From Your Therapist’s BookShelf…

“In Hold Me Tight, Dr Sue Johnson shares her highly effective therapy program: Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Forget learning how to argue better and making grand romantic gestures. Instead, Johnson teaches that the way to enhance – or save – a relationship is to reestablish a secure emotional attachment and preserve the bond between you. This model has achieved an astounding 75% success rate.”

Written by Dr. Sue Johnson of the University of Ottawa, Hold Me Tight explains how to use Emotion-Focused Therapy in the context of romantic relationships.

Focusing on our emotions means- instead of avoiding difficult emotions that we fear could cause us pain or bring about conflict- we embrace them as essential knowledge that can build stronger, longer-lasting, more highly connected relationships that move us closer to ourselves and to each other. 

In couples counseling, we often focus on effective communication skills and conflict resolution, under the assumption that each partner is independent and responsible for his or her own experience within the relationship. However, attachment theory explains otherwise. It tells us that our intimate relationships highlight a primal survival instinct within each of us.  Our physical health, as well as our mental and emotional health, are dependent on maintaining a stable, secure attachment to our partner; a similar attachment as we had to our parents when we were children.

Our secure attachment to someone who cares for us, and whom we care for, is what helps guarantee our very survival. 

Once you can “recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection… adult attachments may be more reciprocal and less centered on physical contact, but the nature of the emotional bond is the same.” 

Hold Me Tight explains the dynamics that exist in relationships when our connection to our partner is strained or threatened, the resulting behaviors that ensue (such as avoidance or anxious pursuit), and the conundrum we find ourselves in as a result. Instead of writing off our relationship as damaged, broken, or never right from the start, this book provides the insight to explain why, instead, our experience is a result of our evolutionary wiring–and how to intervene, address it, and find peace…(similar to the tools and skills you will learn while in couples therapy!)

 Although I found the information in this book enormously helpful, I did find the writing to be a bit disorganized and difficult to follow. In an effort to use and practice the concepts in the book, I would also recommend a companion workbook based on the EFT (Emotion-Focused Therapy) interventions Dr. Johnson describes. 

Relevant Links:

Hold Me Tight (hardcover) 

Hold Me Tight (ebook)

An Emotionally Focused Workbook for Couples

Visit Dr. Sue Johnson’s website 

Hold Me Tight: Your Guide to the Most Successful Approach to Building Loving Relationships {Book Review} is written by Diana Brummer, MSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist with 20 over years’ experience working with couples and families. She provides psychotherapy services in Saint Johns, Florida. Offering individual, couple, and family counseling in-person and online.

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Good Mental Health, LLC is a counseling and coaching practice located in St. Johns, Florida, offering individual and family counseling to adolescents and adults. With sessions available face-to-face and online, we hope to provide the tools and skills necessary to heal past wounds, grow healthy relationships, and build strong families. For more information contact us here.

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