The Imago Center: Changing the World, One Relationship at a Time

This month, PC&CC is proud to unveil our new website and announce our designation as the very first, accredited Imago Center in the world. This 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’re 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 requirement 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 low-income and underserved populations. You also need to be doing research and offering training. There are four distinct pieces.”

Siegel adds that having so many offerings under one roof helps our therapists themselves stay abreast of new advances in counseling work. “It feels great to have so many certified Imago therapists on staff because I think we’re offering something to the community that’s needed. I’ve been working with couples for over 20 years and have used different approaches. As far as I’m concerned, the Imago approach is the best thing out there for couples. I know that when people come to us for treatment I have confidence that they’re going to get consistently high-quality therapeutic help,” he says.

PC&CC’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 how to work with couples, what’s the most helpful thing for them. 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-fee 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 the PC&CC staff. Currently we have 16 therapists who are either certified or well on their way to becoming certified. Sears also has expanded PC&CC’s Imago 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, PC&CC staff therapists 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 those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to this kind of help,” Siegel explains.

PC&CC’s devotion to building communication bridges has recently expanded into the arena of helping churches and other 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 we studied was dysfunction. We were experts in dysfunction, but that wasn’t all that helpful to couples. 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.”

The Imago Center is available to partner with churches, synagogues, and mosques to set up a relationship/marriage education ministries, involving the four programs we offer: “From Conflict to Connection,” “Imago Connects,” the premarital “Start Right/Stay Connected,” and “Couplehood as a Spiritual Path.” “We are able to volunteer to come in and help groups set up these ongoing education programs,” Siegel says. “We are happy to volunteer our help.” 

Please call Dr. Siegel if you are interested in bringing Imago Education to your church, synagogue, or mosque, 202-449-3789 x701.