The term Imago is Latin for “image,” and refers to the “unconscious image of familiar love.” Simply put, there is often a connection between the frustrations experienced in adult relationships and early childhood experiences. For example: If you frequently felt criticized as a child, you will likely be sensitive to any criticism from, and feel criticized often by your partner. Likewise, if you felt abandoned, smothered, neglected, etc., these feelings will come up in your marriage/committed relationships.
As an Imago therapist, Matt believes that a person's mind constructs an image of characteristics from their first caretakers – usually a mother and/or father – that are their best and worst traits.
The mind seeks to obtain needs that were not met in childhood by unconsciously finding a partner who can give us what our caretakers failed to provide. When unmet childhood needs are brought into adult intimate partnerships for resolution, and since the selected partner shares the same limitations as one's parents, inevitably, they are re-activated and frustrations re-experienced.
Romantic feelings diminish as partners attempt to coerce the other into becoming the ideal parent and the power struggle which inevitably ensues, often leads to chronic conflict, a parallel marriage or a divorce.
Imago Relationship Therapy offers couples another option: cooperate with the intention of their unconscious by creating a "conscious marriage/committed relationship" in which they intentionally meet each others unmet childhood needs. To achieve this goal, Imago therapists use as their primary therapeutic intervention – a three stage structured process called the Couples Dialogue.
The use of Intentional Couples Dialogue restores contact and connection, thus achieving mutual emotional healing, restarting the developmental that can lead to the recovery of personal wholeness. Re-connection to the personal, (where the rupture occurred) re-establishes awareness of one's intrinsic connection to the social, natural and cosmic order. When used consistently, dialogue becomes the way of being in relationship, and eventually evolves into a spiritual practice, transforming the conscious marriage into a spiritual path.
If you’re struggling in your marriage, it’s a common perception that you’re married to the wrong person. In fact, if there is struggle, growth is trying to happen and it’s the perfect opportunity for a conscious relationship. Couples need to move beyond the negativity and shift their focus from themselves to the space between. Couples experience a shift when they move from their own need for gratification and embrace the well being of their partner and the whole relationship.
You can’t have a great relationship unless it’s emotionally safe; it has to be predictable and reliable.
Through Imago Relationship Therapy, Matt helps people in a relationship to learn how to heal one another, and appreciate each other for the person that they are.
Portions of this explanation are were used with permission from Imago Relationships International. © November 2006
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