Imago Therapy Training Online with Michele O’Mara, PhD

Imago Therapy Training Online with Michele O’Mara, PhD

Imago Therapy Training Online: What is it?

Imago Therapy is one of several counseling approaches to couples seeking help for their relationships. This approach is designed to assist partners in identifying how their unconscious mind has been influenced by their unique childhood experiences.

Growing up, we are surrounded by people, places and things that inform us about the world. We learn what types of behaviors to expect from people, based on the people we are most commonly exposed to. Our brain is built for shortcuts, for efficiency. Therefore, each time we negotiate a new behavior our brain is assessing the situation for the best responses – the responses that keep us safe and provide us with what we need.

What works for us may not work for others, including our siblings. Though we are raised in the same family, with the same adults, we all have unique relationships with different nuances. Suppose you grew up with one sibling in a family of four. Your mother was moody, unpredictable, and would occasionally get so mad she would stop talking to you for days, maybe even weeks. This is a strong emotional withdrawal that can register as very scary for a child. Your instinct will be to find ways to preserve your connection. It is likely that one sibling may try to pursue a connection even if she is not getting much of a response. This can involve efforts to please her, such as cooking, cleaning the house and otherwise making life easier for her mom. The other sibling might decide it is best to lay low until this passes. That getting involved will simply make matters worse.

We don’t identify the “right” way to respond to people in our childhood, we only discover the best way that works for us. And, like most things, when we learn what works, we tend to automatically repeat this behavior over and over and over again without even thinking about it.

In Imago Therapy training online, we explore your automatic responses to different life experiences, and in particular, different emotional experiences in your marriage/romantic relationship. By doing so, we can begin to grow more aware of what works and what does not.

Can you imagine consulting a five year old for advice about how to respond to a spouse who stops talking to you when her feelings are hurt or she’s upset? Unfortunately, that’s essentially what most of us do until we stop and consider that our automatic response is not really working.

Relationships are always harmed by our efforts to protect ourselves. Therefore, in order to reverse the damage in a relationship, and return to a more connected, safe, and loving experience, we must identify and reverse the coping responses that are not working.

This is a simple overview of the Imago Theory, and provides you with some insight about what the goal is when you pursue Imago Therapy.

For more information about imago therapy training online, you can read this article. To take a brief quiz to identify your imago, go here. If you are outside of Indiana, you can receive Imago coaching services which are essentially the same as imago therapy, given that most couples seeking help for their relationships are not experiencing mental health concerns. Though I am a licensed mental health therapist in Indiana, I am not licensed outside of the state, and all of my services outside of Indiana are limited to coaching, which does not involve a mental health diagnosis, nor does it qualify for use of insurance.

If you would like to schedule an appointment for Imago Therapy training online with Michele O’Mara, visit omaratime.com.

Lesbian Couples Retreats Near Me | Boot Camp 101

Lesbian Couples Retreats Near Me | Boot Camp 101

Couples Retreats Near Me

Lesbian Couples Retreats Near Me

A global pandemic has forced most of us to spend greater amounts of time together at home. For some in relationships, this has been a much-needed opportunity to reconnect and rediscover the importance of time spent together. For others, the impact has highlighted some pre-existing challenges with communication, patience, and understanding.

At a time where large gatherings are not ideal, it is more important than ever to find resources to support your relationship. If you came across this site while searching for “Lesbian Couples Retreats Near Me,” you have stumbled across the perfect resource for lesbian partners with access to the internet and a device with a webcam (smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop).

For more information about upcoming retreats, visit here.

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Access to Her Inner World with Open Communication | Couples Quickies #2

Access to Her Inner World with Open Communication | Couples Quickies #2

Do you have access to her inner world?

Open Communication vs. Closed Communication 

Couple’s Quickie #2

There are two types of communication: open-door and closed-door.

Open-door communication is a direct and vulnerable sharing of your feelings, which gives the listener access to your inner world.

Closed-door communication is a self-protective way to share feelings by using protective behaviors such as criticisms, making up stories, accusations, explanations, and defensiveness.

If your partner shares a feeling with you, she is giving you a glimpse inside a world to which only she holds the key. When she unlocks this door for you, it is a gift. The views into her inner world may not always reflect back to you what you wish to see.

The gift is not about what you find inside her inner world.

The gift is that you are trusted with access to her inner world.

Imagine your workload is doubled and you have to work twice as much for a temporary period of time. Likely, both you and your wife will have feelings about this situation. If you are committed to open-door communication, you will come to each other from a vulnerable place and express your feelings in a direct and genuine way.

Open-door communication might sound like: “I miss you. Lately, I have been feeling lonely since you’ve had to work more.”

Closed-door communication might sound like this: “You work too much. I feel like you don’t care that I am alone all of the time.”

While the closed-door message is coming from the same vulnerable source of pain, the delivery is harder to hear. She is letting you know there is something going on in her inner world, but she’s keeping the door shut by using criticisms, in an effort to protect herself.

If she says she feels something, then she feels something. Unfortunately, it is a common communication mistake to hear feelings as complaints, disappointments, and criticisms. For example, the first statement, “I miss you,” might be heard as a complaint or a criticism.  You may hear it as if you are doing something wrong. That you should be home more than you are. This interpretation of “I miss you,” will likely provoke defensiveness.

When you interpret her feelings as a complaint, you are more likely to respond with a closed-door, such as: “I have no choice. I have to work.” This response misses the feeling she is expressing. This is a closed-door response to open-door communication.

If you heard “I miss you,” as a validation of your importance to her, you might respond with more softness. An open-door response may be as simple as, “I miss you, too. I can’t wait for work to slow down. Thank you for sharing that you feel the same way I do.”

It is not sufficient to add the word “feel” to your statements. When you say, “I feel THAT you…” or, “I feel LIKE you….” these are not feelings. These are opinions, stories, accusations, or potential criticisms. To truly share your feelings, you must be the subject of what you are sharing, not your wife or partner. A feeling statement will include a feeling word… I feel __________ (feeling word).

Feelings are never wrong, though they do change. They are also not accusations or criticisms. Sometimes we don’t fully understand our own feelings and all of the factors that contribute to them. The very best way to respond to your partner’s feelings is with open-door communication.

If she opens the door, appreciate and take good care of the access she is giving you to her inner world.

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Access to Her Inner World with Open Communication | Couples Quickies #2

Ten Types of Relationship Betrayals | Couples Quickies #3

Infidelity is Not the Only Betrayal in Relationships

I have never understood the mindset that there is a game-winning or game-losing shot. This, to me, renders the entire rest of the game useless, and unimportant. If the star player has made a record breaking, 62 points in the game leading up to the final 3 seconds, the team is down by 2 and her final toss toward the basket misses, is she really responsible for the game-losing shot? I think not.

Nor do I think that one betrayal can make or break a relationship. Sure, it can complicate, undermine or greatly influence a relationship, but one isolated betrayal is not typically what leads to the demise of a relationship. Furthermore, just as a bad pass might lead to a missed catch in a basketball game, one betrayal might lead to another betrayal in relationships. 

We are all responsible for our part. Always. No matter what the game. Especially in relationships. 

Betrayals come in many forms. Though many people might disagree with me, I do not believe in a hierarchy of betrayals. A betrayal is a betrayal is a betrayal. 

  • Not showing up on time
  • Not making their partner a priority
  • Not being there when their partner is hurting or sick
  • Not contributing to the well-being of the family (me rather than we)
  • Not keeping promises
  • Keeping secrets
  • Lying
  • Humiliating or putting down partner in public or private
  • Committing an act of emotional or physical infidelity
  • Being physically violent

Relationships are fluid. They are strengthened one choice at a time, and they are weakened one choice at a time. There are no make or break moments in a relationship, there is always a gradual movement toward better or toward worse. Take notice of the entire dance, not just the last few steps. T

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Lesbian Couples Quickies: Validation, Not Education

Lesbian Couples Quickies: Validation, Not Education

LESBIAN COUPLES QUICKIES:  VALIDATION, NOT EDUCATION

Couples Quickies #1

When your girl expresses a concern, need or frustration in her life (not about you), do not mistake this as her request for you to fix the situation, or fix her. If you are someone who often responds by telling her what you think, and what she should do, this quickie is especially for you.

In general, when we are hurting and we go to our spouse / partner with a painful situation, we are not asking for solutions, we are asking for support. We want to feel less alone with our pain. Often, we just want reassurance that we are okay.

lesbian couples, validation, validate, listen

Here’s a roadmap for those of you who are unsure how this might sound:

Let her talk. Don’t interrupt. Keep your questions to a minimum.

 

1. Let her know you’ve heard her.

“It sounds like … <repeat the highlights that you heard her share so she knows you were listening – don’t add your opinions or thoughts, just reflect back to her what you heard>”
 

2. Validate her feelings.

Let her know that when you look at the situation the way she’s looking at it (not the way you are), her feelings make sense (even if you disagree).

“Based on how you’ve described things, it makes sense that you feel <insert how she says she is feeling>, because <insert meaningful points she has shared that let her know that you were listening and validate why she’s feeling the way she is>…
 

3. Reassure her. 

Remind her that you are here for her. Reinforce that you are a safe person for her to talk with when she is struggling, and that even if you see things differently, your ultimate goal is to be a safe and supportive person for her to talk to.
 

“I see this situation a little differently than you do, but what matters to me the most is how I can be here for you, and make you feel supported.”

4. Inquire if she wants your perspective.

 

“Would you like to know my thoughts about this, or is it best for me to just listen?”

5. Share with her consent.

IF she says she wants your perspective, THEN, and only THEN, share your perspective.

 

“How I see this situation is … “

Focus more on understanding, less on being “right.” Remember, she has come to you to feel better, not worse.

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