In Dr. Sue Johnson’s book Hold Me Tight, she presents Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) as a way to build and sustain intimate partner relationships. She also discusses the importance of establishing safe emotional connections and preserving attachment bonds as the basis for a strong and lasting partnership.
According to Dr. Johnson, there is a specific kind of emotional responsiveness that is key to a lasting and loving relationship. This type of emotional responsiveness has three main components:
A.R.E: Are you there? Are you with me?
Below are some prompts you can discuss with your partner surrounding each of your accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement.
Accessibility: Can I reach you?
My partner is easy to emotionally connect with. I can share my most authentic feelings with my partner. I never feel lonely or shut out in my relationships. My partner often shows me that I come first to them.
Responsiveness: Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally?
I know that if I need comfort my partner will be there for me. My partner is aware and responds to signals that I need them. When I am feeling upset, anxious, uncomfortable, I can rely on my partner. Even when we are not on the same page, I know that I am still important to my partner and we will eventually find a way to come together.
Engagement: Do I know you will value me and stay close?
I feel very comfortable trusting my partner. I feel like I can confide in my partner when it comes to anything. I feel safe enough with my partner to take emotional risks. I know that my partner cares about me my happiness, hurts, and fears.
You can learn more about Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) from the professionals at the Lukin Center for Psychotherapy.
Maram Barakat, M.A., is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She has a master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, with a special focus on global mental health and research methods. She is primarily interested in providing access to quality mental health services in low-to-middle income countries and vulnerable populations. She is especially passionate about working with survivors of abuse and violence. In fact, she has integrated her passion with her academic interests by focusing her master's thesis on culturally adapting and implementing cognitive processing therapy to Syrian refugee women who have experienced sexual violence during and post-displacement. Maram has worked as a mental health professional and advocate in Lebanon, Uganda, and New York for the past six years. At the Lukin Center, Maram will be taking on the role of social media manager. Her main responsibilities entail managing and monitoring the center's social media platforms, creating content, increasing engagement, and more. Apart from her professional interests, she enjoys acting, karaoke, and extreme sports.
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