Literatur (um sich auf den Kurs vorzubereiten)

Susan M.Johnson
Praxis der emotionsfokussierten Paartherapie
(Junfermann Verlag, 2009)

Susan M. Johnson et al.
Becoming an Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist – the workbook
(Routledge, New York, London 2005)

Susan M. Johnson
Emotionally focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors
(Guilford Press, New York, 2002)

Susan M. Johnson
Halt mich fest
(„Halt mich fest“ ist ein strukturierter Kurs für Paare. Therapeuten, die diese Kurse durchführen möchten, wird die Teilnahme an einem Externship empfohlen.)
(Junfermann Verlag, 2011)

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Einführende Artikel

(Zur Zeit arbeiten wir noch an der deutschen Übersetzung. Sie finden hier die englische Version der Texte)

How to Harness this Great Motivator

By Susan Johnson / Psychotherapy Networker, 5/6 2012

Neuroscientists have recently established that emotion is the prime organizing force shaping how we cope with challenges. Now psychotherapists are learning how to work with emotion, rather than trying to control it.

“God guard me from those thoughts men think in the mind alone. He that sings a lasting song, thinks in a marrow-bone.”
—W. B. Yeats.

Mike leans forward, and in a low, intense voice, says, “Look. It wasn’t my idea to see a couples therapist. And I hear that this therapy you do is all about emotions. Well, that about counts me out. First, I don’t have them the way she does.” He points to his wife, Emma, who’s staring angrily at the floor. “Second, I don’t want to have them or talk about them. I work through problems by just staying cool. I hold on tight and use my little gray cells.” He taps his head and sets his jaw. “Just tell me what’s wrong with us—why she’s so upset all the time—and I’ll fix the problem. Just tell me what to say, and I’ll say it. We were just fine until we started to have kids and she started complaining all the time. All this spewing of ‘feelings’ just makes things worse. It’s stupid.” He turns away from me, and the silence is filled with the sound of his wife’s weeping.

The irony of this type of drama never fails to intrigue me. In one of the most emotional scenarios ever—a couple trying to talk about their distressed relationship—here’s a partner insisting that the solution to distress is to ignore the emotion! Worse still, I’m getting emotional! This client is upsetting me. I breathe in and get my balance. After all, I remind myself, what he’s saying is so normal.

Mental health professionals would agree with him. In fact, I agree with him, to some extent. Venting strong, negative emotion—usually called catharsis—is nearly always a dead end. More than that, most of us are wary of strong emotions. Emotions have traditionally been seen, by philosophers like René Descartes, for example, as part of our primitive animal nature and, therefore, not to be trusted. Reason, by contrast, has long been thought to reflect our higher spiritual self. In neuroscientific terms, the implication is that we’re at our best when we live out of our prefrontal cortex and leave our limbic brain behind. More specifically, emotion is often associated with disorganization and loss of control. As Latin author Publilius Syrus, known for his maxims, wrote in the first century B.C., “The sage will rule his feelings; the fool will be their slave.” …
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Are You There for Me?

Understanding the Foundations of Couples Conflict
by Susan Johnson / Psychotherapy Networker, 9 /10 2006

On the first day of a clinical placement in my doctoral program during the early 1980s, I was assigned to a counseling center and told by the director that because of unexpected staffing problems, I’d be seeing 20 couples a week. I’d never done any couples therapy, but I did have considerable experience as a family and individual therapist with emotionally disturbed adolescents--a tough, challenging group of clients if ever there was one! So my first thought when given this new assignment was, “After what I’ve done, how hard can this be?”

I plunged in and almost immediately was appalled by how hard it actually could be! People who seemed perfectly sane and reasonable often became totally unglued with their partners--enraged and aggressive or almost catatonically mute. I was in way over my head, with no idea what to do with these couples.

I remember one wildly angry pair, whose fight escalated to the point that they threatened to kill each other in my office. What I didn’t know at the time was that while I was trying to prevent a double homicide, the clinic’s director and staff were poised on the other side of the door, debating about whether someone should come to the rescue. “Do you think she can handle it?” one whispered to another. At that moment, they all heard me break into the melee and shout at the top of my lungs, “Shut up, both of you!!” In the ensuing stunned silence, the director said to the worried assembly, “I think she’ll be just fine.”

In spite of my complete befuddlement and frustration, I found the dramatic, intricate, baffling dances these pairs did with each other enthralling, and wanted to understand better what was going on. Clearly though, I needed some tool in my toolkit other than “Shut up!” if I wanted to make any headway with them. The drama enacted in front of me by a couple was so powerful, so emotionally compelling, and yet so complex and ultimately confusing, that I felt chronically lost.

I desperately needed some sort of map that would help me make sense of what I was seeing.

I remember one woman, who mostly communicated with her husband by screaming at him, sitting in my office one day describing in gruesome detail all the horrible things she was going to do to the husband’s body as he lay asleep in bed that night. As usual, he ignored her completely, except to occasionally yell back, “You’re absolutely crazy! You belong in a nuthouse!” Sometimes a wife would sob to her husband, “I love you, I love you--you have my heart in your hands.” Then a minute later, she’d be screaming at him, “You bastard! I’ll never let you touch me again!” Partners wept, made outrageous threats, and sat sunk in depression, all the while knowing perfectly well they were destroying their relationships, but unable to help themselves. I had no idea how to help them, either. …
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