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Our Friend and Valued Colleague, Sue Johnson

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We are so sad to announce that Sue Johnson has died at the age of 76 from cancer.  She was a close friend of ours and a valued colleague. We loved her enormously. She gave us profound insights into how to create connection and safety in close relationships. Sue used attachment theory to brilliantly illuminate the logic of emotions and how, once revealed, they become a guide to our interpersonal needs. These needs, once articulated in the context of a loving, safe haven can guide a couple toward lasting love.  

From the start, Sue created a theory of adult love relationships that she tested empirically. She combined the best qualities of a healer with the best qualities of a scientist. She could also communicate her insights poetically and lyrically. When she observed that some couples got stuck using her emotionally-focused therapy, she went back to the data and revealed that in most cases there was a regrettable incident that had created an attachment injury, and then she demonstrated that healing that attachment injury increased her therapy’s effectiveness. Science, guided by clinical intuition, doesn’t get any better than that. 

The three of us used to have deep conversations about the dance of love and how to conduct further studies into choreographing it.  Years ago, Sue also joined us at a Gottman Institute Summit conference that was one of our best.  She was always willing to share her insights.  It might be easiest to say that we had a mutual admiration society.  

For Sue relationship synchrony could become a beautiful dance that could give flight to a couple’s imagination and intimacy. Sue Johnson tapped a vital fountain of love and connection that could heal and create a secure bond. What a meaningful life she led. 

We will deeply miss her.  

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World-renowned researchers and clinical psychologists, Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman have conducted 50 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. They have published over 200 academic journal articles and written 46 books that have sold over a million copies in more than a dozen languages.

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