Imago is a relationship therapy that was created by Dr. Harville Hendrix. and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt that uses dialogue to foster growth, healing, and connection for partners. Dialogue is an exchange between the partners that is held, heard, validated, empathized and understood. It also helps hold various dimensions of experience - what is happening now, what happened back then, and what you want to experience in the connection. Imago therapy teaches us that we are all connected.
Imago comes from the word “image” and helps us understand that the images we carry from our past impact our present relationships. So when we have feelings of separateness this is a result of our past experiences and the stories we tell ourselves about being disconnected. Or when we carry feelings or images of joy we are engaging in the experience of joy in our relationships.
Imago focuses on building an experience of loving connection in intimate partnerships because we are most vulnerable to playing out our past experiences with our partner. And the Imago techniques can benefit any relationship that you want to experience connection with - your spouse, your child, your parent, your sibling, your family, your friend, your colleague, your community, or within yourself
WHAT STORY AM I TELLING MYSELF?
The feelings of separateness we carry are the ways in which we have adapted our belief of who we are in relation to everyone else, seeing ourselves as an outsider.
These messages then are how we see ourselves, and in turn, how we engage with others, even in our adult love relationships. This could have happened in the home with caregivers, it could have also happened in social circles. Instances of being labeled or labeling the self as different or other than those around can be isolating and create ruptures and wounds.
These wounds are the past hurts and, at times, can be very deep, which can make them difficult to want to feel or even acknowledge. So, in order to survive or fit in, we create adaptations that allow us a sense of connection that we crave.
As we grow older and enter adult love relationships, the adaptations we had to create often become the area of tension between partners. What was once helpful to survive and get along, in early life, is now causing hurt within the relationship.
Imago supports your partnership to rewrite these old stories that are keeping you from the love you want.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Both people in the relationship have created adaptations that helped them, and now the way they are engaging is causing pain/discomfort for the other.
Partners will generally pick a partner who can help them heal old wounds from their life. At first, we fall in love with how the partner does things, but as time goes by, both partners are asked to show up differently and more intimately, more vulnerably. This can be a challenge. So, rather than feel scared, fearful, or hurt, one begins to use the adaptations to help them survive in the new relationship. However, the partner may be unconscious to how these life-saving adaptations are hurting their partner. This can result in tension in the relationship that resembles arguing, fighting, shutting down, leaving, and more (what we call exits). The thing is, the adaptations once created is often what was experienced in some way by their partner growing up, which causes their adaptations to surface and come out. So, now everyone in the relationship is acting from a place of old wounding just to survive.
Couples often say, “It was so great in the beginning. What happened to us?” What happened is the adaptations have come out and everyone goes on defense. The thing about relationships is that they take A LOT of WORK. Each person has to work on taking down their defense, gain awareness of their adaptations and be curious about their wound. You get to choose to work on the wounds, the hurt from your life experiences, so the adaptations are not taken out on your partner.
And the best part is that you don’t have to do it alone - because Imago teaches you and your partner how to stand present to heal those wounds together in order to feel more whole, fully alive, and experiencing a loving connection. In these moments are where true intimacy is born and where a genuine connection can take place.
At Stillpoint we seek to support you, your partner and your relationship so you can heal.
PARTNER YOU WANT
Getting where you want to go usually requires the next step - and that means you get to choose. We invite you to practice exploring in dialogue and gain awareness about becoming the partner you want to be. While Imago focuses on the connection of a relationship the secret is you also get to have a relationship with yourself. In healing ourselves, we also get to help our partners heal.
We invite you to take some time to explore and process the following statements:
When I see my partner the first positive thought I want to have is….
When I am listening to my partner the loving feeling I want to give is….
When I am with my partner I desire to help them feel safe by....
One way I want to grow for my partner is...
LET'S BEGIN A CONVERSATION
We invite you to contact us and let us listen. We will work with you to identify which therapist would be the best support for you and we will support you in scheduling an initial session.
When you have conflict in your relationship, yay that's good, now is the time to get to work.
Imago helps you jump out of those pathways, out of protection, into connection where you relearn how to talk to each other.
We have the presence of mirroring clients without actually saying their words, silent mirroring. It's about presence, I am with you.
The Imago work was a process of me healing, learning how to pick better, differently that got me into the relationship I am in now, things are really good.
The most important thing for people to know about Imago is they get to discover who they are and build a community of connection around them.
Imago teaches us how to be ourselves and how to be okay with our partner being different than us, and how that doesn’t take away from our relationship but adds to it.
It supports us in remembering that we are loved, and we are the love, joy, curiosity and openness that our partner(s) have been searching for - to heal together.