About Imago

Imago Relationship Therapy was co-created by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. Their books on Imago Relationship Therapy, “Getting The Love You Want: A Guide for Couples”, “Keeping The Love You Find: A Personal Guide”, “Giving The Love That Heals: A Guide for Parents”, and “Receiving Love”, have helped and educated millions of couples throughout the world.


Imago—The Process

Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D., have developed a therapy that teaches couples to successfully move through the many stages of their relationship.

Using key tenets of communication, couples are able to have an “Intentional Dialogue” where each person learns to validate the others experience, empathize effectively and provide a safe and intimate space for one another.

Through Imago Relationship Therapy, a connection develops that empowers couples to heal themselves and their relationship while discovering specific ways to support each other. As the process deepens, each person stretches his/her own behaviors, renewing the compassion, hope and joy they once shared. Imago Relationship Therapy organically moves the power of healing away from the therapist and directly into the hands of the couple.

The Early Stages of Relationship

The first stage of a relationship is romantic love. Falling in love is an unconscious process when a chemical reaction is released in the emotional part of the brain causing euphoria, a sense of joy, aliveness and exhilaration. In the romantic phase of love, we have a heightened awareness of our five senses; everything tastes better, looks better and feels better.

As Harville Hendrix aptly states, “being in love is like nature’s anesthesia”. Romantic love is not designed to last. As it fades, couples naturally move into the power struggle stage. Frustrations in relationships reflect exactly where we are lacking and need to grow.

Luckily, the power struggle was not designed to last forever. However, couples often find themselves stuck here as conflict brings uncertainty and disappointment. The sense of joy and liveliness that was present in romantic love has now faded into disillusionment.

As a result, we begin to criticize, withdraw, intimidate and blame our partner.

The Emotional Brain

The Brain governs all of our psychological responses. When we feel safe in an intimate relationship it triggers play, nurture and increased sexual activity.
When we sense danger in an intimate relationship, it triggers fighting, fleeing and submission.

To learn more about the brain and how it works, click here: The Amygdala and it’s Allies

Signs of a Dying Relationship

Little or No Sharing: The couple rarely shares conversation about their day. Meaningful interaction is almost non-existent. Each person isolates and becomes self-contained.

The Great Divide: You stop doing things as a couple and deliberately look for activities which exclude your mate. Unconsciously, you involve your children as they become the sole reason that you share time. You drift apart emotionally which eventually leads to a loss of intimacy.

He Said/She Said: You engage in blaming, contemptuous behavior. There are hurtful, angry outbursts and passive-aggressive behaviors. Minor issues become major issues and confrontation is frequent.

Co-Existing: You withdraw from emotional and physical aspects of your relationship. You become more like roommates than a loving, committed couple.

Exiting Behaviors: Exits include work as a primary focus, affairs, alcohol, drugs, pornography, telephone and/or Internet sex; strip clubs and spending free time with friends. Ultimately, you disengage as a couple and focus solely on the children.

Having children always includes activities that prevent you from spending private time with your partner.

Often, you begin to express your frustrations with your relationship to your children by using them as a way to communicate, “Tell your mother….” “Tell your father….” Threats; Verbal and Non-Verbal: You begin to say or hear, “If it weren’t for (the kids, disappointing my parents, money, our faith), I would leave”, “One of these days I’m going to leave and not come back.”

How Imago Can Help You

A fundamental goal of Imago Relationship Therapy is to help couples move out of the power struggle stage to a more conscious, intimate and committed relationship. Barbara’s expertise will guide you and your partner to develop long lasting techniques to transform your relationship. You will learn to encourage each other through thoughtful and compassionate communication and break damaging patterns. Imago Relationship Therapy is a gift and a skill to give and receive the love you want and to keep the love you find.