Sue Johnson graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1984 with a doctorate in Counseling Psychology. She is the author of numerous books and the cofounder of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and the Centre for Emotionally Focused Therapy. She is the director of the center, as well as an acting professor at the University of Ottawa. Johnson also heads the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute. Her decades of work are chronicled in her groundbreaking book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, which was published in 2008. The book, designed to offer expertise for adult relationships, became the springboard for an innovative program geared to the reunion of military couples after deployment, called "Hold Me Tight: Conversations for Connection."
Johnson has been named to numerous professional boards and had been recognized for achievements with several awards, including the Research in Family Therapy Award from the American Family Therapy Academy and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s distinguished Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Couple and Family Therapy Award. Her work has been featured in publications throughout the world, and Johnson continues to lecture and speak on bonding, attachment, and relationships.
Contribution to Psychology
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), founded by Sue Johnson and Leslie Greenberg, is a form of therapy designed to help couples with emotional and attachment issues. EFT is based on the belief that emotions provide the information needed to transform maladaptive reactions and behaviors. Emotions give us insight into the state of our needs and well-being.
Understanding the emotions provides a client with the knowledge necessary to understand what actions must be taken in order to have their needs met. Clients who experience EFT find themselves more aware of the meaning behind their emotions and learn how to use the information they have discovered to begin a process of transformation.
Attachment, bonding, and abandonment are linked to emotions that often reside deep within a client. Uncovering the root of the emotions allows a client to create a new emotional response to the event or fear in order to cope in a more adaptive and productive manner. EFT is usually conducted in less than 20 sessions and can be applied to either couples or families. The EFT therapist acts as a guide, helping couples identify the emotions behind their disruptive actions. Couples who fight often, isolate, retreat or respond with aggression and anger are taught how to recognize what emotions cause those reactions and then begin the work of attaching a new behavior to the emotions. This allows couples to move out of stagnant and destructive patterns and into new, healthy, cohesive forms of communicating and relating.