Session Breakouts and Presenters

1:30 - 3:30 pm, Saturday, 6 October 2018

Chesapeake I & II - You Don’t Have to Be a Sex Therapist to Talk About Sex

The integration of couples’ therapy and sex therapy is no easy task.  Couples therapy is a deepening process for both the couple and the individual.  Sex therapy, at its core, is a cognitive-behavior therapy.  Many couples therapists are taught little about sex therapy.  They often learn that repairing the attachment wound and creating reconnection will solve the sexual problem.

Through this presentation, we will present an overview of the integration of couples and sex therapy.  Many components of knowledge are necessary in exploring this topic, such as psychodynamic theory, relational and medical issues. An understanding of the importance of sexual knowledge in order to educate our clients about healthy, positive sexual knowledge is crucial.  Most importantly, we will look at our own attitudes about addressing sexuality and discuss ways to bring up the topic of sexuality with our individuals and couples. 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Identify messages that effect a therapist’s ability to discuss the topic of sexuality
  • Name four components to explore in any case of sexual dysfunction/difficulty
  • Identify themes in individuals or couples which provide opportunities to explore sexuality issues

Deborah Fox, LICSW, is a clinical social worker with over thirty years of experience in private practice in Washington, DC. She has been an AASECT Certified Sex therapist since 1981 and a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist since 1996, providing individual, couples and group psychotherapy, as well as clinical consultation.Deborah has lectured on sex therapy concepts and skills at The Washington School of Psychiatry and the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in Washington, DC. She conducts seminars and consultation groups on both couples’ therapy and sex therapy.

Gail Guttman, LCSW, specializes in the integration of couples and sex therapy.  Gail has been a Certified Imago Therapist since 1994 and an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist since 1984.  Gail offers consultation and supervision groups.  She has been twice recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Therapist” in sex and couples therapy.  Gail is also an AASECT CE Provider, AASECT Certified Sex Therapy Supervisor and an Imago Clinical Consultant.

Gail has presented on the subject of couples and sex therapy at the Integrative Sex Therapy Institute, Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Workers, previous Imago conferences, the University of Maryland and other professional organizations.

Chesapeake III - Imago and …. How Facilitators/Educators Apply the Imago Method in Their Practices

This breakout not eligible for CEs.

This informative and experiential session is for facilitators/educators and therapists interested
in how the Imago Method is applied in a variety of group and organizational settings. It will highlight the strengths and challenges of applying the Imago Method to participants’ existing and emerging professional and personal practices.

Presentation of Imago facilitator/educator applications with experiential group engagement. Panel of facilitators/educators will share their applications of the Imago Method, participants’ will engage in experiential group learning around key application issues then the whole group will debrief learnings, surprises, and outstanding questions.

  • How to support the values and vision of the cohousing movement. Using Imago is a natural fit
    and provides the tools for realizing cohousing’s core intentions of community and connection
  • How to teach corporate leaders to get results through human connection and commitment to
    relationships. Using Imago to create “psychological safety” in corporations
  • How to work with schools and students using Imago to build self-management, communication, and empathy skills
  • How to hold safety during mediations and negotiations using Imago, Non Violent Communication and Emotional Regulation methodologies

Learning Objectives:

  • Share applications by facilitators/educators of the Imago Method across different sectors:corporate, not for profit, public schools, and families
  • Share tools used by facilitators/educators to shift energy when groups become stuck inreactive patterns
  • Establish collaborative relationships between Imago therapists and facilitators/educators

Dr.Stella Alexandrian, Ph.D., Orthodontist in Paris, France. Stella is a certified Non Violent Communication trainer and co-founder of the Uelewano Peace Initiative in Kenya. She uses Imago in educational trainings in Europe and Africa for singles, young couples, parents, and orphans to prevent violence and support connection. She also mediates conflicts for corporations and non- profit organizations.

Brian Eames, Teacher of Tweens, Paideia School, Atlanta, Georgia.  Brian has taught for fifteen plus years at the Paideia School, a K–12 independent school in Atlanta and is a published author of young adult fiction including Dagger Quick and Dagger X. He uses the Imago Dialogue with his students with great success.

Karen Gimnig, Board Vice President, Cohousing Association of the US. Karen applies Imago tools and practices to her work with collaborative communities including nonprofit organizations especially around cohousing. Her work includes facilitation of group process and conflict resolution and content creation and presentation of workshops.

Melissa Gordon, President, EchelonCommunicate, LLC. Melissa is the creator of Speak Like You Mean It™ and an executive coach. She is a recognized communication consultant and award winning media producer who has worked with global brands, committed non-profits and startups. EchelonCommunicate helps leaders communicate to connect and resonate in order tomake better business decisions.

David Green, Co-Founder, The RAIS Relationship Center. David partners with his wife, Christine Petrik, an Advanced Imago Therapist and “GTLYW & KTLYF” Workshop Presenter. Together they conduct workshops in New York City. David is a past Board member of IRI and Co-creator of the Imago Collaborative Task Force which formed the new Central Collaborative Circle (CCC). Although not a therapist, David completed the Imago Clinical Track as an Imago Educator, Imago Facilitator training, Getting the Love You Want Workshop presenter training, and Keeping the Love You Find Workshop presenter training. David is also the creator of “ImagoVoices” a global online community forum.

Potomac - Sensory Processing and the Reactive Couple

Alongside the Imago perspective of the developmental stages of childhood (attachment, exploration, identity and competence), and especially during the child's first few years (1-3), the brain is developed rapidly. One of the most important developments are the sensory integration. Sensory processing/integration is the main and only way for a child to explore their world before language developed. The 8 senses are not obvious and therefor are overlooked by therapists.

A child with underdeveloped brain (in which the sensory process was not fully developed) is more likely to experience learning and behaviour difficulties. This, in turn, might create tension with the parents and teachers, which in many cases results in some form of defensive mechanism of the child.

However, some of those issues (e.g., mood swings, anxiety, rough touch, movement and more) will stay and show up again and again in adulthood, and especially in intimate relationships. As therapists, in my believe, it is important to understand how the brain develops via the senses in the first 2 years of life, to better understand the hidden sensory challenges of the adult child. Then, we can tailor an intervention that will take sensory processing into account. This workshop is a 'taster' of this perspective.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understanding sensory processing and integration from the brain point of view and its relation to emotions and behaviours
  • Discussing three main senses: Vestibular, proprioceptors, and tactile, and how it shows up with couples
  • Exploring ways to integrate sensory understanding and Imago therapeutic intervention

Kalanit Ben-Ari, Ph.Dis a Certified Advanced Imago Clinician, a Certified Imago Workshop Presenter and the UK Representative for IRI.  

Kalanit has worked as a family & couples therapist and a public speaker for more than 15 years and has a private clinic in Hampstead, London. She is also a parenting expert and author of two books. Awarded her Doctorate in Psychology from Birkbeck, University of London, and AM and BA in Clinical Social Work in Israel.

With a passion for her work, Kalanit is dedicated to integrate different approaches to helping couples heal and grow connection. From a personal journey and research, she grow her interest to neuroscience and especially Neurofeedback and Sensory Processing. Using clear examples taken from Kalanit’s research, extensive clinical experience, and personal experience you will learn how to look at reactive couples through the lens of sensory processing.

For more about Kalanit, please

4:00 - 6:00pm, Saturday, 6 October 2018

Chesapeake I & II - Communologue

This session not eligible for CEs

Communologue is a powerful dialogical tool for safe communication, and connection in groups.

Communologue is a guided process, which creates and maintains a conversational space, where everyone feels heard, understood and respected. All views and contributions are explicitly welcomed, and habitual ways of oneness and rejection, are gently replaced with invitation to enjoy diversity. Communologue provides a unique opportunity for larger groupings, to move from entrenched conflict and distrust into a space of compassion, deep understanding and free flowing exchange of ideas. Communologue is not specifically a problem solving technique, task oriented, or conflict resolution. However, Communolgue is a process of coming together in a reliably safe space, paving the way to Entrainment, and so like all the pendulums in a room full of clocks, will begin to swing together, so each person in a Communologue, does not only share, but builds upon the sharing of the others. This creates a space, where problems may be solved, tasks may be accomplished or facilitated, and conflicts may be resolved.
Communologue contributes to achieving peace In our world, by bringing together the three elements:

  • Safety, which is essential to any communication.
  • Honor for each person, and what they bring.
  • Hope, where they may have been none before.

Communologue invites the participants to bring their diversity to a space where conflict resolution becomes possible, and hope can emerge in places that might have been seen before as a dead end.

Communologue has been presented and taught around the world. It has been used in sensitive projects and challenging encounters within diverse groups, such as the Palestinian Israeli Couples project (2002-2008), and the Rwanda delegation to the UN (2005-2007).

Marcia Ferstenfeld, MA, CIRT, CI (Southfield, Michican, US) is known for her deep grasp of the heart of Imago Theory and Practice. She has been a moving force in Imago Michigan and globally since 1993 and has been actively involved in the Peace Project the Imago Summit and Communologue since 2003. Marcia brings warmth, humor, clarity, knowledge and intuition to her teaching which facilitates learning for all learning styles. She has a talent for creating a safe environment within which those present can stretch into their potential and do the work of growth and healing both personally and professionally.

Orli Wahrman, MSW (Israel) is an Imago therapist, Workshop Presenter, Consultant, Faculty member, and the Israeli Representative for IRI. Additionally, she is a qualified Somatic Experiencing (SE) and Trauma therapist, and Family and Couples therapist. Just after 9/11 Orli started THE IMAGO PEACE PROJECT, which led to the development of Communologue, a way to safe communication in groups. Combining Imago work and Communologue, she created the Palestinian-Israeli Imago Project, which brings together couples from both peoples.

Members of The Peace Project will be assisting in communologue.

The Imago Peace Project, grew as a response to the tragedy of September 11, and the desire within the Imago community to make a contribution towards peaceful solutions to conflicts and ruptures within groups and larger communities. The initial thought was that the Imago processes of mirroring, validation and empathy, modified to fit a group setting, provide the same benefits to groups or communities that it provides in dyads: safety, freedom from reactivity, assurance of being listened to, free exchange of ideas and connection.

No discussion involving communication and group process, could exist without the distillation of ideas from, and appreciation for, thinkers and teachers such as Carl Rogers (1948), Marshal Rosenberg (2003), Bohm (1995), Issacs (1999), Wheatley (2002), Bion (1975) and many others.

From all these building blocks, tools, techniques and ideas, and along with the ideas, efforts, the laughter and tears of the Peace Project members, a new dialogical creation has emerged.

Since 2001, some people have left, others joined, and thousands of hours, reflections, dialogues and writings, have come together to create and coin the term Communologue (community, communicate & dialogue).

During the last 20 years, Communologue has been taught and applied to many settings, ranging from the intimate (family groupings, support groups, committees) to larger community settings (work settings, schools, community groups, Imago communities) to international  issues such as the Palestinian-Israeli Imago Project, the work with the Rwanda's delegation to the U.N., Americans Together; Community Dialogue in a divided world, and many more. Communologue was also adapted as the main communication tool in Imago Summits, Faculty, and Board meetings. In the past, as well as in the last Imago conferences, communologue was used to create dialogue and connection among the whole audience of the conference.

This year we’re going to have again the opportunity to share what’s on our minds, whether it is the new structure of the Imago world, our attitudes and opinions about MeToo, or any other issue we’d like to Communologue about. As one of our participants has lately said: “The Communologue process is magical regardless of the topic, it’s not about what it’s about, it’s about feeling close, connected, heard, not alone!”

6:10 pm, Saturday, 6 October 2018

Potomac - Grieving Circle

(This session does not provide clinical CEs.)

 A tradition at Imago Conferences, Shamanic Practitioner Dr. Jim Wisecup leads whomever would like to join in a grieving circle of healing, sharing, and unity.

Dr. Jim Wisecup trained at the Blanton-Peale Graduate Institute from 1971-75. He received his Doctor of Ministry from Andover-Newton Theological School in 1981. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors at the Fellow Level. He also trained at the Institute for Socio-therapy in psychodrama from 1974-78, 1980-84, and is a Certified Practitioner with the American Association for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama. He furthered his studies and training in Object Relations Therapy at the Washington School of Psychiatry, D.C. and the Metropolitan School of Object Relations, N.Y. from 1990-`98. He is trained in Imago Relationship Therapy with Dr. Harville Hendrix in 1993-94 and became a Certified Imago Therapist. He is currently training to be a Couples Workshop Presenter. He pursued further training at the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy, N.Y.C. in Divorce Mediation from 1997-98. He studied Shamanism with Sandra Ingerman at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies from 2001-2004, and is now a Shamanic Practitioner.

8:30 - 10:30 am, Sunday, 7 October 2018

Chesapeake I & II - Being Brave and The Process of Rising Strong™ in Our Relationships

“We are called upon to be brave in our lives and in our relationships. There is no greater arena to be in than the one we call relationship.  Being vulnerable is essential to being brave.  Our deepest moments of joy, love and connection happen in moments of vulnerability, when we are being courageous, not when we’re all armored up.  Many of those moments can be created using the Imago Dialogue. It can help you take the armor off.” ~Kelly Patton, LMHC

During this session, participants will be exposed to a couple of key concepts in Brené Brown’s Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ curriculums that perfectly mirror and fit in with the Imago Theory, allowing us to use these concepts with the Imago Dialogue. The focus on showing up and being our best selves in our relationships can be organically applied to the Imago perspectives we use every day. Brené’s definitions of shame and guilt and the direct correlation she makes between vulnerability and bravery are spot on and can help you inspire couples and individuals to show up and truly be seen and heard in their relationships which lends itself to a more authentic, fully alive and conscious connection!  Her work on how we are wired for story is also integrated in the Imago theory. We look at our childhoods and the stories we each have written about ourselves and the world with a focus on developing self-compassion and empathy for ourselves and our partner. Underlying many of our stories are myths related to feeling not good enough or worthy on some level or another.  The narrative we operate from directly impacts our quality of life and our relationships. Come and see how you can help your couple’s author new narratives and live their lives more on purpose!

The session will include music, video clips of Brené sharing concepts chosen for this session, as well as time to practice a new dialogue that focuses on a new narrative!

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will understand The Arena to be a place where we as individuals and couples are invited to show up, be seen and live brave!
  • Participants will be able to self-identify their current personal arenas and how to use this metaphor alongside the Imago Theory as a way of inspiring clients to be brave in their relationships
  • Participants will be able to identify the difference between shame, embarrassment, guilt and humiliation and the tenants of the practice for becoming shame resilient
  • Participants will be able to incorporate aspects of the Daring Way™ and the Rising Strong™ practice in their own lives and be able to see how they could use this to facilitate deeper conscious connections with the clients/couples they work with

Kelly Patton, LMHC,  is a Certified Advanced Imago Clinician.  She was certified in 1998 and feels blessed to have trained with Hedy Schleifer, LMHC and Rick Brown Th.M.  Kelly is also a Certified Daring Way™ and a Certified Rising Strong™ Facilitator, work based on the research of Brené Brown, Ph.D.  Kelly is passionate about encouraging couples to recognize and summon their bravery in relationships and teaching processes that help them to rise up from the falls that are inevitable in our lives and relationships.  Kelly lives in Clearwater, Florida with her life partner of 15 years ~ Debby, and has a private practice in St. Petersburg.  They are launching new Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ retreats and look forward to having you join them for one soon!

Chesapeake III- The Mindset Gap: Facilitating Awareness, Consciousness and Action in Imago Relationship Therapy

Defining success in our work with couples is challenging because our clients come with their own agendas and desires so that results are difficult to measure. Our working definition of consciousness is that one’s impact and intention match. And while much of the human relationship experience contains the impact “miss”; skills at repair, insight, and change can be illusive . Helping couples establish success outcomes early and often builds confidence, awareness, and skill development critical to relationship competence and healing.

While our Imago tools and processes for facilitating emotional connection are fantastic, often change is difficult because of the underlying Mindset that clients can’t initially see. Mindset is the road on which we travel toward relationship success. Because we can not see our own perceptual filters, through which we view relationships, the behavioral patterns that cause pain and suffering can become rigid and repetitive. Helping couples explore Mindset can lead to increased compassion, flexibility, and relationship satisfaction.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify common Mindset examples
  • Utilize a process for defining success
  • Manage relationship defenses in the exploration of Mindset
  • Explore strengths and vulnerabilities of personal Mindset that can impact therapeutic process

Bob Patterson, LPC, LMFT, is licensed in the state of Georgia as a Marriage and Family Therapist and as a Licensed Professional Counselor.  For four years he has spent a lot of time in New York at the Institute for Relationship Therapy, training with Dr. Harville Hendrix  author of the New York Times best seller Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, Keeping the Love You Find:  A Guide for Individuals, and Giving the Love the Heals:  A Guide for Parents.  He received certification as a IMAGO Therapist in 1990 and became a Workshop Presenter in 1992.  His foundation as a professional therapist owes a great debt to his partner in marriage, parenting and business, Wendy Palmer Patterson, partners for 37 years.  Bob is past chair of the Executive Board for Imago Relationships International, an international nonprofit organization for the advancement for Imago Relationship Therapy. 

Academically, Bob holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Georgia State University, 1975 ( a long time ago).  After graduate school, he worked for five years as a group and family therapist in a residential program for youthful criminal offenders.  For the next ten years Bob provided consulting services to major corporations, government agencies, universities, churches and national political groups.  Besides his work with couples, he has provided career counseling for over 200 senior executives.  Bob began private practice in 1987 and has shared his insights regarding human change and relationships in national publications and national TV (CNN).  Bob is known for his clarity of presentation and on his good days, his humor. 

Wendy Palmer Patterson, LCSW, LMFT. Wendy holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from The University of Georgia and has trained extensively with New York Times best seller and world-renowned therapist, Dr. Harville Hendrix. She is a Senior Faculty Member of Imago Relationship International (IRI) and is a Master Trainer of Imago Relationship Therapy. Wendy conducts Certification Trainings worldwide and has been a key contributor in establishing Imago Communities in South Korea and Turkey. In addition to training therapists in Imago Therapy, Wendy conducts several professional supervision groups for therapists, and runs professional growth groups and workshops for women. She has been in private practice since 1970, and has been a Certified Imago Therapist and workshop presenter for over 20 years.

Wendy is known for her empathic, energetic, and warm teaching style. Wendy and her husband Bob have a daughter Taylor and a son Leif, and make their home in Atlanta, Georgia, which is a humming center for their private therapy practice, P2 Partnerships Inc, and much creativity.

Potomac - Couples and Sex: From Conflict to Connection

Arguments about sex are as common as any other topic, but can lead to devastating disconnections and Exits such as addictions, separate bedrooms, affairs, an overly busy schedule, a good guy/bad guy stance with feelings of resentment, fear, loneliness, depression, and anger. When couples arrive with such distress, it may not be appropriate to simply suggest they have a date night or have more sex. Increase your understanding with Imago tools to work with your couples in creative, blameless ways. This workshop gives a glimpse into the complexities of Sexual Desire Discrepancy to normalize it for couples and motivate them to want to connect more with each other, in and out of the bedroom.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about a common but often unknown phenomenon which contributes to relationship power struggle called “Sexual Desire Discrepancy”
  • Learn how to educate and normalize Sexual Desire Discrepancy with your couples within the Imago philosophy and framework
  • Learn how to approach the needs of a couple with Imago Dialogue to include greater empathy and motivation to learn to grow a connection and balance out the efforts with greater conscious awareness for the couple
  • Explore therapist comfort levels and growth edge, plus acquire tools to help couples explore blocks and creative ways to move them towards pleasure.
  • When to refer a couple to a Sex Therapist, Bodyworker or Intimacy Expert

Stacy Bremner, MA, RP is a Registered Psychotherapist in private practice in North Bay, Ontario, Canada. She brings expertise from several therapeutic modalities to her work with individuals, couples and groups. As a Certified IMAGO Relationship Therapist (IRT) since 2004, with advanced clinician status, and a Certified Imago Workshop Presenter, one of her greatest passions is to help couples shift conflict to connection! 

Stacy has been researching and educating couples on this topic of Sexual Desire Discrepancy since 2005. For almost 2 decades, Stacy has given lectures and facilitated groups on topics such as relationships, communication, spiritual creativity, and personal healing. Her upbeat, direct and compassionate approach provides safety and gets results. For more about Stacy, please visit

10:45 am - 12:45 pm, Sunday, 7 October 2018

Chesapeake I & II - Holding the Hope: The Positive Power of Imago

Of course couples arrive on our doorsteps when they are often in that hopeless place of ‘if this doesn’t work, we’re getting divorced’…and yet they still have some hope!
How we facilitate the dialogue process toward options, possibilities and hopeful perspectives in this scary place is crucial.

Right from the beginning we want the process and space to be experienced as safe, connecting and flexible. How we lead and facilitate the process will set the couple up for moving forward or digging that frustration hole deeper. In our workshop we will go deeper into what needs to happen in the first 6 sessions and how to build the work on a couples' progress to maximize safety, connection and understanding.

Live demonstration.

Learning Objectives:

  • Review the essentials of the first session
  • Learn how to focus on the depth of connection rather than the issues
  • Find and maximize the hope in each session -
    learn to attune your psycho-educational pieces to what has just been experienced
  • Learn to double more effectively

Rebecca Sears, MDiv, LPC is deeply rooted in the healing and growth potential of Imago Relationship Therapy and is passionate about empowering clinicians and teaching the fine art of becoming a skilled couples’ therapist. Her dedication to this transformative relationship work has taken her from being a Workshop Presenter, trainer and psychotherapist here in the Washington area, to a new focused commitment to bring this work to Russia where she and Dr. Carl Siegel have been presenting Imago theory since 2001.

In 2006 she presented the first “Getting The Love You Want” couples workshop in St. Petersburg, Russia and began Russia’s first Basic Clinical Training in Imago Therapy. Her keen ability to teach the theory, encourage and coach therapists into a deeper clinical competence and integrate the deeply spiritual component of Imago, will bring a new level of meaning to your personal and professional work-life. 

She is ordained by Church of the Saviour in Washington DC, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the District of Columbia, a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and a past President of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Imago Therapists.

Rebecca is a Faculty Member of the Imago International Institute and and a Top Rated Couples Therapist by Washingtonian Magazine.

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