Hold Me Tight – Book Review

Hold Me Tight is the best book I have ever read on couples therapy because unlike a lot of other books, it makes sense and it works. Sue Johnson is an Ottawa-based professor and relationship therapist who noticed that traditional therapies often didn’t work. Instead of persevering with the old ways or blaming herself, she went back to the drawing board and came up with a new model.

When I was studying therapy I remember my teachers telling me that couples therapy was by far the most challenging kind of therapy—not for the faint of heart. Of course it’ll never be a cakewalk, but I think Sue Johnson has revolutionized the field by articulating clear and definite steps to healing broken relationships.

Johnson went back to the books and revisited Attachment Theory, pioneered by John Bowlby in the 1940’s. Most therapists assumed his theory was peculiar to parents and children since that’s what his studies were based on. Johnson’s stroke of genius was to realize that Bowlby’s theory underpins all relationships. Understanding relationships from a new angle gave Johnson a valuable and useful way of understanding how they function and how they break down.

Being on the clinical side gave Johnson the tools to articulate a theory and a way to test it. Also being a therapist she took her theory into the field and tested it on real couples having real attachment problems. Before long Johnson understood the hidden language behind disputes and began to teach couples how to have conversations with one another.

The result is this fine book that is part theory, part teaching tool and part self help book. Anyone can read it and get a very good idea of how to improve their relationship or teach couples how to talk to one another in a way that heals instead of inflames. Hold Me Tight is nicely organized around seven types of conversations that couples can have that will build trust and attachment between them. Couples can use this book as a guide to learn how to talk to one another and by mastering the steps. Beyond couples, parents and children and friends will find knowing how to have these conversations useful to maintaining the health of their relationships.

If you prefer to learn Hold Me Tight conversations experientially, Sue Johnson teaches her methodology to therapists and certifies them. There are now hundreds of therapists in North America who are trained to help couples learn how to talk and listen to each other. You can find a certified therapist or a training program near you at Holdmetight.net. I learned a lot from this book that I will put into practice with all my relationships. This is a book that everyone will benefit from reading.


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