Article by Jim Thomas
Emotionally Focused Therapy continues to spread positively, impacting thousands of couples and families every day. EFT works across cultures and is applicable for people in high-stress situations. It has been used with soldiers and their significant others between and after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan through the “Strong Bonds, Strong Couples” program. EFT Trainer, George Faller, brought EFT to the emergency responders and his firefighting colleagues after 9/11. Sue Johnson’s book, Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors, demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach for trauma survivors through strengthening their marital bond. Inspired by Deb Tasci, Psy.D, ICEEFT Member, it comes as no surprise that the Denver Police Department would want to offer this important resource to their officers and their significant others.
Officer Danny Veith writes in POWER, “Police Officer Wellness and Employee Resources” the newsletter for Denver Police, that “traditionally, couples do not seek therapy or counseling until there is a problem in the relationship. The counseling sessions usually involve problem-solving and or conflict-management skills. But now we have access to Emotionally Focused Therapy.” He quotes Sue Johnson, renowned couple’s therapist, “EFT is a systematic, rigorous, tested set of interventions based on the attachment view of love and bonding.” Detective Veith goes on to say, “And a couple does not have to wait for their relationship to be in crisis before engaging in this therapy.”
Many people in the department (and in the world), he writes “are suspicious of and tend to avoid situations that employ words such as “emotion, therapy, love, attachment and bonding, but hear me out: EFT has been proven to work, and it can be your answer to a long, healthy relationship.” He notes that a recent survey reveals that most people rate finding a loving relationship as their main goal in life, placing it ahead of career or financial success (and this is true for both men and women, gay or straight).
“Sue Johnson explains attachment theory as a need of being in a safe haven relationship we can turn to when life is too much for us. It’s a relationship that offers us a secure base from which to go confidently out into the world. Sounds to me, he says, like it is custom made for cops and other first responders.”
“Common arguments and frequent reasons for couples to endure problems often involve kids and finances. Sue Johnson points out these are superficial issues, and a couple can spend hours with a therapist trying to figure out how best to resolve them. But how about looking beneath the surface to underlying issues and how couples communicate? What about asking and answering key questions, such as: Are you there for me? Do I matter to you? Will you turn to me and respond to me when I need you?”
“Rather than avoiding emotions, EFT suggests emotion is best acknowledged and listened to, and that emotional signals can be shaped in ways that make for safe connection.” Further, emotional responses are essential to address each others deeper longing, “to help partners formulate their needs and offer a path to the kind of compassionate loving connection they are seeking,” says Dr. Johnson. “Secure attachment (a deeper, safe bond), not just conflict containment is the goal.” The EFT therapist strives for couples to hear these emotions, to speak their needs clearly, and to reach for their partner in a way that helps the partner tune in and respond.”
This type of safe emotional connection, where I know my partner is there for me helps each of us deal positively with stress and distress. If I know my spouse or partner is there for me, emotionally available, responsive to me and positively invested in and engaged in our relationship, my window of tolerance for stress expands. Science of emotions predicts and studies confirm that this type of deep emotional bond in the form of comforting each other, consistent contact and deeper connection impacts us physiologically. We become in essence more relaxed in our day to day living. Our brains change and our fear response lessens. This is of great interest to police officers. The work is stressful and brings with it many dynamics that can stress a marriage. EFT offers a powerful, proven resource to help officers by making their relationship a resource and a haven from the stresses of job. And the great bonus is it helps their partner too!
The Colorado Center is involved in bringing Hold Me Tight Educational groups to Denver Police Officers and their loved ones starting early 2013 co-lead by Deb Tasci and Center Director, Jim Thomas. The department is actively involved in supporting this joint venture. For other couples, we want you to know, if EFT is applicable to police officers might it not be applicable for your relational health and well-being. At the Center and in the EFT Community worldwide, we respect the sacrifices and risks that police officers, soldiers and first responders make on behalf of their community and families. We honor the sacrifices of their loved ones as in a sense if an officer is in the danger zone, so is their significant other and children. EFT offers a way for these couples to be there for each other in the face of this ongoing stress. We are proud to be a part of this outreach.