Since 2017, the Imago Relational Method is winning the hearts of Africans. More than a hundred people today, multi-denominational Christians and Muslims, from Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso have participated in Imago courses. These courses have been redesigned to welcome both couples and solos: pastoral agents, religious, priests, pastor and individuals.
The aim: to pacify and strengthen relationships in the family, in a couple, in a work, in the governance of an associative or corporate structure.
It all began in August 2017 with a vision between Antoine D'Audiffret and Vincent Heulin that they shared with Fondacio and Fondacio Benin. This vision, which had been worked on at length that year, gave rise to a mission to explore and present Imago in Benin led by Vincent Heulin, who at the time was in charge of the Couples and Families mission at Fondacio France, and a volunteer friend, Chantal Lepeigneux. Both are certified Imago therapists and practitioners. This mission of exploration took place in several towns in Benin between Cotonou and Parakou. It was co-ordinated by Fondacio in Benin, Fondacio and Love-Power, then gradually linked up with the Imago France association. Together, they studied the context, the needs, the material and financial constraints in order to come up with a credible and stable project spread over 6 years with the main objective: the promotion of women in French-speaking Africa from Benin using Imago tools.
The Imago relational method was created by Dr Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt in the 1980s in the United States. It offers couples the opportunity to welcome conflict and frustration as opportunities for growth for themselves and for each partner. She also equips many professionals in the helping relationship to help with new awareness, internal disarmament and pacification through individual or group discussions. Highly structured dialogues and practical exercises help to rebuild a secure relational space, where everyone listens, understands and respects the other's personal universe. The core of the work is to dissolve tensions (not to resolve) in order to emerge from a power struggle to "team up" and re-humanise the relationship(s). For more information www.imago-france.fr
In August 2018, the associations and movements Fondacio, Love-Power and Imago France officially organised four couples and solo workshops. Since then, these courses have continued and are run on a voluntary basis by French and Swiss certified professionals. They brought together at the Cardinal Gantin Pastoral Centre in Bamè (about 200 km north of Cotonou, the economic capital of the country), about sixty participants from Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso.
The aim of all the courses is also to identify people with the potential to become future professionals in the field of marital assistance. But also individual and team assistance within companies and associations. The hope is to be able to send a supervisor and then an instructor to Benin in the near future to train these future professionals. The latter will practice and give their skills to the service of the different religions, Christian, Muslim, endogenous and civil society, in each of their countries in French-speaking Africa.
This mission, supported by tools that have been tried and tested for fifty years and which are efficient, offers a profoundly secure framework as well as a real renewal in conjugal intimacy, and more broadly in relationships, the cradle of socialisation for the younger generations, particularly the place of women. It opens our eyes to the way of LISTENING to others in a more conscious way in order to dialogue in love and truth in a non-violent energy. It calls us to open up to the world in a different way, to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, to become peacemakers.
The first fruits are of course individual and couple transformations, but the most important is the training and certification of Beninese people in order to root and sustain the project for French-speaking Africa. This is made possible thanks to the commitment of Cyro and Cyra SEKE, the leading couple of the NGO Love-Power, hosts of the TV programme "United forever", and having been received by Pope François, who followed the training entirely in conjunction with Imago France. More recently, Jérôme TOZE, one of the managers of Fondacio West Africa, has been involved in the training in order to be certified as a Facilitator. Gradually they will be interviewing people from Benin and will themselves be able to co-facilitate various workshops and later training courses.
For the summer of 2021 are planned respectively :
- A solo workshop from 25-28 August
- A couples workshop from 26-29 August
- In-depth sessions for former participants on 21-22 August.
Testimonials from participating couples and solos :
Several videos are available on https://cutt.ly/lkjm8Oc
- We were overflowing with joy and vigour (Omer & Immaculée TOSSOU)
We were encouraged by one of our children to experience the four days of the Imago course that had never been done before for our couple. We didn't regret at all that we left everything behind to go together. We were overjoyed, overflowing with joy and vigour. Thank you for teaching us how to dialogue and listen to each other in depth. You have just saved our couple.
- We came out of this Imago course even more in love (Fabrice & Eméra LANHA).
We came out of this course even more in love, better equipped to better manage our life as a couple. Fabrice: "For me, this course marks a new way of looking at the conflicts we have encountered. "Eméra: "I have learned to abandon the balance of power and accusation in favour of a partnership to better manage my childhood wounds" What we have learned again is that the other is not responsible for our annoyances, disappointments and bitterness. It is simply a revelation. The dimension of conflict is turned upside down and becomes incredibly rich: It becomes an opportunity to grow up.... Fabrice: Sigh.... It's crazy to understand it this way. I leave with the word dialogue, dialogue and dialogue.
- Rediscovering the joy of loving each other thanks to Imago (Elisabeth & Jérôme)
What really moved Elisabeth and me was the "positive flood dialogue. "I was able to realise and feel my qualities by listening to Elisabeth, and when she shouted to everyone in the room "Jérôme I love you" it made me even more madly in love. Elisabeth: " And for myself, it was a unique experience that I had never had before and it was very strong when Jérôme was cuddled up like a baby in my arms during the hug. I was able to listen to his story in depth, his fragilities, his needs. It transformed me and it brought me back to love.