The Safe Conversation

This model was originally created by the founders of Imago Relationship Therapy, Harville Hendrix, and Helen LaKelly Hunt. They gave us permission to use it in our work and we have found it to be the best "communication tool" ever. And we have tried many. A big shout out and thank you to  Harville and Helen. We have made some additions along the way, but not many. Enjoy!

The Safe Conversation


  • To create safety so you can share and listen easily to one another
  • To help you maintain your own sense of self while you are listening
  • To increase connection, and empathy between you.
  • To help you differentiate between your two worlds and build respect and understanding for each.

When To Use

  • For check ins and moments of connection
  • For decision making processes
  • For repairing conflict
  • When one or both of you need deeper listening or more safety.


  • Request time; make an appointment; set time boundaries
  • Always equal time for both partners; use a timer?
  • Do not engage is you are Hungry, Angry, lonely or Tired (HALT) or have been drinking or using any kind of recreational drug.
  • Make eye contact, turn toward one another.
  • Use your breath to stay present, focused and attuned.
  • Use the image of two different valid worlds.
  • Practice loving kindness toward one another; keep your heart soft.


Listening Role:  Calm yourself down so you can pay attention to your partner’s world. Practice staying attuned and interested.

Getting Present:  Relax your body. Take 2 long deep breaths. Focus on:

                           Eye contact

                          Open body language

                           Curious attitude (“what’s it like in that world over there?”)

                           Genuine caring for your partner’s point of view and feelings.


While listening, stop your partner at short regular intervals with a calm, kind signal you both agree upon.

“What I hear you saying is…”

“Did I get that?”

“Is there more?”

Empathizing      is the act of putting yourself in your partner’s place and acknowledging their perspective and feelings.  It does not mean you have to agree or like what you hear.


  1. I understand your perspective (your point of view, your world) is…
  2. And given all that, I hear the feelings you are expressing are…” (If your partner has not been able to articulate their feelings you can guess – “I imagine you might be feeling….”)

Speaking Role : Your tone of voice has the biggest impact upon whether or not yoru partner is open to hearing you.

  1. Use I statements. Talk about yourself.
  2. It never works to make your partner bad and wrong (blaming and shaming)
  3. Talk about your feelings – Sad, Mad, Glad, Afraid, Excited or Ashamed.
  4. Make requests instead of complaining about what you don’t get.


  • Counseling

    Our long-distance relationship counseling/coaching is a unique blend of education, skill building, and facilitating you to grow into the partner/person you would like to be in your relationships.

  • Intensives

    Our private 3-day retreats serve one couple at time. Some of the top priorities that we address are: breaking through unresolved issues, extra-marital affairs, deepening communication, increasing sex and intimacy.