Emotionally Focused Therapy
Are you there for me?
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is an evidence-based method for helping couples to identify their negative patterns and find a deeper connection. EFT has more evidence supporting its efficacy than any other type of couples therapy. In addition to the empirical evidence, I use it because I see time and again that it works.
EFT starts from the premise that we are wired to connect, to depend on each other, and to seek closeness. Sometimes the wires get crossed as we seek these things in relationship and we end up locked in a negative cycle with our partner where our actions generate further disconnection instead of connection. Using EFT, I will help you identify how your negative cycle works and what drives it. We'll slow things down enough to find the positive intentions and bids for closeness and connection that get lost in these cycles.
Couples who have gone through EFT counseling with me report feeling they have a better handle on where they get off track and are able to catch themselves before they end up deep in a negative cycle. As they get further along in the process, many tell me that they feel closer than they've ever felt, and are able to have conversations they never dreamed they'd be able to have without fighting. Their sex lives improve, and they feel like better parents, partners, bosses, and employees. All this is due to finding a deeper and safer connection with their partner.
EFT focuses on the emotional experiences of partners and how these experiences define and maintain interaction patterns. Emotionally-focused therapy integrates gestalt/experiential and systems approaches with attachment theory. As an experiential approach, EFT fosters corrective emotional experiences in therapy sessions. As a systems approach, this model attempts to interrupt repeating negative cycles of interaction. According to this model of therapy, rigid and insecure attachment styles make it difficult for partners to be emotionally open and responsive, and this in turn creates relational distress. Thus, treatment goals include using the therapy situation to evoke new interactional experiences that create a more secure bond between partners through reprocessing and restructuring of each partner’s inner experiences. When partners develop a sense of security and a better understanding of attachment needs, they can communicate more clearly due to increased empathy and decreased defensiveness.
As contrasted with therapy models that focus on skill building or on relationship beliefs, the EFT therapist helps partners to identify, experience, and express clearer and more poignant emotional needs. These deeper emotional experiences generally reveal vulnerable rather than hostile emotions and lead to a need for connection with the partner. An underlying assumption of this model is that when partners are emotionally engaged with one another, conflict can deescalate and new patterns of interaction can emerge.