Sue Johnson

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Dr. Sue Johnson is known for her innovative work in the field of psychology on bonding, attachment and adult romantic relationships.

Sue graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1984 with a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. She is the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and the founder of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT) , a not for profit research and therapist training institute, where she also serves as Director. Johnson also heads the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute and is Professor Emeritus in Clinical Psychology at the University of Ottawa and Distinguished Research Professor at Alliant University in San Diego, California.

Johnson's decades of research are chronicled in her book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love , which was published in 2008. Created for the general public, the book serves as a self-help version of her groundbreaking research about relationships - how to enhance them, how to repair them and how to keep them. Hold Me Tight, designed to offer expertise for adult relationships, became the springboard for an innovative program geared to the reunion of military couples after deployment, called Strong Bonds, Strong Couples and the Hold Me Tight Enhancement Program.

Love Sense: The Revolutionary Science of Romantic Relationships, Johnson’s latest book (2013), outlines the logic behind 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” and our ability to develop long-lasting relationships.

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). Sue has written countless articles and book chapters.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally Focused Couple and Family Therapy (EFT), developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, is a leading approach to helping couples both resolve relationship distress and nurture effective interpersonal functioning and strong lasting bonds.

EFT is a short-term, structured psychotherapy approach to working with individuals, couples and families. It includes elements of experiential, person-centered , and systems perspectives , but is firmly established in attachment theory .

The strengths of Emotionally Focused Therapy:


The goals of Emotionally Focused Therapy:

The therapist works to help establish healthy attachments between partners and family members, to teach each other how to meet the other's attachment needs and to help one another uncover the ways in which previously unmet attachment needs can cause problems in the current relationship. In an individual setting, emotionally focused therapy often focuses on helping an individual establish behaviors that enable him or her to get his or her attachment needs met.
Dr. Johnson’s most recent study, published late 2013, Soothing the Threatened Brain , is a brain scan study showing that social relationships are tightly linked to health and well-being. Results suggest that EFT altered the brain's representation of threat cues in the presence of a romantic partner. These findings provide a critical window into the regulatory mechanisms of close relationships in general and EFT in particular.

Externships and Training in EFT
An EFT Externship is a four-day standardized basic training for mental health professionals. The Externship in EFT is also the first step in becoming certified with ICEEFT as an EFT Therapist.

 Professional Training DVD’s

Dr. Johnson has created many training videotapes on the Emotionally Focused model of couples’ therapy. These DVDs are used in many hospitals, university programs in psychology, social work, and marital and family therapy training programs. They cover specific aspects of intervention and intervention with different kinds of couples.


Johnson has received numerous honors for her work including been awarded with the Training Award from the American Association of Marital & Family Therapy, the Research in Family Therapy Award from the American Family Therapy Academy, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Couple and Family Therapy Award. Johnson continues to lecture and speak on bonding, attachment, and relationships. She is an Invited Fellow of the American Psychological Association.

Media Appearances
Sue has been on, among other television programs, Steven and Chris (CBC), Unfaithful (OWN), Canada AM (CBC), Huffington Post Live. She has been profiled in the New York Times, The Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mind Body Green, Dr. Drew, Psychology Today, Tribune, Huffington Post, Glamour, Self, Salon, Dr. Oz: The Good Life, Quartz, Wired, MacLean’s, Woman’s Day, Redbook, and The Globe and Mail.

Personal Life
Sue was born in Chatham, England. She grew up in an English pub where she became fascinated by the drama of close relationships. It is here where she became fascinated by relationships and people’s emotions. Sue currently resides in Ottawa, Canada with her husband John. She adores Gilbert and Sullivan, Monty Python, Argentine tango and kayaking on Canada’s northern lakes.  


Books Authored

Books Edited


For more information on Dr. Johnson's DVDs see:

Other Relevant Information

For more information on Book Chapters and Scientific Articles written by Dr. Johnson please visit


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