The course is offered in two sections.
- Level I is a 96 hour (9-day) training program which is usually completed in three sessions, each 3 days long. Times are from 9:00-19:00. (We strongly recommend that you stay over at Ducks Country House) The sessions are scheduled over a 6 to 9 month period, to enable trainees to practice with clients and prepare tapes.
- After completing the 9 days, trainees join Level II, which is based around a 6 month program of supervision, which prepares for submission of a final clinical video tape for evaluation, as well as written reports.
Level II trainees are welcomed as members of Imago Relationships International and are listed on the website.
The primary focus of Session I is to give participants the meta-theoretical framework and essence of Imago Relationship Therapy. Assumptions serving as the foundation of the theory and the resulting paradigm shift in understanding and working with couples are presented. The assumptions are further developed in exploring the evolutionary journey of theself and how that impacts on relationships. The focus moves to the developmental journey of the individual self from a relational paradigm. The various ways individuals are wounded throughout the developmental process through parenting styles and socialization are discussed. The concept of the formation of the imago and the role it plays in partner selection and subsequent interaction is explained. And overview of the major therapeutic processes is given. Explanation, clinical demonstrations, and practice by participants of therapeutic techniques and processes form asignificant portion of the first four days.
Session I includes:
• The initial interview with the couple to establish safety as the primary therapeutic issue, to reveal the relationship conflicts in a safe manner, and to start the couple learning the dialogical process.
• The specific structure of the Imago dialogue is to create not only clear communication, but also cognitive andaffective empathy and a safe “holding” environment.
• The parent-child dialogue to access the childhood wound (s).
• The partner holding process which allows safe regression to the childhood experience and re-imaging by the partner.
Practice of the techniques by training participants is done in small group format with real material from each participant’s personal experience. Participants experience each process as therapist, as client, and as observer. The clinical instructorprovides supervision within the small groups.
Session II continues theoretical explanation, clinical demonstrations and practice, and adds small group supervision of video taped client sessions from within the framework of Imago Relationship Therapy.
Theoretical material consists primarily of the process and purpose of initial partner attractions and selection and how that forms the basis of the power struggle as a natural stage in the relationship. Symbiotic beliefs and other factors contributing to the power struggle are discussed. Character adaptations to the developmental wounding and socialization wounding are explained, as well as how the partner we chose is in a unique position to contribute to the healing of that wounding.
Reactivity, loss of empathy, and the origins of self-hatred, projection, and prejudice are placed within this framework. Discussion of the maximizer-minimizer polarity and how that affects the relationship is presented. Explanation of the theory also includes discussion of the denied self, lost self, hidden self, disowned self, presentational self, personal self, and social self. Discovering and working with the core of resistance and the couple’s core scene is explained.
Explanation, clinical demonstrations and practice by participants of therapeutic techniques and processes included are:
• The Behavior Change Request Dialogue which lead to the restructuring of frustrations in the relationship through identifying the underlying wound and create positive, specific, and measurable requests of the partner that are designed for success.
• Learning that closing exits in a relationship is a process and not an event and how to do it.
• The importance of developing a relationship vision is discussed and demonstrated.
Supervision of participant’s work with clients between Session I and Session II, and work within small groups is included.
The theoretical portion of this last session includes the concepts of containment within the relationship. Containment is further developed to include a framework and safe structure for intense anger or rage. Concepts regarding re-visioning and re-romanticizing the relationship are presented. Techniques are presented on how to transform the relationship with positive flooding and to understand the fear of pleasure and our resistance to letting love in. The overall structure and progression of therapy using this approach is presented, including the format and duration of sessions with couples, commitments on the part of the couples and therapist, the focus, structure, and process of a session, and the use of assignments and guided imagery.
The primary focus of Session III is on clinical practice and supervision of client sessions. Processes demonstrated and practiced in Session III include:
• Introduction to containment processes for resolving anger and rage.
• The process of full positive containment.
• The flooding of admiration.
• Processes to re-romanticize the relationship.
• Developing a relationship vision.
Certification makes a graduate of the program eligible for referrals from Imago Relationship International. Therefore, the review process of videotapes during training is supervisory and evaluative.
At three months, the participants must write a one or two page typed report of their experiences both in their personal lives and in their clinical practice and submit it to their Clinical Instructor. This report can be written before the evaluative tape is passed. It is important that this report is not a glowing report of how wonderful everything is. It is to be a report of your growing edge and what you are personally and professionally working on to become a better clinician.
At six months, the participant must write a second one or two page typed report of their development both in their personal lives and in their clinical practice and submit it to their Clinical Instructor. These two reports need to be about the trainee’s growth edge both personally and professionally to encourage the theory and practice of Imago Therapy to become more integrated in the trainee’s life and practice.
After completion of the formal course and passing of the video tape assignment, the participant must serve as a support therapist in a twenty hour “Getting the Love You Want Couples Workshop: conducted by a Certified Workshop Presenter®. The trainee must meet with the presenter for one hour after the workshop for feedback and receive a positive evaluation from the presenter, which must then be submitted directly to the Professional Training Coordinator with a copy sent to the course instructor.
At this point, the trainee is granted the title: Certified Imago Therapist®.