“A lucid treatise on psychotherapy that will prove useful to students as well as experienced practitioners. (…) Johnson has written an outstanding work that will have an impact on our field for a great many years.”
Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Stanford University
The truth is that this book has taken me 30 years to write – 30 years of listening to individuals – couples and families – listening to therapists telling me how they get stuck – reading research results and watching tapes of people in therapy sessions and educational groups facing their vulnerabilities and walking through them to find balance, peace and connection with others. I have had so many teachers. (more…)
All the research from the last 30 years from the most potent therapy for relationship growth and recovery on this planet and the new research on building intimate bonds with partners says the same thing. To foster connection we need, not just to spend time together as companions, but to risk sharing softer deeper emotions and learning to hold each others feelings in a way that calms our nervous systems and gives us a felt sense of safe connection. In our research we call them Hold Me Tight Conversations. When partners can do this, a huge horizon of possibilities opens up for their relationship and for each person’s sense of confidence – belonging leads to becoming.We are wired to thrive when we know that we can share our vulnerability with a precious other and the other can just be present and engaged – they just have to be there with us.
So Brett, rather than shutting down when he feels stung by a comment from Cali, takes a deep breath and turns Towards her rather than Away. He says, “ Heh, I really wanted you to see how hard I tried here – I so wanted to please you. I need your reassurance that you do see how I try.” As she responds warmly to this, he then shares the problems that are happening at work that make him feel “small”. Cali feels honored that he is risking and sharing and proud that she is the one that can help him with these emotions. Then they share the differences between them and Brett’s problems are work suddenly seem unimportant.
These moments spark a sense of safety and love in our brains – they are coded as “HOME”. Everyone wants to come home to someone, and science is showing us how to do it.
For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their supporters, June marked a month of celebration and pride. All over the globe communities shared their support with beautiful parades, festivals, dances, concerts and parties celebrating LGBT Pride.
It might have been, wait for it, my mother’s fault! My mother was, at once, the most delightful, engaging, loving woman and the most ruthless, dominating she-wolf you could ever meet. Learning the rules of engagement was vital, and I got to watch as my father tried but constantly failed to do this. As the two people I loved most in the world emotionally ripped each other apart, night after night, I moved from being anguished to mesmerized. What was this desperate drama all about? How did it work? As a six year old, sitting on the stairs in the dark, listening to the fights, I wanted to figure it out. I announced this to my granny who laughed and told me that no one had ever figured love out. So, of course, I decided I had to do it! (more…)
Is it natural for human beings to live a monogamous existence? When I ask this question, people look at me with surprise and answer derisively. A colleague from Europe tells me, “Oh, no-one is getting married these days. They are just so discouraged. What is the point? Monogamy is unrealistic, impossible.” My friend mutters, “It’s about time we gave up on that one! It’s a myth.” So when I am asked this very question by a television host, I take a very deep breath before I answer, “YES. I think we are naturally monogamous.” You can hear jaws dropping everywhere. (more…)
Fights are the times when our relationships with those we love come into sharp focus and hit us right between the eyes, so to speak. They are not fun! And lots of couples seek help simply to stop escalating the arguments. So when couples argue, what works and what doesn’t work? (more…)