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Our relationships are the foundation of our lives and when they are not going well it is painful and debilitating. I trained as an Emotion-Focused Therapist because this approach is well-researched and highly successful, used by therapists around the world . . .
Emotion-Focused Couple’s Therapy was developed right here in Canada by Susan Johnson and Leslie Greenberg at York University and the University of Ottawa. It has been extensively studied and researched in university settings around the world and has been shown to have a seventy-five percent success rate with distressed couples.
I have practised Emotion-focused Couple’s Therapy for over twenty years. I initially trained with Dr. Greenberg at York University in 2000 and, over the next ten years, did my EFT Externship and Core Skills Training at the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute under the tutelage of Dr. Sue Johnson and Gail Palmer.
I chose to train as an Emotion-Focused Therapist because I believe the approach is both effective and humane. It is based on the notion that we all need close, intimate connections to others throughout the entirety of our lives, and that when these bonds are threatened, we will become extremely distressed. This is a normal reaction and part of what it means to be human.
Unfortunately, few of us learned healthy ways to deal with our distress at real or perceived threats of abandonment. Often the strategies we use to try to draw our partner in, only succeed in driving him or her away.
Here, Susan Johnson talks about some of the inescapable disconnects that happen in every relationship:
“We start out intensely connected to and responsive to our partners. But our level of attentiveness tends to drop off over time. We then experience moments of disconnection, times when we don’t express our needs clearly. He is upset and really wants to be comforted, but she leaves him alone, thinking that he wants solitude. These moments are actually inescapable in a relationship. If you’re going to dance with someone, you’re going to step on each other’s feet once in a while . . . But we don’t talk about these conflicts in terms of deeply rooted attachment needs. We talk about the surface emotions, the ire or indifference, and blame the other. “He’s so angry; I feel so attacked,” or “She’s so cold. I don’t think she cares at all!” Each person retreats into a corner, making it harder and harder for the two to express their fundamental attachment needs, foreclosing the ability to gain reassurance from each other.
(Psychology Today, January/February 2009 edition.)
If you are thinking of doing couple’s therapy with me, I would recommend you and your partner read the book “Hold Me Tight”, or “Love Sense”, both by Susan M. Johnson. This will give you a head start in understanding some of the basic concepts and principles of the work we will do together. The more you understand about yourself, your partner and your relationship, the faster the work will go and the greater your chances of long-term success.
I work with all kinds of relationships – Heterosexual, LGBT or Polyamorous.