Love Letter from the Chair September 2020

Love Letter from the Chair August 2020
Aug 31, 2020
Oct 11, 2020

Love Letter from the Chair September 2020

The Imago Career Path


When I first started my Imago Journey, I had no idea where the path would lead.  My plan was to do the Imago Clinical Training so that I may learn how to better help couples.  At that point consulting couples was a nightmare, to say the least!  My plan soon led me on a path.  One that took me on a never-ending adventure.  As I became part of the community, attended more training, and grew in my expertise and competence I realised this journey is more like a river.  Once you travel around the bend, there is a surprise, perhaps a waterfall and another surprise.

This edition is to provide you with a map that could serve as a guide as you navigate your Imago professional development.  Some people like exploring without a map, but I know there are those out there who would greatly appreciate it.  The map consists of five levels of experience for practitioners wanting to train and grow in Imago Relationship Theory and Practice, that are organic and relational, and to allow individuals to learn and grow in a safe space so we can better serve our community.  This learning space is fertile with encouragement, empowerment, connection, and belonging and holds the tensions of sound theoretical underpinning, experiential learning opportunities, inclusiveness, and ongoing development and research toward evidence-based practices.

The means of traveling this adventure is by attending a wide variety of basic and advanced training, and through the application and practice in individual, peer, and group supervision.

Here are the pit-stops of an adventure of a lifetime!

Level 1:

This fundamental-level offers two tracts:

  • Imago Clinical Training: This training is available for individuals in the mental health field, who would like to specialise in Couples Therapy (the common pre-requisite degrees are M.A or M.S in Psychology, M.S.W. in Social Work, M.Div in Pastoral Counselling, M.D.).
  • Imago Facilitation Training: The Imago Professional Facilitator Program is designed to help professionals in a wide range of fields to become effective at creating stronger and more productive relationships through the use of the Imago Dialogue. Focusing on the application of Imago processes in non-therapeutic contexts, this training prepares individuals to integrate Imago as both a method and a personal approach within their professional lives.

Level 2:

After the respective training, the Facilitator or Clinician completes a supervision process, submits a final tape/project and is then certified and can practice with these credentials.

  • Certified Imago Relationship Therapist   OR
  • Certified Imago Facilitator.

 Level 3 

Advanced Clinician
An Advanced Clinician has completed at least four or more of the Advanced Training.

  • Brilliant at the Basics: This course is designed to review, deepen and expand the theory and clinical skills taught in the Imago Clinical Training. You will learn to move beyond the mechanics of facilitation and learn the artful and creative use of sentence stems, doubling, and focusing. You will also learn to integrate the four “meta theories” of Imago with these deepening tools, making the theory practical in everyday use with couples. This also gives the therapist a lens to make interventions based on the couples’ level of differentiation, safety, and developmental stage.
  • From Despair to Repair: In the face of a couple’s crisis, there are three different perspectives for the therapist to consider. The first perspective works for, and from, the ‘between’ of the relationship – the focus is on the interpersonal; the second, uses relational neuroscience as a map for inner attunement; and the third, helps the therapist with his/her own counter-transference and use of “self.” The end-point of all three perspectives is to provide the therapist with skills for helping couples move from Despair and Rupture to Repair and Connection.
  • The Attuned Therapist: Working with Reactivity and Resistance. As therapists, we expect a little chaos. However, there are couples who just seem to challenge us every step of the way. Using a growing understanding of the relational paradigm, you will explore how to use your center, embodied, and attuned presence to assist clients in making sense of the anxiety which motivates them into reactivity. You will explore interventions to assist them to move toward each other, co-regulating effect and moving into safety and joy. Using safety, pacing, and understanding of the dynamic cycle underlying the core struggles between maximizer and minimizer, you will use an attachment and developmental lens to understand the needs and emotions driving the power struggle and the defended self.
  • Characterological Growth: This course is a three-day experience, designed to deeply explore the ways your defenses and your character structure affects others.  Another purpose is to grow your container so you can be big enough to hold all that life hands you and to help you rock between the joy and the sorrow of life.  As Geneen Roth says, “The purpose of being alive is not to be forever happy.  That is impossible.  The purpose is to rock between the pain of the past and the promise of the present and be in the present more and more of the time and to be able to share all that is inside us with those around us.”
  • Keeping the Love you Find:  This course is designed to help therapists become more effective in repairing their individual clients for committed relationships and marriage. This training is designed for relational work in a group setting with theory and processes to show individual people how to modify their character adaptations in an intimate relationship. In a relationship we were wounded, and only in a relationship can we be healed. This course is also useful for therapists in doing character work with couples.

Level 4 & 5 (In Developmental stage)

The 2020 IITI (Imago International Training Institute), proposed two further levels of Clinical Certification: The proposal for Level 4 is:

  • Certified Workshop Presenter
  • Certified Consultant / Supervisor

The proposal for Level 5 is for clinicians who have been practicing Imago theory and gaining experience for many years; candidates are then invited to join the Faculty/Imago International Training Institute (IITI) and on completion of the required training become a Certified Clinical Instructor.

In South Africa, we are fortunate to have two highly experienced and qualified Clinical Instructors, Kobus van der Merwe and Michele Naude.  They are also Faculty members.

These levels are an outline to encourage you to pursue further training, growth, and development.  Clinicians and Facilitators alike, watch this space in the upcoming newsletters for more detailed information for YOUR map, if you wish to continue traveling on this path.

Questions may be directed to El’Marie Grove at

September News

9 September 2020

KZN Diggers Chapter Meeting.  Here is a brief summary from Cathy Haselau:

Marilet and Michele continued the discussion on The Sexual Response Cycle Part 2. The first exercise that we did was one that Marilet uses with her clients – we had to picture sitting opposite and close to our partners as we do in our Imago dialogues, and visualize the sexual energy flowing between the couple. After we had checked-in, we each completed our sexual Imago. This was so interesting and for me validated one of the underpinnings of Imago Relationship Therapy that suggests and explains the dynamic that we are attracted to both the strengths of our caregivers,  as well as to the challenges of our caregivers.  This was such a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the vulnerable aspects of our relationships in the safe and confidential atmosphere of the Diggers.”

12 September 2020

Marilet Kotze and Michele Naude, presented a spicy, saucy, and very successful event:  Let’s Talk About Sex Couples Workshop.  Together with six couples, and facilitators, Carol Dixon, Helen Anderson, and Sonia Kruger, the couples explored their sexual Imago and learned the language of Intimacy.

I wish I could share all the feedback:

“Our vision for our sexual relationship was so in common with each other and we were able to share what we haven’t really been able to discuss before. We are wondering if there is going to be an advanced workshop.”

“There is so much that is unsaid and how refreshing it is to be able to share in this safe space”.

“When I am 90 I will still learn and grow. It’s the first time we are doing this online and the first time we are discussing sex so openly. This is another brick in the path of our journey together.”

“This was a great opportunity to be open with each other for the first time in our relationship and this is just the beginning and I appreciate my partners vulnerability.”

“This has brought us closer together and I appreciate the courage my partner showed in being more open and vulnerable”.

“I realise that the sexual part of our relationship is core to our wholeness and humanity and deserves attention. I had lost the fun part of our sexual relationship and I need to give more attention to the fun part.”

“Initially I thought to have a workshop about sex with other couples was ridiculous. However, I feel this bond in the group and sexual issues are normal.”

“I was just reminded how powerful the Imago dialogue is and I am very excited to be able to talk about sex and explore our relationship further.”

16 September 2020

Group as Expert # 7.  Although a smaller group than usual, the question for the group generated a well of wisdom.  The question was what to do next with this couple:  A Couple went through infidelity, but the betrayed spouse can’t believe that the cheating spouse really loves her. The cheating partner originally told her he does not love her but loves his affair partner.”

23 September 2020

Our third National Online Chapter was once again very informative and thought-provoking.  With the theme: “Contextualising Imago Theory with an African Paradigm”, Cathy Haselau and Sibongile Mkhize shared their wealth of wisdom with us.  Combined with Cathy’s research and Sibongile’s experience I personally learned what to look out for when consulting with clients from different cultures.  I learned that values, expectations can play an important part for example on the application of the Imago process and dialogue.  Ngiyabonga (thank you in Zulu), Cathy and Sibongile!


Save The Date 

14 October 2020

Next KZN Diggers Chapter Meeting: Elaine Fourie will be presenting on “The Alchemy of the heart: what happens in the space between.  Sounds exciting!

15 -18 October 2020

IRNA (Imago Relationships North America), presents an online Conference featuring Emily Nagoski, “award-winning New York Times bestselling author.  Emily describes herself as a writer, educator, researcher, activist, and nerd.  She combines sex education and stress education to teach people to live with confidence and joy inside their bodies,” as keynote. (Directly from IRNA website).  Also featured the founders of Imago, Harville & Hellen Hendrix.

16 October 2020

At last, the possibility of a Face 2 Face Gauteng Chapter Meeting!
The date to be confirmed and the venue to be announced.

21 October 2020

Group as Expert:  Please join Michele Naude and me for the next opportunity to ask all your burning clinical questions.

27 October 2020

Online Group Supervision with Kobus van der Merwe.
To register, contact El’Marie @

28 October 2020

Imago Africa Board Meeting

29 October 2020

Once again Imago Africa hosts presenter Marilet Kotze for a Part 2 Webinar. Theme: Everybody likes Vanilla – Normal Sexual Function and Dysfunction.  This webinar is mainly for therapists, facilitators, and trainees.

30 October – 1 November 2020 

Online English Getting the Love you Want workshop with Kobus van der Merwe
To register, contact El’Marie @



After much deliberations, the Conference Planning Committee decided to postpone the International 2021 Conference to 2023.  Among many reasons, the primary was that a virtual space will not do justice to what we do best in Imago, which is connected in a way that is mindful of the space between and where we can demonstrate meaningful relationships in action, both at personal, private levels, as well as at the level of experiential learning.

In Africa, we have a unique way of being together. We take time to connect and experience/encounter each other within our uniquely African environment. This can really only be experienced in our natural habitat with the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and visceral experiences of being on African soil. We cannot offer this virtually.

Instead, we are planning a smaller local Summit, 1-3 October 2021. At this stage, the planned theme is “Exploring Human Connectedness – an African Perspective.” We welcome your help, questions, and suggestions in this regard.

This is all for now.  Fitting for this month’s letter, I leave you with a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “The key to realising a dream is to focus not on success but significance and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.”

Much love,

Sonia Kruger
Sonia Kruger
Tel: +27 76 313 7597 Email: