About Us

Dr. Israel Helfand and his wife, Cathie Helfand, facilitate all Marriage Quest retreats at their homestead in rural northern Vermont. They have been working together as a couple since the early 1980s in their practice of Marriage and Family Therapy and have been running Marriage Retreats since 1995. After 10 years as owners/directors of Danbury Personal Counseling in Danbury, Connecticut, Israel and Cathie moved to Vermont to downsize, build their home and mini-farm together, and be more active parents. Today they are empty nest and manage their active little homestead. Together they run all Marriage Quest and Sexploration retreats. Read more about the Helfands in the Alumni Spotlight from the University of Bridgeport.

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Professional Memberships

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) was founded in 1942 to maintain standards for the practice of marriage and family therapy. Its stringent education and supervised training standards have been adopted by most states and the federal government as the basis for licensure for MFTs. For more information on AAMFT go to www.aamft.org

The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) is the Primary Certifying Organization in the field of Human Sexuality. Founded in 1967 out of a desire to provide the public with comprehensive sexuality education, counseling, and therapy conducted by qualified professionals, AASECT is the premier organization that certifies sexual health practitioners. For more than 25 years, AASECT has set the pace for credentialing of professionals in sex education, counseling, and therapy by creating and maintaining increasingly rigorous standards for ethics, academic preparation, and applied skills. www.aasect.org

Israel Helfand, PhD, LMFT, CST

"When Conjoint Therapy is done right there is little to no need for individual therapy. In fact, it feeds two birds with one seed by improving trust, intimacy, attachment, and team building that individual therapy can never do." — Israel

Israel is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) since 1984. He is a Certified Sex Therapist with the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). He was also certified as a Hypnotist, and a Senior Member of the Academy of Family Mediators with a specialty in Divorce Mediation.

Israel is an experienced group leader with thousands of hours in Psychodrama, and years of experience running Mens’ Groups including groups for Vietnam Vets. He has led many workshops, taught college, written numerous articles, spoken on radio and television, and supervised many therapists. In the early ‘90s Israel was certified as a Wilderness First Responder and a Licensed Wilderness Guide specializing in what he commonly referred to as an “inward bound” backpacking retreat. 

On a personal note, Israel has overcome multiple childhood traumas from not being wanted, to being bullied and physically attacked for being different. Therefore, he understands what it takes to overcome the past and learn to trust. Now he teaches clients how to turn their “sad and tragic tale” into a Hero’s or Heroine’s Journey.  Nature has always been his sanctuary, his safe place. As a child he often retreated to the woods and stream.

He put himself through graduate school as a carpenter’s helper. Today he spends much of his time as a gentleman farmer. He oversees the care of our livestock, does many mini-projects, and cooks most dinners from scratch. Fortunately, he has a GREAT sous chef!

Cathie Helfand, MS

"The most transformative experiences I ever had with Israel were when we met for several hours talking together openly and honestly. It was in these concentrated blocks of time that we were able to get to ‘the bottom of it all' and 'back up the other side.' Now, we teach this powerful process to our couples." — Cathie

Cathie Helfand, MS is a Vermont Registered Psychotherapist with a Masters in Counseling and Human Resources, and with a focus in Marriage and Family Counseling and a Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies. She brings an expertise to marriage therapy from her extensive graduate training and experience in Relationship Enhancement and Child Therapy.

She has worked with couples and families since 1977, in her marriage counseling work with Israel, and various employments including as an Employee Assistance Program counselor, as a youth and family counselor at Danbury Youth Services, and with the Boy Scouts of America. As an adjunct professor she has taught courses including “Family Therapy” and “Addictions and the Family.” Over the years Cathie worked for three different dating services and even started one called “To Life.” Cathie’s focus is on helping people make decisions in their lives and find happiness in their relationships with others.

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