Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
Dr. Sue Johnson

In my opinion, reading's true rewards come when you see yourself reflected in the pages of a book: when that book enables you to unravel the many layers of your own psyche. Hold Me Tight is just that sort of book. It is based on Dr. Sue Johnson's APA-endorsed Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, or EFT.

EFT is based on the premise that romantic relationships are sought to fulfill the human need for attachment. Johnson likens this attachment to that of a parent and child. Essentially, our need for security never dies, and as we transition from adolescence to adulthood, we project that need onto our partners and spouses rather than our parents.

Johnson does an excellent job illustrating the basic need for attachment using case studies. The examples feature dialogues between couples as they are being treated, and it's hard not to relate to one of the participants in each scenario. Even the personality types who tend to retreat when faced with marital conflict are actually acting out their need to preserve this idea of security.

The world of psychology and couples' therapy is constantly evolving and there are as many different schools of thought as there are self-help books. Johnson's methods seem to be the most realistic. She breaks conflict down to the self-defeating patterns into which couples fall while guiding them into more productive ways of relating.

The problem with Hold Me Tight is EFT requires the participation of both partners. Most often, only one partner is actively seeking a solution and it can be difficult to persuade a significant other to read the book and participate in the exercises, just as it would be to convince that person to attend couples' therapy. Johnson does not offer any solutions for dealing with unresponsive partners.

However, just to be able to shed some light on our own subconscious motivations and how they affect our relationships is worth the time it takes to read the book. There are lots of prompts for reflection, and perhaps a relationship can be improved when at least one partner can delve into a deeper level of understanding. Hold Me Tight has the potential to serve as a tool to achieving this realization.


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Show Your Work by Austin Kleon