conditions.

In just a few clicks on your phone, tablet, or computer you can access the best online therapy possible with top-rated therapists. This allows you to talk to a therapist regardless of appointments and at any time comfortable for you.

However, even the best online counseling may not be appropriate without first speaking to your doctor, as many platforms do not provide therapy for certain mental health conditions. Individuals who experience thoughts of self-harm or those who are in crisis situations that require emergency help should not use online therapy, and instead seek help from their doctor. Please, speak to your doctor to determine whether the best online counseling may fit your particular case.

How is online therapy different from in-person therapy?

The first and most obvious difference between the best online therapy and in-person therapy is that you do not need to travel to see a therapist. Instead, the best online counseling is accessed through an Internet platform. Even though it is still a new mode of therapy, and may not be appropriate for every particular case, it is considered a convenient and affordable option for individuals who have stress, anxiety, or depression, among other conditions. Traditional in-person therapy remains a better fit for those individuals with severe mental health conditions, and those at risk of developing more severe side effects. In these cases, a therapist alongside a psychiatrist may also incorporate pharmacological treatment alongside therapy.

Online counseling is also a good option for individuals who feel embarrassed to visit face-to-face therapies or support groups. 

The best online therapy platforms can accommodate a range of services for specific populations, including couples counseling, LGBTQ counseling, and best online therapy for teenagers. 

Note, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, turning to the best online counseling platforms is the only possible way of receiving help from a therapist. Speak to your doctor about the applicability of this treatment for you.

What are the PROs and CONs of online therapy?

Even the best online therapy has downsides, and may only serve as a substitute for in-person therapy when approved by a doctor. 

Pros of the best online therapy:

  • Convenient, as you may talk to a therapist through your mobile phone or other devices.
  • Access to a wide selection of licensed and state-board certified therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, and other experts.
  • Choice of different platforms to suit your own requirements and paying capacity.
  • Flexibility to pay for live sessions on-demand or save with a subscription.
  • Great for individuals who live in rural areas and find it hard to pay visits to a nearby city for therapy.
  • A good choice for individuals with physical disabilities.

Cons of the best online therapy:

  • Federal and state insurance plans are unlikely to cover online therapy.
  • Some states do not allow out-of-states therapists to provide online therapy.
  • Confidentiality and security may be lower due to the potential for hacking or unauthorized access.
  • It may take a therapist some time to answer you, so it is not a good fit if you are in a crisis situation.
  • Even the best online counseling platforms are not suitable for all mental health conditions.
  • The therapist is unable to completely assess your body language, which can be useful for some conditions.

What are the best online therapy platforms?

There are various online counseling platforms with a number of certified and good therapists for your mental health condition. They are designated to provide treatment and connect you to a therapist who may be there for you to help cope with a problem. However, finding the best online therapy service that meets all your requirements or needs may be a tough task, so we have reviewed some of the best online therapy platforms to help you:

Best Overall: BetterHelp

Our top pick is BetterHelp, one of the best online therapy platforms where you can speak to a licensed professional at affordable prices. It was featured by Forbes, Fox5, Self, WSJ, Chicago Tribune as well as Entrepreneur. With over 4,000 professional therapists, counselors with at least three years of experience, they provide the best online counseling for individuals residing in the U.S as well as internationally. 


  • Sign-up anonymously. You may create an alias nickname and email for using their platform.
  • Offers communication with a therapist through a text chat, video conference, and over the phone.
  • Free 7 day trial.
  • 24/7 access to a chat room.
  • A+ as per Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating.
  • Therapists may use homework or worksheets to strengthen the results of treatment.
  • Financial assistance available if you are unable to pay for the e-therapy.


  • It may take some time to receive an answer from a therapist, and some answers may seem generic.
  • Matching with an expert through this best online counseling platform is based on your filled out questionnaire.
  • You are discouraged to change a therapist you have been first matched with.


  • $80 per week for unlimited chatting.
  • $65 per month for unlimited chatting and $260 for weekly live sessions.
  • $45 per 3 months for unlimited chatting and $540 for weekly live sessions.
  • $35 per year if buying the whole subscription at once, for unlimited chatting and $1,820 for weekly live sessions.

Best for Teens: Teen Counseling

This is the best online therapy platform for teens aged 13-19. It offers discreet online counseling for teenagers experiencing anxiety, stress, depression, low self-esteem, bullying, eating disorders, or  other conditions. A parent is required to sign up on behalf of the teen.


  • Sessions are private and strictly between a counselor and teen.
  • Cost ranges from $40 – $70 per week
  • Their online therapy may be ongoing through a mobile application for chatting.
  • May not be suitable for teenagers who have self-harm issues.

Best for Couples Counseling: ReGain

Our pick for the best online therapy platform for couples is ReGain, a platform staffed by professionals accredited and certified in couples treatment. Among the therapies offered, you can choose counseling for marriage guidance as well as divorce or separation healing, among others. However, at the moment this best online counseling platform for couples does not offer a live 3-way communication if you live separately from your partner.


  • This online therapy platform solely specializes in couples counseling.
  • 3-way communication is available only through chatting.
  • A subscription fee is $40-$70 per week.

Best for LGBTQ+: Pride Counseling

One of the best online therapy platforms for members of the LGBTQ community is Pride Counseling. This platform matches users with professional counselors who have specialization in LGBTQ practice providing therapies for mental health conditions such as, bullying, addictions, trauma, and identification issues. The platform offers anonymous online therapy through chat, video conferencing, and over the phone.


  • Discreet chatting without revealing your identity.
  • This is one of the best online counseling platforms that offers therapists with years of practice with the LGBTQ members.
  • A subscription fee is $40-$70 per week.

Best Peer Support: 7 Cups of Tea

7 Cups of Tea has had over 25 million users since 2013. This best online counseling platform works as a “social network” for individuals who may require help or support from professional therapists alongside community listeners who share their opinions on an individual’s problem. Beyond that, it also offers anonymous group chats where you can create an alias name and talk to other users.


  • Replies from a therapist are twice a day.
  • Self-grow programs and exercises help you cope with your mental health condition and personal issues.
  • Group chats and chat with listeners are free, while e-therapy with a counselor is $150 per month.

Best for Therapy + Medication Prescription: the Brightside

The Brightside platform connects you with experts, including psychiatrists, therapists, physicians, and psychologists among others. This is the best online counseling for individuals who are seeking therapy alone or in combination with medication treatment to cope with anxiety or depression. 


  • Good for anxiety and depression treatment as well as eating disorders, personality disorder, suicidal attempts, substance abuse, pregnancy issues, self-harm behaviors.
  • Medication and therapy are only available in certain states.
  • The Brightside Medication Plan costs $95 per month + your pharmacy copay or $15 per medication. The Therapy plan costs $165 per month for unlimited messaging with a licensed therapist. The Brightside combined Medication + Therapy plan currently costs $240 per month plus your pharmacy copay or $15 per medication. 

What to look for in a good therapist? 

To make it easier for you to find the best online counseling with the right therapist, we recommend you follow these steps:

  • Check the reviews on the best online counseling therapists from other patients or via;
  • Ask your friends to give you a good referral if they already found the best online counseling for their problems.
  • Check the qualification, accreditation, training, and expertise of your preferred therapist;
  • Evaluate a therapist’s communication skills or personal approach to your treatment goals;
  • Don’t feel pressured to stay with a therapist that you don’t feel comfortable with

Additionally, you may ask your doctor if they have any recommendations for the best online counseling for your treatment protocol.

How does online therapy work? 

Using the best online therapy platform is pretty simple, as basically all you need is to choose a therapist and have a device at hand for further online communication. For example, e-therapy with BetterHelp works as follow:

  • Fill out a short questionnaire to provide a platform with information on your gender, age, orientation, mental health condition, eating habits, your country and language you would like to receive the best online therapy among others.
  • Create your private account (or sign up with Facebook or Google), and wait to be matched with a therapist. You can also set preferences for a therapist such as race, age, gender among others. 
  • If you believe a match is good for your particular case, get access to a chat room for communication with a therapist. If needed, add your partner to the chat room to exchange messages. Note, the live communication should be ongoing from the same screen with your partner, as three-way calls are not available.
  • A chat room works 24/7. If you need to talk to a therapist live, you may schedule live communication through chat, video conference as well as speaking over the phone.

The best online counseling platforms may differ in approach, as some of them may match each user individually with a therapist, while others base the match on the questionnaire only. To start with, you may try to pick the best online counseling for you based on our research. Before committing to one platform, consult with your doctor to make sure that they are a good fit for your particular case. Some individuals may require in-person therapy or pharmacological treatment. However, if your doctor approves you to turn to the best online therapy, we wish you all the best.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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Buddhist Retreats


Buddhism is sometimes mistaken for simple meditation, where practitioners focus on their peace of mind and inner quietness. However, Buddhism is much more than that; it is spiritual development and requires constant study of the true nature of life. Buddhist retreats have recently become a popular way of experiencing Buddhist practices, guided by a guru who may help you to spiritually disconnect from daily responsibilities. To help you get started, we have reviewed the best Buddhist retreats where beginners may learn the basics of this faith, or advanced practitioners can upgrade their practises.

What are the best Buddhist retreats? 

These are 4 of the best Buddhist retreats available to people from around the world:

The Buddhist Retreat Centre, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

This Buddhist retreat is located in a valley near the Umkomaas river in KwaZulu-Natal, and is surrounded by forests and rolling hills. For over 20 years, practitioners of all religions have visited this place to experience tranquility and explore nature. The 300-acre property contains various paths through nature including walks through pine trees, past ancient cycads and assegai-sharpening stones, and among rocky outcrops. Beyond that, the retreat is a bird-lovers paradise, with over 160 species of rare birds currently living there, including the Blue Swallow. The impressive biodiversity of this Buddhist Retreat Center even led to it being declared a Natural Heritage Site by former President Nelson Mandela. 

This Buddhist Retreat Center offers both lodges and cottages for a variety of durations. Facilities include dining room, office, shop, art and lecture studio, and library, as well as a meditation hall for daily practices. 

The center offers a variety of retreats, including Investigating Buddhism, which teaches the philosophy of this religion. Other retreats include ones featuring birds watching, photography, pottery, drumming, and cookery workshops.


  • Located a 90-minute drive from Durban, between Pietermaritzburg and Ixopo.
  • The Buddhist retreat center is staffed by former monks, Hatha-yoga teachers, master transformation life coaches, psychotherapists, ex-trauma counselors, and psychologists.
  • The center offers retreats, self-retreats, and daily visits to explore nature.
  • Prices range from R850-3300 per night. If staying for 10 days or longer, you get a discount of 10%. If staying for 20 days or longer, the discount is 20%.

Dalai Lama’s teachings, Dharamsala, India

The Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. When he teaches in India, thousands of spiritual practitioners gather in Dharamsala for at least 1 week. Accommodation for the teachings period can be found in a guesthouse run by the Dalai Lama’s brother, Shantum Seth, a Zen priest. This retreat best fits those who want to discuss and learn Tibetan culture. 

Advance registration is not available and starts only three days before the teaching. Instead, you are required to visit the Tibetan Branch Security Office in McLeod Ganj. Foreigners should bring their passports, while Tibetan or Indian citizens should bring a photo ID. Registration does not cost anything except a donation of 10 Indian Rupees. All visitors should make sure to bring a cushion, a cup, and a sun hat with them.

As the Dalai Lama teaches in Tibetan only, translators are available in designated areas who translate  into Chinese, English, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. 

Note, electronic gadgets are not allowed at this retreat.


  • These Buddhist teachings are held annually in Dharamsala.
  • The teachings last for one week or so, and are initiated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. 
  • These teachings are free of charge, however, you may make a donation to monks and nuns.

Esalen Institute

According to the founders, Michael Murphy and Dick Price, the Esalen Institute is neither church, spa, inn, nor monastery, but a combination of all of the above. This institute is a 27-acre estate, located along a scenic and remote stretch of California’s coast, around 12 miles south of Big Sur, with views of both mountains and sea. The institute accommodates 20,000 people a year, who come to learn life-changing practices and explore nature.  

This institute hosts workshops in many disciplines, and helps individuals to manage stress and psychological crises, practice art-making, and experience yoga with gurus. They teach many topics, including body and mind, science and mysticism, meditation, and the history of the East and West.

Depending on availability, you may book a place on the Buddhism retreat at Esalen, where gurus teach mindfulness meditation in addition to 5 Rhythms dancing.


  • Located on California’s central coast.
  • Staffed by life-coaches, yoga gurus, psychotherapists, and artists, among others.
  • They offer a variety of workshops including Buddhism, yoga, art, writing, relationship classes, personal reflection, social/political change, and many more.
  • The cost includes accommodation, meals, experiential program classes, and use of the baths as well as other facilities available for chosen workshops. The price for weekend workshops ranges from $850 (sleeping bag) to $3180 (Point House Plus-Double). Five-day workshop costs start from $675 to $6525. Seven-day workshop cost starts from $1095 to $9432.

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Spirit Rock is a meditation center  located on the 411-acre oak woodlands in the hills of West Marin County in California. This center is staffed by teachers and volunteers, who help retreatants to experience freedom and joy of life.

Spirit Rock offers a variety of  Buddhist based retreats and workshops, including Dharma, yoga, and meditation. They also offer non-residential drop in sessions and daylong events. For those who are unable to visit the Buddhism retreat or other classes, Spirit Rock offers online programs. 


  • Located approximately 45 minutes northwest of San Francisco, 60 minutes west of Oakland, and 12 minutes from Fairfax.
  • Spirit Rock is staffed by residential and visiting teachers who have years of practice in meditation and other life-coaching programs.
  • The programs offered are retreats, family classes, Dharma meditations, yoga training as well as online classes.
  • The cost for programs starts at $105 per day. Furthermore, there are volunteer programs that allow you to serve the center while attending most of the classes for free. There is a limited scholarship for non-residential programs as well.

Further to these 4 centres, many cities have Buddhist centers, which offer sittings, dharma talks, as well as residential and day retreats. We suggest visiting your local Buddhist center’s website for more information. 

What is Buddhism? 

Buddhism is a faith developed more than 2,500 years ago in India by Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha. Today, it is believed to be followed by 535 million people in the world. This faith is based on spiritual practices and development which help to uncover the true nature of reality. Buddhist followers practice meditations in order to develop kindness, wisdom, and awareness. They do not worship a creator as a God but learn to understand that every action has a consequence, that changes are possible, as well as that nothing is fixed or permanent. Buddhism does not divide people per race, nationality, caste, or gender. Buddhists learn to transform their life experiences and live life responsibly. The teachings of the Buddha show the way how to escape from suffering by living freely. If people learn how to release their attachment to desire and the self, they are able to achieve the state of Nirvana.

There are three forms of Buddhism:

  • Theravada Buddhism – Sri Lanka, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand
  • Mahayana Buddhism – China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan
  • Tibetan Buddhism – Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan

Buddhism has many followers who organize retreats or build centers to promote this spiritual culture. Buddhism may be practised anywhere, at a temple, dharma centers, dedicated retreat centers, as well as in a cave. Some retreatants practice alone.

What are the 3 main beliefs of Buddhism? 

The three main beliefs of Buddhism are called three universal truths:

  1. Nothing is lost in the universe
  2. Everything Changes
  3. The Law of Cause and Effect

What are the 5 rules of Buddhism? 

Buddhism followers should comply with the following rules.

  1. Do not kill. You should live without harming someone as well as have no violent intentions, even in your mind.
  2. Do not steal. In today’s reality, it may be referred to as the avoidance of fraud as well as economic exploitation.
  3. Do not lie. This concerns gossiping as well.
  4. Do not misuse sex. Monks and nuns should follow complete celibacy. Other Buddhists should not be involved in any sexual harassment or exploitation.
  5. Do not consume alcohol or other drugs. No intoxicants should cloud the mind.

What can I expect at a Buddhist retreat? 

Buddhist retreats may occur in various settings including open territory, dedicated retreat centers, temples, monasteries, as well as caves, and may differ in length of time. Some may consist of a few hours of meditation, while others may last weeks or months. Buddhist retreat may be in the form of self-retreat, when an individual dives into a meditation journey, or in a group setting, where many people engage in spiritual practices together.

Buddhist retreats require participants to be quiet during the meditations, and some may also forbid the use of gadgets. For example, at the Dalai Lama’s teachings, you are not allowed to use gadgets, even for translation. However, some retreats may encourage conversations between the participants to share their experiences or life stories.

Short spiritual practices fit beginners who need to learn the basics, while longer retreats of weeks or months are a good choice for advanced practitioners. As well as  meditations, you may be given assignments, including cooking, gardening, art-making which are considered a part of the practice.

Not all Buddhist retreats focus solely on meditations, with some centers incorporating the study of liturgy practice or chanting. Individuals may also participate in these practices for free by helping the centers. Volunteers may clean, cultivate plants, and take care of the environment in return for visiting most of the classes, workshops, or sessions, often at no cost.

During the Buddhist retreat, you are most likely to live in designated rooms with other people. You will share the food, bathroom facilities, and help with the cleaning while you stay there. However, there are many Buddhist retreats that allow you to book a single room or house. You should contact your preferred center to learn the cost of this.

We wish you peace of mind and complete immersion with your inner tranquility.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.


Ketamine Clinics in San Francisco

ASKP Certified Ketamine Clinics in San Francisco Bay Area

ASKP Verified Ketamine Clinics in SF Bay Area

Private medical practice offering IV ketamine infusions for mood disorders and OCD.

Roberto Estrada, MD (Psychiatry Residency at NYU, Fellowship at Columbia, Ketamine Therapy training at Kaiser Permanente)

Provides psychotherapy? Yes

2000 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94109

(415) 567-6706

Private medical practice offering intramuscular and oral ketamine for mood disorders, PTSD and OCD.

Sylver Quevedo, MD (MD Harvard, MPH Harvard, Residency Stanford, Assistant Professor at Stanford and UCSF)

Greg Wells, PhD (PhD University of Texas, Psychedelic integration, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, mindfulness, Buddhist psychology)

Provides psychotherapy? Yes

4257 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

(415) 800-7083