Extravagant emotion

Extravagant emotion

Understanding and Transforming Love Relationships in Emotionally Focused Therapy

by Susan M. Johnson

We now have the scientific knowledge necessary to be able to use the considerable power of emotion to transform key emotional perceptions, signals, and the key ways partners engage each other in the situations that define a love relationship. Rather than fearing its disruptive potential, we can now harness the extravagant transformational power of emotion. We can create an emotionally intelligent couple therapy. Such a therapy would first need to fit with what we know about the emotional variables in relationship distress and satisfaction. Secondly, it would need to reflect the new scientific clarity about the nature of emotion in general. And, thirdly and more specifically, it would need to be based on a theory of love that offers a guide to the extravagant and compelling emotions of love and how they define our relationships. Fourth, it would also need to provide a clear map of change processes that outlines the ways in which interventions address dysfunctional emotion and also uses emotional experience and expression to create change in cognitive, behavioral, and interactional patterns. These four requirements have been addressed in the current literature on emotionally focused therapy for couples (EFT; Johnson, 2004, 2005, 2008b). This chapter further explores EFT as such a therapy.

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From: D. Fosha, D. J. Siegel, & M. F. Solomon (Eds.), The healing power of emotion: Affective neuroscience, development & clinical practice (pp. 257-279). New York: W W Norton & Co., 2009