We are proud to unveil our new website and announce our designation as the first accredited Imago Center in the world. The Imago Center of Washington DC is a new venture of Pastoral Care & Consultation Centers. Our new label does not change any of our excellent counseling services for individuals, couples, and groups in the DC area. Instead, it enhances what we have been doing for more than 40 years, by highlighting our research, training, and service to all parts of our community.
We specialize in Imago Relationship Therapy for couples, individuals and groups. While Imago has traditionally been seen as therapy exclusively for couples, we believe its relational perspective is equally invaluable to our clients in individual therapy and group therapy.
“We are the first accredited Imago Center, which means Imago International has given us their seal of approval,” explains Executive Director Dr. Carl Siegel. “Part of the guideline for becoming an Imago Center is that you have a certain number of certified Imago therapists, and that a portion of your work is for underserved populations. You also need to be doing research and offering training. There are four distinct requirements.”
Siegel adds that having so many offerings under one roof helps our therapists stay abreast of new advances in counseling work. “It feels great to have so many certified Imago therapists on staff because we are offering something to the community that is very needed. From my perspective, the Imago approach is the best thing out there for couples. When people come to us for treatment I have confidence that they are going to get consistently high-quality therapeutic help,” he says.
The Imago Center’s collegial community sets it apart from other therapy practices, providing comprehensive case consultation and collaboration that most individual therapists find challenging when out there on their own. “Part of what makes us different from going to someone in private practice is that we value being in community,” Siegel says. “We help each other with our work and hold each other accountable. We have quality control, and that happens because we meet regularly and support each other. We make sure we’re all up to date on the latest thinking about the most helpful ways to work with couples. This is all part of being an Imago Center.”
PC&CC has been engaged in the four competencies required for Imago Center accreditation for some time: Imago training, offering certified Imago services, ongoing research, and providing low income services to the community. Rebecca Sears has been training Imago therapists for more than five years. Many of her protégés have gone on to receive certification through Imago International and remain on staff. She also has expanded our training opportunities around the world, teaching groups of therapists in Russia, Estonia, and South Africa.
Nathan Gehlert, a Ph.D. candidate at Loyola University Maryland, is leading our research efforts as he investigates Imago theory and the effectiveness of the practice on couples in the long term. Meanwhile, our Imago Center staff therapists in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia operate with the commitment to reserve 10 percent of their caseloads for low fee or pro bono clients. “We are reaching out to the community to help people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to this kind of help,” Siegel explains.
Our devotion to building communication bridges has recently expanded into the arena of helping churches and other community institutions develop educational programs that feature new information about marriage and relationships. “We know a lot more now about what it takes to be in long-term relationships,” Siegel adds. “For a long time all counselors studied was dysfunction. Only recently have we studied what healthy relationships look like. A big piece of spreading that information is education. It’s stuff they don’t generally teach in schools, so where else will people learn it? We want to help people anticipate issues and problems before they occur, so that down the road we are not trying to repair these marriages – the couples would already have the skills needed even before they need them.”