Full of articles, stories and information for both couples and professionals who want greater understanding about what makes relationships work.Subscribe to updates
Full of articles, stories and information for both couples and professionals who want greater understanding about what makes relationships work.Subscribe to updates
The results of an uncontrolled study of Gottman Method Couples Therapy in changing relationship satisfaction with 106 gay and lesbian couples is reported in this paper. Measurement of relationship satisfaction was conducted at five separate time points. The data show significant improvements in relationship satisfaction following eleven sessions of therapy for both gay male and lesbian couples. Effect sizes suggest that this therapy was highly effective, compared to the usual 0.5 standard deviation effect size in couples therapy. Initial co-morbidities did not affect the size of the changes; in fact, some changes were significantly larger for three initial co-morbidities.View resource
Pornography in relationships has been an issue for a long time. Even today, professional recommendations to couples on how to manage the use of pornography still vary widely. We attended one workshop in a couples’ conference that recommended therapists merely accept porn use, especially by men, as natural and harmless. While this may be an extreme view, many clinicians have suggested that if a couple uses pornography as a stimulus for intimacy, or if they both agree to read or view pornographic materials together, then porn use is fine. In fact, many professionals thought it might increase relationship connection and intimacy. In the Bringing Baby Home Workshops, we initially took this view, too, since our research had demonstrated that, after a baby arrives, relationship intimacy decreases and measures were needed to strengthen intimate sexual connection.View resource
A poster summary of the outcomes of a Gottman Couple and Relationship Education (CRE) program with situationally low income couples. Findings suggest that situationally violent couples may be safely and effectively treated as a couple in conjoint treatment. Results suggest that low-income couple benefit from CRE programs designed to meet their needs.View resource
After the devastating discovery of infidelity, intense emotions and recurrent crises are the norm in intimate relationships. The good news is that the majority of couples cannot only survive infidelity, but as researcher John Gottman (2012) has found, many couples can recover and develop stronger relationships as a result of therapy.View resource
Research on adult attachment is guided by the assumption that the same motivational system that gives rise to the close emotional bond between parents and their children is responsible for the bond that develops between adults in emotionally intimate relationships. The objective of this essay is to provide a brief overview of the history of adult attachment research, the key theoretical ideas, and a sampling of some of the research findings. This essay has been written for people who are interested in learning more about research on adult attachment.View resource
A simple measurement of dyadic adjustmentView resource
Gottman & Levenson - Thirty married couples interacted in a low-conflict situation and a high-conflict situation during which continuous physiological measures were obtained. Each spouse returned separately for a second session in which they watched the videotape of the interaction and provided a continuous self-report rating of their own affect while the same physiological measures were again obtained. Observers coded the spouses' affect during each speech unit. The self-reports of affect (a) discriminated the high-conflict interaction from the low-conflict interaction, (b) correlated significantly with marital satisfaction, (c) were coherent between husband and wife, and (d) were significantly related to the observers' coding of the couples' affect. Physiological data obtained during the interaction session were significantly related (using time-series analyses) to physiological data obtained during the recall session.View resource
This article examines 14-year longitudinal data and attempts to create a post hoc model that uses Time-1 data to "predict" the length of time the marriage will last. the sample consists of the 21 couples (of 79 studies) who divorced over a 14 year period. A two-factor model is proposed. One factor is the amount of unregulated volatile positive and negative affect in the marriage, and this factor predicts a short marriage length for the divorcing couples. This model is compared to a Time-1 model of ailing marriage in which Time-1 marital satisfaction is used to predict the timing of divorce.View resource
Gottman - Research is presented on the prospective longitudinal prediction of marital dissolution. First, a cascade toward marital dissolution is described. Second, the cascade is predicted with variables from a balance theory of marriage. Third, there are process and perception (the distance and isolation cascades) cascades related to the cascade toward dissolution. The importance of "flooding" is discussed, as well as a mechanism through which negative perceptions (which are 2 dimensional) become global and stable and through which the entire history of the marriage is recast negatively. The role of physiology is outlined. A theory is presented in which a "core triad of balance" is formulated in terms of 3 weakly related thermostats (connected by catastrophe theory) and related to the distance and isolation cascade. Implications for a minimal marital therapy are discussed.View resource
Naaman, Radwan, & Johnson - Early breast cancer affects one in every nine women along with their families. Advances in screening and biomedical interventions have changed the face of breast cancer from a terminal condition to a chronic disease with biopsychosocial features. The present review surveyed the nature and extent of psychological morbidity experienced by the breast cancer survivor and her spouse during the post-treatment phase, with particular focus on the impact of disease on the marital relationship. Interpersonal processes shown to unfold in couples facing breast cancer, as well as risk factors associated with greater psychological morbidity, were reviewed. Moreover, interpersonal processes central to coping with chronic illness and adjustment were re-conceptualized from the point of view of attachment theory. Attachment theory was also used as the grounding framework for an empirically supported couples-based intervention, Emotionally Focused Therapy, which is advanced as a potentially useful treatment option for couples experiencing unremitting psychological and relational distress following diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.View resource
MacIntosh & Johnson - This study explored Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples with childhood sexual abuse survivors (CSA) and their partners. Half of the couples in this study reported clinically significant increases in mean relationship satisfaction and clinically significant decreases in trauma symptoms, and thematic analyses identified numerous areas where trauma survivors were challenged in fully engaging in the therapy process. In particular, trauma symptoms such as affect dysregulation and hypervigilance were identified to play a role in the challenges that survivors experienced in fully engaging in the EFT process. Results of these thematic analyses yielded clinical recommendations for working with CSA survivors and their partners in EFT for traumatized couples. Recommendations for future study were articulated.View resource
Nelson, Chenail, Alexander, Crane, Johnson, & Schwallies - In response to a series of national policy reports regarding what has been termed the ‘‘quality chasm’’ in health and mental health care in the United States, in January 2003, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy convened a task force to develop core competencies (CC) for the practice of marriage and family therapy (MFT). The task force also was responding to a call for outcome-based education and for the need to answer questions about what marriage and family therapists do. Development of the CC moves the field of MFT into a leading-edge position in mental health. This article describes the development of the CC, outcomes of the development process for the competencies, and recommendations for their continued development and implementation.View resource
Johnson - In this plenary address, presented at the Emotionally Focused Therapy “Summit” in 2006, Sue Johnson describes attachment theory as the new way of understanding adult love. It provides the road map for couple therapists to make their way through the complicated territory of adult attachment and attachment injuries. She suggests that couple therapy is more than a set a techniques in search of a theory because attachment theory offers a language for adult love—for effective dependency. The points made in this plenary include: 1) People’ s most basic need is for a safe emotional connection; 2) Seeking a safe haven is a sign of strength, not enmeshment or weakness; 3) This connection provides a secure base to deal with the world; 4) Fights that matter are about the quality of the emotional connection—mutual emotional accessibility and responsiveness; 5) Separation distress follows the pattern of protest, clinging on, to abandonment rage; 6) Intense emotions are the key organizers of the relationship “dance,”anguish and sadness, shame, fear of rejection, abandonment, and loss; 7) Emotions around insecure relationships are managed either by spiralling anxiety (turning up the attachment signals) or by avoidance and shutting down the attachment system; 8) Our sense of self depends is shaped by our attachment to others—if we are securely attached we see ourselves as trustworthy, dependable, lovable, entitled to care; 9) Visual interactions are more important than words alone.View resource
Johnson & Greenman - Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) for couples combines experiential and systemic techniques to expand emotional responses and cycles of inter- action. This approach has also been used to treat depression, chronic illness, and anxiety disorders. EFT appears to translate well across culture and class, focusing on universal key emotions and attachment needs. From the EFT perspective, adult love is a hardwired, adaptive attachment response. The therapist’s in-session focus is on the processing of emotions and key interactional patterns as they occur in the present, because emotional experiences are the primary instruments of change in this approach. The therapist is a relationship consultant who offers a safe platform whereby each partner can distill, expand, and transform experience and find new ways to connect with the other. The case presented here illustrates the three stages of EFT: deescalation, restructuring inter- actions, and consolidation.View resource
Makinen & Johnson - he goal of this study was to use task analysis to verify that the attachment injury resolution model described in this article discriminates resolved from non-resolved couples. Twenty-four couples with an attachment injury received, on average, 13 sessions of emotionally focused therapy (EFT). At the end of treatment, 15 of the 24 couples were identified as resolved. Segments of best sessions for all couples were transcribed and rated on 2 process measures. Resolved couples were found to be significantly more affiliative and achieved deeper levels of experiencing than non-resolved couples. They also showed significant improvements in dyadic satisfaction and forgiveness than non-resolved couples. The results support the attachment injury resolution model and suggest that resolution during EFT is beneficial to couples.View resource
Johnson - SUMMARY. Infidelity comes in many forms. Different meanings may be assigned to the various forms. This article discusses not only the different forms infidelity may take, but also the larger issue in the field of couple and family therapy; the meaning frame for understanding the impact of different kinds of events, specific relationship problems, and how to deal with them. This is done through the use of emotion focused therapy and the context of adult attachment.View resource
Johnson, Makinen, & Millikin - This article identifies and operationalizes the newly defined construct of attachment injury. An attachment injury occurs when one partner violates the expectation that the other will offer comfort and caring in times of danger or distress. This incident becomes a clinically recurring theme and creates an impasse that blocks relationship repair in couples therapy.An attachment injury is characterized by an abandonment or by a betrayal of trust during a critical moment of need. The injurious incident defines the relationship as insecure and maintains relationship distress because it is continually used as a standard for the dependability of the offending partner. The concept of an attachment injury is de$ned here in the context of emotionally focused therapy, an empirically validated, short-term approach to modeling distress in couples. The broad theoretical underpinnings of this concept may be found in attachment theory as applied to adult romantic relationships. Through the delineation of attachment injury events and the ongoing development of a detailed model of resolution,couples therapists will be better able to identify, describe, and effectively treat such injuries and address the therapeutic impasses that are associated with them.View resource
This article overviews significant developments in couple therapy over the last decade. Key trends include:(1) couple therapy becoming firmly established as the accepted treatment of choice for couple problems, (2) the blossoming of the science of relationships, (3) strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of couple therapy both for relationship problems and DSM disorders, (4) greater understanding of the ramifications of gender, (5) new respect for the diversity of family forms, (6) increased accent on the role of emotion, (7) the influence of postmodernism, (8) greater recognition of couple violence, and (9) the move toward integration across models of treatment.View resource
Johnson & Whiffen - This article summarizes the theory, practice, and empirical findings on emotionally focused couple therapy (EFT), now one of the best documented and validated approaches to repairing close relationships. EFT is based on an attachment perspective of adult intimacy. The article then considers how individual differences in attachment style have an impact on affect regulation, information processing, and communication in close relationships and how the practice of EFT is influenced by these differences.View resource
Johnson & Williams-Keeler - Emotionally focused marital therapy (EFT), a marital therapy that particularly focuses on the creation of secure attachment, has proven in empirical studies to be effective for distressed couples. this paper discusses the application of EFT in couples where one or both of the partners have experienced significant trauma. EFT, in this context of trauma, incorporates the nine steps of conventional EFT and also encompasses the three stages of the "constructivist" self development theory of trauma treatment. This paper illustrates how the integration of EFT and trauma treatment can prove effective in treating not only relationship distress but also the individual symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).View resource
Johnson & Talitman - This study examined client variables expected to predict success in emotionally focused marital therapy (EFT), now the second most validated form of marital therapy after the behavioral approaches. The relationship of attachment quality, level of emotional self-disclosure, level of interpersonal trust, and traditionally to the therapy outcome variables, marital adjustment, intimacy and therapist ratings of improvement, was examined. These variables were chosen for their relevance to the theory and practice of EFT and to intimate relationships in general. Overall, therapeutic alliance predicted successful outcome; the task dimension of the alliance in particular predicted couples' satisfaction. More specifically, one dimension of female partners' trust, their faith in their partner, predicted couples' satisfaction at follow-up. Females' faith also significantly predicted males' level of intimacy at follow-up. Males who were most likely to be non-distressed at termination indicated higher levels of proximity seeking on an attachment measure at intake, and older males and males whose partners had higher levels of faith in them were more likely to be non-distressed at follow-up. Traditionality was not found to be significantly related to outcome. Couples who made the most gains at follow-up also indicated lower initial marital satisfaction and included males who indicated lower levels of use of attachment figure on the attachment measure at intake. Males who made the largest gains at termination were older and were rated as less expressive by their partner on self-disclosure measure at intake. Age was the only variable significantly related to males' gains in satisfaction at follow-up. Implications for the practice of marital therapy and future research are delineated.View resource
Cloutier, Manion, Walker, Johnson - Couples with chronically ill children are particularly at risk for experiencing marital distress. The study presented here is a 2 year follow-up of a randomized control trial that assessed the efficacy of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) in decreasing marital distress in a sample of couples with a chronically ill child. Thirteen couples with chronically ill children who received treatment were assessed to determine if the significant improvement in relationship distress observed at posttreatment and 5 month follow-up would be maintained at 2 year follow-up. Results demonstrated that improvements in marital functioning were not only maintained but, in some cases, enhanced at the 2 year follow-up. This uncontrolled follow-up study provides initial evidence of the longer-term benefits of EFT.View resource
SUSAN M. JOHNSON & CINDY MADDEAUX, JANE BLOWN - This article provides an overview of an emotionally focused family therapy intervention for bulimic adolescents referred to an outpatient hospital clinic. The article attempts to integrate theory, practice, and preliminary research results. Bulimia is viewed from the theoretical perspective of attachment theory as described by Bowlby (1969). The emotionally focused approach to creating more secure attachment in families is described, outcome on a small number of adolescents is noted, and the implications of these theoretical and empirical points are discussed.View resource
Dandeneau, Michel L; Johnson, Susan M - A study examined the effects of two sets of marital interventions taken from Emotionally Focused Therapy and Cognitive Marital Therapy on levels of marital intimacy, dyadic trust and dyadic adjustment. Both test group scores were significantly higher than controls on the self-report measures of intimacy.View resource
Susan M. Johnson & Leslie S. Greenberg - This article is a reply to Jacobson's article in which he critiques the Snyder and Wills study comparing behavioral and insight-oriented interventions as well as the 4-year follow-up of this study, and makes suggestions as to the implications of these studies for future marital therapy research. This article suggests that therapist competence is not a fruitful line of enquiryforfuture research, and that although we agree that manualization is an issue, manuals must include more than simple therapist behaviors. We also agree that there is a need to focus on the process of change in marital therapy. However, the crucial issue, from our perspective, is that interventions be clearly linked to theoretical formulations concerning the nature of relationships and the nature of marital distress, so that the differences between different interventions and approaches to marital therapy can be clearly differentiatedView resource
Susan M. Johnson & L. S. Greenberg - This article considers the nature of the therapeutic alliance in marital therapy and suggests that it is not particularly useful to consider the alliance as a uniform phenomenon across forms of therapy, such as therapies that focus upon cognitive interventions as opposed to ther- apies that use more affectively oriented interventions. In different forms of therapy and at different times, different aspects of the alliance may be crucial in facilitating change.View resource
SUSAN M. JOHNSON - This article focuses on the integration of individual and marital therapy modalities in the treatment of an adult incest survivor who was experiencing marital distress. A case study is presented that illustrates a particular approach to the treatment of marital disorders with an incest survivor and her spouse and a particular form of integration.View resource
SUSAN M. JOHNSON and LESLIE S. GREENBERG - The purpose of this article is to present a recently articulated approach to marital therapy in terms of theory, clinical strategies, and outcome research. The treatment assumes that the most appropriate model for adult intimacy is that of an emotional bond and integrates systemic and experiential change strategies, focusing particularly on resynthesizing the emotions underlying interactional positions.View resource
Susan M. Johnson and Leslie S. Greenberg The present study compared the relative effectiveness of two interventions in the treatment of marital discord: a cognitive-behavioral intervention, teaching problem- solving skills, and an experiential intervention, focusing on emotional experiences underlying interaction patterns. Forty-five couples seeking therapy were randomly assigned to one of these treatments or to a wait-list control group. Each treatment was administered in eight sessions by six experienced therapists whose interventions were monitored and rated to ensure treatment fidelity. Results indicated that the perceived strength of the working alliance between couples and therapists and general therapist effectiveness were equivalent across treatment groups and that both treatment groups made significant gains over untreated controls on measures of goal attainment, marital adjustment, intimacy levels, and target complaint reduction. Furthermore, the effects of the emotionally focused treatment were superior to those of the problem-solving treatment on marital adjustment, intimacy, and target complaint level. At follow-up, marital adjustment scores in the emotionally focused group were still significantly higher than those in the problem-solving group.View resource
This is a great summary of John Gottman's book for couples called 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. It includes a summary of some of his great research and some tips for building a stronger, more intimate and caring relationshipView resource
Gottman has proposed that there are 3 functional styles of conflict management in couple relationships, labeled Avoidant, Validating, and Volatile, and 1 dysfunctional style, labeled Hostile. Using a sample of 1,983 couples in a committed relationship, we test the association of perceived matches or mismatches on these conflict styles with relationship outcome variables. The results indicate that 32% of the participants perceive there is a mismatch with their conflict style and that of their partner. The Volatile-Avoidant mismatch was particularly problematic and was associated with more stonewalling, relationship problems, and lower levels of relationship satisfaction and stability than the Validating matched style and than other mismatched styles. The most problematic style was the Hostile style. Contrary to existing assumptions by Gottman, the 3 matched functional styles were not equivalent, as the Validating Style was associated with substantially better results on relationship outcome measures than the Volatile and Avoidant styles.View resource
The Marriage Preparation and Preservation Act of Florida stimulated a study of premarital couples. “What are the best things that you do in your relationship” was asked in a survey of persons seeking marriage licenses. The sample consisted of 962 participants. Responses were examined using Gottman’s “Sound Marital House” (1999) as a theoretical framework. Results indicate that premarital participants view specific aspects of the Sound Marital House as the best things they contribute to their relationship. Responses can be used as a guide to the development of a Gottman-based marriage preparation curriculum.View resource
Gottman’s (1990, 1991; Gottman and Levenson, 1988) psychophysiologic model of marital interaction was tested in 60 married couples. Participants were classified as avoiders or initiators of relationship problem discussions by trained coders observing videotaped semistructured interviews. Blood pressure (BP) and heart rate reactivity was assessed during the cold pressor test, during a mental math test, while watching a marital argument on video, and during a conjoint interview. As hypothesized, avoiders had significantly greater systolic BP reactivity during the interview. Additionally, husbands who interacted with avoider wives had significantly greater diastolic and systolic BP reactivity than did husbands of initiator wives. Initiator husbands, in particular, who were married to avoider wives had greater systolic BP reactivity. These results both support Gottman’s psychophysiologic model and suggest modifications of it.View resource
This article examins 14 year longitudinal data and attempts to create a post hoc model that uses Time-I data to "predict" the length of time the marriage will last. The sample consists of the 21 couples (of 79 studied) who divorced over a 14-year period . A two-factor model is proposed. One factor is the amount of unregulated volatile positive and negative affect in the marriage, and this factor predicts a short marriage length for the divorcing couples. A second factor is called "neutral affective style," and this factor predicts a long marriage length for the divorcing couples. This model is compared to a Time- 1 model of ailing marriage in which Time-I marital satisfaction is used to predict the timing of divorce.View resource
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