Why Imago Relationship Therapy?
The early desires to please each other may now feel like a burden.
Whilst the romantic phase of your relationship saw you completing each other's sentences, perhaps you now live in the battleground that is the power struggle phase.
Instead of being interested, you may now view your partner as paranoid or controlling, and find yourselves retreating into silence, or other potentially damaging ways to distract or protect yourselves from the real issues.
Imago Relationship Therapy, is based on the belief that we choose our partners due to the traits that they share - positive and negative - with our early care givers, they are our perfect Imago. During those early days when you felt as if you'd known each other forever - in a way, you had, due to their familiar traits. As your perfect Imago, your partner represented the means by which you unconsciously hoped to fulfil your unmet childhood needs.
Right now, you may feel completely incompatible.
However, there is hope, if you are interested in having a conscious relationship.
From the Imago perspective,conflict provides opportunities for healing and growth. We are wounded in relationship and we find healing, and our growth in relationship. Conscious relationships.
What is Dialoguing?
The central tool of Imago therapy is the Dialogue Process, a means of creating a safe connection with your partner. It involves taking turns to 'send' or 'receive' your thoughts and feelings with your partner. Dialoguing requires a zero negative environment, i.e. no blaming or shaming, because you consciously commit to protecting your partner. The Sender gets to be heard and the Receiver demonstrates that they have listened by mirroring, word for word, what is sent.
A simple example of dialoguing:
Imani (Sender): I love it when you buy me roses.
John (Receiver): I heard you say that you love it when I buy you roses. Have I got you?
Imani: Yes, you got me.
John: Is there more?
Imani: When you buy me roses, I feel loved.
John: When I buy you roses, you feel loved. Have I got you?
Imani: Yes, you got me.
John: Is there more?
The receiver asks if they have gotten the sender, because they are trying to do more than recall what they have heard, they want their partner to know that they are trying to really understand them. They also use the term - 'is there more?', to invite the sender to continue sharing what has remained unsaid, until they are finished, or there is an appropriate place for a summary.
The Receiver then summaries, validates what they have received and expresses empathy. They then swap roles and the process is repeated. Validation and empathy do not require an agreement, or even that you feel loving towards your partner at the time. Instead, these aspects of dialoguing, require a willingness to step into your partner's world for a little while. Speaking from experience, the dialoguing process is a very powerful way to rebuild a safe, intimate connection and I will introduce you to the process, from the very first session, .
What do we do between sessions?
Typically, sessions take place on a fortnightly basis, to give you space to work on whatever you have committed to do in order to build the connection between you. Where appropriate, I can support this by giving you exercises to work on between sessions. I also encourage you to make Dialoguing a part of you everyday life.
For couples who are committed to the journey, Imago Relationship Therapy can lead to a conscious, safe and loving relationship, benefitting you as individuals and as a couple.
If you would like to discuss your relationship needs, do get in touch.
Loosely speaking, counselling tends to address a specific current issue and is often a short term piece of work, whilst psychotherapy is a more in depth and lengthy process, which seeks to identify the underlying roots of the problem(s). There can sometimes be areas of overlap.
Ultimately, the aim of psychotherapy is lasting change, and growth. This stems from an understanding of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, in relation to your past and how you're living now.
The process of counselling is most effective when you are an active participant. This means that I will expect you to be engaged during the sessions, and to take the time to reflect and perhaps complete a journal, or other relevant activities between sessions. If you feel unwilling to invest any time beyond our sessions, it may be possible that you are not ready for the process of counselling or psychotherapy.
What could you gain from Counselling and Psychotherapy?
The specific benefits of counselling and psychotherapy depend on your individual needs, but the general benefits include:
An increased sense of control and direction as we work towards fulfilling your therapeutic goals.
Better understanding of yourself and why you think, feel, and act in the way that you may have done for years.
A change in perspective - increased ability to think clearly about your life, how and with whom you really want to live it.
Feeling able to live through stressful situations without returning to former unhelpful, or self destructive habits.
An increased ability for self acceptance and self compassion. You have a right to live, and you can grow, beyond the negative experiences and unhelpful messages of your past.
Why work with me?
Ultimately, I think that it depends on what is important to you.
You might simply choose me, because you want to discuss your issues with someone who isn't a friend or relative.
If you're thinking of training and professionalism, then you might like to work with me, because I have undertaken years of rigorous training at Masters level, including years of personal psychotherapy. I also attend regular supervision, as this underpins ethical practice and provides protection for both myself and my clients.
If empathy is important, I know what it is like to feel broken and overwhelmed, and I know what it is like to be a client; a reluctant (at first) one at that!
As a woman of African descent, I experience life in an intersectional way; there are areas of my identity which afford me some 'privilege' and others which expose me to 'oppression'. I bring this thinking into my work, understanding that the world is a complex place in which it can be difficult to develop a healthy sense of self, let alone belonging.
Sometimes, we carry more than our own pain due to transgenerational trauma, and my work is informed by this concept. By this I mean the trauma, messages, or ways of being that can be transmitted from one generation to the next, often out of awareness. Every member of the next generation in a family wont necessarily be influenced, usually only the individuals with particular sensitivity to the messages or trauma. It can be very surprising to an individual when the patterns become obvious, and it is very rewarding to witness them breaking free and creating their own story, going forward.
We can't undo what has been done.
Together, we could co-create an environment that enables you to be who you want to be, and live as you want to live - now.
Examples of issues that you may want to work on are:
Low self esteem
The list is not exhaustive, to discuss your specific needs, feel free to get in touch.