Trainer Talk Review – What we learned – Part 1

It was a lot of fun yesterday to sit across from Sue as she talked about Emotion, Attachment Affect and Enactments. Okay, I wasn’t really across from Sue, I was across the screen from her. After all it was an internet based chat we were having. Still, or maybe because of, it was a lot of fun.


First a BIG THANK YOU Sue for giving of your time, talent and expertise.

There were two main topics to discuss.

Topic 1. Working with Emotion and attachment affect

Topic 2. Enactments

On working with emotions, here are the main points Sue made:

  • Look at the workbook, Chapter 3
  • Read the two transcripts of the sessions at the end of Creating Connections – this will help you to know how to work with emotions and how many enactments to do.
  • Look at Training Tape 5 – Working With Withdrawers. This tape will help you work with people who have a difficult time knowing what they feel and who have a difficult time talking about their emotions.

TIPS on Working with Emotion – know the elements to explore: The cue (trigger about attachment). The basic perception (usually about danger). The body response (associated sensations). The meaning (catastrophic fear). The accompanying action tendency.

You want the emotion alive, in touch with it but not overwhelmed by it. Keep a “working distance” (Gendlin). “You have to know how to turn emotion up and turn it down, and you have to be tuned into somebody to know when it’s enough.” Sue Johnson

We help people name the emotion, feel it in the body, stay with it (enough to know it won’t be overwhelming) and share it.

“We’re actually not just scared of what the emotions tell us, we’re scared of the emotions themselves….we’re scared of what’s going to happen if we feel them.”

Know the elements of emotion (workbook will help with that). Sue said: “If you know the elements, it gives you a way in.”

What if people don’t know what they are feeling or don’t know how they are feeling?

  • In EFT we’re allowed to guess (interpret/conjecture). Don’t you LOVE that! We don’t have to know – we can guess.
  • We can use ourselves – (When my partner is upset with me, I find it pretty scary)
  • We can give the person the word

What are the basic attachment emotions?

  • Sadness and Loss (comes from longing for closeness)
  • Fear of loss
  • Fear of abandonment (not mattering, alone, dismissed)
  • Fear of and feeling rejection (you won’t want me if you know how I feel, there’s something wrong with me – I’m afraid you won’t want me)

We know suppressing emotion is hard, the ability to suppress breaks down, it takes a lot of energy. So we can just keep making it safe and presenting the trigger. And they will feel.

Be sensitive not to create overwhelm, titrate the experience. Summarize and support, give them a sense of accomplishment when they’ve touched, and shared, difficult emotion.

Train your ear to hear attachment emotion in people’s stories.

Sue says: “It always the same. It’s panic about being abandoned, dessert, deprived, left, not special enough. It’s the same stuff – but as people we cover it up.” And we’re not use to tuning into the “attachment channel.”

Regulate as you ask for exploration (ex. It’s okay, you can pet the doggie.)

We have to have confidence that going to the attachment affect and sharing these tender emotions are important and makes a difference.

What were your main take aways? Please share them in the comments area below.