Building a healing community beyond bricks and mortar

Derrick and Sonya have been counseling couples, families, and individuals for more than 20 years. Known as The Marriage Menders, they took their practice on the road to lead seminars and retreats for singles and couples around the globe.
Mental Health

My wife Sonya and I love guiding others in creating happier, healthier lives. It’s why we take our practice worldwide to lead workshops, seminars, and retreats. At some point in our travels, we realized we wanted to find a way to create this group environment even at a distance. We wanted to bring people together from around the globe, on a regular basis.

Gathering to heal from across the globe

When I began exploring ways to gather men in groups with other men facing similar challenges in their intimate relationships, I knew creating something safe and inviting would be key. But it also needed to be convenient.

One of the biggest challenges for people is fear. When you are going through something heavy, you feel vulnerable, and fragile. So sharing your story in a group setting can feel really uncomfortable. I’m experienced in creating safe spaces. But I didn’t know how I would gather men, across the globe, on a regular basis. Not only is there a time difference, but challenging schedules. Sonya and I have a packed life. So does everyone else. But this was important to me.

Creating a safe, welcoming space to participate any time

About a year and a half ago, I began using Marco Polo with my own family. It’s been amazing, especially for connecting with my mom. After my dad passed away, she was more isolated. She keeps up with everyone now.

After seeing really life-changing results within my own family, Sonya and I decided to use it in our therapeutic practice, creating a Men’s Group on Marco Polo.

Participants can watch and listen to the stories of other Group members, and have space to think about it. To reflect. Often they eventually share. Once they’ve witnessed other members being totally open, they feel safe. They reach out and ask for advice, and reveal parts of themselves and their lives. Ultimately they feel empowered and supported, and realize they’re not alone. There is always someone who has gone through something similar.

And if they need to share, but aren’t ready to Polo the entire Group, they can reach out to me privately.

"The support we give one another makes a huge difference. Members can reach out whenever they are struggling. Someone is always there."

Building a healing community beyond bricks and mortar

Before Marco Polo, there wasn’t an intimate way to gather a group from around the globe, or offer clients additional support while on the road.

In just one year of using Marco Polo in our practice we’ve:

  • Created a men’s Group of 125 members who share, heal, and grow together

  • Begun planning a Marco Polo Group for marriage counseling for couples

  • Stayed connected to clients between sessions, even while on the road

  • Transitioned numerous Group members to our one-on-one and couples counseling

With Marco Polo we’ve been able to create healing support Groups for anyone facing challenges in their relationships. They can participate no matter where they live. It’s been life-changing.

Top 3 reasons The Marriage Menders love facilitating groups on Marco Polo

1. Community support

Even with the distance between members spread across the globe, we are able to strengthen one another – not just during sessions, but in life. One member in Chicago, a firefighter, was severely injured in the line of duty. Our Group response was immediate and powerful. Polos of support were blasting. We were even able to reach out to the family and send prayers face-to-face. Another member was struggling financially to keep his family afloat, and needed a new vehicle. Our Group was there to bolster him, and a fellow member was even able to offer up a car he wasn’t using. This type of support makes a huge difference when people are going through difficult times.
2. Transitioning new clients

As members introduce new people to our Marco Polo Groups, we are able to transition them to our private practice for counseling with Sonya or me. We reach more people, change more lives, and heal more marriages this way. Our Groups on Marco Polo become a bridge for clients who may not have otherwise felt comfortable speaking to a therapist. It’s a chance for them to feel safe first.
3. Growing our practice

After speaking engagements, we always let the participants know about our Groups on Marco Polo. It’s one way we’ve been able to grow the Groups so fast. Using Marco Polo to stay connected to the participants who attend our seminars, retreats, and workshops is an amazingly effective way to reinforce what we speak about. Of course, we can keep people in the loop via email, but email doesn’t resonate the same way. Marco Polo offers such a unique, personal way for people to continue these relationships across the globe.