Instead of seeing relationships as merely a means to joy, Imago therapists believe that we enter relationships as adults in order to heal our childhood wounds and, ultimately, to find wholeness and fulfillment.
The unmet needs and emotional bumps and bruises of our youth are the result of ‘imperfect parenting’, claim practitioners of the Imago school of thought, which was developed 31 years ago by Dr Harville Hendrix and Dr Helen LaKelly Hunt as a therapy for improving all kinds of relationships in life. Our parents parented ‘imperfectly’, say these therapists, because they, too, suffered childhood wounding from their parents and, like us, they carried these subconscious emotional scars into their adulthoods, seeking psychological ‘repair’ from their relationships with their partners.
How, then, are we expected to function, let alone thrive, if we’re at the mercy of the wounds of our past? And how can we go about raising well-adjusted children if we are, ourselves, scarred from our own childhoods? Through Imago therapy, insist its practitioners, we come to a better understanding of ourselves – and our partners – so that we can enjoy healthy relationships that thrive on honest communication. And, in so doing, we create a safe and nurturing environment in which to raise our children.
Relationship coach, marriage counsellor and Imago proponent, Grete Becker explains that ‘when the space that parents co-create for their children is warm, trusting and accepting, the children grow up feeling safe, curious and fully alive’. Becker insists that ‘conscious parenting’ from ‘connected’ parents creates thriving children who, because the cycle of wounding has been broken, will, in turn, raise psychologically healthy offspring.