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Emotionally Focused Therapy in Action

by Sue Johnson
Dr. Sue Johnson has been hailed as “the most original contributor to couples therapy to come along in the last 30 years.” Now you’ll have the chance to watch her conduct an actual session with a challenging couple haunted by the “echoes of war.” 

Emotionally Focused Therapy in Action
Matt and Rhea are dispirited from their frequent fights, and their couples therapist is struggling to contain their heated conflict and help them reconnect with positive feelings. After serving in Iraq as a helicopter pilot, Matt has returned with a PTSD diagnosis and finds himself shutting down emotionally, leaving Rhea feeling hurt, abandoned, and more like an employee than a partner. But her desperate longing to be seen and appreciated comes out as escalating anger, leaving Matt feeling overwhelmed and wanting to withdraw further.

Johnson first consults with Matt and Rhea’s couples therapist, aided by video clips from prior sessions. Then you’ll see Johnson work with this couple in a brilliant demonstration of the subtlety and efficacy of EFT. In a single session, she helps them conceptualize their conflicts in attachment terms, gain an understanding of their negative cycle, and begin to reveal some of the vulnerable feelings that underlie their explosive anger. Commentary before, during, and after the consultation and session provides insight into her approach. 
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What a bonanza to see Sue Johnson in two roles: as a consultant to an EFT trainee who was brave enough to show his mistakes on video, and then as a therapist with the same couple. This is at the top of my list of effective training videos.
-- William J. Doherty, PhD, Professor and Director of the Couples on the Brink Project, University of Minnesota; Author of The Intentional Family, and Soul Searching: Why Psychotherapy Must Promote Moral Responsibility

An outstanding example of how to conduct state-of-the-art, evidence-based couples therapy; should be required viewing for all clinicians who work with couples in which a partner has returned from war. Quite simply, this is the best training video in our field I have ever seen.
-- Keith Armstrong, LCSW, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UCSF; Co-Author of Courage After Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from War and their Families

"Emotionally Focused Therapy in Action provides a valuable resource for novice and experienced couples therapist alike; it especially speaks to clinicians who are responding to the legacy of trauma. Further, this video provides an excellent resource for educators who teach the art and science of EFTC."
-- Jennifer Fitzgerald, PhD, Reviewed in Psychotherapy in Australia

"Watching her [Johnson] work on the second video with a military couple was like being entranced by a prima ballerina...People talk and write about the 'therapeutic alliance,' but to see this in action I recommend watching Sue Johnson. Not only did I learn about EFT from these DVDs, it was an emotionally heartwarming experience."
-- Rubin Battino, MS, Reviewed in The Milton H. Erickson Newsletter

With her unique combination of compassion, clinical mastery, and theoretical brilliance, Dr. Sue Johnson makes sense of a couple's distress in terms of their individual attachment needs, and demonstrates how therapists can effectively navigate the complex emotional world of a couple in conflict through EFT. This video will be an integral part of couple's therapy training at my clinic and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their clinical skills with couples.
-- Julie Hanks, LCSW, Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, UT

"Overall, the video set and instructor manual offer a package that illustrates EFT for couples in a theoretically and pragmatically comprehensive fashion. The production quality is top-notch. The combination of the initial interview with Johnson, the consultation with the couple’s current therapist, Johnson’s session with the couple, and the afterword with Yalom makes this package an excellent instructional resource. At the same time, the depth of content and contemporary focus of the material will also make the package worthwhile viewing for experienced professionals as well."
-- Nancy Murdock, PhD & Adam Hinshaw, Reviewed in APA PsycCRITIQUES

"Overall, Emotionally Focused Therapy in Action is a well produced, informative, and humanizing view into an extremely important couple's treatment that has research  proven results."
-- Samuel Gladding, PhD, Past-President, American Counseling Assoc; reviewed in The Professional Counselor: Research and Practice
In Depth
CE Test
If you have to choose only one video on couples therapy, this is definitely the one to get. In one program you'll see Johnson summarize the key principles of EFT, provide expert consultation, and then conduct a truly masterful session with a very challenging high conflict couple. All of the pieces came together in this production; we are very pleased with it, and have gotten rave reviews from our customers.

By watching this video you’ll learn:
• The core theory and principles of EFT;
• How to help couples identify the negative cycles that keep them stuck;
• Specific techniques to help clients access the primary emotions that drive their conflicts, including reframing, amplification, “relentless empathy,” and enactments.
Length of video: 3:33:00
Number of Discs: 2
English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD
This DVD plays in All Regions
Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-263-8
Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-264-6
Sue Johnson

Dr. Sue Johnson is one of the originators and the main proponent of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), now one of the best validated couples interventions in North America. She is Director of the Ottawa (Canada) Couple and Family Institute and the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy as well as Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Ottawa and Research Professor at Alliant University in San Diego, California.

She has received numerous honors for her work, including the Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Couple and Family Therapy Award from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Research in Family Therapy Award from the American Family Therapy Academy. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.

She received her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of British Columbia in 1984. She is a registered psychologist in the province of Ontario, Canada, and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy and the Journal of Family Psychology. She is a Research Professor in the Marital & Family Therapy Program at Alliant University in San Diego.

Her 2004 book (2nd Ed), The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: Creating Connection (Brunner Rouledge) is a foundational text on EFT for couples. She is the senior editor of the 2003 book, Attachment Processes in Couples Therapy (Guilford Press), and the 1994 book, The Heart of the Matter (Guilford Press). She has also written a book on trauma and couples, Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors (2002).

She trains counselors in EFT worldwide and consults to Veterans Affairs, the U.S. and Canadian military and New York City Fire Department. Sue is an Approved Supervisor for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and is internationally known for her workshops and presentations on practice, theory and research in couple therapy, adult attachment and emotion in psychotherapy. She maintains a private practice and lives in Ottawa, Canada, with her husband and two children.

To contact Dr. Johnson and learn more about her work, visit her website and The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy.

See all Sue Johnson videos.

Of dozens of excellent training tapes I have seen (many of which I own) this is, hands down, the finest in my experience. Before I go any further, I must disclaim that I am a friend and colleague of several of the collaborators who created the tape. However, as an experienced psychologist specializing in couples therapy, as well as an award-winning video producer and director, I don’t give such kudos lightly. First off, Sue Johnson is at her superbly masterful best, deftly managing what in most other hands would be a potentially very difficult couple. While her other DVD’s are useful (and I have seen about three or four, though not all) I believe this is the most volatile couple on any of her tapes. Since most of us work with lots of these couples, seeing a superb example of how to help them contain their hostility and get to their core attachment issues is invaluable. Perhaps the biggest weakness of this tape is that Sue is *so* seemingly effortless and seamless in her work that it could be hard for less experienced therapists to appreciate the subtleties of her intuition and the EFT model. Aiding in the effort to make those elements more transparent, the first of the two disc set is an extensive consultation interview between Sue and Joshua, the therapist getting the consultation. This allows the viewer not only to establish a context for the session, but also sets the stage for Sue’s thinking about couples therapy and EFT. Well selected and revealing video clips of segments from previous sessions with Joshua help introduce us to the couple and Sue’s early insights about them. A bonus is experiencing Sue’s wonderfully accepting and collaborative consultation style. The session itself is beautifully staged and shot with lovely, clear lighting and multiple cameras, allowing us to see the process of the session from the optimum point of view for each moment. Nicely detailed closeups show the emotional nuances of all the participants’ faces, while wider shots show broader gestures and multi-person transactions. The background is simple and low-key, making it easy to focus on the people in the session, and the sound is extremely present and clear. While many training videos use either voice-overs or subtitles, these often occur in real time with the video, which makes it hard to track both. This tape uses an extremely effective and graceful method for Sue’s helpful voice-overs, in which the the scene that she is highlighting is recycled silently in the background during her commentary. The video then returns smoothly to the real-time continuation of the session. If I had to pick only one training tape for working with couples, this would be it. It will be a masterpiece for years to come. This DVD set would be well worth twice the price, and you can bet I’ll be watching it over and over to soak up as much of it’s brilliance as I can! - Robert Solley, Ph.D., Staff Therapist Couples Institute, Menlo Park; Adjunct Faculty Golden Gate University, SF; Private Practice, San Francisco.
The real life example of couples therapy will be useful for students and therapists at every experience level. It will provoke deep discussions not only about EFT's technical emphases versus other approaches, but also about the person of the therapist, who is temporarily invited to join theintimacy of a couple. Specific and non-specific treatment issues abound in this "best-of-the-breed" training video.Kudos to Dr. Johnson and to the producers of this excellent work. - David Bullard, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine and of Medical Psychology (Psychiatry), University of California, San Francisco.
David Bullard, Ph.D.
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CE credits: 6
Learning objectives:

  • Learn the core theory and principles of EFT
  • Understand how to help couples identify the negative cycles that keep them stuck
  • Discover specific techniques to help clients access the primary emotions that drive their conflicts, including reframing, amplification, “relentless empathy,” and enactments.