Dr. Charles Hershkowitz, Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist and certified Imago Relationship Therapist working with couples in Brussels
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Couples Work







... unfortunately, doing this turns out
to be
much, much harder than at first !!!!











This decline of love after the first few months or sometime years is a universal tendancy. 

But to make it less disastrous we have to figure out how certain particularities of each have gotten you to set up some "lovetraps".

Our job is to coach you as a couple as you seek to defuse your lovetraps and rekindle your love.

So that true intimacy can reappear.


Here is an interview of Charles Hershkowitz
about his background and especially his Imago couples work

click here.


Couples' Typical Difficulties and Dilemmas

Many sorts of reasons can bring a couple to therapy:

  • Dating and commitment issues

  • Negative "character changes" after the courtship period
  • Communication gaps
  • In-law entanglements and other family influences
  • Affaires
  • Decline of sex
  • Chronic frustrations
  • Mistrust and jealousy
  • Divergences about bringing up children
  • Arguments

    The virtuous Imago spiral for working on deep Anger

    In many couples a very deep and intense anger sometimes occurs ; it appears suddenly, is very intense and seems out of proportion to the apparent reason that brought it on. This state can lead to physical violence.

    It’s quite hard for the partner to realize what is happening and give any effective help. This type of anger may last a long time, and the subsequent cold and withdrawn post-acute period is destructive relationally on the level of the trust that the angry person’s partner can newly have in him/her. To make matters worse, the angry person typically still feels misunderstood and badly judged after the incident is over.




    This spiral depicts the successive stages of Imago-therapy work with a couple having this sort of Anger. The Imago-therapist brings the angry partner, who is face to face with the "targeted" partner -- as is typical in the Imago way of working; see for example the Interview above: (click here and then scroll down to "Does your couple therapy use techniques a lot ?") --, to express completely what he/she is experiencing, including sub-conscious aspects, associations and memories that can be re-accessed. The “targeted” partner is coached by the therapist to support the angry one mainly by verbally mirroring what is said (which does not mean consent); a bonus for the partner is that doing so enhances his/her own understanding of and empathy for the angry partner’s emotional and cognitive world.

    As one spirals from the anger outwards along the successive topics of this spiral, the couple is moved little by little toward a shared vision, finally, of what’s going on deeply and where to go from here, thanks to the very difficult realities that they have just succeeded in descending into and coming out of.

    The meaning of being together and their future path become more clear via this work.


    Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT)

    IRT offers to the various couples described above a "toolbox" that they can learn to use in daily life. Attending IRT sessions is an opportunity to become, together, artisans of the inner healing which each partner needs.


    • aids in healing from the wounds that each brings into their relationship from childhood and youth, and also from past couple relationships.
    • favors conscious commitment to developing -- not just surviving -- together.

    Understanding the other : this is achieved by working primarily in direct, face-to-face interaction with your partner. This differs from classical couples work, where both partners tend to speak to and interact a lot with the therapist. Your partner will be coached to actively and effectively help you work on certain issues where you´re stuck. Thus, for each partner, certain key learnings about his/her deep functioning will be achieved in connection, in relationship, and not by each individually and apart.

    With most couples, we work together: two therapists facing the consulting couple.
    This offers several advantages:

    • Together, we have a more diversified sensitivity to both consulting partners. If one of us has a blind spot, this may be compensated by clarity on the part of the other coach.
    • Our joint presence can make it easier for the male partner to seek help, given that many men are wary of entering the therapy world -- which they often find too feminine.
    • Fluidity is generated as the intervention of one therapist is nuanced or built upon by the other, favoring a sense that the four people in the room are co-creating a new, common wisdom about "love" and how to put it into practice. 

    Are conflicts eliminated by IRT ? NO !!! They remain necessary, but through the IRT process the damage is diminished as couples learn about themselves as individuals and as a unit, thereby increasing mutual understanding. Invoking one "tool" or other in the midst of a conflict enables the couple to improve the inner security of each fairly quickly. Establishing a sense of security is regarded as essential in IRT, because whenever our archaic (or "reptilian") brain detects what appears to be a "danger" -- defined not rationally but by associations based on a reservoir of sub-conscious trigger-memories --, it blocks the neo-cortex. This makes positive neo-cortical results, like planning a reasonable problem-solving strategy and resolutely carrying it out, impossible as long as the "danger" has blocked the neo-cortex.

    Using these "tools" gives each partner a far better sense of what's going on below the surface in the other and what brings him/her to speak or act inadequately. Much more acceptance of your partner's subjective realities becomes rapidly possible – without giving up one’s positions and individuality.

    IRT tools are not negotiation tools. However, used prior to a touchy negotiation in a close personal relationship, they do ensure a better foundation for the negotiation's success, by contributing to several key success factors: basic security of each partner; conscious awareness of the inner state of each; empathy about what is going on emotionally for the other in his/her subjective world.

    Central to conflict, very often, is criticism.

    When a young child is hurt, he/she naturally cries. However, most adults have "learned" in their socialization to suppress crying and instead do something very different when they're emotionally wounded: they criticize. Actually, the critical response to someone who feels wounded is highly counter-productive vis-à-vis what that person really needs – acknowledgement of his or her needs and a modicum of empathy for his or her's attempts to satisfy them. Since the person targeted by the initial criticism will usually criticize back, the wound will worsen. 

    Our experience has shown that good outcomes come from each partner being brought to fully perceive, in detail (as under a microscope), the other’s woundedness. We do not try to analyze the "cause" (within someone’s personality, etc.) of blaming and criticism, but focus instead on the couple's practical and urgent need for a way to express safely the wounds and the frustrations each is experiencing, and to get these really heard.

    On the practical level, some of the distinctive facets of our work are:

    • In order to really learn and use new ways of handling woundedness and related anger, we guide the blaming couple to gradually phase out criticism
    • We do not interpret "why" each does this or that, but suggest ways for them to go about their own quest, together, for the meaning of certain negative behaviors
    • We teach communication "tools" designed to enhance empathy for the other, and coach the couple on using them fruitfully on their own through specific "homework assignments" to do together between sessions
    • We give a larger place to intentionality -- putting the often cherished value of "spontaneity" into question and analyzing how our patterns of reactivity generate oversimplified and damaging labels about the other in our minds.


    Here is the link to a list of 10 Characteristics
    of the Ideally Conscious Marriage
    , according to the Imago pedagogue David Roche.




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