Imago Relationship Therapy, originated by Dr. Harville Hendrix with his wife, Helen Hunt, offers a unique theory of love relationships, one that many of us find really makes sense.
"Imago" is the Latin word for image and refers to the composite image in our unconscious of our caretakers - mom and dad, or whoever raised us. This composite image includes the positive and negative character traits of our caretakers, our experiences with them, our best memories, and our most painful ones; and most importantly, our unmet childhood needs. We take this composite image into adulthood where we find ourselves attracted to and attractive to an "Imago match."
You may think of this as nature providing you with a partner uniquely incapable of meeting your needs! This is not done to frustrate you, but to provide an environment where the old issues can get triggered with the intention of having a different outcome.
Unfortunately, without becoming conscious of this process and learning some key skills to resolve the frustrations, many relationships seemed destined to be painful. The core principles of Imago therapy are:
- Repetitive conflicts are rooted in our past.
- Dialogue is the vehicle that takes a couple from conflict to connection.
- We are both responsible for creating a conscious, safe relationship.
- As we stretch into gradually meeting our partner's needs, we both experience healing and growth.
- There are always two perspectives to the story.
- We avoid shame, blame, and criticism.