My favorite concept of this 2-day part of Yolanda von Hockauf’s Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy training is "Attachment Injury". Yolanda says that these injuries are "characterized by an abandonment or violation of trust" when one partner is very vulnerable (really sick or otherwise emotionally devastated) and the other partner is inaccessible or unresponsive. The "injured partner experiences a very high level of distress, followed by and existential decision point, such as, ‘I’ll never count on you again.’" The event and each partners’ responses change everything, the bond is changed, their belief about the relationship is changed. To see the abstract of the article, click here. I couldn’t find the whole article online. If you do, let me know!

While Yolanda took us through Sue Johnson’s steps for working through the Attachment Injury, I thought of clients, friends, and literary examples. How many times have you heard the stories of the husband out getting laid or drunk, while the wife gave birth in the hospital?  The borderline client who takes her partner’s every failure to contain her, as such an injury? Some affairs? The "last straw": ". . . and that’s when I realized that I was done." First it’s hot. Then it’s deathly cold. Then it’s over, spatially, or just emotionally.

I’m glad to have a name and search pattern for the concept. I can think back to many couples, now divorced or otherwise split, that might still be together, securely attached, if someone had had the tools to lead them through the injury, and back to connection.