Meet Dr. Sue Johnson (02:33)
Hear an overview of the clinical psychologist's credentials and career, including developing Emotionally Focused Couples and Family Therapy.
Networking in Washington, D.C. (03:12)
Linda Curran welcomes Johnson. Johnson advocates gathering professionals to discuss therapy challenges. She recalls her first time speaking at a conference about EFT when adult attachment and emotion were unpopular concepts.
"Hold Me Tight" Study (02:50)
Johnson discusses research adapting the EFT program to cardiac couples. How couples cope predicts future heart attacks. Bonding conversations increase couple satisfaction and create safe attachment in relationships. Results remained consistent at three year follow ups.
"Soothing the Threatened Brain" Study (04:45)
Johnson and neuroscientist Jim Coan put 20 women in MRI machines before and after EFT sessions. When alone or with strangers, they experienced more stress and pain. When their partners held their hand, they perceived the threat differently.
"Soothing the Threatened Brain" Study Implications (02:38)
John Bowlby says attachment is a biological, rather than cognitive phenomenon. Johnson's research showing physical contact between bonded partners reducing stress after 20 EFT sessions supports this idea, and suggests romantic love is important for human survival.
Forgiveness Study (03:56)
Johnson reflects on separating research from clinical situations. EFT healed couples with a single attachment injury; couples with multiple attachment injuries needed more than twelve sessions. A visual perception study shows that humans perceive challenges as more manageable with social support.
"Cast Away" Attachment References (02:08)
Johnson and Curran discuss how Tom Hanks' character relies on Wilson, a volleyball, for human support while shipwrecked on an island. Johnson uses imaginary encounters to help clients face fears in therapy.
Attachment Behavioral System (03:44)
Hear a summary of Mario Mikulincer and Phillip Shaver's interpretation of Bowlby's three part model based on threats and access to a security providing attachment figure. Mikulincer found that Israeli POWs with secure attachments had better survival chances.
Solitary Confinement (02:39)
Johnson and Curran discuss how the prison system drives inmates to insanity and suicide. In Canada, First Nations people with lifelong trauma are most likely to end up in solitary confinement. Helplessness and hopelessness leads to social disconnection.
Religion and Couples Therapy (03:55)
Johnson adapted "Hold Me Tight" to Christian couples and found their attachment to God promotes emotional health. She discusses how creating safe havens within couples helps both members grow individually.
Attachment Science and Parenting (04:44)
Ed Tronick's research found that humans learn to self-sooth with maternal support. Leaving babies to "cry it out" teaches them that nobody comes for them when they are upset. Johnson distinguishes anxious dependency from constructive dependency and discusses healing "dysfunctional" families.
Experiences in Close Relationships Questionnaire (06:10)
Take the Relationship Structures questionnaire, a self-reporting tool to assess attachment patterns in various close relationships. Answer nine questions about your mother, father, or partner and score data points on an anxiety and avoidance axis.
Attachment Styles and Relationship Strategies (02:42)
Anxiety and avoidance in relationships occur on a continuum. Johnson's secure bond with her husband seems shaky when they fight. Attachment styles can be changed.
Three "Dances" of Human Interaction (03:58)
Using examples from couples, Johnson explains how we reach for, push away, or shut down from one another when losing connection in relationships. Bowlby's book "44 Juvenile Thieves" addressed the emotional roots of delinquency in 1944.
Parent Education (02:59)
Highly sensitive infants need more maternal attunement. A study filmed stressed, low income mothers interacting with their babies as part of teaching attachment techniques. Babies with interventions showed improvements compared to a control group.
Barriers to Relationship Education (02:59)
Johnson had more success teaching cardiac couples that had experienced a life crisis, as opposed to educating parents about post-partum depression. Couples often come to therapy too late to save their partnership.
EFT Externships (03:22)
Johnson talks about working with couples using her knowledge of basic human interactions and predictable emotional patterns. She provides an example of withdrawal and avoidance.
Self-Imposed Disconnection (04:32)
Johnson cites research showing the importance of relationships in mental, physical and social health. However, modern life and technology is conducive to loneliness. Children are increasingly addicted to screens.
Emotional Presence (02:25)
Curran and Johnson discuss requests for counseling over the telephone or internet. When Johnson is physically present with clients, she empathizes with them more easily.
Training EFT Therapists (03:30)
Johnson cautions against training counselors as technicians following manuals, for instance during trauma interviews. Therapy involves emotional connection, empathy and social bonding.
EFT Philosophy (05:18)
Johnson does not provide coping mechanisms but helps clients understand and tolerate their pain. Rather than teaching couples communication skills, she focuses on creating a safe space and fostering their emotional health.
Internalization of Attachment (03:09)
Securely attached people recover better from losing their partner than insecurely attached people because they carry their partner within them and feel their love, in a sense. Moments together become lifelong sources of strength and resilience.
Johnson advocates helping soldiers reconnect with their partners after deployment and join support groups to lower depression and suicide rates. Learn about the therapeutic somatic experiencing approach.
Ancient Wisdom (07:21)
Johnson argues that we already have effective therapeutic methods based on attachment science and do not need to spend more money on research. Growing up in a British pub, she gained an appreciation of close-knit communities and emotional connections.
Tango Analogy (02:48)
Thinking and feeling simultaneously requires emotional balance. EFT helps couples reach a place where they can regain balance and "dance" together. View a clip of "The Last Man on Earth" in which the protagonist creates a community using sports balls.
Credits: Soothing the Threatened Brain (00:06)
Credits: Soothing the Threatened Brain
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