Emotionally Focused Therapy

The foundational questions within romantic relationships are: “Are you there for me when I really need you?”, “Can I reach for you when I need to feel close and connected?”, “Do I know that you value me deeply and will stay close?”

The content of a couple’s fights may change, but typically it is the three questions that underlie each conflict. If the answer to one of these questions is “no”, we are often left feeling alone. When this happens, then we usually fight. Or we withdraw. The cycle of disconnection takes over and the couple often feels trapped in its grip.

In insecure relationships, we disguise our vulnerabilities so our partner never really sees us. Sue Johnson

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) specifically addresses these underlying questions.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a leading edge approach to couples therapy that is based on years of research into bonding and attachment; both bonding between parent and child, as well as romantic bonding between partners. EFT is experiential, which means that it focuses on the present moments of how people experience their partner, in both distressful and intimate ways. This is perhaps what sets EFT apart from other approaches and makes it more effective in creating lasting shifts out of negative cycles of disconnection in which couples often find themselves stuck. It provides us with a map of the process of change. With this map, the EFT therapist can guide couples in how to go deeper into their emotional experiences and facilitate change in the present moments that happen within the therapy sessions. These moments of connection within the therapy process help de-escalate the negative pattern and create corrective experiences that can lead into lasting intimacy. EFT is not about negotiating out the content of fights, but rather hones in on the underlying emotional and attachment needs within each partner. By doing so, it helps create a more resilient and intimate bond between couples. As human beings, we are all hard-wired for connection. EFT taps into that natural wiring system and seeks to increase the level of emotional security within a relationship so that each partner can thrive and feel more connected. EFT is empirically validated and has been shown to be highly effective with depressed couples, couples that have experienced trauma, and couples with chronically ill children.

Learn more about Emotionally Focused Therapy in this research summary.