Because I am certified to provide imago therapy, and I help couples unravel how they become an imago match when a couple comes to me for help with their relationship, one of the first things I ask is, “What did you have for dinner last night?” It is amazing how much I can learn from this question, unearthing volumes of information about the couple without their even realizing it.
Uh, you know I’m not being serious, right?
While my obsession with relationships stems as far back as I can remember, my desire for couples-counseling-super-powers started when I read this book: Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. This book changed everything. It was just one of those moments where I knew. I knew exactly who I was, who I was to become, and the path I needed to walk. I was immediately fascinated by the power of understanding our imago match, and how imago therapy can help improve relationships.
That’s the thing about therapy – it’s easy to believe that anything a therapist says. I tend to be that way with mechanics, plumbers, electricians, and web designers. I generally assume that if this is their specialty, they know what they are talking about. Sometimes, however, like the time I had my transmission “fixed,” specialists are not so special after all.
What you want to be sure of is that your therapist has some additional training (beyond their counseling degree), that is specifically focused on relationship counseling. This is a specialty in itself. Certifications to look for are – Imago Certified Therapist, Gottman Certified Therapists, and EFT Certified Therapists. I happen to be Certified in Imago therapy and Gottman trained with partial EFT training that I plan to continue pursuing (because if I long to have couples-counseling-super-powers). I am also a Discernment Counselor, but that’s for couples who don’t want couples counseling; instead, they want to “discern” whether or not they want to make their relationship work before actually committing to couples counseling.
I returned to the School of Social Work for my MSW, and for nearly two decades now, I am still as passionate about the Imago theory, and about working with couples – maybe even more so!
The Imago theory is explained in the book, Getting the Love You Want, and the more you understand the theory, the more you realize how easy it is to answer the following four questions:
- With what type of person am I most likely to create a passionate relationship?
- With what type of person am I most likely to feel safe in a relationship?’
- What do I most want to experience in my relationships that my partner has the most trouble helping me experience?
- How do I participate in NOT getting the love that I want
See if this Imago formula will help you begin to find answers to these questions. I’d love to hear your feedback!
The Gottman Method
John Gottman's method of couples therapy draws from over two decades of relationship research in Gottman's Love Labs. This theory relies on an extensive relationship assessment designed to identify and eliminate toxic behaviors. Once replaced with new skills, focus turns to developing a shared meaning and closer friendship among the couple.
Emotionally Focused Therapy
Dr. Sue Johnson is the author of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). Key books that expand on her theory include: Hold Me Tight, and Love Sense. The goal in EFT is to help couples become conscious of your secondary emotions by examining and interrupting your negative communication and interaction cycles.
Imago Relationship Therapy
In Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt, introduced Imago Therapy in the late 1990s. With an emphasis on fail-proof communication, this theory leans into the importance of understanding and addressing the influence our separate life histories have on how we related to our partner or spouse today.