What Is Imago Relationship Therapy?

Imago Relationship Therapy

Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT) is based on a comprehensive theory integrating insight and behavioral therapies with spiritual discipline.  IRT was created by Harville Hendrix, author of Getting The Love You Want.  I was trained and certified in Imago Relationship Training in 1998 and it has been a major tool in the work I do with both couples and singles. I have shared this approach with many psychotherapy interns as well, when I facilitated the Couples Training Program at a major Community Mental Health Center in Los Angeles.

“Imago” is Latin for “image” and represents a composite image in the unconscious, consisting of significant character traits and behaviors of childhood primary caretakers (usually Mom and Dad). Unconsciously we are drawn to our “Imago match,” who is like these caretakers in emotionally significant ways.

The stronger the Imago match, the stronger the initial chemistry between a couple. Within the committed romantic relationship, we often recreate our childhood psychological dynamics in an effort to heal our basic childhood wounds.  This idea has been popularlized within our culture as the sayings, “I married my mother” or “I’m dating my father.”

The process of IRT transforms the relationship into a therapeutic encounter to be used as fuel for each partner’s psychological and spiritual growth and healing.  It utilizes a variety of clinical procedures to teach couples (as well as singles desiring an intimate union), to identify their defenses against intimacy and to understand the unconscious forces that influence partner selection and stressors in committed relationships.

The goal of the therapy is to create a conscious, mature, loving relationship. This involves identifying couple frustrations rooted in early childhood issues and partner idealization, as well as perceiving one’s partner realistically without these unconscious “projections.”

The Imago process involves learning new skills and changing hurtful behavior, as partners consciously aim to meet one another’s needs and thereby restore the lost and denied parts of themselves.

A core skill is a three-part dialogue that breaks couples out of defensive, reactive interactions, and promotes understanding and compassion for the other. The need for continuing therapy is eventually reduced, as each partner becomes a skilled advocate and “container” for the other’s growth process. The Imago process, when consistently applied in any relationship, has the potential to be a transformative journey toward mutual healing and maturation.

Click Here to learn more about Imago Relationship Therapy and to schedule a complimentary 20 minute “Create A Better Relationship Now!” Session by telephone or Skype.