Imago therapy

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Imago relationship therapy is a form of marriage therapy that takes a relationship approach rather than an individual approach to problem solving in a marriage[citation needed]. It was codeveloped by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, and documented in Hendrix's 1988 book, Getting the Love You Want, A Guide for Couples.[1][unreliable medical source?][2][3][4][medical citation needed] Hendrix and Hunt selected the word "imago," the Latin word for "image," as a name for the "unconscious image of the opposite sex that you had been forming since birth."[5][unreliable medical source?] In February 2012, the BBC aired a Wonderland documentary that included an imago relationship therapy workshop on the cruise ship MS Golden Iris.[6][7][medical citation needed][8][unreliable medical source?]


Imago therapy focuses on collaboratively healing childhood wounds couples share.[5] According to Hendrix and Hunt, the human brain has a compelling non-negotiable drive to restore feelings of aliveness and wholeness with which people came into the world.[9][unreliable medical source?] It is believed by imago therapists that a person's brain constructs an image of characteristics from their primary caretakers including both their best and worst traits.[10] The brain's unconscious drive is to repair damage done in childhood, needs not met, by finding a partner who can give us what our caretakers failed to provide.[9] This is why traits of a future partner often reflect our parents' traits. Our unconscious drives towards this to seek healing and to resolve unresolved childhood wounds, in order to grow. In this way, wounds received by a person, from their parents, tend to be re-stimulated by new adult partners and potential partners. The re-stimulation triggers old, unresolved emotions. Both people in the relationship can learn how to heal one another, and appreciate each other for the person they are--and--it takes time. Couples must engage in a specific type of dialogue for Imago therapy to work. The conscious self may not be able to see and understand clearly the reflection of unresolved parental issues in his or her current marriage partner. Nonetheless, our unconscious connects with this person in its best (unconscious) effort to heal old wounds and allow love into your life again.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Why Couples Fight: Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  2. ^ "Seven Questions for Harville Hendrix". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  3. ^ Gail Robertson (July 8, 1993). "Healing a Troubled Marriage: One step at a time: Imago Relationship Therapy bringing couples back from brink". Lifestyles. Windsor Star (Canada). p. D1.
  4. ^ Hendrix, Harville (1988-01-01). Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. Schwartz & Wilkinson. ISBN 9781863370066.
  5. ^ a b Ph.D, Harville Hendrix (2007-12-26). Getting the Love You Want, 20th Anniversary Edition: A Guide for Couples. Macmillan. p. 38. ISBN 9781429923934.
  6. ^ "Two Jews on a Cruise, Series 4, Wonderland - BBC Two". BBC. Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  7. ^ "Cruising with Imago". Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  8. ^ Abigail Klein Leichman (March 23, 2012). "Last Night's TV: Two Jews on a Cruise: A Wonderland Film, BBC2". Features. Jerusalem Post (Israel). p. 24. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Hendrix, Harville; Hunt, Helen (30 December 2003). Getting the Love You Want Workbook: The New Couples' Study Guide. New York: Atria Books. pp. 1–135. ISBN 0-7-434-8367-7.
  10. ^ Luquet, Wade (2006-11-06). Short-Term Couples Therapy: The Imago Model in Action. Routledge. p. 18. ISBN 9781135925420.

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