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Personal counseling retreats:
an alternative to traditional counseling, inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and addiction rehab


With unparalleled personal attention, cultivate
new skills to meet your life’s challenges


Individual counseling retreats: In a time of crisis, at a crossroads, or when you need to dig deep

Almost everyone comes to a time of great difficulty in life. You may be overwhelmed, unable to manage your emotions, negative thoughts, or reactions to stress. You may be confronting patterns of addiction.* Perhaps a relationship may be in crisis, or you're coming to a major life choice or transition. Or you may simply know the way you are living must change.

If therapy by the hour isn't the right fit, and you don't want a cookie-cutter institutional experience, individual counseling retreats offer a different way.

Click the video above to learn more. To see additional videos, click here.

My experience with Doug was nothing short of life changing. The time, care, and mindfulness that he put into my retreat was exceptional. He listened to everything I said about loving nature, and created a one-of-a-kind journey for me. I will never forget it or him. I couldn’t have been in better hands. He sent me home with many tools to help make it through the stressful times that may come.
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A unique opportunity to experience a one-to-one stress management, addiction recovery, counseling, or mindfulness retreat


When you're ready to focus on personal change, the retreat setting will support your intention


We'll choose a harmonious place that reflects simplicity and minimizes distraction. The deceptively simple power of a retreat is that when you immerse yourself in a place of harmony and self-reflection, new ways of thinking and living naturally emerge. This is one reason retreats have been used by wisdom traditions for centuries.

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Intensive counseling in a place that inspires you


How your retreat is designed

After a phone consultation to discuss your goals, needs and preferences, I create a proposal for you that details your personal retreat. Some retreats focus more on counseling, others on learning Mindfulness, and still others on spending time in nature. Most often, a retreat center is used as the base as it provides easy access to healthy meals and other supportive services such as yoga and massage. Some clients prefer to work in their own home or another favorite location. A daily plan and rhythm is created around your unique objectives. A typical day combines individual counseling, meditation instruction and practice, time outdoors, and time for quiet reflection, reading or journaling. Retreats are typically two to five days, but can be longer or shorter. 

Areas of focus during
your retreat

  • Anxiety, stress and issues of distraction

  • Marital or family problems or crisis

  • Addiction/dependence regarding alcohol and substances*, media, work, sexuality, relationship, etc.

  • Life decisions

  • Loss of inner direction, meaning, and matters of spirituality

  • Grieving losses and changes

  • Emotional balance and self-regulation

  • Cultivating wellness

  • An alternative to addiction rehab or psychiatric hospital

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Personal change is a process,
not an event


In a world of endless distraction, one of the most radical things we can do is slow down and focus on one thing. The decision to devote time to a retreat is a singular commitment: to your growth. It means taking yourself, and your well-being seriously. It's based in the empowering idea that when you stop avoiding your demons and look them straight in the eye, lo and behold, you find they are workable.


Take time to reflect, regroup and renew


A personal retreat creates a priceless disruption of business as usual. You unplug from normal ways of living that reinforce the behaviors that are getting in your way. Stepping away from the habit patterns brings new perspective. Self-limiting ways of thinking and behaving become clearer. You increasingly understand how you feed into your own stress. With the clarity that mindfulness brings, you learn to respond, not just react. You practice the skills you will use going forward to meet your challenges more skillfully. Your self-respect and self-confidence say thank you.

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Nature = Medicine

Great artists and change agents have long understood the benefits of spending time in nature. It connects us to something essential in ourselves, away from social pressures and ideas of who we're supposed to be. In times of personal reflection, we do well to draw on the beauty and balance of nature, which embody the resilience and steadiness we are seeking. You learn practices that support you to be more firmly rooted… as life's winds sway they won't topple you. As appropriate for your needs and abilities, retreats include mindfulness, counseling, yoga and walking in the outdoors.


 Therapeutic approach to retreats

So often therapy can be a drawn-out retelling of your past. Instead, we begin where you are now. Sufficient history is taken over the phone prior to the retreat to prepare us to begin working immediately on the first day of your retreat. Using research-supported therapy approaches such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, Internal Family Systems, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, and others, we focus on struggles in your present life, rather than lengthy analysis of your past. Of course, there's value in understanding your history and how it influences you. This process creates a concise summary of important past events while building skills to better respond to present-moment challenges. We also use research-supported body-based practices drawn from yoga and meditation to help you self-regulate from the ground up. It's an empowering and practical form of therapy, leveraging mind and body, with the focus on preparing you to meet difficulty with a more comprehensive resourcefulness.

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 A uniquely focused, impactful format


A five-day counseling retreat is the equivalent, or greater,
of one year of weekly therapy.

A 2.5-day counseling retreat is the equivalent, or greater,
of six months of weekly therapy.


Your facilitator - Doug Baker

A veteran of many years working in psychiatric hospital systems, Doug Baker developed Well Beings Retreats as an alternative to the limitations of institutional, medication-based treatment and the often impersonal nature of addiction rehab centers and hospital programs.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Doug leads personal retreats nationwide. In addition to being a licensed therapist, author and Kripalu Yoga teacher, Doug presents workshops for therapists on holistic mental health skills and has taught for numerous companies and universities, including Harvard University, Boston College, MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital. A member of the board of directors of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, he presented in 2018 at the Harvard Medical School conference on meditation and psychotherapy.

Doug's first book, Five-Minute Mindfulness: Walking was released in 2017.

To learn more about Doug's counseling, yoga, mindfulness and stress- management offerings, call 617-331-4654 or visit

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Learn mindfulness. Become more resilient.

Mindfulness doesn't promise you'll never get stressed or upset. But it teaches us how to ride the waves of emotion and thoughts, and move through a messy, unpredictable world, with more grace and less suffering. Another word for these benefits is resilience. Research associates Mindfulness with lower rates of anxiety and depression, greater life and relationship satisfaction, and reduced bio-markers of stress. A personal retreat provides in-depth coaching to learn and integrate the ideas and practices of Mindfulness. We create a personal plan to maintain your practice post-Retreat, and I guide you to resources to support your growing practice over the long run.

Click here to watch a brief video that describes how Mindfulness practices can enhance the effectiveness of your retreat

Why retreats and intensives

Retreats and Intensives are intended to fill a gap in mental health and wellness services. If you need to address a significant issue, but feel a weekly therapy hour isn't enough, and stay at a psychiatric hospital or an addiction rehab facility isn’t appropriate, a Personal Retreat or Intensive may be a good fit. This model provides time to do in-depth work, while staying present through the full cycle of ups and downs of mood changes and relationship conflicts. The time to dig deep with focused, sustained, professional attention in a counseling retreat is unique and can be very powerful. It's all designed in a time-frame that fits your schedule.

Changing addictive patterns can also be the focus of a counseling intensive.* Habit cessation sometimes requires removing oneself from one's home environment and taking time in an intentional, supportive process to cultivate new habits.

Retreats and Intensives are entirely confidential. No medical record is created.


Retreat Reflections: a well-beings blog


Learn more

Find out if a personal retreat is right for you. Call Doug Baker at  617-331-4654 or use the form below. You will generally receive a reply within 24 hours. If there is urgency, you are welcome to send a text message to the phone number above.

Name *

*Potential clients are advised to seek medical advice regarding the need for a medically-supervised detox prior to an Intensive if there is substance or alcohol dependence.