Today many forms of therapy exist in an attempt to help people struggling with various problems. With the pandemic, in-person therapy sessions had to come to an abrupt halt at some stage. With that being said, many therapists are now offering their services online. Imago therapy, in particular, is said to be best suited for couples who are currently experiencing relationship problems and wish to turn their overall relationship problems into growth.
This article will take a closer look at Imago therapy and online Imago therapy and how it could possibly be of help to you.
Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT)
What is Imago therapy? Imago therapy is a specially designed form of therapy that offers relationship therapy to couples. This form of therapy’s main aim is to assist these couples with conflict within their romantic relationships. However, within Imago couples therapy or Imago relationship therapy, it has a slightly different meaning.
The term Imago refers to the overall unconscious image of familiar love, which is often influenced by one’s prior relationships, sense of self-worth, confidence, emotional traumas, and the likes.
There are 5 basic principles that are used in Imago therapy. These 5 basic principles are: reimagining, reromanticizing, restructuring, resolving, and revisioning – and these principles are also said to play a pivotal role in Imago therapy. Due to the importance of these basic principles, below, we will be discussing this in more detail:
Main Principles of Imago Therapy
- Reimagining – This step involves viewing your partner as a wounded child that needs to be loved and nurtured.
- Reromanticizing – This involves surprising your partner, giving them gifts and displays of appreciation.
- Restructuring – This involves turning your disappointments, irritations, and frustrations into requests.
- Resolving – Fixing feelings of extreme anger, resentment, disappointment, and the likes.
- Revisioning – Taking active measures toward viewing the relationship as a source of happiness, satisfaction, and safety as opposed to a place of conflict and turmoil.
Types of Imago Therapy
People in committed relationships tend to experience various relationship problems over time. With Imago therapy, Imago therapists make use of different techniques within their sessions. These techniques are totally dependent on the problems experienced by different couples. Here we will provide you with some examples of the different techniques used by therapists.
Imago therapy for relationships
The overall concept of Imago is said to be an image of familiar love, where your early relationships often shape you into the person that you are today. Therefore, with these early experiences, you tend to develop a sense of self-related love you have received or lacked. Moreover, you begin to formulate conceptions of what love is, what steps to take in order to be loved by others, and discover ways in which you feel safe. During this self-discovery stage, your self-worth is often based on how you are treated by the ones closest to you.
You also begin developing attachment patterns and often gain a sense of how others ought to treat you, be it in a negative or positive way. For instance, if you were raised in a home full of love and affection, you may find it difficult to deal with a partner who is cold and distant. As they are introducing you to a love that you are unfamiliar with, it may lead to questions surrounding your very own self-worth.
Thus, often our intimate partners tend to bring up old and familiar emotional wounds, and depending on the connection, it may leave you feeling loved and cared for or alternatively lonely and abandoned. With that being said, Imago therapy suggests that people tend to pick partners who ultimately feel “familiar” to them. According to Imago therapy, the resurfacing of old wounds gives one the opportunity to heal and grow.
Imago therapy for individuals
As much as Imago therapy is designed to assist couples in committed relationships, it also benefits single people. Therefore, you do not have to be in a long-term committed relationship to enjoy its benefits. Apart from using Imago therapy for relationship-related matters, people also use it to examine their own personal history, traumas, and interpersonal relationships. This is done in an attempt to discover how these factors may be influencing their current dating patterns and partner choices.
Hence, by choosing Imago therapy for yourself, you can uncover a lot about yourself and how your old wounds may be impacting your current relationships, at times in a negative way. Thus, discovering and finding healing around these old wounds help you move forward. It also allows you to be confident and compassionate while offering assistance with future relationships.
Notably, there are Imago therapy workshops around the world. These detailed and highly researched workshops help many couples, and single people identify their power struggles within a group setting. The highlight of it all is that there are probably workshops near you.
Techniques Used in Imago Therapy
Imago dialogue is a structured method used by a trained Imago therapist. This method allows partners to have an open dialogue while addressing their issues. These dialogue exercises enable them to gain a better understanding of their partners. Imago dialogue also has certain goals.
Goals of Imago therapy:
- Remove negative and hurtful language from communication.
- Create a safe emotional environment for both partners to openly share their views.
- Allow both partners equal space and eliminate the idea that one partner has more power over the other.
Notably, within this Imago dialogue, there is a sender and a receiver. An example of a sender would be a wife, and the receiver would be her husband. The sender, in this instance, is the individual who shares their thoughts. While the receiver practices the following techniques:
- Mirroring: This involves repeating what you have heard your partner saying in an attempt to gain clarification and a better understanding. This is done with no judgment or response as you are required to only repeat what your partner has said.
- Validation: The receiver then validates what their partner has said, especially what makes sense to them. This method makes the sender feel like they have been heard and that their partner gets what they are trying to say. Should something be misunderstood, the receiver is open to asking further questions to gain clarification.
- Empathy: After the receiver hears what the sender has to say, they then share what they think their partner has to say. This allows their partner to see that they are gaining a better understanding of their emotions and the likes, further allowing them to feel seen and heard.
What Can Imago Therapy Help With?
Imago therapy was designed to assist individuals with the overall understanding and healing of relationships. Here we supply some examples of what Imago therapy can help with:
- Recognizing your separate identities
- Expressing appreciation
- Communication challenges
- Empathic conversations
- Conflict resolution
Please note, one does not have to be in distress in order to partake in either face to face or online Imago therapy. At times couples that are in a good space make use of this service to improve their relationships. Alternatively, people on a self-discovery journey make use of this form of therapy too.
Limitation of Imago Therapy Online
Generally, online counseling is attractive because of its convenience, easy access, and limited spending on travel, among others. However, online imago therapy is not without limitations. Firstly, it does not benefit individuals with serious mental health issues. These issues include but are not limited to: severe depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Here we provide further examples of the limitations of online Imago therapy:
- Absence of verbal and nonverbal cues during audio sessions may prove to be a challenge, especially for the dialogue component of Imago therapy.
- Confidentiality and security risks as security records and information could be jeopardized and breached.
- Technological difficulties due to technical faults, user competency issues, programming that is not user-friendly.
- Therapist credibility, there are many fraudsters online with fake credentials.
Online therapy is also unsuitable for the following cases:
- If you are suicidal or have a crisis or emergency
- If you suffer from long-term mental health problems
- If you engage in potentially risky behavior such as heavy alcohol or drug usage
The Bottom Line
Evidently, there are multiple benefits associated with Imago therapy and the most exciting part about Imago therapy is that you do not have to be in a relationship in order to reap its benefits. There are evidently various techniques used to cater to either a couple of an individual’s needs. Thus, if your aim is to get a deeper understanding of who you are, identify your past traumas and build meaningful relationships, we strongly suggest that you consider online Imago therapy. Therefore, if you are considering online Imago therapy, we are here to help you on your self-discovery journey.