What is Imago Encounter-Centered Therapy?

Imago Relationship Therapy, developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt in 1980, is a form of relationship and couples’ therapy that focuses on transforming conflict into healing and growth through relational connection.

Imago therapy is a technique to help a couple come together to improve their communication and listening. Often, when couples come into therapy, it’s because their relationship has broken down. They no longer look or listen to each other. Disrespect and anger have replaced love and concern. Their “dance” has become dysfunctional, and they interact by stepping on each other’s toes rather than smoothly dancing together. Imago therapy helps them reconnect and clear out the resentment and trash that has been polluting their relationship.  Linda begins therapy by observing how they interact. She watches the dance to see what is working and what is hurting the relationship. Once she has a good feeling of how they dance together, she starts making changes in their behavior. It’s easier to change behavior than it is feelings, but because our behavior is connected to our feelings, changing one is the origin to changing the other. Uncross your body, remove items that you place between each other, move closer, make eye-contact, look lovingly without disrespectful behaviors such as turning away or rolling your eyes. Once the physical changes (that’s the easy part) then it’s time to start working on communication skills in both talking and listening.  Linda has had great success working with couples who are honest about improving their relationships and getting better. However, she is not a magician, and the couple must be willing to put in the effort to make things better. Linda is only a guide. If you are honest about improving and saving your relationship, Imago therapy is a very successful approach.

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