Why would I train in Imago Relationship Therapy, especially given that it appears more expensive than some other trainings?

In his article “Bad Couples Therapy and How to Avoid It” (Psychotherapy Networker, 2011) Bill Doherty notes that many therapists who are offering couple therapy are not trained in working with couples. The dynamic between couples, as it plays out in the therapy room, is very different than working with individuals talking about their relationships.

Maybe some of us, as couple therapists, are even trying, consciously or unconsciously, to fix our parents’ relationship and end up feeling just as powerless and overwhelmed as when we were children. I have heard numerous horror stories from couples who went to see a therapist for help with their relationship and were either told they should separate or were referred to two individual therapists because the therapist didn’t have the training or competence to help the couple effectively.

Training in Imago Relationship Therapy:

  • helps therapists respond with integrity to the increasing demand from couples for top quality relationship therapy that will really help them work through their issues. Most couples who go for couples’ therapy do want to stay together and many are willing to pay well for good help;
  • focuses on enhancing the connection between partners, in the moment, in the here and now;
  • gives therapists and couples a solid theory of relationships that makes so much sense and is supported by the latest research into interpersonal neuropsychology. This theoretical understanding of couple dynamics guides the therapist’s interventions;
  • provides therapists and couples with tools for increasing their awareness of the deep emotions that lie beneath their conflicts and how these are often connected to childhood relational hurts. It does this in a way that evokes empathy rather than reactivity between partners, thereby inviting them to grow beyond their defensive adaptations into new possibilities for mutual healing and growth. (You might want to check out the RSA video The Power of Outrospection on this post, for a perspective on the importance of empathy to society in the coming years. Where better to practice it than at home);
  • supports therapists through an international community of Imago-trained therapists, who are dedicated to effectively helping couples and committed to growing Imago theory and practice. We stay connected and available across the miles through a list-serve, conferences, phone bridges, think tanks, advanced trainings and other electronic and face-to-face means;
  • is a one-year program consisting of 96 hours of in-class training plus supervision to a standard of competence for accreditation. Extensive written material in the form of a text and a toolbox is provided as well as a suggested reading list. On an hour-for-hour basis it works out comparable in cost to other top level trainings. Payment plans are available;
  • encourages therapists to expand their skillfulness in facilitating couples through a safe, supportive feedback process based on an understanding of what it takes to develop competence;
  • perhaps most importantly, it gives participants a unique experience of safety and connection that will most likely transform their own relationships and impact their work with all their clients. Non-therapist partners are welcome to audit the course.

These are just some of the reasons so many therapists who take the Imago Relationship Therapy training describe it as “the best training I have ever taken”.

Article by Sophie Slade, Ph.D. Certified Imago Relationship Therapist, Workshop Presenter & Senior Clinical Instructor.  Winner of the Harville Hendrix Award for Clinical Excellence.


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