What is Imago?
Imago is a Latin word, meaning image. Psychologists have extended this term to refer to the unconscious idealized image of familiar love; most often a primary caregiver. From infancy, the human being looks to her caregivers for support, nurturance, sustenance, and safety. If she laughs, what reaction will she receive? If she cries in pain, how will her mother respond? If the parent is anxious or distracted, she may not be able to respond in a loving manner, and the baby may learn to seek soothing through an alternate means. Through the baby’s and caretaker’s unique relationship, the baby learns early on through her interactions how to exchange love with others.
This image of her caretaker, the Imago is thus stored in her brain, and affects all of her future relationships. This blueprint, first formed in infancy goes on to influence how she experiences and responds to others. For more on the meaning and origin of this term, visit:
How can Imago help my relationship with my partner?
Once we begin to examine our past experiences with the understanding of how they contribute to our current reactions, it quickly becomes apparent that all human beings, though infinitely complex and amazingly unique, tend to revert to early coping patterns in times of stress and vulnerability. When we argue with our partners, each of us tends to revert to the same predictable reactivity—whether that leads us to primarily withdraw from hurt and anger, or double-down in arguing our perspective, refusing to give up on that connection we crave.
Imago Relationship Therapy gives us a new perspective to explore the frustrating cycles of connection and disconnection we find ourselves in, through gaining insight into our own patterns, making sense of our partner’s behaviors, and discovering healthy ways to change our relationship’s maladaptive patterns of cyclical reactivity. Suddenly we have created the possibility to heal our old wounds, and feel more connected with and understood by our partner than ever before. This is the gift of the “Conscious Relationship!”
How can I use Imago to help me parent?
Once we become aware of how human beings learn about relationships, even prior to birth, we can become more conscious in our daily interactions with our children. Think about the challenges you faced as a child, and the yearnings for acceptance, understanding, appreciation, or stability you may have pined for due to your own caregivers’ challenges. What kind of an Imago would you wish for your child?
Just like in couple’s therapy, using Imago to change the course of parenting takes time, active intention, and a great deal of compassion for yourself, your partner, your child, and your upbringing. Connected Parents, Thriving Kids parenting course helps you learn to see frustrating experiences with your child as a new opportunity for connection, reducing emotional outbursts, and helping you be the parent your child needs you to be.