“Emotional Dependence is not immature or pathological; it is our greatest strength.” (Sue Johnson, PhD)
Have you ever said to yourself or your husband, wife, or partner, “I just don’t understand how we got here?” If so, you certainly aren’t alone. As a matter of fact, the question is so common, and so important, that researchers have been focusing on it for years. Here is what they have concluded:
Distress in relationships occurs as a result of negative interaction cycles; repeating patterns of negative behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. You react to your partner’s reactions and your partner reacts to your reactions and you go round and round in a never-ending cycle. These powerful cycles are not random, and couples certainly haven’t consciously chosen to create them. They evolve in relationships over time, and often as a result of past experiences.
Unfortunately, these cycles can be deeply ingrained, such that couples can get caught up in them on a daily, even moment to moment basis. Once a couple is pulled in to such a cycle, they often lose the ability to connect with one another in meaningful ways, let alone to address much deeper needs and concerns. Understanding and untangling your own negative interaction cycle is the first step in climbing out of relationship distress.
“From the cradle to the grave, humans desire a certain someone who will look out for them, notice and value them, soothe their wounds, reassure them in life’s difficult places, and hold them in the dark.”
― Susan M. Johnson, The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple’s Therapy: Creating Connection
By the time many couples make it into counseling, they feel disillusioned and angry, even hopeless. While I recognize the deep pain that these couples are experiencing, I believe that there is hope! Research into relationships shows that couples can discover and change their negative interaction cycles, and in doing so they can rediscover the connection they once had, or create a connection that was previously unknown.
In order to help couples to do this, I employ an empirically proven method called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples is the fastest growing evidenced-based approach to treating relational distress in couples in the world. Developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, EFT provides a well-researched road map for helping couples to grow closer and resolve relational problems. The model is based on the science of emotions, attachment theory, humanistic psychology and family systems theory. EFT helps couples move from distress in their relationship to a safer, more fulfilling relationship.