What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?

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Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a unique, short-term approach to therapy with an attachment-based outlook. First developed by Susan Johnson and Les Greenberg, this highly successful method is based upon research done by John Bowlby over 50 years ago. Bowlby discovered that higher intelligence animals seem to have an inherent need to feel a sense of support and attachment. He described attachment as the “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings” (Bowlby, 1969). Many are familiar with the idea of attachment in terms of parenting, but do not realize EFT’s immense value to creating bonds in other loving relationships, such as marriage.

Research has shown that over 75 percent of couples utilizing EFT can effectively change their relationships from one of suffering and pain to one of recovery and healing. EFT trained therapists collaborate with couples in distress to uncover recurring issues in the marriage such as financial issues or lack of intimacy. Often repeated arguments that arise in a relationship are caused by a lack of connection or support from individuals in the couple. Helping the couple to realize and renew their bond literally changes the negative patterns and creates new, loving opportunities to heal the relationship.

Emotionally Focused Therapy has the power to improve more than just a marriage or a family. Much like a well-nurtured child can feel confident to succeed, with a new supported and safe feeling from their partner, an individual treated with an EFT approach is now able to feel safer in taking on new life challenges. This can spiral into opportunities at work, increase ability to handle conflict, form new, healthy friendships and become a more confident, happier person overall.

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 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 has been validated by over 20 years of empirical research. There is also research on the change processes and predictors of success.
  • EFT has been 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.
  • To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners

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