Overview of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) For Couples
What is EFT?
What Is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?
Emotionally Focused Therapy ( EFT ) is a treatment approach whose goal is the reconnection between partners. EFT , developed by Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg, is based on John Bowlby’s Attachment research over 50 years ago. Bowbly found that humans and higher primate animals appeared to have an innate need to feel attached to and comforted by significant others.
Adult attachment relationships are believed to have the same survival function as the mother-child bond, since ideally these attachments can provide the same love, comfort, support and protection throughout the life span. However, due to our relationship histories, and the negative interaction cycles we get into with our partners, many of us have difficulties with trust and expressing emotion to those who mean the most to us.
When couples argue about such issues as jealously, sex or money, the origins of these arguments are usually some form of protest from one partner about not feeling connected, not trusting, or not feeling safe or secure emotionally with the other partner. When those we are attached to are not available, or are not responding to our needs to feel close or supported, we feel distressed. We may become anxious or fearful, numb or distant.
These behaviors can become habitual or rigid modes of reacting to our partners. Furthermore, these toxic behavior patterns seem to take on a life of their own as they cycle into repetitive couple’s interactions that cause much pain, injury and despair. We focus on these patterns and work on changing these negative interaction cycles in a non-judgmental environment.
In a relatively short time, couples begin to recognize and eventually express their needs for love, support, protection and comfort that are often hidden or disguised by the harsh or angry words used in repetitive self- defeating patterns of conflict or arguments with each other. Partners begin to “listen with the heart,” one of the cornerstones of EFT – which means listening not for the literal meaning of a partner’s words, but for the feelings that lie beneath. In return, the other partner is better able to respond from their heart in kind. This is the emotional focus of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.
We view the building of “a safe haven” in your relationship as our primary task, and we will try to focus on your primary needs – to feel close, secure and responded to –which probably underlie most of your couple’s conflict.
Once this safe haven and feelings of connection are reestablished, you will be better able to manage conflict and the painful or difficult feelings that will inevitably arise from time to time in a close relationship. Furthermore, without so much defensiveness, each of you will be able to send clearer messages and will be better able to hear the other’s perspective. You will be better able to collaborate, problem-solve and compromise – in short – you will be more of a team – which is the secret of a long-lived, successful marriage.
Research on the success of EFT :
Based on the neuroscience of adult love and bonding, EFT is validated by 35 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 works because it builds emotional responsiveness which creates SECURE BONDS . And research tells us that this emotional responsiveness and secure bonds are the key to a lifetime of love .
The Research on Emotionally Focused Therapy
Emotionally Focused Therapy is a gold standard evidence-based therapy, supported by over 30 years of research and hundreds of randomized controlled trials on couples and relationships.
“Relationship distress is the single most common reason for seeking therapy. It undermines family functioning and is strongly associated with depression, anxiety disorders, and alcoholism. EFT for couples offers a comprehensive theory of adult love and attachment, as well as a process for healing distressed relationships. EFT recognizes that relationship distress results from a perceived threat to basic adult needs for safety, security, and closeness in intimate relationships. This experiential/systemic therapy focuses on helping partners restructure the emotional responses that maintain their negative patterns of interaction. Through a series of nine steps, the therapist leads the couple away from conflict deadlock into new bonding patterns. Over the past 30 years, Sue Johnson and her colleagues have developed and rigorously researched this short-term approach in couples therapy. It is now one of the best delineated and empirically validated approaches in the field of couples therapy.”
— International Centre For Excellence In Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT) Brochure
Ciara Braun has completed the Emotionally Focused Therapy Externship (Level 1) and Core Skills Training (Level 2) for couples and has assisted with five EFT Externships as an EFT Training Helper and Facilitator. She has trained in Level 1 and Level 2 Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT) Trainings to better assist individuals in therapy through an EFT, attachment-based lens.
Ciara is the secretary and a founding member of the Michigan Community for Emotionally Focused Therapy and is a lifetime member of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT). She is currently receiving post-training EFT Supervision in Individual and Group Formats.
Ciara is passionate about educating clients and connecting with other therapists who have been positively impacted by the EFT model and attends multiple meetings and trainings per month on the subject. For more information about the Michigan Community for Emotionally Focused Therapy, please visit https://www.michiganeft.com/.
For more information about EFT, please visit ICEEFT.com (The International Centre For Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy).