What is IMAGO Therapy?
IMAGO (i-ma-go) was created by Dr. Harville Hendrix and his wife, Helen Hunt. It is described best in the New York Times best selling book: “Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples”. Imago teaches that once the elements causing the greatest pain in relationships are revealed and understood, they can be utilized for promoting healing and growth resulting in a deeper connection of love, joy, passion and commitment.
IMAGO is a specific model of ideas and techniques that helps couples to go deeper and find more meaning in their relationship.
I am a certified IMAGO Relationship Therapist and I often utilize IMAGO techniques to help to resolve inter-personal problems in relationships. It also focuses on how to overcome the “power struggle” in relationships resulting in more intimacy, trust and better communication.
I like the IMAGO model because it provides the most effective tools for developing insight and making change and because it is primarily short-term. Couples learn communication skills and techniques that provide tools that you can do at home to improve and maintain your relationship. The intention is that your relationship is not dependent on longer-term therapy for its success.
In IMAGO, the therapy is intended to help you understand the dynamics of your relationship and be respectful of each others perspective. It is a two-way process that will involve listening as well as talking.
Effective communication skills decrease defensiveness and blame resulting in more cooperation and genuine connection. Neither person gains at the other’s expense. If you can create emotional intimacy, you also have a good foundation for physical and sexual intimacy.
More About Couples Therapy
Couples come to therapy for many reasons but the most common reasons are for better communication, more trust, more emotional intimacy and more sexual intimacy.
Often, one partner wants the other to have more empathy, compassion and a better understanding of their perspective. Sometimes people don’t feel safe asking for what they need/want in the relationship. Sometimes people ask for what they want but never seem to get it. Whatever the reason, couples are often at an impasse, unable to get the empathy and understanding they need from each other by themselves.
Therapy helps couples re-evaluate what is working and what you’d like to see differently in the relationship.
Statistics today identify the four predictors of divorce to be:
Criticism is the main offender. Couples therapy is about eliminating these adverse coping skills and replacing them with effective skills and techniques to develop and enhance a partnership based on love, safety, support and passion.
As the therapist, I see my role as a coach, giving attention, support and direction to helping couples develop what they need to make the break through rather than the break up.
Together we will:
1) Identify and prioritize the issues, problems and conflicts
2) Identify the strengths each of you bring to the relationship
3) Identify factors that sabotage what you want
4) Help you develop insights and skills to get what you need
5) Look at what behaviors and ideas you might need to let go of to get what you really want
6) Look at how you can support each other effectively and genuinely throughout the changes you make
On the first visit, I usually ask the couple to come up with three responses to:
“This relationship would be better for me if…..”
The goal of therapy is to make changes so the couple will have increased satisfaction and feel more love and connection in the relationship. I use many different, short term, effective approaches to do this.
Therapy gives both people insights about what different behavior they want to see in themselves and what different behavior they want to see in their partner. For couples that decide not to stay together, therapy can give you insight to know yourself and what your wants and needs are for any future relationship.
I also meet with couples prior to weddings and holy unions. Pre-Marital counseling gives couples the opportunity to look at issues that often come up in relationships before they come up! This gives the couple the chance to see where they have differences in values and beliefs, and how they can prevent conflict when these differences arise. You don’t have to agree on everything to have a good relationship, but you have to respect the differences. I have a pre-commitment questionnaire that addresses relationship issues. These include: money, relatives, children, vacations, work, household chores, sex, dealing with crisis times of life, fidelity, romance, use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs, communication rules, personality differences, role of friends, physical appearance, jealousy, cultural background issues, personal goals, pre-nupual agreements and blending families. Discussing your areas of concern prior to your big day, will give you an insightful and valuable approach to minimizing future problems and maintaining respect in your relationship.