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Imago Online Training Level I IMAGO ONLINE in Eight Online Modules

£ 400.00£ 500.00

Digital platform: Zoom.us

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Imago Relationship Therapy is a comprehensive and integrative approach to couples’ therapy. It is both a theory and therapy of committed intimate partnership.

Central to the theory are the ideas that the selection of a romantic partner is partly unconscious and fuels the unconscious agenda of committed partnership which is to finish childhood. From the perspective of relational neuroscience, finishing childhood means maturing from unconscious and reactive responses to one’s partner to conscious, reflective responses. In other words, satisfying, happy, stable relationships require an evolution in consciousness.

The unconscious recreation of familiar love, which is pivotal to the Imago experience, helps the practitioner understand the powerful predicament couples present in therapy:  they are unconsciously re-creating the painful past in order to have a happier, more desirable outcome. This outcome includes recovering one’s wholeness and aliveness sacrificed in the socialization process of childhood as well as restoring an attuned connection, both personal and transpersonal, which was ruptured in childhood by need frustration, lack of attuned connection or trauma.

Romantic love, at one level, is fueled by the anticipation of need satisfaction.  At a deeper, level it is a transient experience of original wholeness and connection to the Whole.  Since unmet childhood needs are brought into adult intimate partnerships for resolution, and since the selected partner shares many of the same limitations as one’s parents, inevitably, these unmet needs are re-activated and frustrations re-experienced creating an opportunity for repair, resolution, growth and healing.

Romantic love initiates a developmental process between two people and is followed by the power struggle as partners attempt to unconsciously influence one another into becoming the ideal parent, or in other words, a source of need satisfaction. When a power struggle and disappointment inevitably ensue, the result can be chronic conflict, avoidance of conflict, a parallel marriage, resignation, divorce or even homicide.

Imago Relationship Therapy offers couples another option: create a conscious relationship and cooperate with the intention of their unconscious and intentionally meet or have empathy for each other’s unmet childhood needs and support one another in reclaiming lost and denied aspect of themselves.  To achieve this goal,

Imago therapists use as their primary therapeutic intervention a three-stage structured process called the Imago Couples Dialogue. Couples consciously choose to stop wounding one another and learn about what it means to create a structure of relational healing and growth. The use of an intentional Imago Couples Dialogue restores contact and connection while facilitating differentiation. The experience of feeling separate yet profoundly connected combined with feeling more whole and alive is experienced as mutually healing and, indeed, provides a corrective emotional experience, restarting the developmental engine of ongoing growth. Re-connection to the personal (where the rupture occurred) re-establishes awareness of one’s intrinsic connection to the social, natural and cosmic order.  When used consistently, dialogue becomes the way of being in relationship, and eventually evolves into a spiritual practice, transforming the conscious marriage/committed relationship into a spiritual path.



This 8-module (32 hours) online course is designed to introduce mental health professionals to the theoretical foundations and clinical applications of Imago Relationship Therapy, a powerful and effective approach to couples’ therapy and counselling.

This course will enable mental health professionals to experience the powerful intervention of the Imago Dialogue in couples’ therapy and provide them with a taste of the power of the “space between” in the couple dyad. Participants will practice and experience using Imago skills and begin to see the effectiveness of this intervention and understand why it is so powerful and impactful.


In this Online Training participants will


  • Be introduced to the Imago Dialogue as a skill of connection far beyond communication.
  • Learn Imago’s Meta-Theory, an overview, which encompasses our Cosmic, Evolutionary, Psychological, and Social Journeys as human beings.
  • Practice working in the “space between” using the structure of the relational paradigm.
  • Explore therapeutic interventions that help couples restart processes of growth and healing.
  • Describe underlying foundational concepts that help couples end criticism, transform frustrations into desires, and make effective requests for change.


By attending this online training, participants will get to know the deeper healing power of this model by advancing their knowledge and skills in working with couples. In this way, they will effectively help couples create more safety, harmony, and compassion.




8-module course (32 hrs):

  • 16 hours real-time class on Zoom, every Wednesday.
  • 16 hours self-paced course.


Schedule of the real-time classes:


Dates (2021):


  1. October 20th;
  2. October 27th;
  3. November 3rd;
  4. November 10th;
  5. November 17th;
  6. November 24th;
  7. December 1st;
  8. December 8th.


Timetable: from 1PM to 3PM, CET (Rome time)




Lesson 1 Learning Objectives:


  • Explain the relational paradigm and how it differs from the individual paradigm and how the relational paradigm informs Imago Relationship Therapy.
  • Facilitate an Appreciation Dialogue between partners and explain why a focus on the positive between the partners is important.
  • Discuss how the history of each individual influences their present relationship.
  • Explain why partners fight with each other and how their frustrations are a signal of their childhood wounding.



Lesson 2 Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss and demonstrate the specific steps of the Imago Dialogue and explain the rationale for structuring a couples’ interpersonal dialogue process.
  • Discuss how Imago Dialogue ends symbiotic fusion between partners and how it facilitates healthy differentiation.
  • Discuss and explain how Imago Therapy is grounded in the origins of Cosmic connections.
  • Describe and explain how rupturing connections are unconscious ways to restore wholeness.

Lesson 3 Learning Objectives:


  • Teach clients how to mirror, validate and empathize and will also be able to manage the challenges that come up when couples resist this structured listening process.
  • Use sentence stems to maintain an atmosphere of safety during the Dialogue Process.
  • Identify how the human brain evolved that allowed for it to make conscious decisions to assist one’s partner in their healing process.
  • Describe the function of the polyvagal nerve as part of the human’s neuroception system to monitor one’s safety or danger.


Lesson 4 Learning Objectives:

  • Describe why romantic love ends and intentional romantic behaviors and feelings can last a life-time.
  • Describe the necessity of an adult love relationship holding space for respecting the different views of both partners.
  • Explain to a couple how their relationship vision needs to include pleasurable activities, playfulness and behaviors that nurture their positive energies.
  • Implement deepening exercises that lead toward each becoming a source of safety and a source of pleasure.

Lesson 5 Learning Objectives:


  • Assess couples through a developmental lens, identify type of wound (attachment, exploration, identity and competence) as well as the corresponding defensive or adaptive style.
  • Identify how developmental wounds and a partners’ childhood adaptations impact a couples’ current dynamic interplay with one another.
  • Use Imago’s developmental model in a diagnosis and prescriptive manner.
  • Create attuned and corrective experiences between partners to help heal deficits from their childhood

Lesson 6 Learning Objectives:

  • Describe to a couple why a “no-exit” decision or choice is vital for relationship repair and growth.
  • Describe how the socialization process influences childhood adaptations and thus impacts mate selection and partner choice.
  • Explain how deficits in nurturing impact a child’s experience of wholeness and how they move toward repressing impulses of aliveness and then make adaptations that affect adult relationships.
  • Help partners identify “lost parts” of themselves in each other and help them make behavior changes that will help each recover these missing parts.

Lesson 7 Learning Objectives:

  • Explain the value of closing “exits” of escaping energy so couples can commit to the new images that are so vital to relationship repair and then lead them in a Commitment Dialogue.
  • Describe and explain to a couple the necessity of re-imaging each other as having been wounded in childhood and then deepen the couples’ awareness by using the Parent/Child Dialogue.
  • Explain the value of touch in the couple’s relationship and then help them experiment with safe contact when appropriate, such as when doing a Caring Behavior Dialogue.
  • Describe and direct a process of “re-visioning the relationship” to help couples develop a road map for their conscious relationship.

Lesson 8, Learning Objectives:


  • Construct and facilitate a Behavior Change Request process in the office.
  • Explain how and why of the Behavior Change Request Process and its benefits for a couple’s healing process.
  • Describe why negative transactions don’t solve anything and will be able to teach the couple to translate their frustrations into doable requests for change.
  • Explain the concept of “stretching” and why stretching beyond the adaptive self and reclaiming “lost” parts of the self is an integral part of wholeness for the self and the couple.


Current Professional Duties – Private Psychotherapy Practice. Consulting Psychologist. Certified IMAGO Therapist and Workshop Presenter for “Getting the Love You Want” couples’ workshop. Clinical Instructor of Imago Relationship Therapy. Faculty member Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy.  Eleven publications and sixteen major invited lectures. Areas of interest include psychotherapy, couple therapy and child therapy, attachment theory, child development, teenage suicide prevention, research into variables related to the efficacy of behavior change, personality typology and need satisfaction in inter-personal relationships, and psychological consultant and expert witness for Family and Matrimonial Law Issues.


Gene Shelly now lives in Chambersburg PA after living and practicing in New York City for 48 years. He specialized as an individual psychotherapist / marriage counselor practicing Imago Relationship Therapy. He has been primarily known for his work as a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist, leading “Getting the Love You Want” couple’s workshops and as a Clinical Instructor of Imago theory and practice. He also provides supervision / consultation for several groups. Some groups are in their early learning stages of Imago practice and others are long-term groups working with couples in therapy.

He has been married to his wife Martine for 56 years and has 2 children, Michael and Teresa.

A frequent comment that reflects Gene’s character is, “that his gentle presence and serene competence bring strength and comfort to his patients and colleagues.”

Others say, “He combines an easy and accepting manner with an astute understanding of couples’ interactions and problems, providing a safe environment that supports their growing towards a greater understanding of each other which leads to growth and healing”.

Kobus van der Merwe

Kobus van der Merwe grew up in a family where they always thought about and worked with relationships. As a minister his father, Freek, was very much involved in community work while his mother, Cornel, a psychiatrist, was involged in therapy. During his studies in theology he realised the importance of relationships as a way of understanding reality. It was especially the theology of Karl Barth to understand God as ‘gans andere’ (‘the total Other’), instead of trying to make God accessible by making Him like me, that influenced his thoughts about relationships. His studies in psychology, especially systems theory and family therapy, contributed to his views pertaining to the relational paradigm.

In 1992 he was ordained as minister in the Dutch Reformed Church (Hervormde Kerk). He holds a BA honours degree in Hebrew (University of Pretoria) and Greek (University of Pretoria) and psychology (University of South Africa)) and also a BD degree in theology(University of Pretoria) . He was minister in a congregation on the East Rand, South Africa, for five years. During this period he became involved in a psychiatry practice working with people and their relationship with God. He also has six years’ experience of family, couples and group therapy in a psychiatry hospital where he worked with a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists.

It was during this time that his wife Anita convinced him to attend an Imago Getting the love you want workshop for couples. Inspired by his first teachers in Imago Relationship theory, Hedy and Yumi Schleifer, he started his Basic Clinical Training in 1996. He subsequently also completed his advanced training with Maya Kohlman in Denmark to become the first Imago workshop presenter in South Africa.

Over the past 20 years, Kobus has presented workshops for couples all over Southern Africa and in the process assisted some 3200 couples in improving their relationships. He also works with individuals in groups.

In cooperation with Imago Africa and Imago Relationships International, Kobus regularly organises training courses for both therapists and workshop presenters, thus ensuring an ever-expanding network of trained Imago professionals in most parts of Southern Africa.

In 2010 he become the first Imago Clinical instructor in South Africa; Kobus serves on the board of Imago Africa and is also a member of the faculty of Imago Relationships International. He received the Harville Hendrix Award for Clinical Excellence in 2016.

Nedra Fetterman, PhD.

Nedra Fetterman, PhD is a licensed psychologist, couples’ therapist and trainer. She is a certified Gestalt and Imago Therapist, and teaches couples therapy in the psychiatry residency program at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.  She has trained and supervised therapists in the principles and practices of Imago Relationship Therapy and has presented nationally the “Getting the Love You Want” workshop. She recently co-authored a chapter in the Encyclopedia of Couples and Family Therapy entitled, “An Imago Enrichment Program.”

Dr. Fetterman received her PhD. from Bryn Mawr College and completed post-graduate couple and family training at the Council for Relationships and The Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic.


Dr. Fetterman is currently a Senior Fellow of The Global Dialogue Institute at Haverford College, and a faculty member of Imago Relationships International. In 2013 she was an invited guest speaker at a Penn Behavioral Health Symposium, “For Better or For Worse: Strengthening Couple Functioning in Health and Illness” and the Global Philosophy Forum at Haverford College, “Making Sense of our Evolutionary Shift to Integrative Healing.” In 2014, she was an invited keynote speaker at the annual conference for Imago Relationships International and spoke on Global Dialogue. Most recently, she has successfully co-created and led online training in couples’ therapy for mental health professionals.

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