Imago Relationship Therapy

The term imago comes from the Latin word for "image," and in the context of Imago Relationship Therapy, it refers to an "unconscious image of familiar love." Harville Hendrix, PhD, and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD, created Imago Relationship Therapy. Both clinicians had divorced in their past relationships in the late 1970s. They discovered very few useful resources after searching for effective and evidence-based support for understanding relationship dynamics. As a result, they chose to explore and construct an evidence-based style of therapy based on their own experiences in order to assist healing and growth in committed partnerships.

Imago Relationship Therapy


Harville Hendrix, a psychologist and author, and Helen LaKelly Hunt, a therapist and author, developed Imago Relationship Therapy. It was born out of their own experiences as a couple and their desire to develop a transformative strategy to assist couples in establishing and sustaining happy, healthy relationships. The therapy makes use of a number of psychological theories, such as transactional analysis, attachment theory, and object relations theory.
In the 1980s, Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix created Imago Relationship Therapy. It is a type of couples therapy where the transformation and healing of relationships is the main goal. The foundation of the therapy is the idea that relationships can be catalysts for personal development and that people are drawn to partners who reflect unresolved childhood traumas. Imago Relationship Therapy facilitates better communication, understanding of unconscious patterns, and the growth of compassion and empathy in a couple. The objective is to establish a purposeful and mindful relationship in which both parties experience emotional connection, understanding, and being heard.

Focus theme / core-concept

Imago Relationship Therapy's central tenet is that people are drawn to partners who exhibit both the good and bad traits of their early caretakers. According to the Imago theory, conflict and emotional suffering arise in adult relationships when unresolved issues from childhood reemerge. The goal of the therapy is to aid couples in comprehending and resolving these wounds, fostering deeper connections, empathy, and mutual growth.


Better Communication: It fosters greater understanding and connection between partners by assisting them in learning efficient ways to communicate their needs, feelings, and concerns.

Enhanced Emotional Intimacy: By providing a secure environment in which partners can be vulnerable and reveal their most intimate thoughts and feelings, therapy enhances emotional intimacy. It promotes compassion, empathy, and assistance to one another.

Imago Relationship Therapy addresses unresolved issues and past wounds that may be affecting a relationship in order to promote relationship repair and healing. It offers a methodical strategy for mending and strengthening the emotional connection between partners.

Deeper Intimacy and Connection: The goal of therapy is to increase both the level of physical and emotional intimacy between partners. It assists couples in rekindling their passion, reconnecting, and building a more satisfying relationship.

Improved Relationship Skills: Imago Relationship Therapy gives couples useful techniques and resources to handle disagreements, work through problems, and keep a happy, loving relationship. It fosters individual development within the framework of the collaboration.


The objectives of Imago discourse are as follows:

1. Enhancing communication: Couples acquire the ability to communicate effectively so they can express their needs, wants, and feelings in a secure and non-threatening environment. They practice empathy and actively listen to one another, which helps them understand one another better.

2. Healing childhood wounds: The therapy assists clients in locating and resolving past difficulties that have an impact on their current relationships. Couples can end destructive cycles and forge a more satisfying relationship by looking into and healing these wounds.

3. Improving connection and empathy: Imago Relationship Therapy encourages understanding and compassion between partners. It creates stronger emotional connections and a sense of mutual support by assisting couples in understanding each other's viewpoints.

4. Making relationships conscious: The goal of therapy is to establish conscious connections in which people are conscious of their own needs, triggers, and patterns. Couples learn how to deliberately select how to react to one another, laying the groundwork for trust and respect.

5. Constructively Resolving Conflict: The intention is to arm couples with the skills they need to effectively solve problems, compromise, and negotiate their way to happier, healthier relationships.


1. Mirroring: is the act of repeating what your partner has said in order to seek clarification and understanding. The receiver does this without any judgment, criticism, or rebuttal, simply repeating back what their partner has said. For instance, the receiver could say, "So what I'm hearing you say is..." before paraphrasing the sender's original words.

2. Validation: The receiver attempts to validate aspects of what their partner (the sender) has shared by determining what makes sense to them. They are communicating to their partner that they "get it" and are actively attempting to comprehend. If there are any elements that the receiver does not understand, they can ask the sender to explain them more. For example, the recipient could remark, "I can understand how that would make you feel that way."

3. Empathy: At this point in the conversation, the receiver shares with their partner what they believe the other person is feeling. Sharing on this level allows the partner to feel seen and heard by letting them know they are acquiring a deeper knowledge of their emotional experience. For example, the recipient could reply, "I imagine you must be feeling disappointed."