Imago Therapy


Imago Relationship Therapy believes that the purpose of the unconscious partner selection based on romantic attraction, is to finish a childhood process. Choosing a partner is the result of an unconscious match between a mental image of one’s parents/caretakers, created in childhood, called Imago, and certain character traits of the attractive partner.


Romantic feelings diminish as partners attempt to coerce the other into becoming the ideal parent and the power struggle that inevitably ensues, often leads to chronic conflict. Imago Relationship Therapy offers couples another option: cooperate with the intention of the unconscious by creating a conscious marriage or committed relationship in which they intentionally meet each other’s unmet childhood needs.


To achieve this goal, as an Imago therapist I use as the primary therapeutic intervention a three stage structured process called the Couples Dialogue.


Imago Therapy


We are born in relationship, we are wounded in relationship, and we can be healed in relationship.
Harville Hendrix


What does the word, Imago, mean?


Imago is the Latin word for 'image'. Think of it as an image or a template of familiar love, both the positive aspects of that love and the negative.


While many people have a conscious list of what they are looking for in a spouse or partner, we all have an unconscious list as well, one that is outside of our awareness. We look for someone who has parts in them that we have not developed in ourselves in some way. Our unconscious also wants to find a love that is familiar to some extent in order to finish and repair what wasn’t done in childhood. So it may not be an exact replica of mom and dad, but it is close enough. Perhaps someone who is responsible, as a caretaker may have been, but also is emotionally unavailable. Love that might be fun, but also a little critical.


We all learn, no matter how great our parents or caregivers were, that we need to act or behave in a certain way to receive love or approval for safety. Parts of ourselves that need to be put away to make us acceptable. Consequently, there were some needs that were unmet or not met nearly enough.


Whether your belief is that our higher power is Nature or God or Evolution or Divinity.... whatever you believe it to be, it is interested in us reaching a wholeness and an aliveness. To be better than before.

The tough part is that you will choose someone who will give you what may be familiar in a positive way which provides you some good experiences, they will also bring the experiences that are known to you in a negative way. You will find that they often seem to be the most incapable of giving you what you most need, and you will be incapable of giving them what they most need in return.

Your partner will seem totally unreasonable because they seem to get upset over things you think are very trivial. They will want you to do things their way as if they want you to change who you are. The challenge is to learn to visit one another’s world and accept that there are two totally separate realities that are equally valid.

If you feel you have chosen someone who is completely incompatible with you. Great! You are with the right person! They probably have parts that you have not been able to develop and you have some of theirs. Both of you can learn to help each other grow.

One way in which Imago therapy is different to other marital therapy sessions is that Instead of each of you talking with the therapist or the therapist being a referee, you will be talking to each other in a safe and more structured way that is not blaming or shaming, and that enables each of you help your partner understand what an issue is like for you.

My job is to help you find out how to discover the deeper issues and to walk away with information, tools, and a map to continue the work of creating the marriage or relationship you want.