Improve your communication with your partner: The Imago technique

The Imago Relationship Therapy, developed by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, is a therapeutic approach designed to help couples understand and improve their communication patterns. The primary goal of this technique is to foster empathy and connection between partners. Here are some key aspects of using the Imago technique for effective communication:


Mirroring each other

Imago relationship therapy places a strong emphasis on mirroring as a foundational practice. This involves one partner expressing their thoughts or emotions while the other listens attentively. The listener then echoes or mirrors what they heard, without injecting personal interpretation. This process fosters a profound understanding of each other's perspectives, laying the groundwork for empathetic communication.


In the realm of Imago therapy, validation becomes a potent tool for fortifying the emotional connection between partners. Validation goes beyond mere agreement; it entails acknowledging and accepting your partner's feelings, even if there's a divergence in opinions. By expressing empathy and understanding, couples can create a safe space where both individuals feel heard and respected.

Empathetic listening

Imago encourages partners to engage in empathetic listening, elevating the act of hearing to a level where emotional nuances are fully comprehended. This goes beyond understanding the words spoken; it involves deciphering the underlying emotions and needs. Such deep listening establishes a robust emotional connection, allowing partners to resonate with each other on a profound level.

Expressing needs clearly

The Imago technique underscores the significance of articulating needs in a clear and positive manner. Instead of framing discussions around what one doesn't want, the focus is shifted towards expressing desires constructively. This approach minimises blame and criticism, creating an environment where both partners feel empowered to communicate openly without fear of judgement.

Scheduled dialogue 

Introducing a structured dialogue into the relationship is a key recommendation of Imago therapy. This method involves designated turns as the sender and the receiver. The sender articulates their thoughts, and the receiver listens without interruption. Subsequently, the receiver mirrors what they've heard. This structured approach ensures that both partners have a dedicated platform for expressing themselves and being heard.

Understanding triggers

Imago encourages couples to delve into the realm of emotional triggers – those sensitive points that can evoke strong reactions. By identifying and discussing these triggers openly, partners gain a deeper understanding of each other's emotional landscapes. This self-awareness facilitates more nuanced and compassionate responses, preventing unnecessary conflicts.

Safety and trust

Establishing a sense of safety and trust within the relationship is a cornerstone of effective communication according to the Imago approach. Partners are encouraged to be intentional about creating an environment where both individuals feel secure in expressing their thoughts and emotions. This sense of safety fosters vulnerability, allowing for more authentic and meaningful communication.

Incorporating these elements into your relationship can lead to transformative outcomes. The Imago technique isn't a quick fix; it's a holistic approach to communication that requires consistent practice and commitment. Regularly applying these principles can lead to lasting improvements in how partners connect and relate to each other.

Remember, building effective communication is an ongoing journey, and the Imago technique provides a roadmap for couples to navigate this journey together. By embracing these principles, couples can cultivate a relationship that thrives on mutual understanding, empathy, and genuine connection.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Twickenham TW1 & Richmond TW9
Written by Natasha Kelly, BA (Hons) MBACP
Twickenham TW1 & Richmond TW9

Natasha is a counsellor based in London and online. Her passion lies in helping individuals build meaningful connections and foster strong rapport. With a deep understanding of human emotions and interpersonal dynamics, she has worked as a primary school teacher and as a freelance writer on mental health.

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