2220 Mountain Blvd. | Suite 240 | Oakland, CA | 94611
  • 510.701.0846

Strengthen Your Relationships with Imago Therapy in Oakland, CA

A Certified Advanced Imago Clinician, I have worked with couples for over 25 years using techniques and practices based on Imago Therapy in Oakland, CA. Imago Relationship Therapy is utilized by a network of professionals proposing a new purpose for marriage in our society. 



Imago therapy is a leader in creating a new chapter in the story of marriage counseling and relationships.

These pioneering theories and practices provide you with the tools you need to turn conflict into an opportunity for growth. A way to understand the root cause of the conflicts you face. Most importantly, Imago Relationship Therapy is your path to a more rewarding committed relationship and a happier life.

There are a number of guiding principles in the Imago philosophy that I incorporate when working with couples who wish to strengthen their committed relationships. 



We are relational beings. Babies deprived of this human connection fail to thrive. Most unpartnered people spend a great deal of time finding their “person”. 

Our greatest happiness in life can stem from a great marriage or long-term romantic relationship. Unfortunately, it’s also often the source of great disappointment and sadness. But it doesn’t have to be.


With so much debate over who to love, how to love them, and what it means when you feel like you’ve failed, it’s no wonder the future of marriage is more uncertain than ever. Economic upset has stretched many marriages so thin. Some unhappy couples live together simply because they can no longer afford the costs of divorce. 


When relationship therapiy is sought out, often it’s a last-ditch effort without any real belief that therapy will help. Amidst this chaos, however, Imago Relationship Therapy is writing the next chapter in relationship history. 


It’s changing the way we view relationship education, couples therapy, and even partnerships themselves. Imago helps partners rediscover one another, meet each other where they are, and redefine their relationship as a unit. 


This new vision of who they are helps them create a nurturing and secure environment for themselves and their children, so every family member can develop to realize their full potential.


The first step in redefining your relationship is by identifying the root causes of conflict in your partnership. Couple’s arguments can often be incredibly intense. For instance, one partner may come home late from work, and this triggers what seems to be a response only warranted by a life-threatening event.


The truth is… it may seem life-threatening. This is because your partner’s subconscious believes it is life-threatening!


Imago shows how couples’ arguments trigger responses linked subconsciously to fear of death. Here’s more on exactly how that works…


Infancy: Lack of Love Is Life-Threatening 

When you’re an infant, deep in your subconscious, there’s an awareness that, if your parents don’t love you, they may not safeguard you from predators and other dangers of prehistoric life.

Even in the present day, you need your caretaker’s love in order to provide food, shelter, and care. To a baby, a lack of love can be life-threatening.


Childhood: Lack of Love Equals Danger

However much your parents strove to love you, no child’s experience is never perfect.

On a scale of 1-10, our parents were intrusive or neglectful, which ruptured our original sense of connection. The developing brain perceives those moments when it feels like love is absent as minor emotional traumas. Pain and danger are intertwined in a young mind.

Since connection is essential to our survival, its loss triggered our anxiety. To regulate our anxiety, we became absorbed in signaling our caregivers by either escalating or constricting our energy to no avail.

Having no other resources, we repeated sending the signal until it became embedded as part of our character. Eventually, we lost our capacity for empathy, and others became objects whose role was to satisfy our needs or suffer the consequences.

Through this transition from original connection through anxiety to self-absorption, we developed the illusion that everyone sees the world as we do. We believe we know how others think and feel. And if they choose to be themselves and don’t play the ‘role’ we have assigned them in our ‘movie’, we tend to annihilate them using all sorts of negativity.

Called the symbiotic consciousness, this is the greatest of human tragedies. The source of most human conflict and suffering.

This consciousness, caused by the pain and anxiety of early childhood rupture, traveled with us into adulthood. We replicate our experience with our caretakers by becoming neglectful or intrusive with our spouse and children, repeating with them the unfinished story of our own childhood.

Unfortunately, regardless of your parents’ intentions and efforts in providing loving and healthy child-rearing, these early emotional wounds can impact you quite significantly.

Adulthood: “The Imago” Is Your Emotional Blueprint

As a result, you grew into adulthood with an emotional map of what love is like when present… but also with emotional scars from when it’s absent.

This emotional blueprint is called “The Imago.”


Relationship: The “Love of Your Life” Feels Right Because They Fit Your “Imago”

Many of us grow up with the dream of finding the perfect love.

When we meet our partner, we will finally feel fully at home, fully alive, and complete in ourselves. Even myths of love talk about two incomplete souls that are destined to become whole when they come together as lovers.

And when you fall in love, it can feel like you and your partner have known each other forever. Together, you believe you will experience the full, complete love that you longed for as a child.

How do you recognize the love of your dreams? You choose the person who fits your Imago. Like Cinderella fits the glass slipper.

But what does this really mean? The person who loves us in a way we recognize from our parents.

Oops! Do you see the problem here?


Conflict: The Gaps in Your Imago Map Are Simply Growth Trying to Happen

If your partner loves you the way your parents loved you, don’t they have the same gaps in the way your parents expressed love? Sure do. That’s why, when the excitement of falling in love fades, we often feel profoundly disappointed with our partner.

Does this sound pessimistic to you? Imago Therapy doesn’t see it that way at all. This conflict and disappointment is growth trying to happen.

Where does Imago come in?


Imago Relationship Therapy turns your conflict on its head. The emergence of conflict isn’t the problem, it’s the answer. How the couple manages conflict when it arises is the key to everlasting love.


Imago Relationship Therapy helps you learn more about your partner’s emotional history, and what the underlying reasons are for issues that show up in your disagreements.


By understanding why your partner is really upset and why what they are saying makes sense in the context of their past, you build the foundation needed to rebuild a broken relationship. 


Imago makes these exercises much easier by giving couples specific tools for effective dialogue and safely exploring deeply emotional issues. Imago shifts the conversation away from blame, shame, and criticism — and toward a new mutual understanding and support.


It’s the kind of dialogue that really can heal broken hearts.


Since we choose life partners who appear to be incompatible, there must be a reason. We just need to understand what that reason is.


There have been some pretty vast changes during the development of humankind. One is the diminishing need for marriage for economic or societal reasons.


So, why would anyone choose to be married if they don’t have to? This is the question on a lot of minds lately.


But what if there is a reason? What if I told you that the purpose of marriage is to work on the emotional scars left by our childhood?


What if, instead of viewing your partner as your other half – the person who “completes” you – you got together as a couple to help each other heal? To enable one another to both grow into your full potential?


Perhaps the spouse we each chose is the perfect individual to do that difficult work with. After all, there were many things about your partner that you must have adored, or you wouldn’t have chosen them. Luckily, there’s a lot of incentive in a committed relationship to sort this all out.


These are the ideas central to Imago Relationship Therapy.


The new role for marriage is for partners to help each other complete the unfinished work of our upbringing. If we use our love as a guide, the relationship transforms into a new, rich, and complete love.


And that is what will help make you complete too.

Are you tired of fighting? Feeling helpless and hopeless?

Are you tired of fighting? Feeling helpless and hopeless?

My first experience with Dana many years ago was so positive that I returned for more help this past year. I knew that she would be able to get to the heart of the problem quickly and to help me get on track toward a resolution.

Gloria P.

Before you give up on your relationship, let her try to help!


We are now able to communicate...in a constructive and loving way...

Shirley S.

Her explanation and application of the Imago technique was very practical and easy to grasp. She helped us immensely with some relationship issues that were quite deeply entrenched and painful.

Meg R.

Over the years I have come to find out parts of myself I didn't even know existed. The best thing I could say about Dana is I felt safe and compelled to open up more than I ever have before. And in doing so, I have started to love and accept myself just the way I am

Louella J.


If you are in a committed relationship facing conflict, reach out to me for more information. I offer Imago Therapy in Oakland, CA, that can help you overcome your challenges together, and come out a stronger, more resilient couple on the other side!


Imago Relationship Therapy Colleagues

Deborah Leeds

David Kest

Nicole Beasley

Josh Gressel

Copyright @2020 Dana Cole, LMFT