Sunday, March 16, 2008

HBO In Treatment...The Rest of Week 7...Couples from Hell and Imago Relational Therapy


Amy uses their psychotherapy session to tell Jake she slept with her boss. Will these people just get divorced already?
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Therapist Paul and his wife Kate have their own couples session with Gina. They are still dealing with Kate's infidelity, Paul still treats Gina (his therapist/supervisor) with scorn, and Kate talks about how Paul is out-of-touch with the lives of his children and how she's felt unable to be heard and unable to be a complete and fulfilled person because of her marriage to Paul. I'm not sure why. During the course of this session, they use a technique called "Imago." Gina and Paul both mock it, but Gina insists they start. "Please don't make us do this, Gina," Paul says, but because he doesn't want to, Kate insists, and Paul surprisingly plays along. It's a technique where one person talks and the other listens and reflects back without interpretation or added input. This is very hard for Paul, who can't help but add his own jabs. Kate says she thinks her affair came from something she's been harboring for many years. Paul reflects back that she thinks her affair came from something in her childhood. They both seem to get something out of the act, and Kate finally feels heard by her husband. One of the things she tells us in her own discussion is that while she was opposed to couples' therapy, she came in desperation because she couldn't get Paul to hear her at home, and with Gina she finally feels some sense of validation.

So while I'm tired of Jake and Amy, overall the series is getting interesting again. The session with Gina resonated a bit for me, I didn't have that "Give me a break!" feeling I usually get and Paul, while defensive and even on the edge of hostility at moments, his behavior is more contained, more real. My husband loves when he bickers with Gina. I find it unrealistic and disrespectful.

Okay, so I wondered about this Imago stuff. Sounds like something psychologists and social workers learn, not psychiatrist stuff. Thank you, Google, and in ClinkShrink's honor, Wikipedia.

At http://GettingTheLoveYouWant.com I found the Imago Relationships International website.
At Wikipedia, I first learned that Imago is a stage of insect development. Oops, wrong Imago. I tried Imago Therapy and learned that it was founded by Dr. Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want, and he lives in New Jersey and New Mexico (two fine places) and Dr. Herdrix has 6 children and 3 grandchildren. About Imago therapy, Wikipedia says:

The core practice of Imago therapy is the "Couple's Dialogue," in which a couple engages in a structured conversation, with or without an Imago Therapist.
  • The Couple's Dialogue consists of Mirroring (repeating) each statement, Summarization, Validation ("That makes sense because ...") and Empathy ("I imagine that makes you feel ..."). This enables each partner to extend themselves to understand the experience of the other as different from their own. If you can work with an Imago therapist, he or she will help to deepen that dialog.
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I'm having trouble with the formatting here, but the bottom line is that I learned something new today.