FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats for Women

                         FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats for Women

                in Atlanta, Georgia with Connie Stapleton, Ph.D.  

“FAIR and FIRM” means being compassionate and accountable.

"Whatever the issue you’re addressing, compassion and accountability will help you learn, heal, and take healthy risks toward being your best authentic self." Connie Stapleton, Ph.D.

Real learning for use in everyday life leads to positive growth! Come grow with us!

Retreat Titles                                              Dates             RESERVE YOUR SPOT

                                                                                            (only 8   people per retreat)

          Reversing Regain                               7/11/18 (6 PM)

                                                                     7/15/18 (1 PM)

            Healing from Food Addiction          8/22/18 (6 PM)

                                                                       8/26/18 (1 PM)

            Gain While You Lose (Weight Loss  9/26/18 (6 PM)

                       the Whole Person Way)         9/30/18 (1 PM)          


         Connie Stapleton, Ph.D.

The FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats for Women are the culmination of my life’s work. These are my dream and I thrilled to be able to share them with you.

I have been blessed beyond measure in my life. I have also done a whole lot of personal work, with the guidance of many others, to get to a place in life where I can pass on to others what I have learned through my experiences gained at the school of hard knocks, the schools made of brick and mortar (where I spent 12 solid years of higher education), the rooms of many a 12-step meeting, and from the incredible people God has put in my path over the years.

Did I use the “G” word? I did. I am a believer in God, a higher power. I’m accepting of those who don’t believe in God and who do not participate in any religion. I do not “shove my beliefs” down anyone’s throat or up any other body parts. I simply live and let live. I hope that my belief in God, and my regular reference to having a higher power will not be a deterrent for you in choosing to work with me!

Back to the amazing people in my life. My husband, commonly known as “The Lovebug,” but whose name is Steve, has been my greatest supporter, my best friend (as well as the most frustrating person in my life, at times). He is my partner in all things, including all of the work that I do. Without him, I would have no business (he is a CPA, after all). Nor would I have the honor and privilege of having a man who really needs to teach men how to be truly good men as my life companion. Without the Lovebug, I would not have the other most important people in my life – our three phenomenal children and their families. These are the people for whom I live. They are the people I spend the vast majority of my non-working time and some of the people I like most in the world. Don’t get me started on my 7 grandbabies, or I will write about nothing else. They are a joy beyond description.

I have three women friends who have been my lifelines for nearly thirty years. I love these remarkable treasures, who provide me a safe place in life to be fully myself without fear of abandonment. They give me loving, constructive, “FAIR and FIRM” feedback when I need it. They give me laughter and hugs (many of them virtual as we all live a great distance from one another). They share with me their trust and their love. And we have oodles of fun together!

I have had mentors in life who literally taught me how to live as a healthy adult. We all need them and I am so grateful for those who have been part of my journey.

My journey… through an emotionally difficult childhood (in many ways), but also a childhood filled with beautiful lessons of giving to others and spending time with family. My journey led me through various forms of addiction in my late teens through my late 20’s, until I was guided to an outpatient program in 1989. It was at that point in time I began to live life fully.

Several years of therapy and beginning to learn who I am, followed by completion of a Master’s degree in Counseling and a PhD program in Counseling Psychology led to my professional practice of nearly three decades.

The retreats I have created are part of what I was born to do. I teach and I engage. I teach from a place of personal experience through much therapy and recovery from addictions. I also teach from a place of many years of formal education and ongoing professional education. I engage with people and we connect. That is what makes the work I do so fulfilling and why it is something I (usually) do well. Not that I have “the answers” for anyone. I do have the compassion to connect and the skill of listening. Together, we work on ways to improve the difficulties in life.

Join me as I impart what I’ve learned about being my authentic self. Join me and discover your own authentic self. Work with me and let’s learn more about living balanced, healthy FULL lives!

The Administrative Team

        Kelsey P.  Right-hand Woman, Administrative Guru – Bio to be added

        “The Lovebug”/Steve  CPA and Business Manager) – Bio to be added

        Dawn R. Hurlebaus The sponsor of the FIRM and FAIR Therapy Retreat Series. Owner and                CEO of Slimpressions (https://slimpressions.com/)

The Retreat Team (retreats may include some or all of the following presenters)

         Jennifer Hnat  Registered Dietician, owner of Nutrition Atlanta                (https://www.nutritionatlanta.com/)  – Bio to be added

        Julia Karlstad Exercise Physiologist, owner of JKFitness (http://www.jk-fit.com/)  – Bio to be added

        Laura Preston  Vitamin education and Marketing Manager for Celebrate Vitamins

(https://www.facebook.com/celebratevitamins/posts/10154326421151184:0)  – Bio to be added

         Yvonne Burns McCarthy Also known as Bariatric Girl (http://www.bariatricgirl.com/). Recovering Food Addict and Mentor.

        Laura Van Tuyl Successful weight loss patient and Board Member of the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America. (http://www.wlsfa.org/about/board-of-directors/laura-van-tuyl/)


 About the FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreat Series

 Each of my FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats are residential programs for women who are seeking to heal from a variety of issues they have encountered along their life’s journey. As a therapist who has been through a great deal of personal therapy before and since going back to school to become a psychologist, I understand the enormous positive impact of attending intensive therapy retreats. Immersion in a supportive learning environment with the opportunity to work through the information being presented is a gift that provides recipients a lifetime of day-to-day benefits.

One of the things that is most important to me is that each participant becomes more familiar with, more consistent with, and more supportive of her unique, genuine self. For many of us, living through stressful childhood situations can result in abandoning our authentic self as the need for emotional protection becomes the priority. We stop speaking our truth, stop standing up for ourselves, and learn to cater to the needs of others at the exclusion of ourselves. In the retreats, we will identify ways in which our authentic self was stifled. We will address the issues that separated us from who we were born to be, and give ourselves permission to thrive as our authentic self in our adult lives. This is a core tenet of each FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreat

I can only accommodate 8 women at each retreat. This is an amazing group size as we have time to explore issues, to ask and seek answers to questions and to develop healing relationships that may last a lifetime. I look to host women who are interested in improving their present life circumstances, who are willing to take a look into their past to see what has influenced the trajectory of their lives, and who are ready to do the hard work of sorting through the myriad of situations and people, as well as their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors, that have culminated in their present reality. Each woman will experience a combination of various therapeutic interventions including talk therapy, relaxation/meditation, artistic expression, visualization, goal-setting, mindfulness, and other experiential techniques designed to heal thoughts, feelings and behaviors that do not serve them in healthy, productive ways. We focus on learning healthy coping skills to implement in all areas of life that will assist us on a daily basis as we continue our journey through life.

In addition to the many hours each day of therapeutic group interaction, each participant will benefit from the expertise of other professions to include Registered Dieticians, Exercise Specialists, and Massage Therapists.

Because many of you will opt to attend more than one of the FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats, it may seem there is a great deal of overlap in topics. I assure you, care will be given to provide a variety of options for the different therapeutic modalities. For example, relaxation techniques will be presented at all of the retreats, but I will present different relaxation skills at the different retreats. There will, of course, be some overlap. It wouldn’t hurt any of us to learn the same healthy skills on annual basis anyway! That’s a good idea… come to one of my different retreats each year!

At each and every retreat you will be invited to participate in some or all of the following activities:

·      psychoeducation presentations utilizing PowerPoint presentations

·      group sessions to process exercises completed as part of the psychoeducational component

·      virtual and/or live appearances by other professionals (registered dietician, exercise physiologist, mentors, massage therapist, yoga instructor, etc.)

·      physical exercise (outdoor walking on paved roads), swimming, yoga, stretching, resistance bands, etc.

·      journals for writing in

·      a retreat journal with PowerPoint presentations included

·      relaxation exercises

·      cooking demonstrations

·      films related to topics of retreat

·      references for further exploration of topics upon returning home

·      relaxation and free time


About the Reversing Regain FAIR and FIRM Retreat

 Two of my least favorite words when it comes to weight loss programs are “behavior modification.” Don’t get me wrong. I realize that a number of behaviors likely need to be modified in order for a person to lose weight. However, my thought is that if changing behaviors was enough to get one’s weight off and keep it off, then there would be no such thing as regain. Although behavior modifications (think “eat less, move more”) are essential to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight, for many people, they are not sufficient. And that is why I do what I do.

We all know that being able to lose weight is one thing, but keeping the weight off is quite another! So many people engage in “yo-yo dieting” and, in many cases, do so for years. I have joked about wanting to write a book called Chronic Losers to address this group of people. While that title is humorous (to me), I know it would cause an uproar among the politically correct among us. I also realize that many people who struggle with weight issues actually refer to themselves as “losers,” but are not referring to their weight when doing so. They truly feel that because they have not been able to maintain a healthy weight, they are an overall “loser,” in the 20th and 21st centuries use of the word. I never want to offend anyone and, while my intention in using the title Chronic Losers would be to utilize a bit of humor, I know some people would be hurt or offended by it. I share all of that to let you know a bit about my personality…

Regaining weight after losing some is not at all humorous. In fact, it is so much the opposite. Weight regain is frustrating, discouraging, disheartening, and downright depressing. Weight issues are complicated, like the relationship status of most people! There are so many factors that influence weight and the propensity for weight regain.

Throughout the Reversing Regain Retreat, although we enumerate what the factors are that cause weight gain and regain, we focus on those we can influence. In addition, we look back over time to help identify patterns so that we can develop plans to prevent the same old, same old.

Using a variety of therapies, the goals of the Reversing Regain FAIR and FIRM Retreat include:

·       identifying the non-medical issues that can influence behaviors that result in weight regain (self-esteem, self-talk, automatic thoughts/behaviors, the interactions between thoughts/feelings/behaviors, trauma, family of origin issues, addictions)

·      moving beyond “behavior modification” to addressing the aforementioned non-medical issues

·      learning healthy coping skills to deal with stress, a leading cause of unhealthy, mindless eating

·      learning positive self-talk to promote and encourage long-term healthy weight maintenance

·      incorporating knowledge of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors impact eating behaviors

·      utilizing breathing skills, relaxation tools, mindfulness skills, and visualization as tools to remain on a healthy eating routine every day

·      exploring and improving the relationships we have with food and with ourselves as a way of learning to use food as enjoyable fuel for our bodies

·      implementing the Gotta Do Em’s for sustaining a healthy weight

·      learning to implement Dr. Stapleton’s 4 ACES to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent weight regain

·      and MORE


About the Healing from Food Addiction FAIR and FIRM Retreat

 Addiction is a mind-body-spirit disease, one that I am afflicted with and one that I have been in recovery from since 1989. If you have a food addiction, then no traditional “diet” is ever going to be sufficient for you. Recovery requires abstinence. For most food addicts, that translates to no added sugar and no flour.

At this retreat, you will be served nutritious meals that contain no added sugar and no white or wheat flour. You’ll see that you can continue to enjoy food and not engage in those foods that result in cravings, binges and the resulting guilt and hopelessness.

It’s important to me that people do not equate the word “addict” with any sort of personal shortcoming or character flaw. Addiction is a biological disease, no different from diabetes, cancer, or obesity. We cannot “cure” these diseases, but we can, in the case of addiction, put it into remission through healthy behaviors.

 Using a variety of therapies, the goals of the Healing from Food Addiction FAIR and FIRM Retreat include:

·       learning about the disease of addiction and identifying your personal (possible) predispositions to addiction and/or circumstances leading you toward addiction

·      accepting the fact that dealing with addiction requires daily efforts

·      learning coping skills to deal with cravings, which are a part of the disease of addiction

·      learning coping skills to deal with stress, a leading cause of unhealthy, mindless eating, as healing our unhealthy habits related to food consumption are essential along with treating our addiction(s)

·      learning positive self-talk to promote and encourage a healing relationship with self, the underlying issue (as far as I’m concerned) related to the emotional/spiritual healing from addiction (which leads to physical healing)

·      incorporating knowledge of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors impact relapse, recovery, and eating behaviors

·      utilizing breathing skills, relaxation tools, mindfulness skills, and visualization as tools to remain active in recovery and healing from addictions

·      exploring and improving the relationships we have with ourselves and others to increase our experience of living fully in healing from addictions

·      implementing the Gotta Do Em’s for sustaining a healthy program of healing from addictions

·      learning to implement Dr. Stapleton’s 4 ACES to maintaining a heathy relationship with self and ongoing healing from addictions

·      and MORE

 About the Gain While You Lose FAIR and FIRM Retreat

  Weight loss, the multi-billion-dollar industry that robs millions of people of billions of dollars each year… on purpose! What?! Yes, they do. They literally set you up to lose and regain so that you’ll have to start their entire program over again. And pay for it again.

“Diets” are things people go “on” and then “off.” Typically, most people gain back whatever weight they lost “on” the diet when they go “off” the diet. That is not a surprise! It never ceases to amaze me that we fall for things like this… Honestly, I know we’re smart enough to understand the reality of these gimmicks that go like this, “Eat only this ____________ and you’ll lose weight. Usually whatever _____________ is, works! Until you stop eating _______________. I can’t help but wonder if people actually think they are going to eat nothing but cabbage soup or frozen meals or shakes and nothing else every day for the rest of their lives? If not, surely they must know they will regain every lost pound if they return to their previous eating behaviors.

So why does our society continue to waste their money in this way?

DESPERATION. At least that’s what I think. We become desperate for a quick fix to lose weight and then hope against science that this “fix” will keep weight off forever, regardless of what we do when we go “off” the diet. Magical thinking…  and your rational, adult self knows this ___________________ diet won’t sustain you for the rest of your life.

How many hundreds to thousands of YOUR dollars has the diet industry thief stolen from you? Or, in a more FIRM manner (as is my style), how many of your hard-earned dollars have you willingly given to the diet industry thieves?

In the words of Bob Newhart (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw), “STOP IT!” Very funny video clip, if you’re up for a good laugh!

Seriously, stop spending your money on “diets” only to regain the unwanted pounds. As many people I have worked with say, “I gained those back, and then some.” Others tell me, “The pounds I lost found me again… and they brought friends.”

GAIN While You LOSE is designed to help you:

·      gain insights as to the reasons you struggle to lose weight and then put it back on

·      gain awareness as to reasons you may subconsciously regain weight on purpose (I know, this sound preposterous)

·      learn the connection between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and gain tools for applying them to your daily life

·      discover your “Meaningful Matters” in a variety of areas of your life, primarily focusing on your relationship with food and your relationship with self.

·      learn and practice healthy, assertiveness and communication skills that will assist you in making healthy choices in all areas of life

·      understand the relationship between your emotions and food while gaining tools to let your emotions help you seek positive ways of meeting needs, other than turning to food

·      address body image issues and provide tips for accepting the good, the parts we would rather not focus on, and our whole selves

·      implementing the Gotta Do Em’s for sustaining a healthy weight

·      learning to implement Dr. Stapleton’s 4 ACES to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent weight regain

·      and MORE



 Each FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreat begins at 6 PM on a Wednesday and concludes at 1 PM on the following Sunday.

The cost of each retreat includes all food, lodging, amenities and a minimum of 25 hours of therapies provided by myself, Connie Stapleton, Ph.D., a Registered Dietitian, an Exercise Physiologist, and a number of other professionals.

The cost of each retreat is $1750 dollars.

Here are the steps for registration:

1)    Contact Kelsey at Kelsey@conniestapletonphd.com or call her at (706)364-5228. Let her know which retreat(s) you are interested in attending. She will put your name on the list in the order in which you contacted her. (HINT: If you call her, be sure to leave a voice message if you get a recording, along with the time and date that you called.)

2)    Kelsey will email you a couple of forms that you must complete and return (an application and a standardized personality assessment instrument for you to complete online).

3)    Upon receipt of the application and personality assessment, Dr. Stapleton will review the materials to make certain that the retreat you are interested in best meets your needs.

4)    Kelsey will then confirm your registration. She will also send you a copy of the Cancellation Notice.

5)    ONLY then will you be required to make a non-refundable deposit of $300. You must pay half the remaining balance 60 days prior to the retreat date. The remaining balance is due 30 days prior to the date of the retreat. You have until 30 days prior to the retreat to cancel your reservation and receive a refund of total payments, less the non-refundable initial deposit of $300.



The retreat center, a brand-new facility, is lovingly referred to as the “FFC,” standing for the “FAIR and FIRM with Connie” retreat house. The FFC sits on 5 private, wooded acres 30 miles North of downtown Atlanta. If you are driving in, you will be given specific driving directions. If you are flying into Atlanta, we will pick you up at the airport, but we may need to coordinate flights for multiple attendees!

Onsite is a 1500-squre-foot lodge-type room with a full kitchen, dining table and a gathering area for learning and sharing. A beautiful fireplace and a 75-inch screen for viewing PowerPoint presentations and welcoming virtual speakers creates a relaxing, restorative environment. Three comfortable West-End couches with lumbar support cushions make for a very comfy sitting experience. Additional pillows and blankets are available for use during the day and at night! Two rest rooms are on the main floor. Coffee, tea and water will be available at all times on the mail floor, along with sugar-free sweeteners and sugar-free syrups, as well as half and half.

There is an in-ground pool for those who opt to exercise, play and/or relax in the water (depending on the weather, of course). There is also a fire-pit where people can sit and chat. Group discussions may take place around the fire-pit, weather permitting.

A screened-in porch on the second floor overlooks the pool and the serenity of nature. This is a great place to have a private conversation, to write in your journal or to play a board game!

All beds are on the second floor. Therefore, all participants need to be able to safely and comfortably climb a full set of stairs at least one time per day. There are 8 double beds, one bed for each retreat participant. There are no single rooms. Both the “Firm” and the “Fair” rooms will accommodate two persons each. A Jack-and-Jill bathroom with two sinks, a shower, and a toilet (in the privacy of its own four walls) adjoins these two rooms for sharing.

The “Community” room is a bunk room with two sets of bunk beds (hence, the reason for calling it the Community room… although we all need a strong, supportive community in our lives). A set of regular-sized stairs gains two adventurous participants access to the top bunks. There is limited headroom for these bunks, so you would need to be able to bend over at the waist and crawl in and out of these beds. Sleeping arrangements are assigned first-come, first-served by request, so we can’t guarantee that special arrangements can be made for late registrants. Again, all beds are double size beds with double size mattresses, even the bunk beds! A full bathroom with double sinks and a walled off toilet and bathtub/shower are available for this group of four to share.

There are no price differences for any of the rooms. Everyone will be comfortable (“enough,” considering you won’t be in your own bed in your own home)! Each person will have two pillows of varying densities and firmness on their bed. Additional blankets are available for those of you who may, like me, tend to be cold at night!

Water is allowed on the upstairs level, although no other beverage and no food will be allowed on the second floor.



Following are lists of things you will want to bring and another list of things you don’t need to bring with you to the FFC retreat center.

Feel free to get in touch with Kelsey (Kelsey@conniestapletonphd.com for any questions that you might have.

What you will need to bring:

·       COMFORTABLE CLOTHING (Dress comfortably!!!!! We are here to learn and connect with one another. This is NOT a fashion show! You will want to be as comfortable as possible as your days are going to be long! Heck – makeup is optional!)

·       A swimming suit (if you want to get in the pool)

·       Exercise wear (bike pants/tights/shorts/track pants)

·       PJs, (Whatever clothes you sleep in – and yes, sleeping attire is required! Bring slippers if you want to. Please note that the main floor has all hardwood floors, which can be slippery.)

·       Walking shoes for exercising.

·       Personal toiletries (toothbrush, hair brush, etc.) and makeup


What we will supply for you:

·       All bedding, pillows, towels, washcloths, blankets

·       Exercise equipment (swiss balls, hand weights, yoga mats)!

·       A water bottle

·       Shampoo & conditioner, hair dryer

·       Soap

·       Tissues ☺

·       A shared computer from which you can check emails


Please DO NOT bring these contraband items):

·       Alcohol (This is an ALCOHOL-FREE ZONE)

·       Tobacco (This is also a TOBACCO-FREE ZONE)

·       Non-prescription drugs

·       Foods and sweets (as well as drinks)


Please note: We request that mobile phones are not used outside of the

bedroom. This will allow you to gain greater benefit from your stay, and ensures

other participants can also spend some time away from the outside world and the

constant ringing of phones. However, if you have an emergency of some sort and

need your phone to be with you, then we request that you discuss this with us and

that it be left on silent for the convenience of others.



THANK YOU for taking the time to read this introduction to the FAIR and FIRM Therapy Retreats for Women. It is with humility and enthusiasm that I invite you to a remarkable experience that will enhance both our lives.   Connie