Imago Relationship Therapy: An Introduction to Theory and Practice / Edition 1

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Overview

Developed by renowned therapist and bestselling author Harville Hendrix, PhD, Imago Therapy is a groundbreaking approach to working with couples. The "Imago" is the unconscious image we hold of our parents. According to Hendrix, people select their mates by seeking "Imago matches"—individuals who resemble their parents in salient ways. A couple's relationship dynamic is created and shaped as each partner interacts with his or her Imago match, revisiting unfinished or unresolved issues from childhood.

Based on the ideas popularized in Hendrix's New York Times bestseller Getting the Love You Want, this is the first book to systematically describe to mental health professionals the theory and practice of Imago Therapy. Rick Brown, ThM, the Executive Director of the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy, reveals the developmental and analytic underpinnings of the Imago approach, and clearly demonstrates how to apply these principles in a clinical setting. Drawing on a range of case studies, Brown shows how to coach couples to work through their unresolved childhood issues and toward a safe, passionate, and committed conscious relationship.

The first clinical primer to this innova-tive approach to couples therapy, Imago Relationship Therapy brings therapists a comprehensive and practical exploration of one of the most talked about approaches in the field.

"As a co-originator, with Helen Hunt, of the theory and practice, I am delighted with the accuracy of the presentation and feel gratified that it finally brings Imago Relationship Therapy to the therapeutic community. I give it my full endorsement.

While other books have been written on application of IRT to other contexts and summary chapters have appeared in other books, this is the first book-length primer to describe the general practice of IRT with couples. Rick Brown is eminently qualified to write this book. He has been a Certified Imago Therapist(r) for nearly a decade, teaching the theory and practice to therapists nationally and internationally, and he has been an able Executive Director of the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy. I was delighted to learn that he was invited by the publisher to expand his public lectures into a book. Therapists who read it will get a general overview of the metatheory, the clinical theory, and the clinical practice of Imago Relationship Therapy. . . . It does offer therapists who wish to become familiar with IRT an accurate and clear guide to its theory and practice and, in addition, it is an excellent review for Imago therapists." —Harville Hendrix, PhD, from the Foreword.

The book contains no figures.

Developed by psychologist and best-selling author Harville Hendrix, PhD, imago therapy is a groundbreaking approach to short-term therapy with couples. The "Imago" is the unconscious image we hold of our parents. Hendrix believes that people select their mates by seeking "Imago matches"­individuals like their parents in salient ways. This professional book shows therapists how to use the imago approach to aid couples in improving their relationship and helping each other work through unresolved childhood issues.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471242895
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/30/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 198
  • Sales rank: 1,050,288
  • Product dimensions: 5.73 (w) x 8.86 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

RICK BROWN, ThM, is Executive Director of the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy in Winter Park, Florida, and Past-President of the Association for Imago Relationship Therapy. He has over twenty years of clinical experience working with individuals, couples, and families, and is a clinical instructor in Imago Relationship Therapy. He has demonstrated Imago Relationship Therapy on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and speaks frequently at professional workshops and conferences nationwide.

TONI REINHOLD is a journalist and writer.

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Table of Contents

IMAGO THEORY.

Couples Heal Thyselves.

Imago Relationship Theory.

The Unconscious Mission to Heal.

The Unconscious Impulse to Flee.

IMAGO THERAPY.

The Couple's Dialogue.

Starting Imago Therapy.

Fostering Healing.

Epilogue: Becoming an Imago Relationship Therapist.

Selected Bibliography.

Index.

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First Chapter

Imago Relationship Therapy: An Introduction To Theory And Practice
Rick Brown
0-471-24289-6

COUPLES HEAL THYSELVES

ONE COUPLE'S JOURNEY
Louise was feeling hurt and frustrated, but mostly she was afraid of her husband, Wayne. His angry outbursts and temperamental tirades had turned their home into a war zone where Louise felt she had always to be combat ready and could never be relaxed and at peace.
She fretted about what she perceived as personality changes in her accountant husband over the five years since they married. He had gone from being a loving, fun, considerate, and attentive partner to being a high-strung screamer whose bad temper could be triggered by the most insignificant things. Wayne's once thriving business was also suffering under the weight of his emotional upheaval.
Louise, who gave up her career as an accountant to have two children with Wayne, was more concerned about the deterioration of their relationship than she was about Wayne's business, which further angered him. He reasoned that Louise was able to stay home with their children, doing what he perceived as very little, because he had been so successful. He disregarded her pleas to control his temper with her and their children, contending that his role as provider entitled him to do whatever he wanted in the privacy of their home.
As she worried about whether she had a future with Wayne, Louise recalled when the two met at a week-long professional conference. Even though they lived in different states, they kept in touch through electronic mail, at first exchanging professional information, then gradually growing closer and fonder of each other until they fell in love and married. She had cherished for the longest time his love letters and the romance that surrounded their brief but intense courtship.
Now, however, the memories were simply bittersweet as she muddled through her own confusion, at times wishing Wayne would not come home while simultaneously fearing he would divorce her.
At first, Louise blamed herself for the changes in Wayne, believing she had somehow failed as a wife. She tried harder to please him by making sure she always looked pretty when he came home from work, cooking favorite foods, calling him during the day, and doing special little things to create a more comfortable environment in their lovely Florida home. But Wayne seemed to notice none of it. Indeed, there were times when he seemed to not even notice her-times when Louise became an invisible partner.
Louise's loneliness turned into frustration, which she manifested by nagging and complaining as she frantically clung to Wayne and tried to reclaim his affection and attention. But the more she closed in on him, the more distant he became, until the extent of their communication was arguments.
In desperation one day, Louise confided in a neighbor, who often heard the violent quarrels between the couple, that she was growing increasingly afraid of Wayne and feared he would hurt her or their children. The woman encouraged Louise to seek professional help and contact me at the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy, where she and her husband had received counseling for their troubled marriage.
Although the problems between Louise and Wayne had escalated to the point where she feared for her physical well being and that of their children, Louise had not waited until now to try to do something to repair her marriage. She had encouraged Wayne over the years to obtain counseling for bouts of drunkenness and his bad temper, and she had assisted him in getting into a program designed to help him deal with the abuse he had suffered as a child at the hands of his parents.
None of these programs had helped Wayne; he was more out of control than ever before. She seriously doubted that further counseling would help him or their relationship, but after an especially traumatic exchange, after which Louise was convinced Wayne was going to leave her, she took her neighbor's advice and called me at the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy.
When Louise and Wayne first came to my office, they complained of general marital unhappiness. They were not getting along and were wondering, as many troubled couples do, what had happened to get them to that place.
They had seemed to be so in love, but now nothing between them was working right. Louise's main complaint was that Wayne was not spending enough time with her or giving her the kind of positive attention and nurturing she craved. Wayne complained about Louise's nagging and criticism and the general unhappiness she was directing at him.
Wayne seemed like a very angry man, and yet as an Imago therapist, I knew that beneath all anger is hurt-and beneath all hurt is an unhealed childhood wound. This couple was engaged in an unconscious power struggle in which each was hurting the other and the pain was now manifesting itself in anger and being unleashed in the marriage.
It was evident from the time I spent with Louise and Wayne over several months that he felt a lot of shame because of the abuse that he experienced as a child. And what he was experiencing in his marital relationship was a reenactment of that shame. Every time Louise nagged or criticized him, it was as if his parents were once again saying: "Bad boy, bad. You've done something wrong and that makes you bad and you must be punished."
When Wayne drank and lost his temper, he knew before Louise said a word about it that he was being "bad" and anticipated that he would be chastised for his behavior. So, before he even got to the front door of their home each night, he was tightly coiled and ready to react to the chastisement and "punishment" he expected his wife to inflict on him.
Louise also anticipated Wayne's behavior and was nervous and edgy by the time he arrived home. Sometimes all it took for the two factions to engage in battle was looking at each other.
It took many sessions before Wayne was able to reach deeply enough inside himself to get in touch with and talk about his childhood hurt, and before Louise was able to understand what he was feeling and relate to him empathetically.
Wayne also came to understand that Louise's need for attention and nurturing stemmed from the emotional distance that existed between her and her parents when she was growing up. Every time Wayne ignored her or pushed her away physically or emotionally, she was once again an "abandoned" child.
Louise and Wayne achieved an empathic level of communication and understanding over time, but it was heightened during an especially emotional session at the Institute while they were engaging in the Couple's Dialogue, which is the heart of Imago Relationship Therapy.
During the dialogue, which will be discussed throughout this book, couples are asked to hold their reactive tendencies and just listen to each other. They take turns mirroring or repeating, as calmly as possible, what each partner says to the other. They then take turns validating the information, once they have sufficient details, by saying they can understand it, or that it makes sense once it does. Next, they empathize with each other, imagining then verbalizing what the other partner is feeling once he or she has reached a point where this can be done genuinely.
The dialogue follows a specific pattern that helps to keep partners from losing control, thereby creating a safe environment in which to communicate fears and hurts, right down to deeper childhood wounds. The Imago therapist acts as a coach, steering the couple through the dialogue that leads to that level of connection.
Louise began one particularly poignant session by telling Wayne that she wanted to talk about his anger and how it frightened her. His initial reaction was hostile-he had heard it all before and did not want to hear it again. He avoided participating in the dialogue by venting about losing time from work to be at the session, but I gently guided them into the dialogue process until Wayne began moving down into his hurt, where healing needs to occur.
Wayne told Louise that when she nagged and criticized him it reminded him of how his parents, especially his mother, treated him. He recalled beatings, other harsh punishments, and verbal assaults that were meted out for actions that were merely the behavior of an average child.
He felt his father had contributed to the abuse by allowing his mother free reign over him and by not intervening to stop her rash behavior. Both of his parents had had no patience with Wayne, and now, as an adult, he felt that was one of his wife's biggest faults.
Louise listened to Wayne during that session, her face softening as he tearfully spoke about his relationship with his parents. Her only job during that stage of the dialogue was to mirror, validate, and empathize with what Wayne was saying. So she softly mirrored by saying, "So what you're saying is that when I criticize you about coming home late from work and missing dinner, you feel as if I'm saying you did something really bad and that reminds you of what your mother said and did to you."
Wayne would say, "That's exactly what I'm saying. You don't ask why I'm late, you just launch into complaining that I am late and that makes me feel like you don't give a damn about what my life is like or what happened to make me late."
Louise would validate that by saying, "I can understand how my complaining about your coming home late without first asking why could make you feel as if I don't care about the circumstances that delayed you. That makes sense."
She would then empathize by saying, "I imagine that when I do that, you feel put upon and as if I'm scolding you like your parents did, without giving you a chance to explain yourself and that makes you feel ashamed and bad." Wayne responded affirmatively if Louise was correct, or he further explained himself if she was not. They continued this dialogue until they were comfortable that a message had been delivered and understood.
During this ninety-minute session, Louise and Wayne took turns in the dialogue, with one speaking while the other mirrored and validated what was said and then empathized with it. They would then reverse the positions so that each had an opportunity to verbalize their concerns in a safe environment and respond to them without fear.
By the end of that session, they were both calmer than they had been when they began it, and Louise was able to say to Wayne, "This makes a lot of sense to me, especially now that you have taken the time to explain it this way."
Wayne had not been able to do that an hour earlier, but by staying in the dialogue process, he was able to expose this earlier and deeper childhood wound without fearing that someone was going to throw salt on it by criticizing or ridiculing him. And Louise reached a place where she was able to understand a major source of Wayne's anger and reflect on it instead of reacting to it. She started seeing her husband differently, or as we say in Imago Therapy, re-imaging him.

ALTERING IMAGES
Imago is a Latin word meaning image. It is an appropriate term for this form of couple's therapy because central to Imago Relationship Therapy is that the images we have of our early caretakers that take shape and form in early childhood are instrumental in the selection of our adult partners. And thus we tend to be drawn to someone who has similar positive and negative traits of our caretakers. This leads to the inevitable reenactment in the marriage of the early childhood drama where the original wounding occurred.
What happens to us early in life is similar to what happens to most animals when they are very young. You may recall the famous research study done by Konrad Lorenz with young ducklings. In that study, he observed that young ducklings very soon after there birth imprint somewhere in their brains an image of the mother duck. The purpose of that imprinting is survival.
If the mother duck wanders off and something comes around a bush that has pointed ears and sharp teeth, the duckling does not relate to it and moves away from it. But if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, the duckling will follow it. If the first image the duckling saw was that of the research scientist, the duckling would imprint that image and follow the scientist as if he was its mother.
Human beings do something very similar. Very early in our lives we begin to lay down some where in our cortex images or imprints of the positive and negative traits of our caretakers. Parents usually have the most significant impact on us, but if one has older brothers or sisters, grandparents, or an aunt or uncle who help fill the role of caretaker, one also imprints their positive and negative traits. We retain these images throughout our lives.
These images begin to shape and form a composite image of the caretakers. We call such a composite an imago. The imago is made up of the positive and negative traits of all the significant caretakers who were present and influential in the young child's early development. They are not as crisp as black-and-white photos but are more like impressionistic paintings that one must study for a while to fully understand. As we grow, we begin to unconsciously look for persons who tend to match these images. And this is a paradox.
If you were to ask a person what he or she was looking for in a partner or mate, you would be given a list of positive traits, such as someone who is kind, caring, warm, sensitive, and attractive. No one ever says they want to be in a relationship with someone who has negative traits, such as being inattentive, emotionally distant, and uncaring. Consciously, everyone sets out to find an ideal partner with positive characteristics.
Unconsciously, however, we are looking for someone who matches both-the positive and negative traits of our caretakers.
To explain this, we borrow a metaphor from Sigmund Freud, in which he helped us distinguish the conscious from the unconscious mind. Freud used the image of a rider on a horse. The rider represented the conscious mind and the horse stood for the unconscious. As the conscious mind, the rider knows what he is looking for and what he wants. But beneath the rider is the horse or unconscious, which has a mind of its own.
When one considers the image of a rider on a horse, one must ask who really has the power. The answer is the horse, although it will give the rider the impression that he is in charge. If the horse ever really wanted to, however, it could stop, throw the rider, or run away.
When it comes to relationships, the conscious mind says it knows what it is looking for in a partner and runs down its list of positive traits. But what is the unconscious looking for if it has all the power? What is it trying to do?
Imago theory holds that the unconscious is on a mission to finish a journey that began some time ago, namely to meet needs that were not met, but needed to be met, in childhood. The horse, or the unconscious, will go out in life believing it needs to find something similar to what it had early on so it can complete that journey.
If you grew up with a parent who had some positive traits, such as being a good provider and available, but who was depressed and unhappy, the last thing you would consciously do would be to look for a partner who was depressed. You would run from someone like that if you had any sense because no one really enjoys pain.
Unconsciously, however, you would be drawn to someone who is markedly depressed. You would be drawn to somebody who will inevitably rewound you in ways you were wounded as a child. And if you do not find a way to resolve this and work it out in the relationship, you may end up breaking up your home, dividing your property. And you will move into another relationship in which you will recreate the identical drama, even if you have sworn to yourself that you will never again get into a similar relationship.
As long as the unconscious knows the old wound has not been healed, it will look for someone who matches the image of the person who initially inflicted the wound, whether it was a parent or some other caretaker, and it almost assuredly will find him or her.
Since a person would not consciously do this to himself or herself, then you must wonder what would or could ever possess a person to be drawn into such a relationship. What power on earth could ever entice or provoke someone into such a relationship? It appears nature came up with a solution to that dilemma: It is called romantic love.
Romantic love allows one to overlook or not even see the partner's negative traits and instead be drawn into the relationship in powerful ways. There appears to be profound and prophetic truth in the old saying "love is blind." Romantic love appears to temporarily blind us to the partner's negative traits.
Romantic love functions in a similar way that anesthesia does. Like anesthesia, it temporarily numbs a person so he or she can go forward with something that is ultimately necessary and good for them. After all if people knew what they were about to get into, the pain they would eventually experience, most people would never take the journey. But the unconscious appears to believe it is not only an important but necessary journey to take.
During romantic love, couples may get a glimpse of some of their partner's negative traits. However, under the influence of romantic love, they are likely to minimize these traits. Take, for example, the young lover who asks her fiancé a question and he doesn't respond. She might be inclined to pass over this lightly, thinking, "I'm sure he has his mind on a lot of things right now. I know when we get married and settled he will be much more attentive." And so she dismisses his lack of attentiveness.
When the wedding is over and the couple begins to settle into married life, romantic love, like anesthesia, begins to wear off, and the negative traits become visible and more painful.
Now when her husband gets up in the morning and she asks him a question and the only response she gets is a groan, she feels wounded and ignored. She may not know it at the time, but the reason this hurts so much is it probably touches an earlier wound from her childhood in which she often felt ignored or neglected by her own parents. Thus, the childhood drama is reenacted in the marriage.
It is not unusual for couples who experience such pain early in their marriages to make the decision to end the marriage early. And they chose the road of divorce. Many marriages tend to end in the first few years when the romance has worn off and couples begin to feel disillusioned and disappointed that their partner is not all they had hoped.
And yet, our theory suggests if they don't take the time to work through this stage of their relationship, they will inevitably repeat it in some future relationship. Therapists often see this pattern.
I recall, prior to my practice of Imago Relationship Therapy, working with a couple whose marriage ended in divorce because the husband who was an alcoholic refused to enter a treatment program. His wife had very low self-esteem and was devastated by the end of their marriage. But after a while, she began to build a new life. She got a job and after two and a half years of individual therapy, she thanked me for helping her work through such a difficult time.
We shook hands and terminated our relationship, and I believed I was sending a better human being out into the world. But, three years later, she called me and said she had remarried and needed my help. After 15 minutes in my office with her and her new husband, I thought, "Oh my, a vu ja de!" She had not married another alcoholic, but rather a very prominent and successful attorney. He was not an alcoholic, but he was a workaholic.
This woman was experiencing the same pain caused by his unavailability and emotional distance as she had with her first husband. By then, I was working with Imago Therapy, so I moved them into the dialogue process and created an environment in where they could not only hear but understand and have empathy for one another's pain. As time passed, they learned ways to be available to one another in healing ways.
Through the Couple's Dialogue, she was able to talk about her father, who was cold and uninvolved in her life. He was able to talk about parents who drove him always to be better and work harder and belittled him when he fell short of their expectations. Once they were able to start seeing each other differently-or re-image each other-they were able to get beneath the surface and move down into their childhood wounds where the real healing needs to occur.

RE-IMAGING PARTNERS
One of the goals of Imago Relationship Therapy is to help couples reimage each other. Stephen Covey, in his highly acclaimed best seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, tells the story of riding on a bus. As the bus stops, a man boards with his two small children. The man takes his seat, crosses his arms, and lowers his head. The children proceed to play with one another on the bus and after awhile begin to move up and down the aisles causing some concern among the fellow passengers. The man remains slumped over and appears not to be aware of his own children.
As the passengers take note of the man, they grow increasingly angry about his lack of concern for the children. Dr. Covey resentfully decides to do something and attempts to alert the man by touching his shoulder, saying, "Excuse me sir. I don't know if you are aware of it or not, but your children are beginning to bother some of the passengers, and I am concerned for their safety."
With that, the man lifts his head and says, "Oh my. I'm terribly sorry. You see we just got on at the last stop there at the hospital where we learned that my wife died. I'm having a hard time, and I suppose they are as well."
Instead of thinking less of him as a parent and wanting to reprimand him, Dr. Covey is moved to empathy. Why? Because he now has a different image of this man. As a result of this new information, he now sees him not as a "bad man" but rather a "hurting man."
This is what partners need to be able to do with one another. They need to be able to re-image their partners-not as bad, but as sad or hurting. They will be able to do this when they gather new information about each other.
In the case of Louise and Wayne, we had a hurt little boy, not a bad, mean, ugly man. As Louise began to see that different image, the couple started feeling empathy for each other instead of anger, fear, and resentment. Louise and Wayne ended that especially moving session about which I spoke earlier by hugging each other. They had come into my office not speaking to each other. But when they embraced, I had a sense that they had moved away from a lot of the anger and toward more empathy and they were more connected to each other.
A therapist operating from a different theoretical perspective might have viewed Wayne's issues very differently, focusing on his individual problems. Wayne might have been diagnosed as having a possible personality disorder, in need of individual psychotherapy, or perhaps a treatment program for alcohol dependency. These sorts of labels and forms of therapy might have only served to increase his shame and isolated him even further from his wife.
Louise might have been diagnosed as being codependent or passive dependent and referred to a group for codependents, where she would learn ways to cope or take care of herself in the midst of Wayne's problems. But I suspect such an approach would have done little to help them heal and restore an empathic connection with one another.
Imago Relationship Therapy gave Wayne and Louise a way to address these "individual" issues while, more importantly, allowing them to restore the empathic bond that had been ruptured through the wounding and reenactment of earlier childhood wounds.
Wayne had traveled the full, disheartening route of workshops, programs, self-help books, therapists, and medication and nothing had seemed to assist him in healing at the level in which healing needed to occur. Why? Because the healing that needs to occur will occur only in the context of the relationship with the Imago partner. Since we cannot go back and have our unmet childhood needs met by our parents, the unconscious says, "Don't worry. I will send you a reasonable facsimile, and you can work it out with him or her." This is the role of the Imago partner.
We believe that traditional forms of psychotherapy and treatment, no matter how good they are, cannot take a person down to those layers of self where healing needs to occur. Why? Because most therapists are not Imago matches for their clients. And if they are, they usually end up in power struggles with someone, ultimately ending the relationship or inappropriately crossing a professional boundary.

THE COUPLE'S DIALOGUE
In Imago Relationship Therapy, we do not seek to isolate relationship problems in a traditional sense. Rather, we see relationship problems in a relational context. Again, the self is formed and shaped in the context of a relationship. Therefore all wounding occurs in relationships, and consequently all healing must occur in relationships. Such healing will not take place unless a couple is in a safe environment. In the Imago model, couples begin to establish a sense of safety through a process called the Couple's Dialogue. We will outline this process in more detail in Chapter 5.
Wayne had been extremely angry when he came to my office for that pivotal session. He kept avoiding the dialogue, slipping into the old rage and visibly frightening Louise. In such instances, it is important for the therapist to remain a firm and steady safe presence. If the couple is unable to engage in the Couple's Dialogue because defenses are high, the therapist will need to engage with first one and then the other in dialogue. This will help calm the couple, relax their defenses, and enable the process to continue between the couple.
Until Wayne was able to engage in dialogue with Louise, it would be my task to engage in dialogue with him. This would enable him to stay connected while providing some support to Louise. Every word I spoke was simply a mirror back to him until I could genuinely validate and then be empathic. But unlike traditional individual and even some couple's therapy, I was not interested in having him talk to me to address his individual concerns. I was simply engaged in a process that would provide some boundaries and safety so the process could eventually be handed back to the two of them.
The Imago therapist does not analyze, diagnose, or try to interpret what makes a client act a certain way. Instead, the Imago therapist does what he tries to teach couples to do-engage in the process of the dialogue. This dialogue is based on mirroring, validating, and empathizing.
With Louise and Wayne, I was certain that if I stayed with them and kept them in the dialogue, despite his rage and the pain they both felt, I would be able to move them not just to the expression of anger, which is detrimental, but from the anger into the hurt. As one is able to move from anger and rage, down into hurt, and into the earlier childhood hurt, empathy seems to be available from the other partner. This experience of empathy from and toward one another is what ultimately leads to healing.
The heart of Imago Therapy is helping couples learn to safely connect to each other and have more empathy for one another's pain through the specific intentional tool-the Couple's Dialogue. Couples tend to relax defenses when they engage in the dialogue process as they begin to experience safety, which allows a beginning for the healing that is trying to occur.
While we will talk in more detail in Chapter 6 about the initial interview and first contact with a client, it is worth noting here that from the time couples enter an Imago therapist's office until the time they leave, they are in the dialogue process. Couples are encouraged to stay in this process after leaving the office. While it will take time for this to become a part of their daily living, this is the ultimate goal.
Whether you are a therapist or client, learning to use the process of the Couple's Dialogue is not easy. Like learning anything new-piano, riding a bike, or skiing, it is difficult and frustrating. As with skiing, you must master the skill of snow ploughing before trying to ski. If you practice snow ploughing every day on a beginners slope, you can eventually go up a lift and ski down a more challenging slope.
Teaching couples to communicate on a daily basis through dialogue, thereby creating a safe environment in which they can live and work, is a very slow process. But just like snow ploughing, if it is practiced, eventually it becomes more natural and they are able to take on more difficult and challenging slopes.

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    Posted December 18, 2003

    BIG TIME DISSAPOINTMENT

    We made the mistake of buying this book. Although some of the imago exercises did help my wife and I with communication skills, this book is poorly written, badly conceived, and way overpriced. Proofreading and spell-checking seem to have been an afterthought. The THEORY beats the old untestable Freudian drum of blaming your parents and childhood for your relationship problems. The actual PRACTICE carried out in the therapy workshops run by Rick Brown is confusing. My wife and I attended one workshop recently after personally speaking with the author and the references he provided. Unfortunately, all the references turned out to be fellow Imago therapists with an interest in our business. The majority of the actual PRACTICE consisted of listening to the author's own life stories and watching some randomly selected nervous couple stumble through the same execise over and over. Although we made our dissatisfaction clearly known to the auther, our concerns were dismissed outright (although our money was kept). Imago may have started out as a good THEORY but the author has lowered the bar significantly. Unfortunately, there is no grievance process for customers of Imago products and even discussing problems with the Dean of the Faculty at the Imago International Institute is a complete waste of time. So BE CAREFUL what you pay for and whether the reviews you read are those of customers or Imago therapists! THANK YOU BARNES and NOBLE for allowing unsuspecting customers access to the independent reviews and experiences of fellow customers. People with relationship difficulties are emotionally vulnerable and in need of solutions. It's a shame that the growing list of Imago therapy books such as this one have lost sight of such people's real needs and have instead focused on making off with their money (look at the price tag).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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