Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a short term, evidence based therapy for the treatment of couples experiencing relationship problems. It focuses on the importance of emotions and attachment processes in the organisation of interactions between two partners, and uses emotions as the agent of change in these interactions. Research has shown that it produces a 70-73% recovery rate from marital distress, and a 90% rate of significant improvement after 10-12 sessions1.
EFT works by the therapist expanding on each partners emotional responses, re-framing the problem in terms of the negative interaction cycle itself, rather than any individual’s fault, and finally creating new and more flexible interactions between the partners. The goal is that each partner feels a secure and trusting bond form between them.
What will my treatment involve?
Firstly, your clinical psychologist will work with you to build a strong alliance and bond of trust with each of you. Following this, the work involves you both starting to understand the destructive cycle at the heart of your relationship distress. This is achieved by slowing the whole cycle down in the session, and focussing on underlying emotions and the needs driving these. Each partner’s experience is seen as valid, and each are allowed to explore their emotions further. Once there is more safety in the relationship, and both of you are aware of your vulnerable feelings when the cycle is in full swing, you will be asked to communicate these vulnerable feelings and your needs to your partner, and to hear your partner do this as well. In this way new interaction patterns are formed, and both of you will be able to communicate in a more secure way in your relationship. Therapy finishes with a consolidation phase, where any remaining problems are overcome and te new interaction patterns are strengthened.
1. Johnson, S.M. (2004). The practice of emotionally focused marital therapy: Creating Connection. New York: Bruner / Routledge.