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Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy 2019-07-27T21:50:20-06:00

Emotionally Focused Therapy

What is EFT?

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a researched-based, short-term (8–20 sessions) therapeutic approach to working with couples and families. Using this approach, people learn to be secure, resilient and successful in their relationships. EFT helps people enhance their loving connections, increases relationship satisfaction, enhances open communication and empathic responses toward one other and decreases conflict in the relationship.

How do we know EFT is right for us?

When people get into negative relationship patterns, they exhibit predictable behaviours that seem to keep them struck and unable to reach out and find comfort and connection from one another. Some typical difficult behaviours that people may experience and get stuck in, when in a distressed relationship, are: put downs, confronting, criticizing, judging, blaming, nagging, accusing, demanding, yelling, interrogating, reasoning, defending, using humour, withdrawing, avoiding, minimizing, appeasing, and dismissing. These behaviours serve a protective function in some way, are often learned from past relationships, and often serve to distance and disconnect people from one another.

EFT helps individuals, couples, and families explore and experience their own internal factors (their emotions, perceptions, and physical sensations) within these negative interactional patterns. Individuals begin to understand how their and the other people’s behaviours are driven by these internal factors and motivate the continuation of negative relationship patterns. Individuals then learn to transform and manage their emotions and express them to their partners in a way that will allow their partner to hear and understand them.

EFT seeks to help individuals, couples, and families understand themselves and their significant others in a deeper and more meaningful way, helps people break out of the negative cycles within their relationships, helps people to create a more safe and secure bond with themselves and others, helps people rebuild trust in their relationships, and assists people in resolving their long standing issues and/or making important life decisions.

What does the research say about EFT?

The research shows that 70- 73% of couples reported recovery from relationship distress and dissatisfaction and 86% reported significant improvement over controls.1 EFT therapy is effective within 8 sessions for non-complex couples2 and within 24 sessions for couples that have a history of childhood abuse.3 EFT is recommended for a variety of issues and difficulties that couples and families may face. For instance, EFT has been successfully used in situations where a family member is suffering from a chronic medical condition, such as Coronary Heart Disease4 or Cancer.5,2 EFT also helps individuals with Depression6 Generalized Anxiety Disorder7 Grief,8Infertility,9 and Trauma.10,3 EFT has shown that 63% of couples that had experienced an extra-marital affair were able to achieve relationship satisfaction and forgiveness.11 In another randomized controlled trial, EFT was successfully used with couples who have a chronically ill child and it was found that couples had a reduction in marital distress that lasted at the 5 month follow up.12 At the 2 year follow-up with these same couples, researchers found that improvements in marital functioning were maintained and in some, the results were even enhanced.13

Contact HopeWell Psychological today to learn how to be an effective communicator and to rebuild trust, connection, and security in your important relationships. Call HopeWell Psychological at 780-298-9401, email us at reception@myhopewell.com, or complete this contact form

  1. Ruzgyte E. Spinks D. “Emotionally focused therapy”. In Metcalf L. Marriage and family therapy: A practice-oriented approach 2011. New York: Springer Publishing. pp. 341-364.
  2. McLean LM. Walton T. Rodin G. Esplen MJ. Jones JM. A couple-based intervention for patients and caregivers facing end-stage cancer: Outcomes of a randomized controlled trial. Psycho-oncology 2013;22(1):28-38.
  3. Dalton EJ. Greenman PS. Classen CC. Johnson SM. Nurturing connections in the aftermath of childhood trauma: A randomized controlled trial of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy for female survivors of childhood abuse. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice2013;2(3):209-21.
  4. MacIntosh HB. Johnson SM. Lee A. “Hanging onto a Heartbeat: Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples dealing with the trauma of coronary heart disease.” In Molinari E. Compare A. Parati G. Clinical Psychology and Heart Disease 2006; New York: Springer Publishing. pp. 391-412.
  5. Burwell SR. Brucker PS. Shields CG. Attachment behaviors and proximity-seeking in cancer patients and their partners. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy 2006;5(3):1-16.
  6. Wittenborn AK. Culpepper B. and Liu T. Treating depression in men: The role of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Contemporary Family Therapy 2012; 34:89–103.
  7. Priest JB. Emotionally Focused Therapy as treatment for couples with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and relationship distress, Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy 2013;12(1):22-37.
  8. Jianxiu G. Application of Emotion-Focused Therapy in bereavement: A case study. Canadian Social Science 2006;2(3):90-93.
  9. Najafi M. Soleimani AA. Ahmadi KH. Javidi N. Hoseini KE. The effectiveness of Emotionally Focused Therapy on enhancing marital adjustment and quality of life among infertile couples with marital conflicts. International. Journal of Fertility and Sterility 2005;9(2):238-246.
  10. MacIntosh HB. Johnson S. Emotion-Focused Therapy for couples and childhood sexual abuse survivors. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 2008;34(3):298-315.
  11. Makinen JA. Johnson SM. Resolving attachment injuries in couples using emotionally focused therapy: Steps toward forgiveness and reconciliation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2006;74(6):1055-64.
  12. Walker JG. Johnson S. Manion I. Cloutier P. Emotionally Focused marital intervention for couples with chronically ill children. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 1996;64(5):1029-1036.
  13. Cloutier PF. Manion IG. Walker JG. Johnson SM. Emotionally Focused interventions for couples with chronically ill children: A 2-year follow-up. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy2002;28(4):391-398.
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