Imago Relationship Therapy
for Couples and Families
With a current divorce rate of 50% or so, what are our chances
of being one of the lucky ones and be part of a happy, long-lasting relationship?
Dave Dodge, L.C.S.W.
The statistics say our marriage has a 50-50 chance of ending in divorce or staying together. Actually, our chances are a lot better than the statistics show. The trick is to understand why 50% of relationships break up before these couples learn how to remedy their situation. Imago Theory gives a clear understanding of the very predictable universal stages that all couples go through and how these stages can be properly dealt with to not only prevent breakup, but to also enrich one’s relationship so it can be happy and fulfilling.
Our society teaches us that if we don’t stay in the “romantic stage”, then we must not be with the right partner. We can then easily change our partners, blaming them for not being “the Right One”. However, Imago teaches us that as adults we always choose the right partner and do so to complete the work of childhood. If we don’t resolve our issues with our current partners, we will just keep repeating the same dysfunctional emotional patterns over and over again no matter with whom we get involved.
What is Imago (Couples/Family) Relationship Therapy?
Imago Relationship Therapy was created by Harville Hendrix and is a fairly new and revolutionary model of treatment that not only is very effective in treating couples, but is also equally effective in treating family systems.
The essence of Imago Therapy is based on the assertion that we all choose our partners in life from the unconscious images (Imago) we have of both the positive and negative traits from each of our parents (or primary caretakers). We make these unconscious choices so we can have our childhood emotional “wounds” healed by our chosen partners, that is, to get the nurturing and care from our partners in those areas we did not get as a child.
Because of this, we often respond to our partners in adult life as we did to our parents when we were children. And, since these are initially unconscious choices, we go through certain very predictable (and sometimes very frustrating and stressful) stages in our relationships until we can bring these unconscious patterns to the conscious level so we can understand them better.
Imago Relationship Therapy believes that our partners can eventually heal all our childhood wounds, as we can heal theirs. We can develop much more healthy emotional relationships with ourpartners in the form of what are called “conscious relationships.” But to do so we have to successfully negotiate and survive the “power struggle stage”, practice to be “conscious” in our daily living during the “transformation stage”, so we can eventually reach the “mature love stage”. Imago Therapy helps us to do just that.
This process can be very brief compared to other forms of couples therapy because the therapist provides the couple with a series of basic skills for healthy communication. These skills are then practiced and developed at home.Therapy is ultimately made obsolete, as each partner becomes a skilled advocate and "container" for the other's growth process.
You will learn the skills to:
- Develop more effective communication,
- Break destructive cycles of relating,
- Develop the ability to view each other as a resource rather than an obstacle,
- Restore the empathetic bond between you and your partner,
- Resolve long-standing conflicts and heal old hurts,
- Develop greater compassion for your partner,
- Manage frustration and upset with an outcome of healing and growth,
- Help each other to move from reactivity to “containment”, and
- Rediscover the joy, hope, and passion of when you first met.