Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy

2017-10-09 | Gabriella Kis

"EFT is a structured approach to couples therapy formulated in the 1980's and has developed alongside the science on adult attachment and bonding to expand our understanding about what is happening in couple relationships and to guide therapists."

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT) is a leading edge therapeutic method with scientifically proven effectivity, and with an international training and research system founded by Sue Johnson. 

Good psychotherapies can bring change in different dimensions of the human experience. Just very briefly: behavioral therapy is aiming at behavioral factors; cognitiv therapy focuses mainly on the thoughts, reasonmaking processes; psychodinamic, object-relations therapies are trying to make significant changes in the human psyche via working in the realm of relationships. 
Emotion Focused Therapy put the main emphasis on the emotions – that are influencing thoughts, behavior and vice versa. 

EFT’s main notion is that long-lasting relationships are based on attachment, and attachment is organized, shaped and sustained by emotions, like dance by music. As many other things, our attachment capacity comes from our childhood experiences. Often times in adult relationships basic childhood attachment experiences come forth, eventually childhood traumas also. But a good, strong, loving, longlasting relationship is able to rewrite, process childhood or preveious attachment injuries. Human relationships have healing potential. That is why it is wise to renew our close relationships from time to time or go to couple therapy if necessary.

EFT does not deal much with the past, but it focuses on  the present. It works with the emotions emerging in the here-and-now, with the present structure and processes of the disstressed couple. It helps the couple to understand each other more, not just cognitively but emotionally also, in order that they become the experts of their own and their partner’s emotional needs by the end of the couple therapy. Creating a safe heaven, safe relationship where secure bonding and secure attachment is possible - a relationship where both partners can feel accepted, respected, loved, and live an emotionally rich, joyful life together. 

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy works usually in 8-20 sessions. At the beginning the emphasis is on the negative emotions causing negative interactional cycles that block people from reaching out, from trusting, from getting and giving each other the emotional support. These negative emotions leading to negative thoughts, perceptions of the self and the other cause non-adaptive reactions that foster fights, or distancing. In the main part of therapy unecognized attachment needs, deeper emotions are sought for. Work is gone towards better solutions in making the realtionship safe, secure and strong. At terminating questions like „from where to what point did the process go” and „how can the good results be sustained in the future” are discussed. From then on couples are more aware of their attachment, bonding pattern, are able to recognize and stop their negative cycle, express their needs and are able to stand by each other in time of need with love and emotional support.
This road is not so straight and simple as described above, but if both partners are ready to face with their deepest fears, willing to practice self-reflection, ready to pay more attention to the other, then the relationship can become a safe and warm place to live in.

More: Official site of Emotionally Focused Therapy