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  • jane@northside

How to Start Being a Couples Therapist - Or Not

Updated: Feb 15

Have you been thinking about exploring being a couples therapist and unsure how to start the journey? Our couples therapy trainer, Ian Tomlinson, shares some thoughts following on from his own experiences.

When and why did I decide to become a couples therapist? How did I get started?

"So, with boundless enthusiasm I added couples therapy to my website and within a few weeks my first couple was sat on my sofa in front of me"
Ian Tomlinson - trainer on the couples therapy course

I decided to become a couples therapist in the third year of my psychotherapy training. The scenario will probably be familiar to you. Nearly three years into the training on working with individuals, we spent one day looking at couples therapy. From the description that was given and the practise that we had in the afternoon it seemed rather challenging and uncertain.

Weirdly, it was at this point that I decided it was something that I wanted to do!

So, with boundless enthusiasm I added couples therapy to my website and within a few weeks my first couple was sat on my sofa in front of me. I had bought a textbook on working with couples, and as I worked with this pair I felt like I was only just one step ahead or (one page ahead) of them.

"I was lucky. This couple were very well behaved, treated each other each other with respect and made my job relatively easy. Oh, how that was going to change with couple number 2!"

My next couple showed up, sat on the sofa and systematically started dismantling each other’s personalities in front of me. They evidently did not like each other!

Unfortunately, I had not come to that chapter in my book yet and so stared at them with a mix of fear and confusion, having no idea what to do. Given how hopeless I was as the couples therapist it will be no surprise to you that they did not return.

"It was at this point that I realised I was going to either have to remove couples therapy from my website (which is I think what many therapists do), or go and get proper training."

Why did I choose Imago Relationship Therapy?

OK so now the question is which training do I get? Which model of couples therapy is best?

After a lot of research and talking to therapist colleagues I chose Imago Relationship Therapy as my preferred option.

I chose Imago Relationship Therapy because many years before becoming a therapist I read Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt’s book “Getting The Love You Want”. When Imago Relationship Therapy came up in the search results it reminded me of how much I really enjoyed the book.

The other thing that appealed to me about the training was that it was a thorough training and it split the time in the training between both theory and practical application and practise working with real live couples. I didn't want to go on a course that would tell me lots of information about working with couples yet give me no practise in applying this information when I was sat in front of two people who were looking to me for help.

Imago has now developed for me into a way of life. My wife and I apply a Imago techniques daily and dialogue weekly. It's made a huge difference to my personal life with her and my understanding of how relationships work. I've been able to share this experience with the couples that I work with, and I can see how it benefits them and has immediate impact.

"Just giving them a safe way to talk to each other is in itself an amazing gift."
Getting started in couples therapy image

At Northside Training, Ian delivers the Getting Started in Couples Therapy - Imago Foundations 2 day course. This is the first stage of the full 12 day training to become an Imago Relationship Therapist.

For more information of dates and location click the image (right).

Ian Tomlinson is is an Imago International Training Institute Faculty Candidate and trains the full training in Imago.


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