385 – The Science of Romantic Relationships with Sue Johnson PhD

Sue Johnson


Sue Johnson PhD is an author, clinical psychologist, researcher, professor, popular presenter and speaker and one of the leading innovators in the field of couple therapy. Individuals, couples and practicing therapists all turn to Sue for her insight and guidance.

She is the primary developer of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) which has demonstrated its effectiveness in over 25 years of peer-reviewed clinical research.

As author of the best-selling book: Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Sue Johnson has created for the general public, a self-help version of her groundbreaking research about relationships – how to enhance them, how to repair them and how to keep them.
Her most recent book, Love Sense, The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships outlines the new logical understanding of why and how we love – based on new scientific evidence and cutting-edge research. Explaining that romantic love is based on an attachment bond, Dr. Johnson shows how to develop our “love sense” – our ability to develop long-lasting relationships.

Sue Johnson is founding Director of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy and Distinguished Research Professor at Alliant University in San Diego, California, as well as Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Ottawa, Canada.
Dr. Johnson’s best known professional books include, The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection (2004) and Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors (2002).

She trains therapists in EFT worldwide and consults to Veterans Affairs, the U.S. and Canadian military and New York City Fire Department.

She lives in Ottawa with her husband. She adores Gilbert and Sullivan, Monty Python, Argentine tango and kayaking on Canada’s northern lakes.

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A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

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  1. Dr. Michael Ocana
    Posted January 13, 2014 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    What a great interview!
    I have been a huge fan of Sue since I listened to her give an interview on her previous book, Hold Me Tight. I found that book to be instrumental in working through challenges in my own marital relationship in addition to influencing my practice with families and adolescents. Incidentally, my wife and I are doing very well, thank you. My wife recently picked up Sue’s latest book at Cosco. (I think it is a sign that you have crossed a threshold of popular impact as a clinician and researcher has their book available at Cosco.) I believe Sue is an important champion of the revolution in affective and interpersonal neuroscience and I wish her great ongoing success!

  2. Richard Powell
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    I listened to this interview twice, and then purchased the book using the link on the Shrink Rap Radio site. Since I ended up clicking through to Audible.com, I’m not sure if the credit will be applied to SRR. Also, while I was deciding between the print book and the audio book, I wondered if clicking through to the Canadian Amazon would credit SRR or not. Would like to know for future reference…

    I’ve now listened to the audiobook version of Love Sense three times, bookmarking many sections to listen to again. I sure wish I had known this information when I was younger!!! Still, it’s never too late to learn and this topic is so practical I think I will stick with it.

    One thing that would be helpful, from Dr. Johnson, or anyone else who knows, is a link to a good online test for attachment styles, and also a good “point form” summary of each style. I visited Dr. Johnson’s site, did a bit of Googling, and kind of created a few notes from the book for my own reference, but a one page overview, maybe like a four quadrant diagram, would be helpful.

    I listen to every SRR episode, and some are more relevant to my life than others, but this episode seemed particularly paradigm-shifting for me. It really helped me see and think about how my early attachment experiences, and the decisions I made while still largely pre-verbal have powerfully influenced who I have become. I feel somewhat frustrated to be learning this stuff so late in life, but thankful that I have the opportunity to now fully engage with it. It’s funny because I have read about attachment theory over the years, but somehow never saw the implications and applications that Dr. Johnson and others are now pointing to.

    This is why Shrink Rap Radio is so awesome!

  3. Richard Powell
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Well, seek and ye shall find… in follow up to my previous comment, here is a helpful summary of the different attachment styles from Jeff Saunders: http://www.couplescounselling4u.co.nz/conflict-styles.html

  4. Rich Featherly
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I would have liked if you had asked about how well her therapy helps couples who have come to a stalemate about sex where one partner is refusing all or most of the time. We have heard that safety kills desire. I think one of the differences she has with other couples therapists is just in the words they use to describe what they work on. What she calls attachment others may just call connection. One of her critics she mentioned, David Snarsch talks about connection and autonomy being equally important. I wonder if young people today are less wounded in attachment, but may be more wounded in autonomy issues since attachment parenting has given rise to the helicopter parent. I think the first result we can see from that are that young adults are avoiding marriage altogether.

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