What is Imago Therapy?

İmago Terapi Nedir

Imago Relationship Therapy was developed by Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen LaKelly. According to Hendrix, who tried to find a solution to the problems in male-female relationships, individuals are more inclined to choose partners with personality traits similar to those of their parents, which leads to problems in relationships. Harville Hendrix was influenced by the writings on marriage by Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Eric Berne in the development of therapy. At the same time, Imago Relationship Therapy is based on many theories and approaches.

Imago therapy is a relationship therapy conducted in the light of imago theory and developed for use in couples therapy. Various techniques are used in Imago Relationship Therapy.


Imago Relationship Therapy

“I’mago” means image, and this image symbolizes the positive and negative characteristics of individuals’ primary caregivers during their childhood. This image is deeply embedded in the subconscious. According to Imago therapy, individuals are inclined to engage in romantic relationships with those who match this image. The reason behind this inclination is to heal and reintegrate the wounds formed during childhood. Imago relationship therapy contends that individuals can be wounded by their primary caregivers during childhood due to reasons such as lack of love and attention, leading to a loss of their wholeness.

Imago Relationship Therapy Objectives

According to Imago relationship therapy, “individuals are born into relationships, get wounded in relationships, and heal through relationships.” Therefore, one of the goals of Imago relationship therapy is to assist individuals engaged in romantic relationships in having a relationship with the healing power for the wounds formed during childhood.

Imago therapy consists of five stages: reenvisioning the future of the relationship, reimagining, restructuring the relationship, resolving anger, and rediscovering romance. These stages help couples recognize their needs, aiming to prevent future problems and facilitate easier resolutions. In Imago relationship therapy, couples are taught conflict management and work on solving communication problems. The goal is to increase the enjoyment individuals derive from their romantic relationships and enhance the quality of these relationships.

Various techniques are used in Imago relationship therapy to achieve the targeted form of the relationship. Through these techniques:

  • Couples can express their feelings towards the person who cared for them during childhood and share the pains they experienced during that period.
  • Individuals can compare the characteristics of their partners with those of their parents.
  • Couples can communicate about the behaviors that have caused disappointment and express the behaviors they expect instead.
  • Couples learn to control their anger.
  • Couples are encouraged to appreciate and show interest in each other, promoting the romanticization of the relationship.


İmago Therapy and Individual Development

Imago therapy also enables individuals to recognize the wounds formed during childhood. Thus, individuals can explore their true selves and take important steps for their personal development. Imago therapy assists in enhancing individuals’ empathy skills, contributing to couples’ understanding of each other.


Akbulut, Z. (2018). The effect of group psychological counseling practices based on the Imago approach on forgiveness and happiness levels of married couples. (Unpublished master’s thesis) Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, Institute of Social Sciences, Department of Educational Sciences, Guidance and Psychological Counseling Department, Istanbul.


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