Is Imago Therapy Christian?

Written By

Erica Barnes


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Imago therapy is a form of couples counseling that focuses on improving relationships by helping partners understand each other’s perspectives, heal wounds, and cultivate connection.

Developed in the 1980s by psychologists Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, imago therapy draws on ideas from various philosophies and faiths. But is Imago therapy aligned with Christian beliefs and values?

Theory Behind Imago Therapy

The central concept of imago therapy is that we unconsciously seek out partners who can help us heal childhood wounds. As Hendrix writes:

“We are attracted to people who can heal our childhood wounds, people who have key pieces that can complete our puzzle.”

Partners may resemble parents or caregivers and reawaken those emotional injuries and coping mechanisms from the past.

  • By identifying these wounds and dynamics at play, couples can create more conscious, healthy bonds moving forward.

Imago theory also holds that truly seeing, hearing, and understanding your partner allows for deeper connection and reconciliation of conflicts big and small.

Therapists teach communication skills to facilitate this empathetic exchange.

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Where Imago Overlaps with Christianity

There are several core values in imago therapy that align with Christian principles:

  • Healing and redemption – Christians believe in forgiveness, grace, transformation
  • Compassion and reconciliation in relationships
  • Sacrificial love for partner
  • Unity and connection reflecting divine bond
  • Hope for renewed marriages

Seeing relationships as opportunities for mutual understanding and growth fits with Christ’s teachings to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

The imago process mirrors elements of reconciliation and peacemaking valued in Christian tradition.
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Areas Where Views May Diverge

Imago’s foundations incorporate diverse ideas from various faith backgrounds and secular psychology. Some more traditional Christians could take issue with imago’s:

  • Lack of direct scriptural basis
  • Potential New Age influences
  • Limited focus on theology of marriage
  • Minimal role of faith community, church
  • Highly psychological model

There is also debate around concepts like the “unconscious” and “childhood wounds” which do not feature prominently in Christian texts.

Evaluating Compatibility

Ultimately, Christians seeking counseling should evaluate imago therapy based on their specific beliefs and priorities. Questions to consider:

  • Does the therapist respect my faith values?
  • Am I comfortable with psychological concepts used?
  • Does this process align with my view of marriage?
  • Will this strengthen commitment and godly principles?

If imago methods clash with core beliefs, other options like biblical/Christian counseling or clergy guidance may be preferable.

Type of TherapyKey Components
ImagoChildhood wounds, unconscious patterns, communication skills training
Christian/BiblicalScriptural principles, spiritual intimacy with God, church community
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While not intrinsically Christian, imago therapy contains many elements compatible with Christian values of healing, empathy, reconciliation and growth through relationships.

Understanding the theory allows Christians to evaluate if its psychological approach fits their theological perspectives on marriage. Consulting a like-minded counselor is key to ensuring the process supports faith.

Ultimately, each couple must reflect personally and seek their own wisdom on what counseling approach works best for their sacred union.

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About the author

Erica Barnes

Erica Barnes

I’m an African American woman living in New York, with a Bachelor's degree in Communication. I’m passionate about researching mental health topics, spirituality, and breaking down stigma in my community. I’ve dedicated my life to shedding light on important issues surrounding mental health and working towards creating a more understanding and compassionate society. As a researcher at Therapy Helpers, I’m here to use my skills to educate and inspire others through insightful articles. Thank you for being here!Social

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