Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

Dr. Susan Johnson, Ph.D.

Susan Johnson, Ph.D. in Action

Click the picture to watch Sue Johnson, Ph.D. working with a real couple.

couple in kitchen, husband against the counter with eyes closed and wife at table holding her head starring at camera

Fights about "trivial" things are often historically painful triggers.

Sue Johnson, Ph.D. is the co-founder of the “Emotionally Focused” model of therapy. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy has demonstrated its effectiveness with couples in over 25 years of clinical research. Dr. Johnson describes patterns that couples engage in, in to attempt to meet their intimacy needs.

Her model helps couples learn what these steps are in their dance, and how to change them. What we "think," we now knows most often follows what we feel. Feelings engage us, engross us, capture our attention immediately.

When we live with a person who is sensitive and responsive to our needs, we feel safe and cared for. When that doesn't happen, however, there are predictable ways we respond, based upon our earliest history. These Johnson calls "Dances." When they work, they are like a Tango. When they don't, they are demonic dances: Demon Dances.

Demon Dances

These predictable “dances” are based upon “attachment style.” Attachment styles are the way we connect and rely on important others. Attachment styles are a significant predictor of relationship satisfaction. Distressed relationships are often insecure bonds. This means that an individual can’t get basic healthy attachment needs met because of rigid interaction patterns (“demon dances”) that block emotional connections. I provide my couples with a popular attachment instrument, and begin treatment with a fundamental understanding of each of your attachment styles. It guides my work.

Elements of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

Every element of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: (a) the EFT perspective on relationship distress; (b) the way of treating this distress, (c) the process of change, and (d) the attachment framework—all have research support.

Attachment Injuries

It is important in this work to help couples to recognize deep attachment injuries. These are times when one or both really needed the other, and felt that they were let down.

These have happened at some point in their relationship, maybe years ago, but it never got resolved. The goal is to help them to work through these attachment injuries. I have studied her work informally, and respect it a great deal.

If you would like to work with a clinician who's major focus is emotionally focused couples therapy, you can find one by clicking here.