What is Imago Relationship Therapy?

Imago Relationship Therapy is a method of couples therapy that integrates the major theories of personality, behavioral science, physiology, and spiritual discipline. 

Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, by Harville Hendrix is the watershed book that unified the subject of marriage for clinicians and couples alike. 

The word imago is Latin for image, and has been used as a term since the time of Plato to describe the inner imprint we seem to have that matches the type of person we are to fall in love with. Not just any good looking or talented person will do. We want chemistry, and that spark is caused only when we meet an imago-match. 

The characteristics of our imago are formed in childhood from powerful experiences we had with our parents and other family members. However, not all those earlier experiences were good. But instead of avoiding the negative we consistently pick or provoke those who possess the very traits we want to avoid. This phenomena has puzzled psychologists and poets for hundreds of years. It did not even make unconscious sense until Harville Hendrix demonstrated that this seemingly destructive pull is in fact one of nature's most eloquent strategies of self-repair. 

The Structure

Unlike one-on-one individual therapy and the early days of marriage counseling, couples work requires a format that guarantees emotional safety. The problem isn't lack of communication, but rather the style and depth of meaningful interaction. You will perform concrete, specific actions that are effective and reinforce themselves. You will be given homework assignments, reading and hold practice sessions during the course of the week. You can download my Imago Couples Manual. I provide a bound copy for each of you on the first session. 

The Process

The hurt and betrayal we suffer from someone we deeply love can only be completely healed by the person who caused the pain. Yet the mother or father we had in childhood is no longer the same person, because our relationship to them is no longer the same. The position and status of our childhood parent changes-- it decreases while the position and status of our lover increases. Our lover is as important to us now as our mother was to us then, and if they cause us a similar pain, then the stage is set for the type of healing that travels backwards in time from our current relationship into our past. The emotional part of our brain that forms attachments has no conceptual grasp of the passage of time. 

Working Without a Partner

Sometimes one partner is unwilling to enter therapy. This is because they feel they are going to be faulted. Statistically, individual therapy increases the chance of divorce. When only one partner enters imago therapy , however, the unwilling partner gladly joins the process after only a few sessions. With the help of imago therapy, a single person who is looking for a committed partner has perhaps an advantage greater than the rest of us. They get to study the inner mechanism of their attraction to others while progressively becoming attracted to a more suitable, or workable, imago matches.