Integrating EMDR and imago relationship therapy in couple treatment


Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT; Hendrix, 1996, 2001) is designed to process negative experiences to heal early wounds of childhood, resolve marital conflict and criticism, and increase connection and intimacy. The goal of treatment is for the partners to become individually whole and conscious and an "intentional couple"; this concept emphasizes the importance of making conscious and deliberate choices rather than being reactive. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR; Shapiro, 1995, 2001) is a psychotherapy created to access and process the disturbing memories and deep wounds of childhood and bring them to adaptive resolution (Shapiro, 2001; Shapiro & Maxfield, 2002). In the integrative therapy approach described in this chapter, IRT is used to organize the approach to therapy, identify unprocessed targets for EMDR processing, facilitate communication between the partners, and help couples become less reactive and more intentional, separate and ultimately more connected. Advantages of integrating EMDR and IRT may include faster and deeper resolution of early childhood wounds and trauma and increased compassion and intimacy, enabling the couple to establish a healing connection, which breaks the symbiosis created in early childhood. Separation due to personal growth allows the couple to honor each other's differences and often results in greater connection. The integration of EMDR with IRT appears to provide more comprehensive desensitization, reprocessing, and healing than either of these therapies might provide individually.


Book Section




Beverly S. Talan

Original Work Citation

Talan, B. S. (2007). Integrating EMDR and imago relationship therapy in couple treatment. In F. Shaprio, F. W. Kaslow, & L. Maxfield (Eds.), Handbook of EMDR and family therapy processes (pp. 187-201). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc



“Integrating EMDR and imago relationship therapy in couple treatment,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 18, 2021,

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