Circle of Care offers free relationship skills retreat

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2022

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Circle of Care Center for Families in Valley is offering a free couples relationship skills retreat called Elevate. It will be a four-part series that will take place on June 13, June 27, July 11 and July 25 at 6 p.m. People don’t have to attend all four sessions to keep up with them, as each will have standalone content. The retreat will take place at Circle of Care at 14 Medical Park in Valley.

Circle of Care Executive Director Jonathan Herston said Circle of Care is paying for the program through funds it received through the Alabama Department of Human Resources. It is offering the program for free to make sure it’s available to everyone who needs it.

Herston said Circle of Care aims to have resources to help every family achieve its highest level of functioning. Additionally, he said it aims to be a place that people can call when they don’t know who else to call for help, especially if they’re worried they can’t afford it.

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He estimated that Circle of Care has been holding relationship education classes since around 2007. He wasn’t sure exactly when Circle of Care started offering Elevate but guessed it was around 2015.

“The thing we like about the Elevate curriculum is that it has the broadest applicability and appeal to the most couples,” he said. “We have some that are super intensive and are really great for some couples. But this one is one that, out of all our various trainings, the most couples get the most out of.”

Herston said couples in the program will learn skills in communication, problem-solving and joint decision making. He thinks Elevate is effective in what it tries to achieve.

“We’ve got lots of data … We’ve got a wealth of research that shows that it’s effective for couples,” he said. “We’re able to find that they’re finding that most important relationship more meaningful and more fulfilling and that they’re happier in those relationships once the classes are done.”

Herston estimated that about 20 couples can sign up for this retreat. If significantly more people sign up, he said Circle of Care may find a venue with more space or start another class.

“There are some couples that may be really struggling and this may be helpful to them, but this isn’t designed to take the place of therapy because it’s not that,” he said. “It’s really education. But it’s full of activities, and it’s a lot of fun. People are generally surprised by how much fun they have.”

Relationship educator Brad Thomas and marriage and family therapist Kalyn Warren will lead the program.

Outside groups such as churches can sign up to host Elevate retreats in other locations.

To register for Elevate, ask to host a retreat somewhere else or request more information, visit and fill out the form.