Frequently Asked Questions about the Smart Marriages conference:
Please email your questions and we'll add them to the list.

First, it helps to think of the conference as three conferences in one:

1) The General Conference
which begins Thurs night at 6:30pm and ends Sunday at 10pm.
General Conference Registration includes all 11 plenary sessions (23 keynotes/3 are lunches); and all breakouts/workshops
(choose 7 - there are 140 from which to choose).

2) The Pre-Conference Training Institutes #100s - 18 of these (you can attend one of these - extra registration required)

3) The Post-Conference Training Institutes #900s. - 17 of these (you can attend one of these - extra registration required)

Badge Mailing Letter/Advance info - Badges will be mailed in June & badge letter posted here in June. Read for a head start

About the conference

If it's all just too confusing, veteran conference attendees have offered to try to help you figure out how to get the most out of the experience, what to take, etc - Please read as much as you can, then click here for their contact info
if you still have questions.

Terminology: What's a Plenary, Workshop, Masters, TOOB, FOOB,Seminar, Breakout, Institute, Roundtable?

I'm not a mental health professional.
Can I attend?

I want to bring a non-professional spouse and want him to have
fun, what do you suggest?

My spouse is coming and wants to play
GOLF.  Anyone interested in joining him?

How do I become a Marriage Instructor?

It's a marriage conference. Can
SINGLES attend?

Can Divorced people become marriage instructors?

CEU questions: how are they calculated? Is CME available?

Questions about Institutes:
 - Are Institutes really cheaper if I attend the conference?
 - What's a two-day Institute mean?

 - If there's a workshop and an Institute of the same title, should I take both?
 - Is it OK for *non-professionals* to attend TRAINING INSTITUTES? We're just the public
- Can I only take one pre-conference and one post-conference Institute, there are three or four I'd like to take??!
- FREE Institute Materials - Too Good to be True, What's the Catch?

I'd like to find a
ROOMMATE to split costs


Where can I get more info about the keynote/plenary sessions?
Can I attend only the Banquets, I'm only free in the evenings? Can I bring a guest?
What to Wear?

Registration questions: Do I have to pick sessions? I need to switch Institutes.

We have a group of SEVEN.  How do we get the
group discount for all of us?

Spouse Discounts


Can I bring my daughters to the Women:Why Marriage Luncheon?

Can I get a list of those coming from my region in advance?
Tax Deductible?



I'm new to the conference and also a new subscriber to your e-newslist and I'm confused by all the terms you use about the conference. I registered early and now am concerned that I may have missed out because I didn't understand the difference between the Toob trainings, the workshops, Masters sessions, plenaries, seminars,
Institutes, Teach-In, roundtables, and keynotes. I think I understand how the Banquet works. (I emailed you and you said I needed to pay extra for the banquet and that I can buy a ticket for my daughter to attend the banquet with me.) I don't remember being asked to register for the TOOB sessions. Or, for the keynotes. And, I don't recall registering for the Roundtables to which you refer in your list serv messages. My daughter lives in the Orlando area and would also like to attend the Thurs night Singles session but, so far, she is only planning to join me for the Fri banquet. Is there any way she could attend the singles session? Can you please check my registration and see if there is anything I failed to do and advice about the above.

I'm sure it is confusing. It's an eight-day event and we cram in an awful lot. I
urge you to study page 21 in the conference brochure and/or visit the on-site program-at-a-glance.
If you made mistakes on your registration (failed to select session, etc) you'd have heard
from the registrar. But to be sure, I checked the reports and yours looks fine. I see that
you registered for the banquet. That's where we have the most fun and where you'll start
to get "plugged in". You do not have to register for any of the keynotes/plenary sessions including the
evening keynote events. (If an attendeed has a badge that shows they are registered for a particular day, then they are admitted to the keynote sessions for that day. You're registered for the entire conference, so you will be admitted to all the keynotes including those in the evening - Thurs, Sat, & Sunday.) You selected your Institutes and your workshops. There are no blanks on your registration. And, you did select TOOB training sessions - 10 Great Dates
and Love Notes. You might want to think about ordering the "teach out of the box" kits in advance
for those two "mini trainings", though it is not required. And, you are registerd for a Masters session
(John Gray's Grief workshop). And, you registered for a Sunday afternoon Seminar. So, you are all set. You do not have to register in advance for the Roundtables. Those are early-morning and/or Thurs or Fri afternoon interest
groups and you simply show up. Your daughter has has several options for adding the Singles event. If she has the time, she should just join you for the full conference which would include the Singles event Thurs night - i'm sure you'd both enjoy her attending the full event and if she's in the area and doesn't have to pay travel it's an especially good deal - we're bringing all the top marriage experts right to her doorstep. Or, she could register for the full day Fri for $195 and that would get her into the Opening Keynote on Thurs night, the Singles Only event Thurs night, three keynotes on Fri including lunch, and also into the 200 and 300 workshop series. Or, she can simply add the Thurs night Singles event with Scott Haltzman "Secrets of Relationships" by calling 866-992-9399 and purchasing a special ticket ($35). She could also add a Sunday Seminar for $15, and should register here: Seminar-only form.


And, to clarify the terminology:
Workshops are the basic breakout sessions - 90 mins and scheduled
during the body of the conference on Fri, Sat, Sun - the 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, and 700 series. Included in full or daily conference registrations as are the Masters, Toobs, Foobs, Seminars.
Special Invited Masters Session - based on prior evaluations, these presenters have been invited to present
a 90 min Masters level workshop. The designation lets you know that they've received very high ratings. Anyone
can register and for as many Masters Sessions as they like - the Master designation is about the presenter, not some requirement that the attendees must meet.  No requirements and no limit.
"TOOBS" are 90-min workshops but are distinguished
by the fact that they feature "teach out of the box" programs - on Fri, Sat, Sun.
"FOOBS" are 90-min workshops distinquished by the fact that they are not only
"teach out of the box" but also are FREE programs available online, thus "Free Online Out of the Box"
Seminars are the 800 series breakouts on Sun afternoon - also 90 mins long and
distinguished by being special sessions "for the public". We invite locals to
join us and "experience" a marriage or family education program. Instead of teaching
participants "how to teach" a program, these seminars actually offer the experience of taking a class, so offer a "practicum" for instructors and an experience for conference attendees. Seminars are inlcuded in a general conference registration or a Sunday-only registration.  To register for just a seminar, use the specail seminar-only form.
Training Institutes are pre and post conference and are full day trainings (1, 2 or 3 days in length)
that certify participants to teach the courses. These are not included in the general conference fee and require additional registration.
Plenary Sessions
are when we all gather in the main ballroom to listen to keynote speakers.
Plenary/keynotes sessions are included in general conference fees.
Roundtables, Teach-Ins, Networking Meetings are free, networking or information events.If you're registered for the conferecne, your badge is your admission.



This will be our first ever Smart Marriages. We are excited but it's a
challenge to figure it all out.  Can you explain how the Master Sessions
work? It says they are by Special Invitation. We'd both like to attend four
of these: 202 (Mindful Marriages), 301 (Love Without Hurt) and 401 (Imago
Dialogue with Harville Hendrix).  Are there requirements to be admitted into
those sessions? If so, how do we apply?  Are we able to take more than one? 
As you can probably guess, we're clinicians and work with couples.  You probably
have this information in the brochure but we can't find it. 
JR & M

I apologize for the frustration and don't even want to think about how much time
you spent trying to find answers.  I will answer to the list on the theory that if one asks, many wonder.....

The confusion comes from the header in the brochure: "Special Invited
Master Sessions". It's confusing but it simply means that these presenters
were invited to present a Masters Session based on their prior evaluations. 
Just register for these as you would for any other workshop.  The Master
Sessions are open to everyone and you can attend as many as you like.  There
are no requirements.

- diane

• I'm not a mental health professional, and I'd like to attend just one day

and see what this Marriage Education stuff is all about. Which day
would you sugget for someone like me?

You really can't go wrong - pick the day that is most convenient for you.
On Fri, Sat, Sun you'll see several keynotes and can choose from a wide
variety of workshops and TOOB trainings.  Plus you can attend the morning
Roundtables and Fri and Sat Teach-Ins, and
browse the 100+ Exhibits. Bring your significant other!

• Do I have to be a mental health professional to attend the conference?

No, anyone can attend the conference. You don't have to be
a mental health professional and you don't need an advanced degree.
You don't need a degree at all. Approximately 60% of the attendees
are mental health professionals attending for continuing educational purposes
but the public – both couples and singles – are warmly welcomed, and many attend.
With the large crowd (2000+) and no degrees on the badges, everyone blends in.
No one can tell the mental health folks from the lay public attendees.

• How about the intensive full-day training pre and post conference institutes?

These are also open to everyone. Anyone can learn to teach the marriage,
relationship, family & parenting skills courses. Even if you aren't interested
in teaching the programs, you can learn a lot that will help you improve your
own relationships in the pre and post conference training institutes. The institutes
are very popular. Approximately 80% of conference attendees also attend institutes.

> We're relatively new to your list and have seen you say several times that the
> public and couples are welcome to attend the entire conference, including the
> pre and post conference training institutes. But we don't quite understand how
> this works. Would we really be welcome in these training sessions? Would we
> really enjoy them? We aren't interested in becoming marriage counselors but
> are interested in which institute might be most helpful. We are in a
> relatively new remarriage with children. Please answer as soon as
> possible as we're trying to decide whether or not to attend and how many days
> to attend.

You would be very welcome in the training institutes. At Therapy/Counseling conferences
the presenters are often talking about their "patients" and their diagnosis and treatment and
therefore (due to confidentiality and ethical reasons) are prohibited from allowing the public
to attend out of concdern that a patient or someone who knows them might attend. At Smart Marriages we
are not talking about patients - instead we are talking about marriage EDUCATIOn - about
which behaviors and what knowledge best helps couples create and maintain successful,
satisfying, sexy marriages. We are also talking about how best to teach those behaviors.
Anyone, everyone is invited to attend.  I've heard from several hundred couples that have
attended Training Institutes who said it was the best possible way to learn the material
and improve their understanding and their marriages.

The best possible experience you could have would be to one of the core marriage education
classes PRE Conference, then attend and soak up all the keynotes and workshops at the conference
(there is a track of remarried/stepfamily workshops - you could take some of those),
and then take the two-day Stepfamily Institute POST Conference. Or, turn it the other way around...
start with the two-day preconference Stepfamily Institute, finish up with one of the
general marriage skills courses.  We recommend that anyone in a remarriage, even if
the kids are grown, to take a stepfamily program or two.

And, I must warn you that you might end up surprising yourselves and decide you DO want to be marriage
educators after attending the conference and seeing what fun and how rewarding it is to teach the
classes. Since I'm sharing this reply with the list, I also point out that
you don't have to be a couple to benefit from the training institutes. Many
public/lay/non-professional individuals attend and benefit greatly. In fact, I have a niece
and a best girl-friend who both say that attending institutes last year changed their lives.
We shall see.

I'm bringing a non-professional spouse. What do you suggest?

> Diane,
> I'm using the holiday break to get a start on planning our trip to Orlando.
> I've convinced my husband to come along (!!) and we'll arrive 5 days early and
> check out the Gulf of Mexico beaches and other sights you've mentioned (July
> 4th holiday makes this work for us.) My questions are about the conference. 
> Jack retires in two years and I hope he might join me in teaching marriage
> classes so I'd like sessions that let him see that this is something he can do
> and would enjoy doing.  So, I'd like ideas about how to introduce him to the
> whole idea - how to be sure he isn't intimidated and enjoys the experience.  I
> think you've made suggestions about this in the past and I hate to bother you
> but I can't find them on the website. 
> Marilyn

Let me reassure you: there will be many ways to ease him in and he, like many spouses before him, should fully enjoy the experience. Also, since this is first time you're bringing a spouse, remember that you can purchase a discount spouse registration for the full conference - that's not the case at other mental health conferences so many fail to realize the deal. Even if he doesn't plan to attend the full conference, this is by far the least expensive way to sample.  Buying tickets for one day or one or two events quickly becomes more expensive than the spouse-discounted, full-conference registration.

I agree that FUN is a good place for you to start. You want
him to see how easy and fun this stuff is to teach, so, yes, sign him up for
the action sessions.  (I can guarantee you'll both enjoy the keynotes and
banquets - it's great to hear the big sessions together, especially this year with the sex subtheme emerging.)

To find the ACTIVE sessions see the "Let's Have Fun Track".  I was asked a
few years back for *sessions that would be lively, active, entertaining and
not just lecture* for a drag-along non-professional spouse which prompted me to list these
in a list – a track.  This has been extremely popular and well-received:

As for teaching AFTER he retires, I think all the sessions have that magical effect.  He'll see that Marriage Education is such practical, needed info that he'll WANT to help you get it to the couples in your community.  I'd say ALL the keynotes will have this effect but if he plans to play golf during the day, you could just buy a ticket for the Friday night Banquet, Becoming Better Husbands $39, the Sat Night Live with John Gray: Venus on Fire/Mars on Ice $35; and the Sunday Night Comedy Cafe $35. 

I can also assure you that you can tell him he'll blend right in....that's often a concern. With a crowd this size no one knows who is one of those *shrinks* and who is a member of "Joe public" - and that goes for the Training Institutes.  If you know which programs you might want to teach, it's the most affordable place to have him get trained and certified.

And, best of all, it will also be good for your marriage even if it's already great - many couples attend every year *for the refresher*.  Last year a woman told me she attended the Hold Me Tight training (#908) to use in her clinical work but she brought her husband along and month's later emailed to say that *attending the training together changed their life completely*.  :)   - diane

Golf Anyone?
Dear Diane:
I’m bringing my husband for the first time this year.  He wants to play golf some of the time, and would like to let people know his e-mail address.  He’s up for playing right at the Rosen Shingle Creek 18 hole professional course (rounds are $150 right now, but might be cheaper at that time because it’s NOT peak season that week), but would be open to trying out other courses in the area as well.  If there are other husbands or wives who want to hook up with him for a few golf rounds, they are welcome to e-mail him at:  They’ll need to contact him by the end of the first week in March so he can get the rounds coordinated.   
Kelly Roberts, MS, LMFT
Oklahoma  - sent 2/09

Wow, I had no idea golf was so expensive!? But during the conference the rate for Shingle Creek hotel guests is $69 for 18 holes and $44 for the twilight rate which starts at 2pm. I hope your husband will let us know if he finds out the prices on public courses in the area.  I did try to negotiate a conference rate with Shingle Creek during contract negotiations. No dice.   - diane

Kelly's GOLF UPDATE sent Jan 2010:

Mick DID come with me to the 2009 Orlando Conference and he played golf every day. When we arrived, he signed up for tee times every day and ended up connecting with three or four spouses of Smart Marriage attendees and played with them all four days.

As you recall, it rained a great deal.  The golf course was really quite good, but play was (on some days) limited because of the water.  However, he wants to come again this year and wants to play again - so, please announce to the list.  Mick is a USGA ca member and keeps his handicap card up for amateur tournaments, so he's pretty critical of courses...and he did like this one.

One other thing you might not know...every day, they only charged him like $15 or even let him play free because they felt bad about the rain.  It was a great bonus!

Kelly Roberts

> I plan to attend the Conference. What do I need to do to be trained
> and certified to teach marriage education classes? Should I select certain
> workshops or I will get live training? Please explain the process. - Tanvir

You can get live training and certification as an instructor in several programs by attending the pre and post conference Institutes. See the list of 35 Training Institutes at:

Or, you can buy the TOOB (Teach Out-Of-the-Box) or download the FOOB programs (Free Online Out-of-the-Box) programs and use them to start teaching. No training or certification necessary, though the developers of the TOOB & FOOB programs will also present 90-min workshops to give pointers for how to best implement their programs.


• Is the conference for couples, or can singles attend?

We receive many inquiries from singles asking if they should attend.  The
answer is: YES! Many singles attend and love it – some to be
trained as relationship and marriage educators; others to get smarter about
relationships and marriage – for their own benefit; and, some also on the
chance that they might meet other singles that are hoping to someday
practice what they learn at Smart Marriages®.

The conference is suitable for married, single, engaged, cohabiting,
divorced, single parents, widows & widowers, step parents, all ethnic groups, etc.
The skills work for everyone – anyone. (Married folks also attend
without their spouses – though it's much more fun if you can bring them along.)

Anyone can teach marriage education courses, so singles attend to take
the training and also to become certified marriage educators or to use the skills in their
practice – just like anyone else. In addition, there are courses like "How to Avoid
Falling For A Jerk" and "Journey to Love for Singles and Singles Again" and "Dating &
Cohabiting Couples"- focused on working with single populations. See the "singles track" at:

At past conferences, we were asked to help singles meet each other - attendees
said they'd like to know who is single because they'd like to meet someone who, like them, wants
to try to have a "Smart Marriage®" – or, just to find a buddy, someone to hang out with during the

We have also added a special singles-only seminar scheduled the first night to increase your
odds of meeting a conference buddy early on. This session is for those who are single (as in
'single and not married' - not, as in, 'married but attending the conference alone.') "Secrets of Great
" - Thurs, July 8, 8:45pm - 10pm taught by Scott Haltzman.
Singles only. 1.5 hrs CE. No extra fee or registration necessary. If you have a conference badge, just
show up.

We've also added an (optional) stickers for single's badges so you can recognize each other. (No one else even notices, they're too busy and too married – but those with radar, see the stickers. It works.)

Many singles find roommates (2 to 4 people rooming together), who report
that it's nice to have "buddies" to hang out with and also to split costs. To find a roommate,
click on the roommate button on the Conference page.

CAN LOCAL SINGLES ATTEND SPECIAL EVENTS without attending the entire conference? 

Yes, local singles can attend special conference events without attending the full conference: like the opening night seminar with Scott Haltzman *Secrets to Great Relationships*; the John Van Epp Sunday afternoon seminar *How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk*; the Sat Night Live with John Gray and/or the Sunday night Comedy Club.  And, yes, these all would make great dates for local singles.  You'll learn a lot - mainly that there's a huge group of people that believe you can learn how to have a very smart and sexy and sustainable marriage - change your odds.  These sessions are all included in a conference registration (should you decide to go all in), but if you want to attend any or all of these special events, you can register for them individually on the Special Events form:

The form is also available as a link from the Conference ONLINE registration form:

Is it possible for divorced people to become trainers?

Many of our wisest and most INSPIRED and determined instructors are divorced. 


• It looks like the training institutes are cheaper if I also attend the

Yes. Institutes are $185 per day if you attend only institutes. If you also attend the conference,
institutes are $135 per day.  Note that this means that if you're taking a 3-day Institute you'd
save $150 which you could then apply to the conference registration. If you attend ONLY the
institute, you get a 3-day Institute for$555.  If you attend the Institute at the "with conference" price,
you get the 3-day training for $405, plus the full conference (23 keynotes, 3 lunches, seven 90-min workshops) for
$770.  In other words, that way you get to add the full conference for only $215.

• When a pre-conference class is advertised as "two-days" Wed-Thurs,
does this mean it is a one-day class taught on two different
days or one class taught over a two-day period?

It means it's one class taught over a two day period. You need to attend both days to be
certified as an instructor in the program.
Likewise, for three-day institutes, you must attend all three days: Tues, Wed, Thurs.
You cannot split the institutes. That is, you cannot attend one day of one two-day
institute and another day of another institute. You can, of course, attend both a pre-conference
institute and a post-conference institute.
• Can I take a training institute if I am not a mental health
provider or are these only for psychologists and counselors? Also, if I can
take these training programs, which session would you suggest? I
want to teach marriage preparation in my church. If I can't take the training
institutes, which workshops would best equip me to begin this ministry?

You can definitely take the institutes. That's what they're for – to
train anyone to present the programs. You'll be qualified to teach
the courses after taking the institute training – and you'll have the
manuals and materials. Mental Health professionals also take the institutes
for this purpose – most have not had this training as part of their degree
program – so there will be lots of therapists in the institutes with you.

As to which one you should take, please go to the web site and click on
*conference*. Then click on *Institutes*. Then click on the "for more information"
link that is part of each institute description. There is a tremendous amount of
information on the web site about what each institute offers that is not in
the conference brochure. It will tell you what materials are included, what
the program will prepare you to do, etc.

(And, yes, even if you aren't interested in teaching the programs you are
welcome to attend them just to learn in-depth ideas for strengthening your

Also, you will find that the regular conference workshops will be very
helpful with ideas about how to combine programs, implement what you've
learned in the institutes, advertise, etc.

Also, it sounds like you would very much enjoy the Family Ministry roundtables
where you can learn from others what has worked - or not - in their
congregation. The roundtables are open admission - no need to register.
Bring a bagel and coffee, or eat first. They meet Thur, Fri, and Sat mornings at 7:30am.
(Note: there is also a Military roundtable for chaplains, counselors
and family life educators that work in a Military setting, and Latino, African American,
Asian, CMP, School/Youth, Sexuality, Retrouvaille, Refugees
. See schedule.)

And, don't miss the Teach-Ins on Fri & Sat afternoons from 5:15-6:30pm. Just
show up, no need to register.
See schedule.


> From the schedule i have seen so far online, I  conclude I can only attend ONE pre
> conference institute and 1 post conference institiute becasue they all run
> concurrently. I would like to attend about 6 preconference institutes and a
> few post conference. Is it true I can only attend 1 of each for said reasons?
> what are the costs of these institues? If at a later time, if I order your
> comprehensive recording package, will the pre and post conferences also be
> included on dvd-sound and picture and in the package? Also, some of the
> workshops and some of the institutes have TOOB material. Is it included in the
> conference fee or cost per instittue day? If I choose 1 institute and would
> like to have attended many, can I purchase their TOOB kits if such are
> available for those programs?  Regards,Bob

We feel your pain.  However, you can only attend 1 pre-conference training institute and only 1 post-conference training institute each year.  We don't have a cloning machine and they run concurrently.

The Institutes are NOT recorded.  Everything else at the conference is recorded - all the workshops and keynotes and banquet and luncheons and are available individually or on the comprehensive Ipod or CDs. 

If a program has a TOOB (teach out of the box kit) and also is being offered as an Institute, the TOOB materials are sometimes free to those that attend the Institute training.  Sometimes not.  Each Institute has a click-for-more-information live link at the end of its brief description here:  
The details include what materials you'll receive.  Read each one in which you have interest.  For example, Active Relationships  gives away a TON of their TOOB materials worth over $1,000 - they give this material away at NO other training, ONLY at Smart Marriages. 

BUT to try to answer your question and help you make decisions, even if you don't attend the Institute Training you can purchase the TOOBs. The teach-out-of-the-box programs do not require training - the trainings are offered because training is always a helpful plus - the chance to spend time being trained by the founders.  TOOB/Institutes also often offer workshops during the body of the general conference - examples: Basic Training; How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk; Etc Etc. - diane

> Mike and I would like to attend the two day sessions of Harvel Hendrick &
> Helen Hunt's Imago Therapy #112. We are "the public," that is, not educators,
> clergy or therapists. Is this appropriate
  Can we just register for this
> pre-institute offering?  - DM

Yes, you can register just for this pre-conference session without attending the Conference. Just complete the online forms or fax in your registration - note the institute price is different - there are *with conference* and a *without the conference* prices.   

I can understand your question about whether the *Public* should attend something that's called *TRAINING*.  However I can assure you that couples and singles attend Training Institutes and report that *they get so much out of it*.   It's of great benefit to hear the core concepts in these day-long sessions - what makes marriages succeed or fail. And, oftentimes, after they see what it's all about, these *just public* attendees they decide they do want to become lay marriage or family educators after all. 

The public is also very much encouraged to attend the full conference – I can assure you that you'll blend in.  We do not designate degrees or affiliations on badges, and remember educators and experts also have marriages and relationships - so we're really all in the same boat, all there to also improve our own relationships. 

ALSO, with the Institute pricing differential – Institutes are deeply discounted for those that also attend the conference, you can add on the full conference for only $200 additional. In addition to the 23 keynotes, 7 breakouts (choose from 140 sessions) and 3 lunches, the conference includes two additional 90 Min workshops by Harville and Helen on Saturday: an Imago Masters Session (Imago Dialogue Live #401) and #505 a teach-out-of-the-box program, A New Way to Love.  You'll have had all day Friday to have digested the Institute material and would very much benefit by seeing these refreshers as they put the principles into action.

PLUS, at the Conference, you'll have access to 200 of the country's top marriage and relationship experts.  The conference includes 22 keynote sessions, 3 Lunches (Fri, Sat, Sunday), and you can chose among 140 90-minute workshops.  Check the brochure and you'll see the amazing topics: Divorce Busting Secrets; Erotic Intelligence; Hold Me Tight; Becoming Better Husbands, Shared Goals; Couples Sexual Styles; The Sexy Brain; 5 Keys to Successful Marriages .....and so on.

Let me explain the pricing:
If you attend only the Institute Mike pays $370 for the two days and you pay $270 (that's the *institute only* price with the spouse discount).  That's $640 total.  If you attend the Institute at the discounted "with conference" price your total for the Institute for the two of you, is only $405.  You can add on the full conference for both of you for an additional $395 - only  $200 each. That's taking the spouse discounts on the Conference and the Institute.

I'm very interested in taking the Pre Workshop Marriage Links #113 with John Van Epp. I see that he is doing the a Sat workshop 405  Marriage Links which is a TOOB.  Do I need to register for both of
these or is everything that is going to be covered in the Sat workshop also covered
in the Pre Con Training?  I would hate to miss valuable information, but also with sooooo many great
choices, would hate to attend both his workshops if I don't really need
to. I have the same question about the Mastering the Mysteries of Stepfamilies workshop
#409 and post-conference training?? You can see that I also would have a conflict here if I want to
take both trainings and it's recommended that I take the workshops on Sat as well, as these two are in
the same time frame. OH and also I notice the Van Epp Pre Con Institute has a note that says..."for
churches, schools, and bases".  None of those apply to me, will his content
and material still be appropriate for someone in private practice? I've already trained in his
How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk program and find that it works well for me in what I'm doing. -Paige

First, I see that we sometimes create confusion with these brief add-on tags/clarifiers.  John wanted to add "for churches,
groups, bases" to clarify that in addition to using the program in clinical work it is also a great for churches
and bases.  Second, for all Institutes that also ofer a workshop, rest assured that the Institutes are inclusive – they'll
present the inclusive material.  The workshops are a 90-min training for those that can't make it to the full Institute Trainings - or that want even more, a refresher or an intro. But, no, you definitely do NOT need to attend both the Institutes and the workshops for any of these. Third, I strongly encourage you to go to the Institute page on the website and click on the "for more information" link at the end of EACH brief Institute description.  You'll see a whole page of additional information on each Institute - they'll give details on what materials you'll receive, what you'll be able to do, etc. 


> Smart Marriages,
> I am considering attending your Conference and have spent considerable time
> reading the brochure.  I finally went to the website this evening as the
> brochure advises to read more about the various institutes.  I want to clarify
> with you what it means when the institutes say "materials you will receive".
> For example #102 says "Total value of institute materials approximates $1,000.
> ARC offers this comprehensive package of materials at no other conference
> except Smart Marriages."  The tuition for the training is $405 which I was
> already thinking was a good deal for a course where I'll receive 22.5 hours of
> CEU credit.  What does it mean, "ARC offers" this package?  Will this package
> be for sale to Institute participants, when it wouldn't normally be for
> sale/"offered" as a package deal?  Institute #104 says you'll receive a
> "complete Instructor Kit ($350 value)" and #904 says "receive the facilitator
> kit (a $375 value) and waiver of license fees ($150) as Smart Marriages
> conference bonuses."  Would I RECEIVE these for no additional payments?  The
> tuition for the 8 Habits training is only $270. I'd receive the training and
> certification plus materials worth more than I'd paid for the sessions? 
> What's the catch?  My parents taught me that if something looks too good to be
> true it probably is.  Also, IF this IS the case, if these materials are FREE
> to all participants you should mention this fact in the conference brochure.
> Your instructions in the brochure to "read the fine print about the
> institutes" doesn't even hint at these bonuses and bonanzas, but gives quite a
> different impression.
> Richard T

Yes, those materials as described/listed are completely FREE to Institute participants.  There are no additional fees.  As it says in the brochure and on the website, each Institute is different in what it offers which is why it's hard to splash it on the cover.  The Materials' fees are also why there are spouse discounts - the spouse discounts are based on receiving only one set of materials.  If you and your wife took #102 together and she paid the spouse discount fee, the two of you would share one set of materials.  If you each paid the full fee, you'd receive TWO kits worth $1,000 each - and so on.  What's the catch?  I guess it's that the Institute presenters want trained instructors out in the field who are ready and equipped to teach.  You sent this to me personally, but I'm going to share it with the Smart Marriages elist and also post it on the Institute FAQs page.  You can subscribe to the elist on the website.  (It's FREE - there is no catch.) - diane

> Greetings:
> I would like to know more about the Grant Writing #620 and Evaluation #320 Workshops. - Daryl VanderWilt

The Grant Writing workshop is presented by successful grant recipient Dennis Stoica.
Includes step-by-step guidelines and great handouts. He received more marriage grant money than
anyone in the country.  The Does It Work Evaluation workshop is intended to help you figure out how to
select tools and set up protocols to evaluate the effectiveness of your marriage strengthening efforts.

I'd like to find a roommate to split the cost of the hotel.

Click for roommate information. You send your info and we will give your email address and phone
numbers to others who are looking for a roommate. We suggest you reserve
a room first, (specify that you want a "double/double" which means two double queen beds rather
than a king bed) and then look for a roommate. You can always cancel the hotel,
but if you fail to reserve a room, they may sell out. AFTER JULY 1st, plan to look for
a roommate at the conference, using the message boards - people are 99% successful at
finding someone.

I must have CEUs (continuing education units) for my state license.
Which CEUs does the conference provide?

We provide: Counseling, Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology,
and Family Life Educator CE. Click here for the details.

Call your state boards with questions, or call Cassidy at 866-992-9399
and we may be able to help you. Ask for Clare at ext. 100

I'm only attending one day. How many CEUs will I earn?

Please see the program-at-a-glance in the conference brochure (pg 21) or on-line at
program.html. Hours vary by day. The CEU instruction hours are written next
to each session
. Add them for your total. Or, email
with specific questions. If you attend the full conference plus all possible training
institute hours, plus the Friday night banquet and Thurs luncheon, you can earn up to
67.5 hours of CE. If you're single you can also add the Singles Only Seminar on
Wed night for an additional 1.5 hrs and bring your total to 69 hrs. Be sure to
complete an on-line conference evaluation form and
answer questions for each session you attend by July 30, in order to receive

• I'm still not clear how the pricing and CEs work. If I attend training
institutes, how much will it cost? How many CEs can I earn?

I'll use the PREP and Smart Stepfamilies Institutes as examples.

Institutes are $185 per day if you attend only institutes (no conference.)

Institutes are $135 a day if you also attend the conference.

You earn 7.5 hrs of CE for each day of institute attendance.

You earn 26.75 hrs if you attend the full conference.

Full conference registration (Thurs 6:30pm - Sun 10pm) is $365 and includes all
eleven plenary/keynote sessions and seven 90-min workshops.

You can add the Fri night banquet (2 hr) and the Thurs Luncheon (1.25 hrs) for
an additional 3.25 hrs for 30 hrs CE

If you're single, you can also add the Singles Only seminar and add an additional 1.5 hrs
CE for 31.25 hrs.

a. ) If you attend only the three-day PREP pre-conference institute it would
cost $555. You would earn 22.5 CEUs.

b.) If you attend the full conference ($365) plus the three-day PREP pre conference training
institute ($405) - for a total of $770, you would earn 49.25 hrs CE. (***Note that this means
you can attend the 3-day PREP institute plus the entire conference -
including 11 keynotes & seven 90-min workshops which includes three lunch keynotes - for only an additional
$215 more than you'd pay for the 3-day PREP institute, alone. $770 vs $555).

c.) If you attend the full conference and also attend both the pre 3-day PREP Institute and
the two-day Stepfamily post-conference Institute, your total would be $1040 and
you would earn 64.25 CEUs.

d) **Note: you can also add the Fri night banquet (2 hr/$39) or Thurs Lunch (1.25 hr/$26)
increase any of the above CE totals. If you added both, you'd have 67.5.  Add the singles event for a
total of 69 hrs,

• If I attend an institute, and it says I'm qualified or
certified to teach the course, does that mean I'll also receive
CEUs for attending?

Attending various institutes will "certify" or "qualify" you to teach those
programs or use the materials in your practice - or lives. This depends
on which institute you attend. Please see the institute descriptions and
details to understand whether or not they (the programs) qualify (certify) you
through their training institutes.

This qualification is awarded through the organization (i.e. - through
PREP or FOCCUS, etc.) that is presenting the institute. This is separate from
and over and above the professional mental health CE hours awarded by
state or national professional boards through CMFCE/CASSIDY.

To receive your professional 7.5 hrs of CE for each day of institute training,
you must complete an on-line evaluation form after the conference.

All your CE hours - institutes, conference, banquet, etc. - whatever you attend,
will be included on one form that you will print on-line after the conference.
Note that a few Institutes do not qulaify for CE credits.


• Dear Sirs: I need 32 hours of continuing education credits. How much of the
> conference must I attend to get this number of hours? In several places it
> says there is a total of 64 hours but nowhere does it say how the hours are
> allotted. Please advise.

You can find this information in two places. Go to page 21 in the
conference brochure. The hours allocated for each time frame are written there
- inside each block - on the program-at-a-glance. 2 hrs CE,
1.5 hrs CE, etc. You can add them up and calculate what it takes to reach 32.

Or, go to the web site and click on conference and then on program-at-a-glance which includes
the same information.



> Hi Diane, I have (I hope) a simple questions. Do you know how I can get CEU's
> for the conference training Institutes. I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and
> would really like to get CME's for the course if possible.
> Kathy Schleier
> Whitfield/Murray Marriage Initiative
We don't have CME approval but we do have ALL the mental health approvals.
I suggest you submit a Certificate of Attendance to your board and request approval.
This has worked in the past for nurses. The certificate will show that the Smart Marriages
conference (and institutes) ARE approved by the APA, ASWB and NBCC national
boards plus all the individual state boards such as the CA Board of Behavioral Science,
PA SW board, OH, FL and IL Mental Health Boards, etc. etc. Pretty compelling and
convincing for Nurse Practitioner boards. Though I must caution you that there are no
guarantees, it's up to your board.

By the way, none of the Marriage/Family Education Programs taught in the Training Institutes
offer CME's when they teach in other locations – so this isn't a problem limited to Smart Marriages.
You would likely face the same dilemma wherever you take these trainings.

****Note: We're updating the CE listings as different state approvals come in. But
realize that ALL states have been applied for and granted each of the previous 13 years.

***See exceptions for what Ohio and Utah are doing.

• I would like to reserve two workshop videos which I will

purchase at the conference - in order to avoid the shipping & handling charges.

Keynote sessions are available on audio or video - on CD, MP3 or DVD.

Workshops and seminars are available on audio - on CD or MP3.

CD or MP3 download audios $15.95 per session.

DVD video format of keynotes & banquets is $29.95 per session.

There is no need to reserve recordings in advance. Playback Now will have
a booth at the conference and recordings will be available to
purchase and take home with you.

You can also order recordings by calling 800-241-7785, or order on-line at

Check for special package discounts.

Institutes are not recorded - no audio or video recordings are made of the pre or post conference training institutes.


• ** I would like information about the plenary sessions.
There is no description of them in the brochure. How are we supposed to know
which ones to register for. "Love in the Time of Twitter" vs "Porn Addiction"
for instance, doesn't give me enough information. Maybe

it's some insider thing, but I've never been to one of your conferences and
I've never seen a conference that doesn't provide this information.

First, I'm sorry. It's a smalll brochure - and we do leave a lot out. (Or
'to the imagination', as someone said nicely.) You are not alone.
Several have called with this question - about how and where to
indicate which plenary sessions you want to attend - i.e. Pat Love or Mark Laaser.

I understand that it appears that you must choose. However, you don't have to.
Love and Laaser will EACH give a keynote speech at the plenary session on Saturday morning.
You will see them both.  If you are registered for the full conference, you are registered for all 11 plenary sessions
and you will see all the pictured keynote speakers. You don't need to register for any of the
plenary/keynote sessions. Your badge will admit you to all of the plenary/keynote sessions.

However, to attend the Friday night BANQUET keynote or the Thurs Luncheon keynote you must register pay
an additional fee per person. YES, these are banquets/luncheons so do include the meal.
And, yes, you can purchase a banquet ticket ($39) or luncheon ticket ($26) for a GUEST who is
not attending the conference. You can purchase a one-day ticket for a guest ($195) which would include
keynotes and workshops on that day, but not the Fri banquet or the Thurs luncheon.  However, it would
include the lunches on Fri, Sat or Sun.

If you'd like more information on the keynotes, go to the web site - click on *conference* and then on
*keynotes* to read brief descriptions of each of the sessions. From there you can
also click on *keynote bios* near the top for additional info on the
speakers and for contact information. That will give you an idea of what to
expect - you might want to read their books in advance, etc.

Can I attend only the banquet and the evening sessions?  I live in Orlando and
would like to see Bill Doherty, Gary Chapman, John Gray and the Comedy Cafe
but am not able to attend the conference. Is this possible?
Sorry, the evening events are open only to Conference attendees and their guests.

Do I have to register for the banquet and Luncheon when I send in my registration or can
that be done later. I am not sure at this time if I will have guests.

You can register for the conference and then add banquet/lunch tickets later as long as
you add them by June 1st. Or, you can purchase your meal tickets
now and then add guest tickets later – by June 1.


I get at least two questions a week asking about conference attire -
especially the banquets. We should probably just call them dinners - cut
down on the misperception. Here's a reply from last year I'll use again.

>> Diane--
>> I'm were wondering what to wear to Smart Marriages.
>> A shirt and tie, or polo and khakis, or jeans and a T-shirt?
>> For the banquets, a suit or a tuxedo?
>> Jay
> I'm so bad at this – I barley notice. So if any of the vets want to write in
> and correct me, I'll pass it on. But I think I'd say that polo and kakis are
> most suitable. We say "casual business" but know that can mean just about
> anything depending on where you work. Shirt with a collar is best. I
> don't think anyone wears jeans and a T-shirt, but, again, it just may be that
> I just don't notice.
> Banquet – shirt and tie would be nice, and you wouldn't look out of place,
> though it's not at all necessary. A few wear suits. Haven't noticed any tuxes. It's
> great dinner table conversation and great presentation. Also, the afternoon keynote
> ends
at 5pm followed by two great Teach-In's from 5:15-7pm. And, the banquet
> starts at 7pm so there is no time to change. Plus you'll want any spare time to
> shop the exhibits – not get dressed.

> MOST IMPORTANT – comfortable shoes!! And, WARM long sleeves to layer over
> whatever you're wearing. People literally FREEZE in the air conditioning.
> In fact, we should be selling sweatshirts – we'd make a fortune. Dress in
> easily adjusted layers.
> Diane


• Diane, the registrar has emailed me quite insistently to say that I have to
> make session choices or they won't process my badge. I paid in full and I
> really can't make my decisions yet about what I want to attend. There are many
> concurrent sessions that I need to attend and I may want to attend part of one
> and part of another. I'm not being difficult, I need this for my work. Can you
> please help me with this?

Registration requires that you make selections because your
session assignments will be printed (as session numbers) on your badge.

Badges will be mailed to everyone BEFORE the conference -
(unless your registration is incomplete or if you are traveling from
outside the U.S. in which case your badge is held for pick-up at the
conference registration desk.)

The registrar can hold your form and process your registration and print

your badge at the conference, however, this will mean you will have to stand
in line and it also means you will be limited to the sessions that are still open
- that still have room - and it means you will be charged the late fee.

If you can possibly make your decisions now, send them to the registrar and
you will receive your first choices, receive your badge in the mail and be
ready to go when you get to the conference. No standing in line.
Even if you have to change a session, that's easier to do than starting from

I'm really sorry, but we can't have you going from one session to another. It is very disruptive and
isn't fair to the others in the session - to the presenters or the
attendees. You can purchase recordings of the sessions you miss. They are
ready to take home with you - or you can have them shipped. ALL sessions except the
training institutes are recorded. Recordings are $15.95 per session for audio CDs or MP3 downloads.
• I need to change my registration for the conference. My
supervisor needs me to take the Family Wellness training instead of
the Couple Communiation Institute. The price
is the same so should I just take
care of this at the conference? I don't want
to make more work for you.

You should take care of any session changes ASAP, especially institutes, the
instructors need to know how many manuals to bring.
But even if it's for a workshop, please make the change before you get to
the conference. It's best to do this via email before the end of June. Email the registrar at
with your name and changes. If there is money involved -
e.g. - if you are adding a banquet or another institute - they will get
back to you about additional amount due.

Please be aware that the price is not the same. Family Wellness is a three-day
institute and Couples Communication is a two-day Institute. Be sure you are
able to arrive on Monday night for the Family Wellness Institute which
begins at 8:30am Tues morning. Click on institutes on the web site for complete
information. It's all spelled out there - what each institute equips you to do, when it starts, etc.

We have a group of SEVEN. 
We are two couples, one grad student (my daughter) and two staff who will
help cover our exhibit. How do we get the 20% group discount for all of us?

To get the group discount you need four registrations - then a 5th person is
free. In other words, with a group of seven you earn one free registration.  It's best to
work it so that you take one of the more expensive registrations as your earned freebee.

The four group qualifying registrations can be any combo of regular, spouse, & student registrations. 

To get the best deal you'd use the 2 spouse and the student ($265 each)
and one regular for your first four. Then one of the regular rates ($365) can be the 5th
free registration.

The other two would pay the regular rate.


> Diane,
> We have several questions. 1) To get the spouse discount for the conference,
> do we have to attend the same workshops? 2) When we called and talked to you
> about what training institutes to take you suggested that we attend different
> programs so that we'd have several to teach in our practice. But if we do
> that we won't qualify for the spouse discount for the institutes. Is that
> right? 3) We have three friends that would like to attend the Sunday
> seminars. We see how to register them for $15 using the seminar form. But can they
> also purchase tickets for the Bill Doherty banquet and the
> John Gray event on Saturday night and the Comedy Cafe on Sunday Night?
> We don't see a way to do that.
> Ed and Nancy M

1) You do NOT have to attend the same Workshops to qualify for the spouse
discount for the conference. That's why we ask you to fill out two registrations -
because your session choices might be different. You'll be able to sit together
at all 11 general/plenary sessions, so you'll have plenty of time together. And if you attend
different workshops, you'll have lots to discuss in the evening.

2) To qualify for the $50 a day discount spouse Institute discount you MUST attend
the same institute. You get the discount because you share training materials
and because the programs like to train couples who will teach the courses together.
And, that is an advantage – both being trained to teach the same course. BUT
when you called, we discussed the other advantage – that of having 4 distinct
programs to take home with you: the certifications to teach them, and the materials.

3) You can add your friends as guests to your registration for the Bill Doherty Becoming Better
Husbands Friday night banquet ($39).  To register for the John Gray ($65) & the Comedy Cafe ($35)
Sat & Sunday night events, use the Seminar/special events form to purchase special tickets.
If they want to attend all those events, it makes much more sense for them to just purchase
a registration - they'd enjoy the whole conference, I'm sure.


> I'm a grad student and would like to volunteer for the 2-day pre-conference
> institute, Mastering the Magic of Love. I won't be able to attend the conference because
> I'm in a wedding that weekend, but I don't leave town until Friday, so can work these two days. A
> student in my program volunteered at your conference last year and had glowing
> things to say about the experience. Hope I'm not too late.
> Nicki C.

I'm so sorry but volunteers must work the entire conference in order to get/work one
of the volunteer spots in an institute. Maybe next year.

For Volunteer information:/volunteers.html


> Diane,
> All this talk about the keynote on "Women: Why Marriage?" is inspiring me to
> want to bring my teenage daughters to it. However, I would only bring them to
> this. Is there a charge for just the keynote? I don't want to open a can of
> worms -- free admission for teens, etc. but thought I'd ask in case you've
addressed this before. Thanks and Take Care, MM

It's a luncheon so you'd have to pay for lunch. It's $26 pp. (On Thurs,
July 8, a very nice plated lunch.) No extra charge for the keynote.

I wonder, however, if Marline Pearson might let them audit her two-day Love
Notes. That would be a fantastic experience for them. We should check it
out. They'd not receive the included materials, but wouldn't need them to
have a wonderful experience.

> 117 Two Days - Wednesday & Thursday, July 7 & 8 Love Notes, MA Marline
> Pearson, MA We can't wait until they have their 1st (or 2nd) child, or are
> ready to come as a couple. Target youth 16-24 at risk for unplanned pregnancy
> and single parenting (or already pregnant or parenting) to engage them
> (including males) on healthy relationships, sexual meaning & choices, and an
> approach to pregnancy prevention that builds on the importance of fathers in
> the lives of their children. $100 spouse discount. Click for more information:

They might want to make themselves available for 1) child care and/or 2)
exhibit baby-sitting. People are always in need of both - they'd learn a
lot if they work an exhibit and make money doing it. If they're interested,
send me their info and I'll post it here.

Hi Diane,
I would love to know who else is coming for the conference from the West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale area in Florida. I thought I saw an email way back about networking opportunities. Is there a way to connect right before the conference? I would like to compare notes with others from my area.
Julia Sanna

Sorry, but we don't have that info for pre-conference networking. You can look up who is attending from your area
at the list of registrants at the registration desk and use bulletin boards to try to connect.

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