Imago Relationship Therapy

What is Imago Relationship Therapy?

Imago Relationship Therapy was co-created by Harville Hendrix PhD and Helen LaKelly hunt, PhD. 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.

What does the word Imago mean?

“Imago” is the Latin word for image. Each of us has an “image” or “template” of love that is familiar and based on the care we receive from our parents or caretakers. This image developed a birth and throughout childhood. Our Imago can be described as a perception we carry with us internally of what love feels and looks like. It is based on how the people who love us when we were children interacted with us both positively and negatively. The significant people for us who help formed our Imago could be our parents but also our siblings, our grand-parents or anyone else who was a parental figure when we grew up. For example our Imago could be someone with personality traits resembling those of our father who is charismatic, enthusiastic, joyful, creative, but also short-tempered , impulsive and punishing and/or our mother who is nurturing, dependable, reliable, loving but also critical, anxious and shaming.

Imago Couple's Relationship Marriage Counseling

The Imago and whom we are attracted to

The Imago theory explains why if they are hundred of people we meet in our lifetime who meet our conscious criteria of desirable traits for marriage or partnership, we only fall in Love with a few of them. We are attracted to and fall romantically in love with people who are an Imago match for us. While we have a conscious idea of the traits we want in a partner for example: somebody tall, physically attractive, funny, reliable, responsible etc… our unconscious is looking for someone with both the positive and negative traits of our caretakers and the attributes we could not develop in childhood. This explains why Romantic Love has the following characteristics:

  • A sense of recognition: ” There is something about you that seems so familiar. ” Have I met you before? It feels that I have always known you.”
  • A feeling of unification: ” I feel one with everyone and everything”
  • A sense of wholeness: ” You are the missing piece of my life”
  • A sense of necessity: ” I can’t live without you”

Additional Resources & Good Reads

To find out more about Imago couples counseling go to

Getting the Love You Want - Harville HendrixMaking Marraige Simple - Harville Hendrix7 Principles for Making Marriage Simple - John Gottman PhDThe Art of Loving - Eric FrommHoney, Are You listening - ADHD and Your Marriage - FowlerGetting the Sex You Want - NelsonHow to Improve Your Marriage without Talking About It - Patricia Love, Ed.D., Steven Stosny, PhD.365 Days of Love - Daphne Rose KingmaGetting the Love You Want - Harville Hendrix - Imago Dialog Video