In 2008, Nancy and Paul, who had been in clinical practice for 45-years, discovered the work of Dr. Susan Johnson creator of a model that is an emotionally focused, attachment based system for working with couples: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). The research on this model demonstrated amazing results, far superior to all other researched couple treatment methods. The model reflected what we had over many years of practice come to know worked for families in distress. EFT brought a focused, sophisticated and systematic method to this knowing. Further, it was grounded in attachment science.
The map Sue had created was real help for partners/family members to move from insecure attachment with each other to secure attachment that lasted over time. We knew we had to learn this model, and as we did, we became friends and collaborators with Sue in development of the family programs offered here.
There are two tracks of EFT work that Sue created in her passion to help people create safer connections with each other. There is a track that is applied in clinical therapeutic settings…and another track that is applied to the general public as educational, enrichment workshops based on her best selling book, “Hold Me Tight,” which has been translated into over 32 languages and used all over the world. The family relationship enrichment programs we and our colleagues offer are based on Dr. Johnson’s work.
We have been very enthusiastic about providing help for couples who did not or could not invest in ongoing therapy. We began to offer Hold Me Tight Couple© programs and also assisted Sue in these workshops. After over twenty such programs, we realized that not only were they well attended but the feedback indicated these experiential programs proved invaluable to so many participating couples. Furthermore, the group setting provided support and normalization that a therapy session alone could never provide.
We were doing a lot of EFFT (EFT with Families) in our clinical practices and began to imagine what it would be like to offer the same kind of educational program for parents with teens, since this is so often such a stormy time for families.
We began conversations with Sue and other EFT experts specializing in family work. This resulted in the creation of the now published program for parents and teens, “Hold Me Tight/Let Me Go (HMT/LMG)”, now translated and/or popular in countries globally including Norway, Iran, Amsterdam, several South American countries, Canada, Sweden and throughout the United States.
We were thrilled that teens, although often quite reluctant to come, frequently left reporting that they were glad they came and actually liked that they felt their parents understood them better after having participated in the workshop. The programs resulted in a very powerful and sustained positive experience for family members.
So, we were on a roll and began to wonder: What about parents with kids in emerging or full adulthood? We were doing more and more family therapy in our practices with parents and their adult children in distress and felt that an educational program would supplement this Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) work. So, many Parents with their Adult Children in our practices had all sorts of complexities to struggle with. What about creating a third workshop?
In the last three years we, along with Dr. Johnson, created and began to offer pilot workshops to refine this program to a series of developmentally appropriate structured conversations. We learned with every subsequent workshop more and more about what was most helpful to families throughout the developmental stages of generations. This discovery was complicated, but so rich and rewarding for us! Our Hold Me Tight/Let Me Be Me (HMT/LMBM) program grew out of these efforts and was embraced with great enthusiasm by the family participants and facilitating therapists.
Along with the Teen Family Child program, this Parents and Adult Child workshop has been very powerful in healing ruptures in families. It fills a niche that is truly a family together opportunity that is unique and beneficial for teens aged 13 to18-years (HMT/LMG) and 19 to 90-years (HMT/LMBM).
Beginning in 2020 we immediately translated the programs to be offered online. We’ve have had great success with this format. A special appeal is family members can all participate without geographic constraint, including travel expense. We have had families participate from all over the world.