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Couples Therapy, Session 4, Susan Johnson: Comment Board


susan_johnson_headshotThank you for attending Session 4 of Couples Therapy: Today and Tomorrow. This session with Susan Johnson, the originator of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) will explore the basic principles of EFT, the most empirically validated approach to couples work.

Johnson will discuss how attachment theory informs the underlying dynamics of couples’ issues, how to develop a systematic treatment plan with couples, how to help couples calm down, and how to interrupt destructive relational cycles.

We invite you to participate in this Comment Board to share your experiences with couples  therapy, comment on what was most interesting to you about Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, and ask any questions you may have. What was most relevant about what you learned today?

Please include your name and hometown along with your comment. Thank you again for your participation and your comments.

03.01.2011   Posted In: P003 Couples Therapy: Today and Tomorrow   By Rich Simon
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  • Not available avatar 03.03.2011 07:13
    I feel so excited after hearing Susan Johnson and the process of EFT. I want to know more and I feel sure this has helped me to do even better work with those couples I see and it also helps me to understand some family relationships I have.
  • Not available avatar 03.03.2011 07:22
    I loved the webinar with Susan Johnson. I have had the privilege of seeing her work, slowing couples down and helping them explore and language their feelings. She is great at reflecting couples dynamics in the present moment. I find this does help couples grow awareness of how they disengage as well as engage in connection. I incorporate some of her techniques in Imago Relationship Therapy.

    Charlie Love, Austin, TX.
  • Not available avatar 03.03.2011 07:41
    I really enjoyed this webinar (and found Rich's comments and singing to keep it very engaging)and realize I am intuitively using many of these interventions in my work with couples. I am excited by the possibility of learning more about this approach. I also think this approach would be great with individual clients too--is there already work in this area?
    One concern that I find when working with couples and their emotions around the fear of losing the attachment/relationship is the possibility that the partner may not want to stay in the relationship and may not want ease the fears--ie, the client's worst fear comes true. I wonder how Sue works with this situation and whether she trusts that the partners, once working through their emotions, will gravitate towards each other. Heidi Roth, Bloomington, IN
    • 0 avatar Florence Calhoun 03.03.2011 07:55
      This was a wonderful presentation. I would like to learn more. Thanks for providing websites. It seems EFT could take some time, depending on the nature of couple's emotional expression. What is the average number of sessions for this approach? Florence Calhoun, Los Angeles,CA.
      • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:22
        HI FJ - in EFT the average no of sessions is 12- 20 - it depends on the couple - sue johnson
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:20
      HI Heidi - part of first sessions is to get clear about peoples level of committment- ambivalence - but sometimes - its pretty rare in fact - but partners get clear that they are Not willing to risk and have on some level already left - the therapist helps the speaker give this message in as coherent and non-wounding way possible and helps the other deal with it - when we are supported and helped to order our experience we can deal with our worst fears coming true - sometimes that happens - love is always about risk - Generally tho - if you give folks a crack at secure attachment and they have already agreed to couple therapy sessions - they take it - sue j
  • Not available avatar 03.03.2011 07:54
    Great discussion and very helpful at understanding EFT. Can you comment on the particular things you may do when a couple is working through an affair and both partners want the relationship. Also, in working with people with poor attachment to begin with or even attachment disorders, what are some things you do?
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:30
      Hi - if you look at the book Hold Me Tight - Conversation 5 - or the 2004 text - The Practice of EFT and read up on attachment injuries and the steps in the model of forgiveness we use this will clarify how we work with affairs - all the references on EFT can be found on www.iceeft.com -
      If folks have low trust and very little experience of effective dependency -secure attachment to begin with, the therapist has to validate this and give them more support - they are in foreign territory. We work with complex ptsd couples where partners have been abused as children by the people they love. There is a study with these folks in JMFT - Macintosh and JOhnson - Give people half a chance and they will work to "earn" security in their relationship - the longing for safe connection is wired in so the motive is always there - even in folks who have been very hurt - sue j
  • 0 avatar chris cable 03.03.2011 07:55
    I have seen Sue Johnson several times at the DC March Symposium and think this is a wonderful approach for couples. I agree that our deepest human desire is for emotional connection. Do you have any suggestions on individuals who are NOT in a relationship? How can you adapt our basic human longing to help an individual find real happiness?
    Chris Cable, Annapolis MD
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:35
      HI Chris - even if not in relationship understanding love helps you grasp your own needs and fears and hopefully make good choices and be open and responsive when a relationship comes along - Real happiness is associated with being in a loving relationship and mattering to others more than any other variable. In a way - we are always IN relationship - the Dali Lama talks about his mother - he carries her in his heart and mind - all the time - I still have my deceased father with me - his support is wired into my neurons - sue j
  • 0 avatar Dale Pavich 03.03.2011 11:36
    Thank you, Sue & Rich, for your inspired presentation on EFT. Trust impasses in intimate relationship have been a bugaboo for many of us engaged in couples and family treatment. The EFT method offers strategies that can bridge the disconnects we all experience as part of our human condition. It is reminiscent of Satir and the MRI collective contributions, and yet more refined in many ways. I am curious how the EFT method is applied in working with culturally diverse families, and those who are referred as a result of domestic violence.
    Dale Pavich, Santa Barbara, Ca
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:39
      HI - Ongoing violence is a contraindication for EFT - but isolated incidents that are acknowledged we work with - make an agreement for how to prevent these responses in the future - and work with the emotions that trigger them. Emotion and attachment go across all cultures and one website - www.iceeft.com there are a number of references addressing EFT in different cultural contexts - Sue J
  • Not available avatar 03.04.2011 12:09
    I have heard Sue Johnson before. This was a helpful review. Unfortunately, the texts were too small; I couldn't read most of them. Rick interrupted you a couple of times where I couldn't catch what she said. Frustrating, but not a big deal.
  • Not available avatar 03.05.2011 04:09
    This presentation by Sue Johnson was particularly enlightening, especially in the light of a difficult couple, where explosive anger and withdrawal are so blatant, and the couple and the therapist have a hard time connecting with the underlying fear and longing for attachment and connection
    Louise Kessel, Ramat Hasharon, Israel.
  • Not available avatar 03.05.2011 11:23
    Thank you for this webinar. I have done the workbook in the past. I particularly enjoyed Sue talking about people being mammals and that we want to connect. I realized that I have been using a lot of the EFT concepts with couples. Sue explained this very well. I enjoyed her examples of interventions. Thank you, thank you,
    Renee Segal, Minnetonka, MN
  • Not available avatar 03.06.2011 06:48
    Thank you for this presentation. I enjoyed the content as much as Sue's manner throughout. I had previously registered for an upcoming EFT externship and am now looking forward to this even more than before.

    Laurie Kelly, Whistler BC
  • Not available avatar 03.06.2011 12:33
    Appreciated this review of EFT. I was moved by the intensity of emotion shown by the infant in the Still Face Experiment (Dr. Edward Tronick clip). On the downside, the slides were too small to read. Susan LW Miller, Roswell, GA, USA
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:44
      Yes - the Tronick Still Face clip is on YouTube - its amazing - all that happens is that the mother is still - her face stops sending signals - and her child goes into freak out - demand/protest - turn away and try to withdraw and finally into melt down - This predictable sequence happens at 2, 20, 60 and 80 - and so can the incredible repair if and when the mother reaches and responds - sue j
  • 0 avatar Patricia White 03.06.2011 17:58
    I have experienced the power of staying with emotion as it pertains to couples wanting to be more intimate with eachother. Thank you Susan Johnson for giving me a frame for these expereinces. I will explore more of your work in your book. Pat White Juneau, AK, USA
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:49
      Yes Pat - and it takes courage to STAY WITH emotion and learn to follow and distil and use it - most of us never got this in our clinical training - Our culture doesnt trust emotion very much - we are in love with "reason". Decartes saw emotion as part of the body - our animal nature - whereas reason was associated with the higher - soul. But emotion is coming out of the shadows now - Frans de Waal - the Age of Empathy is a great read on this - sue j
  • Not available avatar 03.07.2011 03:04
    I really enjoyed the presentation. I have been trying to learn more about EFT through reading her books, but it helps so much to hear her explain the concepts. I was wondering if there was a way we could gain access to her powerpoint presentation.

    Heather Putney, Pittsburgh, PA
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:50
      HI Heather - I would get a copy of Hold Me Tight instead - its cheap on Amazon and it is a fast fast way into EFT and attachment - sue j
  • Not available avatar 03.07.2011 07:33
    I agree with previous comments that I am very excited by the model of EFT and want to learn more. I also believe that I have been intuitively been using portions of EFT without knowing it. This was an excellent seminar and really resonated for me--I learned just enough to make me want to learn much more! Thank you.
    E. Boyle, LMHC Tacoma, WA
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:52
      HI - if you go to the www.iceeft.com site you will see there are training tapes and lots of chapters and references to tell you more about EFT - the site www.holdmetight.com might be of interest as well - sue j
  • Not available avatar 03.07.2011 13:06
    I found your presentation very interesting. Would like to know more about EFT to use in my psychotherapy practice. I have been trained in Gestalt and Family Systems. I had a difficult time getting on the web this evening and missed some of the presnetation. I live in Stoughton, MA
    Jacqueline M. Sitte, RN, CARN, LADC I, LRC
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:54
      HI lots of resources on the www.iceeft.com site to learn more - The 2004 book - The Practice of EFT: Creating Connection is the basic text - put out by Little Brown - and HOld Me Tight by Little Brown - 2008 - sue j
  • 0 avatar patricia hoeft 03.08.2011 08:32
    I have so enjoyed every one of these webinars and feel like I am only scraping the top of the barrel with each and that there is so much more to learn. Each seems to have a place in the treatment process. Is there a time where you would use one over the other based on the couples motivational level for the connection? or can you use any of these at any motivational level. Any feedback would be appreciated Patricia Hoeft -Chelsea Mi
    • Not available avatar 03.09.2011 15:59
      HI - our research says that we help 70-75% of couples move out of distress - and we do EFT with so many different kinds of couples - from an EFT point of view - almost all couples are motivated to seek a felt sense of safe secure connection - even if they think they are just arguing over parenting. Sue J
      • 0 avatar patricia hoeft 03.10.2011 01:51
        Thanks Susan, I so appreciate your taking the time to answer. I was defintely inspired by your comments and process of interactions and will look more into the education and training in the use of EFT. Patricia
  • Not available avatar 03.08.2011 12:19
    This was a great webinar presentation. I appreciate the respect emotion receives in this therapy practice. It is amazingly powerful to learn about our emotional landscape and to gain competence in regulating, and structuring our interactions. I think clients truly benefit from being provided with a map and the book: Hold Me Tight is a perfect resource for doing so.

    Thank you~

    Kathleen Santa Rosa California
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