Imago Relationship Therapy is a form of marriage therapy that was developed by world renowned psychologist Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and his wife, Helen Hunt during the 1980’s. Hendrix wrote the best-selling books, Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples and Keeping the Love you Find: A Guide for Singles. Imago Relationship Therapy integrates and extends the insights of the major western psychological systems, behavioral sciences, and spiritual disciplines into a uniquely comprehensive and systematic theory of primary love relationships.
Imago Theory Principles:
- We became wounded during the early nurturing and socialization stages of development by our primary caretakers (usually inadvertently).
- We have a composite image of all the positive and negative traits of our primary caretakers deep in our unconscious mind. This is called the Imago. It is like a blueprint of the one we need to marry someday.
- We marry someone who is an Imago match, that is, someone who matches up with the composite image of our primary caretakers. This is important because we marry for the purpose of healing and finishing the unfinished business of childhood. Since our parents are the ones who wounded us, it is only they who can heal us. Not them literally, but a primary love partner who matches their traits.
- Romantic Love is the door to marriage and is natures’ selection process that connects us with just the right partner for our eventual healing and growth.
- We move into the Power Struggle as soon as we make a commitment to this person. The Power Struggle is necessary, for imbedded in a couple’s’ frustrations lie the information for healing and growth
- The first two stages of marriage, “Romantic Love” and the “Power Struggle” are engaged in at an unconscious level. Our unconscious mind chooses our partner for the purpose of healing childhood wounds.
- Inevitably our love partner is incompatible with us and least able to meet our needs and is most able to wound us all over again.
- The goal of Imago Relationship Therapy is to align our conscious mind, (which usually want happiness and good feelings), with the agenda of the unconscious mind (which wants healing and growth). Thus, the goal of Imago Relationship Therapy is to assist clients toward developing a conscious, intimate, and committed relationship.
- This transition can’t take place through insight alone. Specific skills and processes are necessary that need to be practiced daily to shift us from having an unconscious relationship to a conscious relationship.
- It takes hard work and commitment to develop a conscious relationship which will bring you the “Relationship of your Dreams,” that is, one of safety and passion.