This Delaware therapy helps couples connect on a deeper level
Adobe Stock / Kateryna Kovarzh
After more than a year of forced unity, this approach to therapy helps Delaware couples see themselves through their partner’s eyes.
When we all got the notification in mid-March 2020 telling us that we were to stay at home for an extended period with only our immediate family members or other important people, we weren’t sure what effect this would have on our personal relationships. It turns out that for many of us there is such a thing as too much unit.
Working from home, helping children cope with distance learning, financial stress and fear of getting sick have strained many relationships, and in some cases communication has become more difficult.
“Our routines have been turned upside down. We spend more time together in the house, boundaries are blurry and couples feel stressed, ”says Linda M. Grande, MS, LPCMH, LCPC, Certified Clinical Professional Advisor at Ocean View, specializing in relationship therapy. “Some of the issues that people face today include work-life balance, communicating needs effectively, and keeping the romance and passion alive.”
Grande, an Imago Certified Relationship Therapist, helps couples reconnect, explore and solve difficult problems, as well as grow together to form a conscious and loving connection. Imago therapy was developed by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D., authors of Get the love you want and Keep the love you find. Imago, Latin for “image”, allows couples to look at each other through the eyes of their partner.
“Imago therapy creates a safe space for couples to explore issues without blaming or pointing fingers,” says Grande. Partners are encouraged to consider their contribution to the problems they encounter and to assume their responsibilities. “The technique uses a process called intentional dialogue to make sure we hear and respond to what our partner is actually saying. The dialogue has three parts, called mirroring, validation and empathy, ”she explains.
Mirroring is listening to and repeating what your partner is saying, word for word, without analysis or judgment. During this process, one person assumes the role of “the sender”, while the listener becomes the “receiver”. After the sender has raised concerns, the recipient repeats the information and asks, “Did I get you?” and “Are there more?” so the sender knows he heard and understood what he was saying.
Validation is about letting your partner know that what you said made sense to them and that they are not crazy, even if you don’t see things straight in the eye. It helps people realize that there can be two points of view, even if you don’t always agree with each other.
Empathy shows you care about the other person’s feelings and helps them feel understood. The three parts of intentional dialogue help promote open and safe communication and healing.
“Imago therapy allows you to put yourself in your partner’s shoes,” says Lena Khavinson, an Imago-certified relationship therapist in Pennsylvania who also sees clients in Delaware. “We often assume that we know what the other person is thinking or experiencing. We may think that we are communicating, but we still may not be hearing what the other person is saying, ”she stresses.
“These techniques give individuals the tools to communicate better,” says Khavinson. “Partners are encouraged to make an appointment to have a dialogue, to schedule a conversation time where both parties can be present and really pay attention to what the other person is saying. Once we resolve the conflict, we can begin to grow and take the necessary steps to improve our relationships. “
By learning to listen to each other, we can create a conscious relationship and problem-solve in healthy ways, creating a safe outlet for our feelings and learning to love ourselves – despite our differences.