Engaging the Work of Love: Imago Relationship Therapy with Deb Spoors, CIRT
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About Imago Relationship Therapy: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Imago, anyway?

Imago Relationship therapy was developed by Harville Hendrix, PhD, and Helen Hunt, MA, as a result of their own observations of, and struggles with, their partnership. Imago (IH-MAH-GO) is based in the belief that we tend to choose partners that we think can "make us whole". In other words, we unconsciously seek out relationships with individuals who provide us with the opportunity to finish working through old emotional issues. This isn't all bad, in fact it is quite wonderful! The problems arise when we realize that our partners are human--they may have many positive qualities, but they have plenty of unpleasant attributes, as well. And what do we do when the romance fades?

Imago therapy is intended to help couples work through these kinds of questions intentionally, honestly, and lovingly. Becoming aware of our unconscious emotional needs can help us deepen and enrich the relationships we have, assist us in understanding and coming to terms with relationships that may not be working any longer, and offer a chance to come to know ourselves more intimately, as well. Increased self-awareness, increased understanding of our partners, and increased compassion in general are all products of the Imago process.

What are the benefits of Imago Therapy?

In the words of Harville Hendrix:
"A Conscious Marriage is not for the faint-hearted, for it requires reclaiming the lost, repressed parts of ourselves which we were told were dangerous to have, and which we unconsciously hate ourselves for having. And it means learning more effective coping mechanisms than crying, anger withdrawal, or other defensive behaviors which have become so habitual for us. In Imago Relationship Therapy, we change to give our partners what they need, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how much it goes against the grain of our personality and temperament We STRETCH to become the person our partner needs us to be in order to heal. This is not easy, but it works.

Regardless of what we may believe, relationships are not born of love, but of need; real love is born in relationships, as a result of understanding what relationships are about, and then doing what is necessary to help them thrive. You are already with your dream partner, but at the moment, he or she is in disguise--and, like you, in pain. A Conscious Relationship itself is the therapy you need to restore your sense of aliveness. The goal of Imago therapy is to extricate you from the power struggle and set you on the path of real love.

How do set about disentangling ourselves from this mess? By redesigning our relationship to complete the unfinished business  of childhood. In other words, our unconscious aim--to become whole, to restore our joyful aliveness--must become our conscious intention. Your goal is to become passionate friends with your partner, to develop what might be called "Reality Love," which is based not on childhood notions of Attachment, but on knowledge, care, respect, and value of the other. "

What happens in Imago therapy?

In the safe setting of the therapists office, and in the structured work you and your partner will do together, you will:

1) tell each other about the wounds you received as a child;
2) tell each other exactly what would make you feel loved;
3) use that information to rechannel behavior into effective strategies for loving and caring for each other, as well as for meeting personal needs;
4) dismantle inappropriate behaviors and defense strategies;
5) replace inappropriate behaviors and defense strategies;
6) give your partner what he or she wants.

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