Hold Me Tight

Posted on March 24, 2012


“From the cradle to the grave, humans desire a certain someone who will look out for them, notice and value them, soothe their wounds, reassure them in life’s difficult places, and hold them in the dark.”  Dr. Sue Johnson (2004, p. 34)

Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love is a book directed to couples to help deepen or restore secure attachment and safety in the marriage relationship.  Written by Dr. Susan Johnson, the marital therapist who developed emotionally focused therapy, the book introduces couples to the idea of attachment as the most basic of human needs.  In addition to the book, couples’ workshops[1] are also available.  These are generally supported by therapists who practice emotionally focused therapy.

I recently had the opportunity to assist in a Hold Me Tight couples intensive weekend.  It is a great gift to work with couples and see them connect emotionally in ways that they either have not experienced in a long time or perhaps have never experienced.  The materials in the book and the workshop are worthy of some attention.  Hence, this is the start of a new series of blog posts.

As the quote that opened this post observed, each of us needs to know that someone has our back, that there is someone to whom we matter, and that that person will be available (and emotionally responsive) to us in time of need.  Essentially, the assertion here is that emotional responsiveness is the key to a lifetime of love (Johnson, 2008).  An acronym that represents the main components of emotional responsiveness, “the building blocks of a secure attachment bond” (Wooley & Palmer-Olson, 2010) is A.R.E. (A.R.E. you there for me?).  The “A” is accessibility.  (Can I reach you? Will you open up to me?  Do you need me?) The “R” is responsiveness.  (Can I depend on you? Will you come when I call?) The “E” is engagement.  (Do you value me?  Will you keep me close?).  A partner does not need to be accessible at every moment, but at key times it is critical to the bond.

In this series, we will look at some of the negative cycles that can take work against emotional safety and connection and how to combat them, the ways in which partners find each other’s raw spots, and paths to healing from past hurts.

Next post: Conversation 1: Recognizing the Demon Dialogues.


Johnson, S. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Johnson, S. (2004). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy. (2nd ed.). Milton Park: Taylor & Francis Group.

Woolley, S., & Palmer-Olsen, L. (2010). Emotionally focused therapy externship.  Unpublished document.

“I work with individuals, couples, and families to help develop secure connections
and craft manageable solutions.”

More information is available on my website www.scottwoodtherapy.com.  I am also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats http://scottwoodtherapy.com/Page5.html.

Scott Wood is a registered marriage and family therapist intern (IMF67385) and is supervised by Dr. Melinda Reinicke, Psychologist (Psy11011).

[1] Along with my colleague, Treina Nash, LMFT, I will be facilitating a 2 day Hold Me Tight couples’ intensive on May 5, 2012 and May 12, 2012.  For registration information, contact me or visit www.rcacounseling.com.