What is the difference between Imago Relationship Therapy and Traditional Marriage Counselling?
Couples experiencing relationship problems often have a breakdown in communication and lose their connection as a result. Restoring communication and connection is the basis of restoring the relationship. This forms the essence of Imago relationship therapy.
In traditional marriage counselling, the therapist is typically the core of the healing process. The couple talks to the therapist about their frustrations and the therapist then gives advice on how to solve the couple’s problems.
This system is not always effective because the couple connects with the therapist, not with each other. All too often, the couple remains disconnected as they find it a challenge to implement the advice that is given.
The Heart of Imago
The core practice of Imago Relationship Therapy is the “Couple’s Dialogue”, in which the couple engages in a structured conversation facilitated by an Imago Therapist.
This provides a safe structure for communication and connection between the couple to air their frustrations and voice their requests for change instead of speaking to the counsellor about it.
The dialogue is based on the understanding that each of the partners in a relationship lives in a unique world of their own thoughts, feelings and perceptions, shaped by the conditioning and experiences of their childhood, so they might see the world totally differently.
It’s not about who is right or wrong
In Imago Relationship Therapy, none of the partner’s views of the world is considered wrong. Therapy is not about deciding who is right and who is wrong; rather, it is all about understanding your partner’s world.
In the “Couple’s Dialogue” or “Bridge Dialogue” you learn to leave your world behind (your perceptions, rationalizations, etc) and cross an imaginary bridge to visit your partner’s world and listen to your partner.
Imago Therapy enables each partner to extend him / herself to understand the experience of the other as different from his or her own.
The counsellor teaches the couple the structure of the dialogue and guides and facilitates them in using it to connect and bring about change.
From the very first session, a couple can expect to experience the healing effect of reconnecting.
Imago Relationship Therapy is effective because the couple quickly become the source of their own healing, not the therapist, who is just a facilitator in the healing process.
The Imago Concept
We are born in a relationship and we will inevitably be wounded during some stage during the early nurturing and socialization stages of development by our primary caretakers, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Subconsciously we know that we can only be healed in a relationship. Since our parents / guardians are the ones who wounded us, it is only they who can heal us, not literally, but a primary love partner who matches their traits. Thus we have the subconscious compulsion to be in a relationship.
Why are we romantically attracted to a specific person?
During our childhood the composite image of all the positive and negative traits of our primary caretakers form an imprint on our subconscious minds; this becomes our picture or image of what love looks like. This is called the Imago.
When we search for a partner we subconsciously seek someone who matches up with this composite image of our primary caretakers.
This person is called our Imago Match.
When we meet our Imago match, we fall in love, because the subconscious mind recognizes the resemblance with our primary caretakers and rejoices in having found them again with the expectation that this time they will give us everything we did not get in our childhood.
Why do we become so disillusioned in our relationships?
Once the “love drug” of a new relationship wears off, differences become more and more apparent. It feels as if our partner knows what we want, but is withholding it deliberately. As time goes on and it becomes a committed relationship, e g. the couple moves in together, get engaged or get married the power struggle begins.
This makes us angry and for the first time we start noticing our partner’s negative traits. We compound the problem by projecting our own negative traits onto our partner.
More and more couples are realising that they need to be educated in how to create a successful marriage.
Imago Relationship Therapy offers an advanced education on relationships and is an effective therapy to heal broken relationships.