Deepening Bonds with Imago: Nurturing Empathy and Understanding in Relationships

By Philipa Thornton, Psychologist and Imago Relationship Therapy Expert

After decades as a psychologist specializing in relationship therapy, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing countless couples transform their relationships through Imago Relationship Therapy. This journey, both personal and professional, has been a testament to the power of understanding, empathy, and connection in fostering stronger bonds.

Understanding the Imago Concept

Imago Relationship Therapy, developed by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D., is based on a simple yet profound idea: our intimate relationships mirror the needs, fears, and experiences of our childhood. The term ‘Imago,’ Latin for ‘image,’ refers to the subconscious image of familiar love we carry with us, shaped by early interactions with caregivers. This image often guides us unconsciously in choosing our partners.

Personal Journey with Imago

My experience with Imago started several years ago when I realized that the approach enriched my professional skills and illuminated my personal path. Like many, I discovered parts of my ‘Imago’ in my husband, leading us to a deeper understanding of each other’s worlds. Our communication improved significantly, fostering a relationship filled with more empathy and less conflict. It was amazing to share such a magical experience learning more about my spouse’s inner world.

Couples’ Transformations

What’s truly remarkable is watching couples experience their own transformations. One couple, struggling with repetitive arguments, learned through Imago to see beyond the surface-level issues. They uncovered deep-seated vulnerabilities, leading to a newfound appreciation, compassion, and for each other.

Another couple, on the brink of separation, found hope in Imago workshops. Getting the Love You Want offered a reconnecting healing weekend beginning a new journey toward a deeper sense of security in their partnership. They learned to communicate their needs and fears without judgment or defensiveness. This safe space for dialogue allowed them to rebuild their trust and intimacy.

Core Principles of Imago

  1. Safe Communication: Imago emphasizes respectful and empathetic dialogue. Couples learn to express their feelings and needs without blame or criticism, creating a safe environment for both partners.
  2. Understanding Childhood Influences: By exploring how our past shapes our present, couples gain insights into their behaviors and reactions. This understanding fosters compassion and reduces conflict.
  3. Healing and Growth: Imago therapy is not just about resolving conflicts; it’s about growth and healing. Couples often find that as they work through their issues, they develop stronger, more fulfilling relationships. The benefits flow onto their children and the important others we all have in our lives.
  4. Empathy and Validation: Learning to validate and empathize with each other’s experiences is a cornerstone of Imago. This process deepens emotional connections and fosters a supportive partnership. Being seen, heard, and valued is priceless.

Why Choose Imago Therapy?

Couples choose Imago because it offers more than a quick fix. It’s a journey towards a deeper, more meaningful connection. It’s suited for all stages of a relationship, whether you’re newly in love, navigating rough waters, or simply seeking to deepen your bond.

How important is it for you to be seen and supported in meaningful ways? With Imago Therapy you and your partner will know the real, loving you.
How important is it for you to be seen and supported in meaningful ways? With Imago Therapy you and your partner will know the real, loving you.

Final Thoughts

In my career, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of Imago Relationship Therapy firsthand. It’s a tool not just for resolving conflicts, but for building a foundation of understanding and empathy that can weather any storm. The rewards are immeasurable for couples willing to embark on this journey – a relationship based on true understanding, respect, and love.

Remember, the path to a fulfilling relationship is not always easy, but with the right tools and guidance, it’s certainly possible. If you’re interested in exploring Imago Relationship Therapy and coaching, feel free to reach out. Let’s embark on this transformative journey together. Both Chris my husband and I offer Imago Relational Coaching in person or online.


So Are You Getting the Love You Want?

Probably not. Harville Hendrix discovered the secret to what goes wrong in our partnerships and how to heal.

It’s not you or your partner. You and your mate are simply repeating patterns of pain that began way before you met.

No wonder you feel stuck.

Having the same fight repeatedly. Yearning to feel heard and seen and connected in your relationship at a heart-centered level. It’s often the same for your partner too.

So what’s really going on?

Imago tells you why you are trapped in negativity and how to find a way out. With hope, intimacy, and heartfelt connection.

Keen to know more?

Here’s a YouTube animation summarising Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen LaKelly-Hunt in their New York Times Bestseller Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. Thanks to @Ragwise – Read And Grow Wise. There are subtitles as the narrator has a thick accent.

A six-minute introduction to Imago Relationship Therapy and how it can help you and your partner move beyond conflict and restore connection.

Want to Learn Imago Couples Therapy Training ONLINE?

Super excited to share the wonder of Imago Relationship Therapy. This is for you if you are an individual therapist or a couples counselor wanting to add another field-proven couples therapy modality to your toolkit.

I am pleased to announce Module 1 Starts May 2nd. Please join us for two hours online weekly. NSW Australia time Tuesdays 9-11 am and USA Pacific time Monday 1, 6-8 pm. Brought to you by the Association of Imago Relationship Therapists Australia.

Are You Receiving the Love You Want?

Probably not. We yearn for a loving partner, one that offers security, connection, and unconditional love. And yet where are they? Our mate maybe less than ideal, having forgotten the romance that brought you two together.

Maybe you feel disconnected, alone even abandoned at times.

You are not alone.

Believe it or not, your partner may have similar feelings of discontent. So many couples we speak to come in disheartened. Unable to connect except in arguments and strife.

Stuck in these never-ending loops, hope fades. That’s no life. You want more.

We get it.

Chris my husband and I got to this very point in our marital relationship. Yep, Marriage counsellors and relationship therapists need help too.

We discovered Imago Relationship Therapy. Chris wasn’t the problem and neither was I. We were in this together.

We took the Getting the Love You Want Workshop. We trained and certified as Imago Relationship Therapists with New Zealand Imago Relationships Institute – Peter McMillan and Brenda Rawlings (RIP).

Learning how to connect, communicate, appreciate, and shift our reactive patterns was enlightening and empowering. Moving from complaint to compassion. Knowing it’s only our history playing out. Having the psychological and emotional space to talk, share, and repair.

Knowing there’s a way forward. Genuine healing, heartfelt connection.

This is what we bring to our relationship coaching.

Whether you are together, or on your own relational coaching is a game changer. As we learn about ourselves, we have the freedom to move out of negative beliefs and break out of the death spiral.

Are You Ready, Willing, and Wanting to Change Now? Sick and tired and can’t wait any longer? Please call us on 0434 559 011 on weekdays 9-5.

Here’s a YouTube preview video from America’s Imago Relationship Therapy’s founders – Helen LaKelly-Hunt and Harville Hendrix. As spouse’s they live and love the Imago way. With Imago dialogues, a relationship vision and warm connection in their marriage.

Imago Relationship Therapists and married couple. Harville and Helen.

Would you like to know what is my other therapy hat and see me in action?

Hi Relationship Repairers! I hope you are well.

I wanted to share what my husband and I teach – Resource Therapy to other mental health professionals, to give you the opportunity to see what else we do.

Here is a post from the Resource Therapy Institute Australia . Limited time as there are less than 24 hours to go for this special gift – Click here NLP PLaybook & Calendar for the NLP Masters Summit where you can see me speak.

Also last minute I know but the “Getting the love you want Workshop” is on this weekend if you are in near Crows Nest Sydney. For details click here to go to the official Imago Therapy Australia website.

Over the Rainbow Video

Welcome Relationship repairers, healers, and those on the journey of reconnection.

Being a certified Imago Couples Therapist I’ve had the benefit of intensive training. My passion has led me to join the Australian Committee –

Association of Imago Relationship Therapists Australia

Excitingly part of my role is to support others in learning this powerful model of relationship repair and reconnection. Wonderfully excited to offer you the Imago Clinical training online.

Want to know more ? Please join us on April 18th at 8 pm online ( free meet and greet prior to the training) with our international presenters – Nedra Fetterman, Gene Shelly and Kobus van Der Merwe. Please register your interest in the comments section below.

Here’s a wonderful Imago explainer from Nedra.  Over the Rainbow_ A Journey to Wholeness …

The Wizard of OZ Imago Therapist Nedra Fetterman shares Dorothy's healing journey Photo by julio andres rosario ortiz on Unsplash
The Wizard of OZ Imago Therapist Nedra Fetterman shares Dorothy’s healing journey Photo by julio andres rosario ortiz on Unsplash

The Love You Want…

Hello from Sydney lockdown, beautiful people!

Some good has come as we adhere to the necessary restrictions. However, this can cause pressure in our partnerships. Tensions flare, arguments escalate.

I don’t know about you, but it can take me a while to address things in my relationship, often complaining and then taking action.

One of the key skills we use is the Imago Dialogue. Easily learnt, it offers you and your mate a deeper connection in emotional safety.

It’s in the doing that counts.

Here’s something you can do for your relationship today – The Getting the Love you Want workshop is now online August 13-15.

A weekend of healing from the comfort of your own home.

So don’t miss out on this lockdown opportunity!

2021 (NOW ONLINE) Couples Workshop with Julie Ayres-Cutler and William Vorobioff

Fri evening 13 August: 7-9pm

Sat  14 August: 9am- 5pm

Sun 15 August: 9am- 5pm

Please note: This workshop will now proceed online.

To register or for more information please call Julie on 0422 955 414.

2021 Weekend Couple Workshop Online

Photo by Jennifer Marquez on Unsplash

Yours in gratitude and service,

Philipa

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.

Now this topic can raise certain parts of us up in interesting ways, depending on our own early experiences. Are you a spendthrift? Or perhaps you live for today and forget to save for tomorrow. Exactly how did your parents handle money? Who was the decision maker or was it shared? Did they talk finances?

In my household it was very traditional. Dad was the breadwinner. Mum homemaker. And boy was my Dad controlling with the checkbook. Poor mum had to ask him to sign blank checks ( US spelling sorry) to buy the weekly grocery’s.

This was due to Dad’s lack of inner security, outdated and untrue beliefs about women and spending. Times have changed in their marriage. Mum is the one now holding all the ( credit) cards.

$ talking money, can be charged, yep I know bad pun. The way we get around this is with our Imago conversation. Want to see an actual couple session on this very topic?

Look here https://youtu.be/RNhwCIMPGoc Watch as Philip and Julia financial advisors deal with a their money blocks :

Secrets of Successful Relationships

I can write them easily – Love, Respect, Friendship and Trust. Two dimensional words.

It’s the actions and responses that you show and share with your partner that can make or break your partnership. Are you a good friend?

Are you present, listening, showing care, curiosity and connection? Or are you just going through the motions as you walk through the door?

I am not talking about those still in the romance relationship phase here. This is where we are drugged with nature’s anesthesia as Harville Hendrix calls PEA – Phenylethylamine.

When the PEA wears off as it inevitably will, cracks appear. Our partner eats noisily, forgets to call, leaves without kissing you goodbye.

What attracted you initially now repels you.

All minor things but they build up. Resentment festers. If left too long it seems as if the D-word is the only option.

It’s not, change is possible.

How to Keep love alive after the honeymoon is over

Imago Couple Therapy is designed to help you gain skills, communicate, learn and grow together by applying loving, respectful, and trust-building practices.

So stop the resentment rot from setting in. See a relationship specialist today.

Only the other day in a couple therapy session, a husband and wife joined some of the dots on how their life patterns played out.

Husband said, ” Oh I used to take it personally when I imagined you were prioritizing your friends over me.” His Wife said “I can’t say no to my friends, I over-commit myself. I don’t want to let anyone down or it will feel like a failure to me.” Husband “I see now it’s you wanting to please everyone and where this comes from. What a lot of expectation pressure you put on yourself.” Both said they felt hopeful as this new perspective allowed more love and respect to build.

Relationships a two way street. Keep the avenues open with kindness, gratitude and generosity. Your partner will trigger you. Breathe to calm yourself. Use your words, actions, and deeds to inspire the love you want.

Loves wisdom, grow older and kinder
Loves wisdom, grow older and kinder

It’s Official. I’m a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist!

During my relationship counseling career, I have used the Imago dialogue with couples on and off. There are other approaches we use in sessions too – from leaders in couple therapy like John Gottman and Ellen Bayden.

It wasn’t till Chris and I went through a rocky patch we discovered the power of Harville Hendrix and Helen Lakelly-Hunt’s Imago Couple Therapy. This beautiful life pair show us the way, having co-authored many books together. Including the classic ” Getting the Love You Want” self-help guide. This book has now been in print for over 40 years! Tried and true.

What anniversary is that I wonder?

Chris and I went to the Couples retreat. Here you learn the principles of Getting the Love you Want in the workshop.

This weekend sold me on Imago. We came away more connected, and loving.

In those two days, and to his credit Chris came too. We decided to train in this special relational healing method. A couple of years ago Chris and I attended the training, many days.

Yet I could not call myself and Imago Therapist.

One had to be certified.

An intensive process of supervision, presenting videos of my work, being a helper at workshops, more training, and then a final assessment once I had completed everything.

Last month my official Imago certifier Peter Macmillan, sent me an email. He had reviewed my final tape. He said I had passed with excellent marks. Phew!

So it’s official now. I am an Imago Therapist certified by Imago Therapy International.

Proud to be supporting people in all their relationships. Cheers!

.

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