295: Dr. Sue Johnson on Navigating Romantic Relationships


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By Eric Zimmer|Wondery. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Dr. Sue Johnson is an author, clinical psychologist, researcher, and an internationally recognized leader in the field of couple interventions. She is founding Director of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT) and Distinguished Research Professor at Alliant University in San Diego, California, as well as Professor Emeritus, Clinical Psychology, at the University of Ottawa, Canada. In this interview, Dr. Sue Johnson discuss her best selling book, “Hold Me Tight: 7 Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” and her groundbreaking research of helping couples to enhance, repair, and keep their relationship.

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In This Interview, Dr. Sue Johnson and I Discuss…

  • Her book, Hold Me Tight: 7 Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
  • The wolf parable and how therapists act as the third wolf for couples.
  • Relationships are often stuck in fear and anger
  • Emotional disconnection causes distress in relationships.
  • Humans are wired for close connection with others.
  • Attachment needs continue into adulthood, most notably in romantic relationships.
  • Common conversations in distressed relationships are known as “demon dialogues”.
  • Relationships stuck in predictable patterns is referred to as the “Protest Polka”.
  • “Freeze and Flee”means one person gives up on the relationship.
  • “Find the Bad Guy” in other words, It’s not me, it’s you”
  • Understanding the circle of criticism, or the “dance” you’re stuck in.
  • Learning to blame this “dance” rather than each other.
  • The “hold me tight conversation” that creates safety in the relationship.
  • Understanding the negative cycle that causes disconnection.
  • Creating a positive cycle by creating a secure bond
  • “ARE” – Accessibility, Responsiveness, and Engagement.
  • Talking about fears rather than acting on them leads to bonding.
  • Emotional connection in a relationship is a source of joy and strength.

Dr. Sue Johnson Links:




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