Updated: Sep 23
"Emotional dependency is not immature or pathological, it is our greatest strength."
- Sue Johnson.
EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) for couples is a short-term, structured approach originally developed in the 1980s by Dr. Sue Johnson and Prof. Les Greenberg, based on the science of adult emotional bonding called attachment theory. It posits that our brains are wired to seek connection with significant others, to co-regulate emotions.
The aim of EFT is to help partners to be a safe haven for each other to turn to at times of distress and become a safe base for each other's growth. It is an effective model that helps couples to feel closer and connected with each other.
Over 30 years of extensive research has shown that EFT is a highly effective couples therapy approach. It has been found that 70 - 75% of couples who receive Emotionally Focussed Couples Therapy recover from their distress, and up to 90% of couples report significant improvement. Not only do couples experience high chances of improvement in their relationship distress, but it has also been shown that these changes are long-lasting.
EFT is a process-oriented approach, which means that an EFT therapist does not try to teach relationship skills or focus on the content of the conflicts between couples. Instead, an EFT therapist acts as a process consultant or a choreographer of the couple's relationship dance. Emotionally Focused Therapy, although predominantly researched with couples, is also used with individuals and families.
Now that you know what EFT is and how effective it can be, this is what you can expect from your EFT couple therapy sessions.
The EFT process can take about 8 - 20 sessions and is structured into 3 broad stages:
Stage 1 - De-escalation of conflict:
To begin with, your therapist will need to connect with both of you and develop safety in the therapeutic space. Some background about each of you, your relationship history, family history, and other relevant information will be assessed.
During this stage, your therapist will help you both to recognise the negative cycle (patterns of interaction) that you are stuck in, access underlying primary emotions, and reframe the problem in terms of the attachment needs.
Stage 2 - Restructuring the bond:
During this stage of EFT, the therapist will help each of you to access and process deeper emotions, then reach out to your partner from your place of vulnerability, for your attachment needs to be met. This phase helps each of you to become responsive to each other, and develop a secure emotional bond - a new dance is co-created between couples.
Stage 3 - Consolidation:
In the final stage of EFT, couples are able to find new solutions to their relationship problems and consolidate their new way of interacting with each other - positive cycles emerge between couples.
EFT has successfully been used with many different kinds of couples/relationships, and a wide variety of relationship issues, including infidelity, trauma, and sexual issues.
Shobana Suresh (Counsellor, GradDip Counselling)
Shobana has received training in EFT at the Australian Centre for EFT (ACEFT), and currently working towards certification as an EFT therapist, by the International Centre for Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT)
If you are looking for a couples therapist near you, appointments are available at Seven Hills, NSW. Call: 0434 947 255, or email: email@example.com
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