Imago Relationship Therapy is a great way to get to know your partner better and feel more deeply in love and connected. It's something I have been using in my work with couples for many years now and I apply its principles in my own life in my relationship with Joanna, my partner.
In this article I aim to give you a brief overview of the key features of Imago Relationship Therapy compared to the more traditional ways of working with couples.
Imago Relationship Therapy is about JOY
I want to start off by saying that Imago Relationship Therapy is about joy! Celebrating the joy of being in relationship which to my mind is an amazing, wonderful, beautiful thing.
For many couples that come and work with me, and perhaps for you reading this, that is rather surprising as us human beings have the uncanny ability to lose that joy of connection rather easily.
Struggling in your relationship is just another stage - it's normal
And this is entirely normal. In Imago Relationship Therapy we see this as just one stage in the development of a relationship. We call it the power struggle phase.
The power struggle phase of the relationship is where each partner attempts to get their needs met in the relationship without asking specifically for what they want.
Your partner can't read your mind
Ever said that wonderful phrase "well if you don't know I shouldn't have to tell you" to your partner? Yup, me too! It's a great example of how easy it is to make up that our partner should be able to read our minds and give us what we want without us asking for it. Well they say they love us right? So of course they can do it!
As a species, we still haven't developed our mind reading skills I'm afraid and this is a perfect demonstration of symbiosis 'we two are one - and I'm the one'.
Seeing the world from another perspective
In Imago Relationship Therapy a part of the work is to encourage differentiation - Imago Relationship Therapists will invite you to go and see the world your partner inhabits as if you are exploring a different planet. What's it like on their world? How do they see things? What experiences did they have that led them to see things this way?
As you can imagine, if you can see things from your partner's world and they can see things from yours things can change rapidly in the relationship.
Another key feature of Imago Relationship Therapy is safety. Without safety you are not going to open up and explore what's going on in your relationship and neither is your partner. One of the ways that an Imago Relationship Therapist will create safety in the room with you is by using the Imago dialogue process.
Is there more?
All sessions in Imago Relationship Therapy are conducted in dialogue, which is probably the biggest difference between Imago Relationship Therapy and other types of couples therapy. in the Imago dialogue process one partner will talk. We call this partner the sender. The other partner will listen and mirror back what they've heard their partner say. This partner is called the receiver.
Once the receiver has mirrored back what they heard the sender say they will ask "did I get you?" and "is there more?", inviting the sender to reflect further on the subject they are discussing. When the sender has finished, or after about ten minutes maximum, a few more stages are completed and the roles reverse with the receiver now sending what's going on for them after hearing their partner's experience.
Really listening, really being heard
The Imago dialogue process allows the sender to really say what's going on for them in a safe and thoughtful way and be heard by the receiver. The receiver gets to put all their own stuff aside and be there for their partner, to really listen. In this there is magic!
This is a paradigm shift from the 'reload and fire' way in which many people lead their conversations, especially heated ones. As the sender takes responsibility for keeping their partner safe whilst they send, by talking about themselves and avoiding blame or criticism, both partners can relax into the dialogue and work through their stuff.
Who can benefit from Imago Relationship Therapy?
Everyone! No surprise that as an Imago Relationship Therapist I'm going to say that and I really believe it. I have worked with every type of couple in every situation you could imagine.
Straight couples, gay couples, lesbian couples, religious couples, old couples, young couples and every creed colour and race that there is. Imago Relationship Therapy is used across the world to change relationships for the better.
But will it work for us? We are dealing with ...
Again, yes. If you are willing to see each other's perspective and avoid criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness. Imago Relationship Therapists are used to dealing with affairs, loveless marriages, couples who don't know how to talk to each other, couples who want to rekindle their sex lives, couples who have just got together and want to build an amazing relationship and couples who have an amazing relationship and want to make it more amazing. All are welcome, all can benefit.
We want in! How do we arrange to have Imago Relationship Therapy?
I offer couples counselling from my therapy centre in Cheadle, Cheshire. You can phone me directly on 07966 390857 or use the contact form to get in touch.
Another great option, and probably the best way to start in your journey to a closer relationship, is to come on a 'Getting The Love You Want' couples educational workshop. These last two days and will help you connect with your partner fast. You don't have to share your stuff with other couples on the course and all the work you do with your partner is done in private. Read more or sign up here.