Hold Me Tight – Workshop Beginnings

It was Nov. 2008 when I walked into a large church filled with couples. Finally. After getting lost on the freeway – back in the days when I didn’t have GPS – I arrived late, late enough the coordinators of the workshop were a bit worried about an on-time start.
The couples were there for the first ever Hold Me Tight workshop – a pilot of the now popular couples workshop written by Sue Johnson, based on the book Hold Me Tight. The facilitators guide had not been written yet. This was a trial run. At my side, Kimberly Akamine (now an EFT Supervisor, OC EFT) introduced me to the sponsors of the event. Wonderful and generous souls who’s own marriage had been helped so much by EFT they donated money (in the thousands) to make the program accessible to any couple in their church who wanted to attend.
Pressure was on. Sound check. Video check. Lights. Everyone in place. Wireless mics working. We were about to present the science of love, in a chapel, with no theological talk.
Would it work?
Could we really help marriages this way?
Could people do the exercises?
Would they chase me out?
Fast forward 6 years. HMT workshops have come a long way! Sue Johnson wrote a facilitators guide and produced two DVD’s to support the program. I have taught the program from one side of the United States to the other as well as on the other side of the globe. Couples of all sorts; married, divorced, separated, pre-marital, in therapy, living together, mixed race, mixed religion, straight, gay, professional, rich, poor…all sorts of couples have benefited from my workshops.
HMT is a very powerful program. It helps couples get out of their negative cycle and/or strengthen their relationship and reconnect.
Let me give you an example. At one workshop, as often happens, one couple came very distressed. They had decided to use the workshop as the last step in their decision making process to either break up and divorce or give their relationship one more try. The partner who had been pursuing was burned out. She had taken off her wedding ring months before. Which of course, kicked up the defensiveness and anxiety of the partner who withdrew. Here’s a bit of their story:
They came to the evening presentation. They couldn’t get through introducing themselves as partners without being triggered. They fought.
The first day was really rough. On the last exercise of the day, even though it was really hard, they started to see the pattern – they started to move a bit out of attack/defend.
On the last day, they arrived more settled, less tense looking. She had her wedding ring on! They had reconnected. They decided to not give up, but to work on repair.
The rest of day 2 the exercises were still really hard, but not as triggering. After lunch we saw the first smiles emerge.
At the end of the day they asked for names of EFT therapist’s from their city so they could get some additional relationship help. They held hands as they left. We all smiled!
Afterwards, I got an email from them thanking me, and the support team, for the hope and understanding they got from the workshop. They reported they are doing well. They are working in therapy and things are improving. They still have hope and things are better between them than they could ever have imagined on the day they stepped into the workshop. You too can have experiences like this doing HMT workshops. It’s fantastic.
I remember that first couples workshop with fondness. We worked really hard to put it together and pull it off. Couples were moved, their relationships changed. I’ve been doing them ever since.
If you’re already facilitating Hold Me Tight Couple Workshops, what’s your favorite part? If you haven’t yet done one, what would you like to know?
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