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Research Summary on Imago Relationship Therapy

October 24, 2015
Prepared by Wade Luquet, PhD
Gwynedd Mercy University

While randomly controlled studies are not yet available—one was completed at the time of this writing and submitted in September 2015—Imago Relationship Therapy has several quasi-experimental design studies that indicate improvement in marital satisfaction.
Nine couples who completed a six-week treatment protocol in IRT were tested pre- and post-treatment utilizing the Marital Satisfaction Inventory. It was hypothesized that there would be significant improvement in global distress, affective communication, and problem solving communication at post-treatment. The data supported the hypothesis and all measures were significantly lower (Luquet & Hannah, 1996).
In a larger replication study of the six-session treatment protocol with 21 couples, significant positive changes were found on the Marital Satisfaction Inventory (Hannah, Luquet, et al 1997). Utilizing the same treatment group, couples were tested using the widely utilized managed care outcome measure Compass. Significant positive changes were found in the measures of well-being and symptom relief, with positive, but not significant changes in life functioning. These changes were in line with other treatment models that tested positively utilizing Compass (Hannah, Luquet, & McCormick,1997).

Several recently published or in press studies have also shown significant changes in marital satisfaction including a pre-,post-, and three-month follow-up study of over two hundred Imago couples workshop participants. The two-day intensive training produced significant changes in the Dyadic Adjustment Scale from the beginning to the end of the workshop. While there was significant loss of effect at the three month follow up, there was a significant improvement in the couples communication. The researchers suggested booster sessions as a way of maintaining the gains made during the workshop (Schmidt, Luquet, & Gehlert, 2015). A workshop study of low-income Hispanic couples showed similar positive effect changes (Muro & Holliman, 2014). A study of a short training of Imago Therapy showed a significant increase in empathy behavior between couples as measured by the Truax Empathy Scale as observed by trained third party observers (Holliman, Muro, & Luquet, 2015).

A common difficulty in couples therapy research conducting a randomly controlled study with a control group and follow up to determine if there is a loss of effect over time. Couples often drop out before the third measure and it is difficult to find couples who will wait to receive treatment. At the time of this writing, the first of these studies is being completed and was submitted for publication in October 2015. Data analysis indicates that there is a significant increase in marital satisfaction after twelve-weeks of treatment and the effect lower, but still significantly improved at three month follow up, as opposed to the control group who mostly stayed at a distressed level throughout the time of the study (Gehlert, Schmidt, Geigerich & Luquet, submitted). A future replication study is in the planning stage to be conducted by a major university program.

There are numerous studies that have been conducted in countries world-wide including South Africa, Iran, Turkey, and Korea that have shown significant positive changes among couples who have utilized the skills of IRT. References to many of these studies can be found in the bibliography section below.

Future research will also include a collaboration with the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute investigating brain changes and brain-to-brain connections of couples utilizing the Imago dialogue process while in communication in two fMRI scanners. Continued research will include research in Dallas on the impact of community Safe Conversation workshops on divorce rate, poverty, and parenting.

References

Hannah, M.T., Luquet, W. & McCormick, J. (1997). COMPASS as a measure of efficacy
of couples therapy. American Journal of Family Therapy, 25 (1), 76-90.

Hannah, M.T., Luquet, W., McCormick, J. Galvin, K., Ketterer, K.,May, K., Hayes, R.,&
Kott, L.A. (1997). Brief report: Short-term Imago therapy and changes in personal
distress. The Journal of Imago Relationship Therapy 2 (2), 55-67.

Holliman, R, Muro, L., & Luquet, W. (in press). Imago relationship therapy and
accurate empathy development. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy.

Muro, L., & Holliman, R. (2014). Relationship workshop with high-risk, hispanic couples.
North Carolina Perspectives 9, 51-62.

Luquet, W., & Hannah, M.T. (1996). The efficacy of short-term Imago therapy:
Preliminary findings. The Journal of Imago Relationship Therapy, 1 (1), 67-75.
Schmidt, C., Luquet, W. & Gehlert, N. (in press). Evaluating the impact of the Getting the Love You Want Couples workshop on relational satisfaction and communication patterns. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy.

Gehlert, N., Schmidt, C., Geigerich, V. & Luquet, W. (submitted). Randomized controlled trial of
Imago Relationship Therapy: Exploring statistical and clinical significance. Submitted to The
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Bibliography for
Imago Relationship Therapy

The following information is a search of scholarly articles and dissertations on Imago Relationship Therapy found on ProQuest and Academic Search Complete. Each of these articles is either an article specifically about IRT, uses IRT as a treatment modality, or contains a significant reference to IRT. This is not a comprehensive list of articles. Many more are available and more are being added regularly.

Peer-Reviewed Articles on Imago

Aram, D., & Shlak, M. (2008). The Safe Kindergarten: Promotion of Communication and Social Skills Among Kindergartners. Early Education & Development, 19(6), pp. 865-884. doi:10.1080/10409280802516090

Feldman, D. B., & Kahn, G. B. (2009). The integration of relationship-focused group therapy with couples treatment. International journal of group psychotherapy, 59(1), pp. 109-126.

DuRousseau, D. R., & Beeton, T. A. (2015). System Level spatial-frequency EEG changes coincident with a 90-day cognitive-behavioral therapy program for couples in relationship distress. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 9(3), pp. 597-608. doi:10.1007/s11682-014-9319-7

Gehlert, N., Schmidt, C., Geigerich, V. & Luquet, W. (submitted). Randomized controlled trial of Imago Relationship Therapy: Exploring statistical and clinical significance. Submitted to The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Hannah, M.T., Luquet, W., McCormick, J. Galvin, K., Ketterer, K.,May, K., Hayes, R.,& Kott, L.A. (1997). Brief report: Short-term Imago therapy and changes in personal distress.

The Journal of Imago Relationship Therapy 2 (2), 55-67.

Holliman, R, Muro, L., & Luquet, W. (2015). Imago relationship therapy and accurate empathy development. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy.

Kim, D.K. (2011). The Phenomenological Study on Experience of Reconstructing the Image of God in Pastoral Ministry after the Pastor’s Participation in Imago Relationship Therapy. Journal of Family and Counseling, 1(2), 1 – 22.

Love, P., & Shulkin, S. (2001). Imago Theory and the Psychology of Attraction. The Family Journal, 9(3), pp. 246-249. doi:10.1177/1066480701093002

Luquet, W., & Hannah, M.T. (1996). The efficacy of short-term Imago therapy: Preliminary findings. The Journal of Imago Relationship Therapy, 1 (1), 67-75.

Luquet, W., Hannah, M. & Mccormick, J., (1997). Compass as a Measure of the efficacy of couples therapy. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 25(1), pp. 76-90. doi:10.1080/01926189708251056

Martin, T. L., & Bielawski, D. M. (2011). What Is the African American’s Experience Following Imago Education? Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 51(2), pp. 216-228.

McMahon, M. (1999). Applying Stolorow’s theory of intersubjectivity to Hendrix’s imago techniques. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 69(2), pp. 309-334. doi:10.1080/00377319909517557

Muro, L., & Holliman, R. (2014). Relationship workshop with high-risk, hispanic couples. North Carolina Perspectives 9, 51-62.

OH, JE; MINICHIELLO, V. Psychosocial Development in South Korean Couples and Its Effects on Marital Relationships. Journal of Family Psychotherapy. 24, 3, 228-245, July 2013. ISSN: 08975353.

Oh, J. (2010). Psychosocial Development in South Korean Couples and Its Effects on Marital Relationships. Journal of Human Understanding and Counseling. 31(1), 47 – 63.

Protinsky, H., & Flemke, K. (2003). Imago Dialogues: Treatment Enhancement with EMDR. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 14(2), pp. 31-45. doi:10.1300/J085v14n02_03

Robbins, C. A. (2005). ADHD couple and family relationships: Enhancing communication and understanding through Imago Relationship Therapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61(5), pp. 565-577. doi:10.1002/jclp.20120

Schmidt, C., Luquet, W. & Gehlert, N. (2015). Evaluating the impact of the Getting the Love You Want Couples workshop on relational satisfaction and communication patterns. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy.

The following articles were published in Iranian, Korean, and Turkish journals

Abdolvand, N. (2015). Study Evaluate the effectiveness of communication imaging (IMA Gotrapy) Amount of marital commitment referred to the counseling in Isfahan Township (2013-2014). Gazi University Faculty of Education Journal, 4(3), 1-9.

Abdolvand, N, Sedrposhan, N, & Masoud Dayarian, M. (2015). Evaluate the effectiveness of communication image (IMA Gotrapy) on marriage, couples counseling center of Isfahan Township in 2013-2014. Journal of Scientific Research and Development 2 (1): 172-177.

Amini Khoeiy. N, Shafiabady, A, Delavar A, & Nuranipoor, R. (2014). Comparing the effectiveness of two approaches Life Skills training and Imago Therapy on improving Bushehr young couples communication ‘ patterns. Journal of Science and Today’s World, 3(1), 13-14.

Arman S, Zahed Gh, Shakibaei F, Bina, M, Baghereian R, Roohafza H. The effect of couple’s diologue technique on marital conflicts and child behavior. Journal of Arak University of Medical Sciences 2008; 11(3): 9-19. Persian.

Etemadi, Ozra, Navabi-Nejad, Shokouh, Ahmadi, Ahmad, and Farzad, Valliollah. (2006). Investigate the effect of couple therapy by imago therapy on increasing marital intimacy referred to counseling centers in the city of Isfahan. News and Research Services, 19, pp. 22-9.

Etemadi,O;Navabinejad,Sh;Ahmadi,S.A;Farzad,V.(2006). The effect of couples therapy by method of Imago therapy in increasing marital intimacy referred to counseling center in the Isfahan city. News and Research Counseling, 5(19), pp. 9-22.

Golestaneh, S.M., Mohanaee, S, & Mahnaz. J. (2015). The effectiveness of couple’s therapy training on increasing of psychological capital of couples. International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Research, 4(1), 66-72.

Jalili1, M. & Pasha, R. (2015). Considering the effect of Imago Therapy (relational-imagery) on loving styles of couples in Masjed Soleyman city. Gazi University Faculty of Education Oh, J. (2005). Impact of childhood wounds on couple relationship. The Korean Journal of Counseling, 6(3) 1055-1070

Dissertations and Thesis

Beeton, T. A. (2005). Dyadic adjustment and the use of imago skills by past participants of the “Getting the Love You Want” workshop for couples. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Byun, B.K. ( 2010 ). A Phenomenological Study on the Change in Spouse Image and Perception of Childhood Wounds Through Imago Relationship Therapy.

Gerrand, M. (2010). Therapists’ Perceptions of Their Roles and Functions in Imago Relationship Therapy

Heller, B. C. (1999). An evaluation of Imago Relationship Therapy through its use in the Getting The Love You Want workshop: A quantitative/qualitative assessment. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Ditsky, M. G. (2008). Attachment and satisfaction in midlife marriages. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Kleven, D. R. (2013). Relationship alchemy: Marriage as a container for individuation. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Lee, O.K. ( ). The Phenomenological Study on Christian married women’s Experience
in the Imago Couple Relationship Therapy

Liberty, S. (2010). The dance with other: Couples therapy and the art of relationship. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Oh, J. (2012). The impact of Psychosocial Development and Attachment Styles on Subsequent Partner Selection and Marital Satisfaction in South Korea. University of New England School of Health.

Opperman, M. C. (2005). The creation and manifestation of reality through the re-enactment of subconscious conclusions and decisions. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Pitner, G. D. (1995). The effects of a couples’ weekend workshop experience on marital satisfaction and relationship change. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Weigle, J. B. (2006). The effect of participating in an Imago therapy workshop on marital satisfaction. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Wise, J. M. (2015). Outer Marriage, Inner Marriage: The Necessity of the Other in the Discovery of Self. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.