Evie Shafner (evieshafner.com; LMFT) uses Imago Therapy techniques to help clients with their communication approach.
What is Imago Relationship Therapy? How is it different from other forms of therapy?
Imago is both a theory and communication process that is quite different from traditional couples therapy in its ability to dissolve the power struggle that happens with almost every couple. The theory is based on the idea that we are only attracted to someone who can’t tolerate our unconscious ways of reacting when we feel triggered. Hidden in that is the blue print for growth, which is that we want to become conscious and intentional in how we respond, instead of unconscious and reactive.
The second part of imago is the communication techniques that are the heart and soul of the process. What makes Imago therapy so different is that the couples speak to each other, learning a technique called dialogue, which is amazing in its ability to quickly create empathy, understanding, and non-reactivity to these spots that we understand almost every couple gets into.
How can a couple determine which kind of therapy may be most helpful?
In my mind, Imago is the most helpful because it contains reactivity many times couples end up fighting in couples therapy, and imago structured process creates safety in the communication.
When is the best time for a couple to begin therapy?
Any time that a couple wants to become conscious about their relationship is a good time to begin therapy. A couple can take preventative measures by partaking an Imago relationship therapy before getting married. Even if the relationship is feeling good, an awareness that sometimes communication doesn’t go well, is a wonderful time to get coaching, or to nip it in the bud so to speak. And of course, if a couple is in a lot of pain, before breaking up, it would be so important to see if becoming a source of safety for each other could heal the places of rupture, restoring their connection they had in the beginning.
Is some therapy better than none if only one person is willing to try?
Yes, absolutely. I believe one person can single-handily transform their relationship by practicing kind, empathic responses, even if their partner is behaving unconsciously. If we can get our ego out of the way with the need to be right, just one person of the couple can make a major difference.
Can people/couples do anything, such as reading articles or books, to prepare themselves for therapy?
Anything that helps people get conscious is a helpful thing. Reading articles and books by Dr. Harville Hendrix, the founder of Imago, can be very helpful. And of course, there is so much out there that one can access. Anything we do to become more conscious is good.
Will you share some of the problems that your clients try to resolve in their sessions with you?
I think the biggest problem is not what the issue is, but how couples talk about it.
What questions do you get most often?
When most couples come in, they are wishing for their partner to be different and want me to help that happen. However, once they understand that all the power rests in them, the change is rather their perspective. Many couples wonder, once they hit the power struggle, if they are with the wrong person and/or if they need to leave. I let them know they won’t be able to tell until they restore safety in their communication.
How can those who are interested in imago therapy contact you?