VIDEO: Susan Johnson on the Power of Emotion in Couples Work

The Behavior Patterns That Kill Romance, and How to Beat Them

Susan Johnson

Many couples in therapy complain that their sex life has dried up. But according to Susan Johnson, the developer of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT), the lack of sex isn’t the real problem between these couples—it's the lack of emotional connection, mutual understanding, and a sense of security.

In this video clip with Networker Editor Rich Simon, Johnson makes the case for addressing attachment issues that make a relationship feel unsafe before delving into the couple's sex life. "Couples who open up emotionally," she says, "start to open up physically to each other, too." Address the emotion, she explains, "and their sex is going to start to improve.”



Susan Johnson, EdD, the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples and Families, is the director of ICEEFT – The International Center for Excellence in EFT. She’s also the author of Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love and Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships.

Johnson has spent decades developing techniques that go directly to the heart of couples’ problems in order to naturally heal all areas of the relationship. No issue is isolated—sexual problems aren’t confined to the bedroom, small arguments are implicitly about much more, and negative attachment patterns can permeate every facet of the relationship.

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"The health of any romantic relationship" writes Johnson in this Networker piece, "depends on the answer to each partner asking the other: 'Are you really there for me? Do I really matter to you enough that you'll put me first when it really counts?'... All couples fight, but the fights that really define a relationship are always about the same thing: whether the partners feel they have a safe, secure connection with the other."

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Did you enjoy this video? You might also want to check out Susan's Networker article "The Dance of Sex," in which she explains how helping partners experience bonding moments can open them to becoming emotionally accessible to each other, and as a result, often lead to improved sexual connection.

Topic: Attachment Theory | Couples

Tags: attachment issues | emotion | emotionally focused couples therapy | intimacy | sex | Susan Johnson | therapy

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3 Comments

Monday, December 4, 2017 1:16:45 PM | posted by Amy Color
I believe that talking alone does not get a couple having sex again or drop the resentment so they an be physically intimate. Safe talking can make them feel even more like roommates. Couples need real tools to drop stories, resentment, expectations and be in safe physical experience based on intimacy, connection and real pleasure. Then the emotional disconnect will start to dissolve and they can repair their sexual connection and FEEL like a couple again. These are the tools and techniques I want to share with therapists and couples.

Sunday, February 7, 2016 2:50:07 PM | posted by
EFT is an excellent framework for understanding that emotional safety is the key to sexual intimacy. How can a person be vulnerable emotionally and physically if s/he feels fearful of rejection and hurt?

Saturday, September 20, 2014 9:13:59 PM | posted by Dr. Samantha Rodman
Agree. Sexual issues rarely just about sex. Dr Johnson spot on as usual