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This past week, one of today’s greatest relationship theorists and researchers, psychologist Dr. Sue Johnson, passed away after a three-year journey with cancer. Sue Johnson, who pioneered Emotionally Focused Therapy, has greatly influenced my work with couples — and the work of countless others in the field of psychotherapy. 

I have always admired the attachment theories surrounding how we connect with our significant other and how that connection is influenced by the way our needs were (or weren’t) met when we were children. 

Sue Johnson took attachment theory to a new level, helping therapists and couples alike to dive deeply into intimate conversations in which our hearts are seen and deeply known. Her work has inspired me to help couples to turn deeply toward each other and build a safe haven sort of relationship. In this safe haven, we can find healing from past wounds and find a deeper kind of intimacy than we had ever known before. 

Dr. Johnson’s many books have influenced me, as well as my clients as we seek to find different ways to communicate our heartfelt needs to one another. A personal favorite that I turn to again and again is Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. Her work will live on through the many people trained in this method. 

She and the Gottmans became dear friends (you can read their tribute to her here), and as I witnessed how she influenced them, it encouraged me to dive deeper into her work myself. I am so grateful I did. She will be missed, but I am so thankful for her life well-lived. 

You can learn a bit more about Dr. Sue Johnson’s beautiful life and work in the tribute below. 



Many will be able to say, “I was here,” but how many will be able to know they have left a mark as indelible as Sue Johnson?