Sue Johnson’s emotionally focused therapy focuses on attachment theory. She believes that the drive to emotionally attach to another individual is a primary need that all humans possess. Also, an individual’s family of origin is where attachment originates. More specifically, it is during childhood when individuals are faced with developing trust or mistrust. This is resolved when their needs are met by their caregivers and as a result, they are able to trust others in the future. However, when an individual’s attachment is uncertain, they can do a lot of different things in a relationship, most of which do not benefit the partnership.
Accordingly, individuals who are securely attached are comfortable with closeness and can rely on others. This also makes them less angry and easier to get along with. Ultimately, Johnson believes that having a secure attachment to another person is empowering. For example, this person can provide feedback and this can help their partner.
Ultimately, Johnson states that rejection and exclusion are equal to physical pain. Thus, when we are excluded and rejected, it is very painful. Conversely, having a positive connection with other people helps us to cope and deal effectively with stress. Johnson also believes that therapists can teach individuals these skills, to be less abrasive for example, in order to have more friends.
Also, she believes that most arguments are protests against emotional disconnection. It follows then that, a potential loss of a partner leads to primal fear and panic. Thus, Johnson believes that individuals are literally fighting for their lives, in order to keep their partner.
I recommend this book for both couples and single individuals because it provides helpful insights into understanding relationships and our human need for relationships. I hope that you also enjoy reading this book as much as I did.
Johnson, S. M. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. NY: Little, Brown & Co.