Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Open Letter from a Marriage Counselor

Nearly two years ago I decided to become certified in Imago Relationship Therapy. The investment of time and money made sense - Eric is my second husband and this is his third marriage. Statistically doomed, we needed something that worked and discovered Imago therapy before we married 15 years ago. Using what we’ve learned has allowed us to grow in love over the years.

Since Imago clinical training wasn’t offered in Texas, I traveled three separate weeks over the next 12 months to Washington, D.C. I felt excited, confident and ready when my first couple came in for a session. They were in crisis. They expressed their pain in a loud and shocking kind of way. First at each other, then at me. I had to remind myself to breathe. I explained about Imago work, the tools I would teach them, and tried to “put them into the process right away”. This was like shooting a water pistol on a grease fire. Nobody had mentioned anything to me about controlling a session. Terrible thoughts went through my mind: ‘Why are these people still married?’ and ‘These two need a real professional’. It occurred to me that I had wasted thousands of dollars in travel and training because the job as a marriage counselor was actually insane. Who would do this?

I decided to quit.

That lasted four days.

My supervisor in D.C. is a woman who is listed as ‘the best of the best’ marriage therapist in the tri-state area. For some reason, Rebecca thinks I’m wonderful, and really, what more do you want in a mentor? She said that the issue with this couple was MY spiritual issue. Huh? “Your work,” she said, “is to identify the feelings inside of you, which were so difficult to tolerate during the session. And then find a way to tolerate it.” Ugh. Are you kidding me? I set to work explaining to her how awful these two were to each other! The things they said! How they’d lived years without love – in fact, had hated each other – with a passion. Rebecca assured me that all couples enter therapy in crisis. “Conflict is growth trying to happen. The power struggle between two people is part of a divine plan for each partner’s wholeness”. Then she said my ability to control a session “needed tweaking”. Ok, so that couple was normal. Hmm. “Something purposeful and bigger than you is at work here,” Rebecca said, “Your job is to create the environment.” Sometimes my deepest held beliefs gather lint balls; please remind me to dust them off now and then: This is not the Laura Vogel show.

A lot has changed since I decided not to quit. I’ve learned to trust the process. Rebecca was right about every couple entering counseling in crisis. The beginning session usually looks a lot like it did with my very first couple. A hot mess of heartache and anger spills out in loud bites or worse - a quiet hush, the nuclear weapon of a couple’s war. But then this miracle happens. Somewhere between six and ten sessions, a transformation takes place. The partners develop a sense of empathy for each other and connectedness. They begin to soften, express playfulness, tenderness. And I’m beyond honored to be their witness.

I’ve learned that I’m invited into sacred space when two people seek help with their hopes and dreams for lasting love. I’m so thankful to the couples who have trusted me throughout 2013, during my internship, as I’m still finding my footing. I have learned so much from you! More than you will ever know, you have impacted my own marriage, my faith, and my belief in the human capacity for growth and change.

Have a Joyous Holiday Season and Best Wishes for a Bright, Fully Alive, 2014!

Laura Vogel


Bridging Harts Institute & Psychotherapy
203 S. Alma St. Suite #300
Allen, TX 75013
T: (972) 562 5002
Email: info@bridgingharts.com


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