Imago Relationship Therapy uses the idea that people experience specific emotional pathways in early childhood with parents or caregivers. When they marry or enter a long-term commitment with another individual, it reactivates these pathways. Because each person uses their past experiences to relate to others, partners can experience conflict if these emotional pathways aren’t explored or understood.
People’s images of what connecting to another person looks like follow them from early childhood to adulthood. If they don’t take the time to understand how these may affect them negatively, they can continue acting in the same unhealthy ways they learned to get love as children.
Imago Relationship Therapy proposes that, if handled properly, conflict can lead partners directly to a more connected, loving relationship.
In this type of couples therapy, your counselor would engage you both in the process of being present with one another to produce safety. Then, you and your partner must understand your emotional pathways from childhood and, knowing these, must recommit to your relationship. Instead of turning away from your partner during painful emotional experiences, your counselor encourages you to turn toward one another. Then, your therapist encourages you to engage with positive feelings about each other to maintain this connection.
IRT’s goals are to be safe within the relationship, communicate needs, and empathize with one another. When combined, this leads partners to grow together through conflict.