Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a short-term form of therapy that focuses on adult relationships and attachment/bonding. The therapist and clients look at patterns in the relationship and take steps to create a more secure bond and develop more trust to move the relationship in a healthier, more positive direction.
Emotionally Focused Therapy
When to Use
Couples and families in distress can benefit from EFT and learn to improve their relationships. Often, clients are dealing with anger, fear, loss of trust, or sense of betrayal in their relationship. EFT has also been proven effective for couples who are having trouble coping with their own illness or that of a child. In addition to helping the distressed relationship, EFT can also help reduce individual symptoms of depression or trauma.
What to Expect
An EFT therapist observes the dynamics between clients in the therapy setting, ties this behavior to the dynamics in their home lives, and helps direct new conversations and interactions based on more honest feelings. To accomplish this, your therapist will encourage you to look at your current emotional issues and then help you discover feelings and emotions that you may not realize you have. You may discover deeper past feelings and vulnerabilities that are blocked by the more immediate emotions you display in your current relationship. You will learn to express these emotions in a way that will help you connect, rather than disconnect with your partner or family member. You will learn new ways to listen and stay attuned to another’s emotions and discover more productive ways to respond to emotional situations.
How It Works
EFT focuses on the present time to makes changes in the here and now. There are three steps, or stages, of EFT. The first is to de-escalate the couple’s or family member’s negative cycle of interactions, and help them see and understand what is happening in their relationship. Clients come to see that the problems lie in insecurities and distance. The next stage is to restructure interactions, wherein the therapist helps clients discuss their fears in the relationship, using language that doesn’t push the other away. Clients learn to turn toward each other and discuss their needs and they become more open and responsive to each other. Consolidation is the third stage of EFT, wherein the therapist helps clients see how they got into negative patterns and points out how they were able to change those patterns and can continue these types of conversations in the future.
What to Look for in an Emotionally Focused Therapist
An EFT therapist is a licensed mental health professional who has additional training and experience in EFT. The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy works with affiliated EFT communities around the world to provide certification. In addition to checking credentials, it is important to find an EFT therapist with whom you feel comfortable working.
- Wiebe SA, Johnson SM. A review of the research in emotionally focused therapy for couples. Family Process. September 2016;55(3):390-407.
- Emotion Focused Family Therapy
- The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT)