My name is Lisa McGovern and I am from Nashville, TN. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. My first job out of college was working with men who had been arrested for domestic violence. We taught the men about healthy and unhealthy relationship dynamics. I loved this work and seeing that these men all had their own stories, none of which included wanting to grow up to become a “batterer.” I then worked with Catholic Charities for 26 years working with individuals, couples and families. I always believed in how powerful relationships were and how healing they could be, or how destructive. Working with relationship dynamics became a passion of mine.
In my work with couples, I felt like there were many ways I was able to be helpful, but also really felt something was missing. I heard of different frameworks and they had an appeal. However, my social work background led me to not believe in being a “purist”; that the same thing wouldn’t work for every person who sought treatment. That belief combined with the cost of the training gave me pause.
However, when I moved into my current office building, I had the great fortune to meet Jeannie Ingram. Jeannie was warm, welcoming and a wonderful mentor. She shared her experience with Imago and introduced the opportunity to learn more about it. The thing I have really appreciated about Imago is how it incorporates all the things I learned were helpful to couples and put it in a framework that made sense. I also appreciate the flexibility within the model to make it work for the person sitting across from me. I find the concepts are helpful and healing, not only with couples but with individuals as well.
I find that I am most drawn to the concepts of being curious about others and speaking about the story in my head. I find the mirroring, empathy and validation work in almost any situation. I have found these concepts to be helpful across the areas in my life and improving my relationships. I did an appreciation dialogue with my sister that allowed me to shift my view of a behavior of hers that I had resented. I would love to say I remember to practice curiosity and finding what I can validate in others all the time, but I still struggle in some situations. I have been blessed to witness how couples really respond to the elements of this and how this practice strengthens their connection.
I have been so grateful to Jeannie and the amazing example she is of inclusion and practicing the Imago concepts. She is a wonderful example of the Imago community. What I would say to someone considering the Imago training is that while it is expensive, it is a wonderful investment that will serve you well both professionally and personally.