Parental Considerations and Responses to Bullying

Bullying pic


Though Herb Tannenbaum, PhD, has built most of his career on relationship counseling for couples, he has also established his expertise in child psychology. Dr. Herb Tannenbaum has served for several years as the director of a children’s day camp and has been invited to offer lectures and lead workshops on various aspects of child development, including the persistent problem of bullying.

Exact statistics can vary because of differing definitions of “bullying” and methods of reporting, but in general, traditional bullying has seen a decrease only to be replaced by cyberbullying. Regardless of its form, however, it’s a critical issue because those targeted by bullies are more likely to engage in violence, bring weapons to school, struggle academically, and experience both physical and mental health issues.

Parental response is a key element in addressing bullying. Helpful actions include informing the child that bullying is not uncommon nor the fault of the child, listening to the child’s concerns without offering judgment or reaction, and building the child’s self-confidence through developing extracurricular skills and talents. Actions a parent should avoid include scolding the child, assigning blame, or encouraging any form of retribution. In the event that it becomes necessary to speak to the parents of the bully, offering analysis or judgment of their child is almost certain to cause offense and exacerbate the situation.

For those who discover their child is the bully in this situation, several common factors need to be considered. Many children who bully others do so because they are subjected to disrespect or disregard at home, acting out in order to gain a sense of power or draw attention. Children who are accustomed to leniency and unused to strict restraints might bully out of a sense of entitlement. In some cases, the child has trouble feeling empathy despite coming from a loving home and active parenting. In any case, it’s important to remember that a bully is still a child in need of guidance.

Herbism of the day: IF YOU WANT TO BE LOVED, BE A LOVER by Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D.

February is famously known for Valentine’s Day- a day to celebrate love and the importance and sacredness of our love relationships.

The importance of celebrating the specialness of our adult love relationships and the one we love is critical to helping keep relationships meaningful and full of a sense of aliveness and passion.

According to Imago Relationship Therapy founded and developed by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LeKelly Hunt, Ph.D. Relationships navigate through various stages in their evolution toward consciousness. The Romantic phase is the powerful elixir that allows us to bond and move forward into the magical mystery of adult love. It is often filled with a great sense of aliveness. There is a sense of familiarity, as if we know this person from another time in our lives. In addition, there is a sense of timelessness, as if we have known this person forever. Furthermore, there is a sense that we cannot live without this person in our lives as our sense of being depends on being in relationship with them. Finally, there is often a sense of wholeness that we get from being in romantic  relationship as if we are whole and fully alive. Ah, how sweet it is!

Inevitably, Romantic Love ebbs away and it is replaced by us not only seeing all the positives of our partners,  but we become aware of the parts of our partner that we don’t like or feel are  misattuned to our needs and that are re-wounding or hurtful to us. Often, folks reply with despair and a sense of hopeless tothis ienvitiable phenomenon. More importantly, often couples get stuck in this stage of the journey leading to less contact and connection. It becomes a power struggle in which each partner tires to will their way in the relationship or withholds in reaction to the hurt or pain they are experiencing. It is a dark time and leads to feelings of unsafety and defensiveness cascading to even more disconnection and despair.

The good news is that there is hope beyond the Power Struggle. In Imago Theory it is referred to as “the Conscious Relationship”. A conscious relationship calls for a tool for partners to stay in connection and to recognize that they are one as a couple and yet have a separate experience than their partner and that each partners world needs to be heard and validated.

In addition, partners need to refuel their relationship by consciously re-introducing caring behaviors form the past (that were lost in the power struggle) as well as being curious and finding out from their partner the ways they feel cared for and loved. Furthermore, by listening to your partner’s desires and surprising them with those behaviors helps shift the neuro-chemistry of the brain from reactive/defensive behaviors into a safer and less defensives ways to experience each other. Safety allows  partners to be more spontaneous and therefore experience more aliveness.

As Valentine’s day approaches, ask your partner how they feel loved and cared for.  Then,  do what you can, even stretch yourself, to help your partner know that you care enough to honor their needs. It is powerful step in creating a safe and passionate relationship with the one you love!

Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D., contact me at or visit my webpage




The Paradigm Shift of Imago Relationship Therapy is a critical determinate differentiating Imago from other schools of Relationship Therapy. It shifts the energy of the clinical interventions from the perspective of the individual to the co-creation of the space in between the partners. Thus, the relationship becomes primary, calling each partner to intentionality and shifting them away from their own sense of self to the expanse of the relationship. In short, Imago is a Relational Paradigm and the individual is a variable.

Focusing on the energy in the space in between and how to cultivate safety promoting connectivity based on validation and empathy is a profound shift asking the therapist not to be the judge or the referee stuck in the content or communication style. Instead, it stipulates that the therapist become a facilitator to help each partner cooperate in holding the others’ reality and making sense of their partners’ reality from their partners’ point of view. This minimizes reactivity and moves neuro-energy to the higher functions of the brain. It deepens the communication and transforms it from reactivity to vulnerable and authentic communication.

Historically, beginning with the Freudian movement the focus was on intra-psychic constructs and dynamics. The next wave of thinking was more about interpersonal constructs typified by Neo-Freudians such as Adler, Sullivan and Horney . This work was further developed by object relationship and attachment theory. However, Imago shifts the focus to the relationship as the foundation of where healing, growth and expansion of the self can occur.

Moving away from the self and ego shifts the focus to the connection that occurs in the adult love relationship. The underlying postulates of Imago Relationship Therapy pivot on the assumption that the purpose of adult love relationships is to provide an opportunity to repair the wounds and ruptures mitigated by a character structure based on defensive adaptations to a sense of a self integrated in attunement and validation. Thus, a sense of aliveness flowing from a balanced sense of pulsation is co-created for each partner.

Imago Relationship Therapy invites couples to stay in connection through safety that is tethered by the Couples Dialogue shifting the energy to the space in between which is a co-creation of each partner. It asks each partner to become more intentional about how they send to and receive communication from each other. This summons the couple toward intentionality, and consciousness by reflecting on and being aware of how they contribute to the space in between. Underscoring, that what is contributed to the space in between strongly influences the tonality, intimacy and energy of the relationship. The Couples Dialogue is paramount to intentionality which is a major touchstone on the journey to a conscious relationship.

The sacred space in between is where couples can share, process and connect. It is the essence of the relationship. Asking partners to shift the locus of control of the relationship to this space rather than their individual frames of reference is the fundamental shift allowing them to cooperate with each other’s unconscious agenda of healing childhood wounds and reclaiming and expanding their original essence confluently, rather than out of reactivity and adaptions to rupture and pain.

For more information contact Dr. Tannenbaum;


Relationship Realities: The safety and the challenge of adult love relationships! by Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D.

Our romantic relationship are driven by many factors. Two of the most important dynamics that couples need to understand and appreciate are the need for safety and the need to grow and expand consciousness.

Imago Relationship Therapy was developed by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D and Helen LaKelly-Hunt. The underpinnings of Imago Relationship Therapy are expanded in the best selling book Getting The Love You Want by Hendrix and Hunt.

Imago theory postulates that the purpose of adult love relationships is to heal childhood wounds so that the psyche can utilize energy to expand consciousness and achieve a sense of full aliveness. So, what is needed for this to happen? Our adult love relationships need to have an aspect of security. A secure attachment includes a sense of reliability and warmth. Development psychologist have researched and documented the importance of secure attachment to an infant and child’s development and that need is timeless.

Romantic Love facilitates a sense of attachment as couples bond and experience a sense of timelessness, recognition and familiarity in their partner. What is really happening? The unconscious is sensing a recognition of the person with whom we are falling in love. The psyche is timeless and as it senses the familiarity of the character traits of our partners romantic love blinds us. It allows us to only see the positives in our partner and blinds us of seeing the character traits which we may find disturbing or rewounding.

The paradox is that the psyche is much more interested in the rewounding that we will inevitable experience. Not because we want to be rewounded, but because we are in a relationship of our choosing we can choose to learn more about our partners and them to learn more about us and our wounds and what we need for healing. When we receive the healing the behaviors we need from our partner the psyche because it is timeless does not discriminate the past from the present. It only knows that it is being healed and that is what it yearns for. It makes us very special to our partners and a unique source of safety

Thus, the challenge we all need to accept as partners is that in order to cooperate and help our partners heal, we will need to understand our partners needs and be willing to stretch are behavior repertoire to incorporate behaviors that will help our partner heal and feel safe.  The truth is, we can only feel as safe in a relationship as we make our partner feel. There is no negotiation on that.

We are challenged by our mission, yet it is this challenge that really makes our adult love relationships so special because in stretching to heal our partners and them us each partner reclaims lost, denied or disowned parts of themselves and regain the energy that has been used to repress or deny these aspects of our being.

This is a big deal! It helps provide a better understanding of the purpose and dynamics of adult love relationships and gives a road map for couples to cooperate with their partners’ and their own unconscious to help created the relationship of their dreams and move beyond the inertia and despair of the power struggle.


Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D. is a certified Imago Therapist and a member of the faculty of the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy. He can be contacted at






Be Curious about Your Partners’ World by Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D.

Imago Relationship Therapy founded developed by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly-Hunt, Ph.D. identifies and underscores the importance that partners in an adult love relationship begin to differentiate and accept and become curious about their partners world. In other words, partners are often reactive, judgmental, frightened or confused when there partner does not see the world the way they do. This is often the etiology and fuel of the power struggle that so many couples get caught up in.

Rather than being reactive, Imago Relationship Therapy asks that partners transcend their reality and become curious about what their partner is thinking or feeling and to contain reactivity so that the sending partner can share their world without being questioned or judged–this is powerful! Using the Couples Dialogue which is a core skill of Imago Relationship Therapy each partner gets mirrored, validated and empathized with for their point of view. The receiving partner stays focused and attuned tracking their partner and learning more about their thinking and subjective reality.

The core of the the couples dialogue is based on Phenomenology which was developed by the Dutch philosopher Edmund Husserl. Husserl identified the concept of subjective reality and that each of us view the world through on own lens which is based on our internal world. This was profound thinking. It emphasized consciousness and underscored that empirical facts are not enough to understand the human condition.

For couples, the concept of being curious about each others world opens a pathway to intimacy through connectivity and safety. In my office, the number one yearning that partners have from their partner is to be heard and understood. The Couples Dialogue provides the structure for couples to be in connection in an intentional way and allows them to be curious about their partners world knowing that listening to their partner is a gift for the relationship that allows a deeper level of authentic connection.

Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D. – contact me @


Relationship Realities by Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D.

Psychologists understand the importance of attachment as a pivotal aspect of child development and a universal need throughout life. Imago Relationship Therapy founded and developed by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. postulates that we are born in relationship, wounded in relationship and the venue in which we can be healed is in relationship. 

The fact that adult love relationships are so powerful in stirring up both positive and negative relationships underscores that there is no more powerful transference triggers than our partners. Why is this? Imago Relationship Therapy states that our psyche’s yearn for healing and wholeness and the unconscious has the wisdom to choose a partner who has the composite of the positive and negative traits of our primary care takers. In romantic love, we are attracted and excited about the positive traits we see in our romantic partner that remind us of things that we liked or promoted feelings of safety and aliveness. According, to Imago, romantic love is nature’s anesthesia to allow us to connect to a person with whom we will re-experience the frustrations, hurts and disappointment of our relationships with our primary caretakers. The purpose of re-experiencing these archaic hurts is not to be re-wounded but for repair. In Imago Relationship Therapy, once a couple commit to creating safety , they are provided with tools to navigate the core scenes that the trigger the pain in ways the promote safety and healing.

Imago Relationship Therapy helps couples to navigate the journey from romantic love, and the power struggle and reach a third level of relationship – THE CONSCIOUS RELATIONSHIP!

In a conscious relationship partners accept the challenges and difficulties of relationship and begin to use tools that help promote safety, attuned connection and repair. The repair allows partners to heal and re-claim lost and denied parts of themselves leading to an experience of fuller aliveness in the journey of life.

by: Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D. for more information go to or follow me on twitter herbtannenbaumphd.









Couples Therapy Objectives in Imago Relationship Therapy

Getting the Love You Want pic

Getting the Love You Want

Herb Tannenbaum, Ph.D., is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Effective Living, located in River Edge, New Jersey. In addition, Dr. Herb Tannenbaum has obtained certification as an Imago therapist and has served as a faculty member at the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy since 1997.

Imago is a therapy method that combines Western psychology, behavioral science, and spiritual doctrine to form a unique love relationship theory that can be applied to both individual and couples therapy.

By helping those seeking or struggling with an intimate relationship adjust their thought processes through an understanding of intimacy defenses and how humans select intimate partners, Imago teaches clients new skills to conquer unconscious and detrimental behavior and ultimately foster “mutual healing and maturation.”

When working with couples, Imago therapy strives to:
Create a safe space for couples to interact and connect
Assist with the development of communication skills that will lead to improved understanding between the parties involved
Help with the transformation of frustration–which can result in a power struggle–into positive understanding and response to the partner’s needs
Develop the inward recognition and acceptance of the qualities within one’s self that provoke hostile feelings and may, in turn, be projected onto one’s partner.

Imago therapy is intended to improve the couple’s relationship and leave them feeling fulfilled and more connected to one another.