About Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT)


Emotionally Focused Therapy or EFT is an empirically tested model of couples therapy that has shown excellent outcomes with many different kinds of couples.  There is also follow-up research that demonstrates the lasting effects of EFT interventions and research on precisely how change occurs in this approach.  The practice of EFT reflects the many studies of adult attachment theory - an empirically based perspective that forms the basis for the emerging science of love and loving.  Over the last two decades, EFT has developed as a systematic and powerfully effective approach to reducing relational distress and helping couples to create trust and intimacy.  The ultimate goal in EFT is to enable couples to not only reduce conflict and distance but to shape their relationship into a more secure bond.  EFT is the first couples therapy to be based on a well defined and tested understanding of adult love.  It has also shown positive results with couples who are dealing with particularly difficult problems, for example, where partners are trauma survivors, are caring for a chronically ill child, or are struggling with depression, as well as relationship distress.

EFT sees as a central problem in a distressed relationship the loss of secure emotional connection and the pattern of negative interactions that both reflect and perpetuate this loss.  Compelling emotional signals that are meant to pull a partner closer or reduce conflict, become distorted and shaded with criticism, anger or apparent indifference.  Negative spirals of interaction then erode trust and continually exacerbate each partner's natural vulnerabilities and sense of isolation.  EFT helps couples to take control of this negative dance and to clarify their emotional signals about attachment needs and fears in a way that encourages their partner to respond with love and compassion.  A new emotional experience of secure connection and a sense that the other partner can be Accessible, Responsive and Engaged (A.R.E.) transforms love relationships.  Partners can then shape A.R.E. conversations that offer a positive answer to the key question, "Are you there for me?"  Partners who are able to openly reach for and connect with each other can create the effective dependency that makes for a safe haven bond.  This kind of bond promotes the growth and resilience of both individuals.

A list of EFT educational materials as well as the scientific research supporting EFT can be found on the EFT website: ICEEFT.com.

Extracted from "The Hold Me Tight Program Facilitator's Guide" by Dr. Sue Johnson, copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.