Imago Relationship Therapy is a form of relationship therapy created by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. Dr. Hendrix is the author of the two best sellers "Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples," and "Keeping the Love You Find: A Guide for Singles."
When we fall in love, everything often feels simple and clear. Imagine I meet a wonderful person who fills my life with joy and hope. When everything goes wrong later, it can seem very confusing, and that's often when I might feel like blaming my partner for the failure of the relationship.
Imago turns this conflict on its head. The conflict isn't the problem, it's the answer. But how the couple manages conflict is the key to everlasting love.
Conflict is inevitable in any committed relationship. Usually it rears its ugly heads as seemingly petty disputes over the practical things in shared lives. But while the argument is visible on the surface, the deeper emotional content is neither explored nor understood. Instead partners simply blame or criticize each other. They often decide their partner is just not the right person for them, and turn to others for love.
Imago helps couples learn more about their partner's emotional history, and what the underlying reasons are for things which show up in their disagreements. They begin to understand why their partner is really upset, and why what they are saying really makes sense in the context of their past.
This might sound like a difficult conversation to have, but Imago makes it much easier by teaching couples a specific way to dialogue about emotional issues like this. The Imago dialogue shifts the conversation away from blame, shame and criticism, into mutual support and understanding. It's the kind of dialogue that really does heal broken hearts.
The basic premise of Imago therapy is that we were born whole and complete and became wounded during the early nurturing and socializing stages of development by our primary caretakers (usually inadvertently).
We have a composite image of all the positive and negative traits of our primary care takers deep in our unconscious mind. This is called the IMAGO. It is like a blue print of the one we need to be our partner in a committed intimate relationship. We marry or commit for the purpose of healing and finishing the unfinished business of childhood. Our parents are the ones who wounded us and it is they who could help us heal. A primary love partner who matches their traits is their stand-in.
The goal of Imago Relationship Therapy is to align our conscious mind (which wants happiness and good feelings) with the agenda of the unconscious mind (which wants healing and growth). Thus, the goal of therapy is to assist clients in developing conscious, intimate, committed relationships.
This transition cannot take place through insight alone. Specific skills and processes are necessary that need to be practiced daily to shift us from having an unconscious marriage or relationship to a conscious marriage or relationship.