By Chandrama Anderson
Premarital and Couples: “Hold Me Tight” by Dr. Sue JohnsonUploaded: Aug 21, 2020
Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy is closely aligned with my training in couples counseling. Sue provides a well-researched theoretical framework to understand the science and art of love and our needs in relationship — Attachment Theory.
John Bowlby first coined the term Attachment Theory as “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings” (Bowlby, 1969, p. 194). Mary Ainsworth created a study called “The Strange Situation” that illustrated and help distinguish the types of attachment bonds between a mother and her child. You can take a look on You Tube. Notice how the baby reacts to mom when she returns to the room. Either a baby is quickly soothed (secure attachment), or a baby turns away (anxious attachment), or a baby completely flops over (so sad, indicating a lack of attachment either through neglect or worse).
Over the years, a great deal more research has added to this body of knowledge on attachment.
The essential premise that relates to you as a couple is that the “secure bond” you needed as children with your primary caregiver is sought again with your partner. This is an evolutionary, biological drive for connection that affects your brain make-up (neural pathways). Fundamentally: Are you there for me? Do you have my back? Can I count on you?
I like Hold Me Tight because it provides a shared language for partners to:
• name the patterns that are at work between them
• understand what is going on between them at a deeper level
• go beyond “communication” skills to emotional connection
Filled with examples and exercises, Hold Me Tight is a fantastic resource for couples.
My only caution is this: The process is relatively simple; it is not easy, however. I’ve had clients report that they felt badly about themselves because Hold Me Tight made them question themselves: if it’s so simple, why is it actually so hard and exhausting?
Healing your attachment wounds means re-wiring your brain — creating new neural pathways. It takes time, feels unfamiliar along the way, and out of old habits or hurts you may crush the new green shoots before you even know it!
Let me know how it goes.