Communication Using Imago


Imago can help couples communicate, resolve conflict, and create intimacy


By Tammy Nelson, PhD

The Imago Dialogue process is a type of communication developed by Harville Hendrix, the bestselling author of Getting the Love You Want, a book about communication and couple’s therapy.  The dialogue is a structured technique that you can use to talk to communicate when you are frustrated or just want to feel closer.  This dialogue  is a wayto talk about conflict in your relationship that lets you each feel heard.  To practice the technique, first ask your partner,

“Is now a good time to talk?”

If they say, "yes," ask them to join you in a comfortable place where you can sit and dialogue together.  You will each have time to share your thoughts and feelings on a limited topic, one you agree to talk about.  Start with something easy and not too frustrating.  Remember, this may feel corny and unnatural at first.  But if you practice this technique, later on it will be a helpful tool to feel heard and seen when you want to discuss something difficult in your relationship. 

Pick who will be the sender and who will be the receiver first.  The sender starts and will say one thing that they feel about the topic, and then the receiver will mirror back what they hear.  The receiver will ask “Is there more?” And then they will continue to mirror and ask, “Is there more?” until the sender says, “That’s enough for now.”  The receiver will then validate and empathize. 

Then you will switch and the receiver will send over their thoughts about the issue.  Below is a simple worksheet to follow these directions.

This is a good format to practice as you continue to move into more difficult conversations.

Remember, mirroring means simply repeating back what you hear your partner saying.  (For example, if your partner says “I appreciate you listening to me without commenting,” you simply reply by mirroring, “You appreciate that I am listening without commenting.” 

This mirroring makes your partner feel seen and heard and gives a space to the dialogue. It also allows you some time to listen and hear what they have to say without having to reply or jump into any action.)    

The following is a dialogue example you can use to help you to follow the process. 



Sender:  One thing I would like to say about THE TOPIC is:

Receiver:  Mirror:  So one thing you would like to say about THE TOPIC is:  (simply repeat what they say)

Then ask:  Is there more?

And Mirror


Receiver:  - Knowing you the way I know you it makes sense you would think that/feel that  because:

OR (if it does not make sense) Tell me more about that:


Receiver :  I imagine you must feel: 

And: Are there other things you feel?

Thank you for sharing this with me


To really practice the Imago dialogue process, you will probably need to find an Imago therapist.  Go to www.drtammynelson.com to read more about Imago or go to www.imagorelationships.com to find an Imago therapist in your area.  Imago workshops can help you practice these techniques and cement them in your relationship. For an upcoming Couples Workshop in Puerto Vallarta, go to www.drtammynelson.com to register today.