What is the Imago technique?
Imago is a form of couples therapy developed by Harville Hendrix, a clinical pastoral counselor and marriage and family therapist. It is based on the idea that we are attracted to and choose partners who have both positive and negative qualities that are similar to those of our primary caregivers, and that conflicts in our relationships can be seen as opportunities for growth and healing.
The Imago therapy process involves a series of structured exercises and conversations designed to help couples better understand and communicate with each other, resolve conflicts, and deepen their connection and intimacy. These exercises include mirroring, validation, and empathy, which are designed to help couples better understand and express their own feelings and the feelings of their partner. These are also factors of Secure Attachment.
Imago therapy is often used to help couples in distressed relationships, but it can also be helpful for couples who want to strengthen their connection and improve their communication skills. It can be done in individual sessions or in group workshops.
How do you practice the Imago technique?
The Imago technique involves a structured process that is typically conducted in sessions with a trained Imago therapist. Here are the steps involved in practicing the Imago technique:
- Mirroring: One partner expresses their feelings and thoughts about a specific issue, and the other partner repeats back what they have heard, using their own words. This helps the first partner feel heard and understood, and it also helps the second partner practice active listening and empathy.
- Validation: The second partner acknowledges and accepts the feelings and thoughts of the first partner, even if they don’t agree with them. This helps the first partner feel validated and helps the second partner practice acceptance and non-judgment.
- Empathy: The second partner tries to understand the perspective and experiences of the first partner, and expresses this understanding back to them. This helps the first partner feel understood and helps the second partner practice empathy and understanding.
- Dialogue: The partners continue to engage in the above exercises, taking turns speaking and listening, until they reach a greater understanding of each other’s perspective and feelings. This helps them resolve conflicts and build a deeper connection.
It’s important to note that the Imago technique is just one part of the larger Imago therapy process, which also includes other exercises and techniques designed to help couples improve their communication and relationship.