Imago Relationship Therapy

Imago relationship therapy, developed by Harville Hendrix and described in his popular books Getting the Love You Want and Keeping the Love You Find, integrates the seminal insights of Jungian psychology, contemporary psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and spiritual practices into a unique approach to the treatment of relationship problems. Its theory and techniques are applicable to both couples and singles.

The “Imago” is a composite image in the unconscious of the significant character traits and behaviors of childhood primary caregivers. By pairing us with an “Imago match,” an individual who is like our caregivers in emotionally significant ways, the unconscious drives us to recreate our childhood psychological dynamics in an attempt to heal the central wounds we carry. The process of imago therapy is aimed at using this context to transform relationships into a therapeutic container for each partner’s psychological and spiritual development. For people who are single, imago theory offers insight into the unconscious patterns which block lasting love relationships.

Imago relationship therapy utilizes a variety of clinical procedures to teach couples and single people to identify their defenses against intimacy and to understand the unconscious forces that influence partner selection and contribute toward flawed relationships. Goals of therapy include:

  • Identifying one’s own primitive and illusory ways of seeing and relating to one’s love partner
  • Perceiving one’s partner realistically without the encumbrance of one’s own unconscious projections
  • Becoming a skilled advocate and “container” for each other’s growth
  • Learning to meet the partner’s genuine needs and thereby restore the lost and denied parts of one’s own self

A core skill is the dialogue process that breaks couples out of defensive and symbiotic relating and promotes differentiation and compassion for the other.

Imago relationship therapy, when consistently applied in relationships, has the potential to be a transformative journey toward mutual healing and maturation.