Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is one of the best validated and most effective approaches to changing distressed couple relationships into secure, loving bonds. EFT reflects the most recent research on the nature of relationship distress and satisfaction, the nature of the bonds of adult love and the power of emotion.
Based on the neuroscience of adult love and bonding, EFT is validated by 25 years of scientific research. A substantial body of research demonstrates the effectiveness of EFT. Studies find that more than 7 out of 10 couples treated with EFT move from distress to recovery and approximately 9 out of 10 show significant improvements.
EFT couple therapy was developed by Drs. Susan Johnson and Leslie Greenberg in the 1980’s and enriched by Dr. Johnson’s integration of the science of love and attachment. It is growing in popularity across North America and internationally in more than 20 countries. EFT is used with couples, individuals and families.
At the cutting edge of the new era in couple and family therapy, EFT offers clinicians a systematic map, not just to conflict reduction but to the creation of safe emotional connection. EFT is being used with many different kinds of couples and many different cultural groups. Couples that have been helped with EFT include partners suffering from disorders such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorders and chronic illness. You can view recent articles and books on the ICEEFT website.
Strengths of Emotionally Focused Therapy
- EFT is based on clear, explicit conceptualizations of marital distress and adult love. These conceptualizations are supported by empirical research on the nature of marital distress and adult attachment.
- EFT provides a clear map that therapists can follow to help couples and families become emotionally connected and responsive to one another.
- EFT is collaborative and respectful of clients, combining experiential Rogerian techniques with structural systemic interventions.
- Change strategies and interventions are specified.
- Key moves and moments in the change process have been mapped into nine steps and three change events.
- EFT is an empirically validated model for couple therapy. There is also research on the change processes and predictors of success.
- EFT has been successfully applied to many different kinds of problems and populations.
Goals of Emotionally Focused Therapy
- To expand and re-organize key emotional responses–the music of the attachment dance.
- To create a shift in partners’ interactional positions and initiate new cycles of interaction, through corrective emotional experiences.
- To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners.
A Snapshot of the Change Process as given on the ICEEFT website:
In a therapy session, a husband’s numb withdrawal expands into a sense of intimidation and helplessness. He can now assert his need for respect and become more accessible to his wife.
He moves from “There is no point in talking to you. I don’t want to fight.” to “I do want to be close. I want you to give me a chance. Stop poking me and let me learn to dance with you.”
His wife’s critical anger then expands into fear and sadness. She can now ask for and elicit comfort. She moves from “You just don’t care. You don’t get it.” to “It is so difficult to say – but I need you to hold me – reassure me – can you?”
New cycles of bonding interactions occur and replace negative cycles such as pursue-withdraw or criticize-defend. These positive cycles then become self-reinforcing and create permanent change.
The relationship becomes a safe haven and a healing environment for both partners.