Attachment Theory isn’t just about childhood attachment. It’s about the ongoing, present dynamics that unfold in front of us in therapy, says couples therapist and developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Sue Johnson.

Here, she explains how Attachment Theory and EFT help us zero in on the most powerful force in the therapy room, discern what Attachment Theory pioneer John Bowlby called the essence of all emotional problems, and find the common denominator in couple relationships and therapy relationships.

Besides underscoring Attachment Theory’s implication for practice, Johnson says, EFT help us understand how we interact with others and make sense of our inner lives. 

It also reinforces the importance of the therapeutic relationship as a safe space and corrective experience. In both romantic relationships and therapeutic relationships, the question the client is asking is the same: Are you there for me?

A good therapist will be there for their client, Johnson says, emotionally accessible, responsive, and engaged. “They meet the client with presence and attunement.”

Susan Johnson

Dr. Sue Johnson is an author, clinical psychologist, researcher, professor, popular presenter and speaker and a leading innovator in the field of couple therapy and adult attachment.  Sue is the primary developer of Emotionally Focused Couples and Family Therapy (EFT), which has demonstrated its effectiveness in over 30 years of peer-reviewed clinical research. Sue Johnson 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, and Professor, Clinical Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, Canada, as well as Professor Emeritus, Clinical Psychology, at the University of Ottawa, Canada. Dr. Johnson is the author of numerous books and articles including Attachment Theory in Practice: EFT with Individuals, Couples and Families (2019) The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection (3rd edition, 2019) and Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors (2002).