Imago Relationship Therapy – 10 Core Assumptions

by Carol A. Anderson LMFT
A Center for Relationships

Child Behavior1. A child is born whole and with a genetically embedded “Blueprint for Growth.” Arrests occurring in the child at various developmental stages are caused when the child’s basic emotional/nurturing needs are perceived not to be met or when developmental tasks are not supported by the primary caretakers.

2. The unconscious purpose of intimate relationships is to regain wholeness and to complete childhood. We select a partner who mirrors the lost, disowned and denied parts of ourselves, as well as the positive and negative aspects of our childhood caretakers.

3. A primary committed, intimate relationship recapitulates each individual’s childhood developmental process, paralleling the same stages, as the Unconscious tries to get needs met and complete unfinished tasks.

4. Childhood behavioral adaptations to perceived ego-threatening interactions become habituated and are referred to as “character adaptations”, which function to alter an individual’s personality in adult life. Partners’ adaptations are usually parallel and/or complementary.5. Impasse and conflict between Partners

5. Impasse and conflict between Partners is quite often an externalization of internal conflict within the individual, which result from the individual’s developmental arrests, unmet needs, and lost parts of the Self. Self-hatred is the result and the core source of that conflict. This is then acted out in the relationship, through the defense of projection.

6. Effective therapy must be developmentally specific and consists of facilitating the partners’ repairing of developmental arrests in each other, while simultaneously reclaiming their own wholeness.

7. To create permanent fulfillment in the relationship, “characterological” growth in each partner must be effected. The manner in which this is accomplished is through one partner helping to reverse the developmental arrests in the other. Supplying nurturing results in characterological growth in the nurturing partner, by accessing a complementary or identical deficit in him/herself. Such growth occurs as the nurturing partner intentionally “stretches,” responding to childhood relational need deficits in the requesting partner. The act of meeting the partner’s unmet need therefore becomes the catalyst for characterological change and growth, resulting in wholeness in the nurturing partner.

8. Concomitantly, as the requesting partner perceives specific childhood needs now being met, developmental arrests are healed in that partner. This process both requires and stimulates reciprocity.

9. The medium through which change is facilitated is empathy.

10. Because of the strong transference phenomenon occurring between the couple, the intimate, committed relationship becomes the most powerful therapeutic, healing factor, as opposed to the traditional role of the therapist.

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