Imago Family Counselling

Imago Family Counselling.  The core thesis of Imago counselling posits that the parent-child relationship is the basis for the forming of our Imago. Thus, the Imago processes can be seen as a particular form of family counselling.

Each family has norms and rules and are a result of a blend of family and cultural tradition. These can be explicit (we always put the family before others), or implicit (it’s not okay to make mistakes).

A family system’s task is to lead their own children towards independence and individualization in the areas of thinking, feeling, action and experiencing – this unites two seemingly contradictory goals.

This means that we are looking at self-differentiation and distinction on the one hand and the continuity of the family on the other. In a “mature” family it should be possible for each family member (especially the children) to claim a distinct identity and develop their own consistent personality.

But if family members of the parents or grandparents generation had no opportunity to develop their own identity the family will stick to rigid definition of standards and their enforcement to prevent the individualization of subsequent generations. This can lead to conflict within a family.

Successful self-differentiation can be discerned from the fact that people can be together and separated at the same time.

Everything we do is a reflection of what we have experienced and who we are as a result of it. It happens again and again that parents impose their own unfulfilled dreams on their children so that they may achieve the success in sports or the arts which has been denied to their father or mother.

Conflict arises in families due to role expectations and perceived lack of support from family members. The Imago processes consist of assisting family members in self and role differentiation thereby allowing for safe and emotional connections within the family.

Defensive behaviour exhibited in family members is in response to shaming by our caregivers or lack of attunement to the child’s needs during the developmental process. In the process of adapting to the family the child restricts it’s basic needs – this leads to protest and anger.

Defensive behaviour helps us to restore a sense of safety to protect ourselves against the threat of annihilation. It can, however, prevent connection.

This leads to a dilemma – we are protected yet disconnected or unprotected and annihilated.

Imago processes provide a safe environment where a person can become conscious of one’s own resistances and defensiveness; Only then can there be a lessening of the need for a person to protect themselves and risk, growth and transformation can begin to take place.

Metaphorically we can recognize that “It is like the gradual melting of a mound of snow as the temperature warms.”

The Parent Dialogue process allows the parents to reflect on their behaviour towards their children from the perspective of their own experience and adaptations as children. This will help them to:-

  • Newly understand the relationship with their children
  • Reflect on their parenting
  • Gain awareness of their unmet childhood needs
  • Distinguish between the child’s reality and their own projection (the unconscious transfer of one’s emotions to another person to protect the self by a number of defence mechanisms).
  • Recognise the impact of the relationship on education.
  • Discover how our behaviour with our children is a reflection of our behaviour towards our parents.

The parents can then:-

  • Identify which of his/her unfulfilled wishes and desires he/she recognizes in the children.
  • Learn to spot those parts of him/herself that were hidden and denied – this is important because the danger here is that the parent can sometimes force the child to experience something that was denied to them as a child instead of accepting that it was his/her dream. Eg Father pushing sons into a sporting career that was denied to him.
  • Recognize how they can sometimes use their children to satisfy a need that they are not getting from their partner. It is not the responsibility of the child to fulfil the needs of a parent – it is the job of one’s partner – not the child.

This is a risk of the single parent.

The Imago Developmental circle enables members of a family to grow together in a secure environment. We typically always talk about ourselves even though we might seem to talk about what others do or don’t do or about what we like or dislike.

Our development and growth happens in an interactive reflection with others – whether we want to be like someone we admire or whether we want to be different than someone we dislike we always relate to a counter-part. We can now use the development circle to grow in the face of this reflection.

The goal is to awaken the potential that lies dormant in us, but which we recognize in each other. When we admire something in someone else, or when we are inspired by someone, then this “trigger” touches something in us that we would like to experience, but cannot express, often because of family loyalty, our Hidden Self, or just fear. The moment we learn to recognize it as a part of our Self, we begin integration and growth.

The Family Dialogue process is a tool to air family conflicts that cannot be solved by the parents and the children themselves. It’s goal is to change safety, mood and atmosphere and it’s structure allows for the escalation spiral to be stopped and the situation relaxed;thereby reducing fear, devaluation and uncertainty.

The structure allows a family to talk to each other in a safe atmosphere on how each individual sees him/herself as well as the family and the relations between them.

Change arises from new perspectives; new perspectives are formed by the reduction of tension and the resulting openness.

It can be used as a method of family and educational counselling, also in school mediation when parents are called to a crisis meeting and in divorce mediation.

The Family Dialogue :-

  • Gives all family members the opportunity to participate and be heard equally.
  • Each family member can present his/her position without fear. This is especially true for children and young people.


  • If you would like to restore connection with members of your family
  • To be able to talk about difficult issues
  • Understand your childrens’ reality
  • Understand how your childhood experiences affect your parenting

Then Imago family counselling will help you! Contact Linda on 07708 961 073 today to book your first session!