Couple distress is the single most common reason for seeking therapy. It undermines family functioning and is strongly associated with depression, anxiety disorders, and alcoholism. Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT) offers a comprehensive theory of adult love and attachment, as well as a process for healing distressed relationships. It 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 interaction patterns. Through a series of nine steps, the therapist leads the couple away from conflict deadlock into new bonding interactions. EFT is now one of the best delineated and empirically-validated approaches in the field of couple therapy.
Goals of EFT
To expand and re-organize key emotional responses.
To create a shift in partners’ interactional positions.
To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners.
Strengths of EFT:
Clear, explicit conceptualizations of relationship distress and adult love. These
conceptualizations are supported by empirical research on the nature of couple distress and adult attachment. Thus, this is an approach to relational problems built on how we are wired as humans to connect and enter in to healthy dependence on each other that is mutually fulfilling and rewarding.
Collaborative, respectful of clients combining experiential Rogerian techniques with structural systemic interventions.
Change strategies and interventions are specified. The change process has
been mapped into nine steps and specific change events.
EFT is empirically validated and there is also research on the change process
and predictors of success.
EFT has been applied to many different kinds of problems and populations.
EFT is an evidenced-based therapy practice as identified by the American Psychological Association.
Emotionally Focused Therapy is also applied to work with families.
Research studies show that 70 to 75% of couples move from distress to recovery, and approximately 90% show significant improvements.
EFT is usually a short-term (8 to 20 sessions), structured approach to couples therapy. The major contraindication for EFT, as with any couple’s therapy, is ongoing violence in the relationship.
EFT also facilitate awareness of the impact of addiction on relationships which often can result in people to seek treatment for these problems.
Hold Me Tight®, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, is an excellent resource for couples engaged in EFT Therapy.