Emotionally focused couples therapy is garnering greater attention than ever before. Couples now actively seek out this therapy. In fact, many couples find me precisely because I am trained in EFT. Yet even they have to ask: “What is Emotionally Focused Therapy?” Sure, they’ve read online or heard from a trusted professional that EFT is “good” couples therapy. And yes they are eager and open to get the healing started. But too often prospective clients do not understand the model, or more importantly, how it will help them as a couple.
Attachment is not only central to EFT theory–it’s the healing elixir for you and your relationship. From cradle to grave, healthy attachments are critical for all of us. When one of the partners is not getting his/her attachment needs or essential longings met in a relationship, the result is stress for both. Beneath the stress–this is also true for all of us–lies pain and/or fear. And science now confirms that pain or fear “tweaks” or distorts our behavior, especially toward those who matter most. In other words, we end up distancing ourselves from the very people who could help us heal, and sometimes we even question our love for those people.
Second: Emotion and Communication Skills
Like the name suggests, emotion is central to EFT. For many of us, this fact is uncomfortable. We want solutions, we like thinking with our rational brains. We often believe that if we can problem-solve in just the right way, all will be better. Yet attempting this (over and over) often exacerbates the disconnection; couples get stuck and feel frustrated because problem-solving is not working. They want to communicate better, but they are confused as to how emotions play into communication. I empathize with this desire and the confusion. After all, therapy on the cognitive level can feel more logical and also less risky. But the science is very clear–neurologically speaking, emotion has control. The cognitive brain is not potent enough to talk the emotional brain out of its experience. Hence, the need to connect to our emotion brain–that’s where change happens.
In EFT we look at emotions because emotions fuel what we express to one another as well as how we respond to what’s expressed. It is a bottom up approach to communication versus “top down.” It makes sense that communication will feel bad or not work when we are emotionally disconnected. As an EFT therapist, I want to understand your inner emotional world and help you share this with your partner, and I want to help your partner learn how to be present and support you when you are vulnerable.
EMOTION IS A MESSENGER OF LOVE. I put this in caps because I think it a wonderful mantra when referring to communication (side note, I stole this phrase from Kathryn Rheem, an incredible EFT trainer:) The hallmark of emotional dysregulation is poor communication, so how we communicate is critical.
Third: Evidenced Based
EFT is an evidenced based model, which means EFT is supported by over 30 years of research looking at how couples fare after receiving EFT therapy, both in the short and long term. Seventy percent of these couples feel relational improvement in a short amount of time (many studies look at 20 total sessions). What’s more, this improvement sustains itself in the relationship 5-7 years after therapy has ended. These are truly remarkable outcome statistics in our field. For this reason, EFT meets the criteria for the gold standard set out by the American Psychology Association for psychotherapy research. For more information on the research supporting EFT please visit:
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