About Emotionally Focused Therapy
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a humanistic, evidence-based approach to psychotherapy, drawing primarily from attachment theory to facilitate the creation of secure, vibrant connection with self and others. Grounded in the science of emotions and attachment, EFT helps clients identify and transform the negative processing and interaction patterns that create distress.
Emotionally Focused Therapy
EFT can be used with individuals, couples, relationships and families and aims to help people to express, explore and understand their reactions, behaviours and thoughts; all with a view to helping them to connect with their deepest needs and with the people who matter to them. This then allows them to live more full, satisfying and connected lives.
EFT is best known as a cutting edge couple and relationship intervention but has always, from its inception, been used in clinical practice with individuals and with families, especially with clients dealing with depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. The skills taught in EFT for couples/relationships are considered pivotal in that they combine working with individuals and with dyads. The most obvious way that EFT for individuals (EFIT) differs from modalities where attachment figures are present in therapy is that corrective dialogues focus on a client’s interaction with the therapist, or with representations of attachment figures, or aspects of self.
It is important to note that, from an attachment perspective and a humanistic experiential perspective, the self is a process of constant construction which takes place in and is shaped by interactions with others. In all modalities EFT addresses self and system – it is inherently RELATIONAL.
EFT for Couples & Relationships - EFCT
EFT is about building secure attachment bonds with the special people in your world. We need secure attachment to flourish as humans.
EFT for couples and relationships is a humanistic, experiential, systemic psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched over the last 25 years with outstanding outcomes.
EFT is usually a short term (8-20 sessions), structured approach to relationship therapy formulated in the early 80s by Dr Sue Johnson and Dr Les Greenberg.
Since then, Sue Johnson has further developed her model, utilising attachment theory to further understand relationships and to guide therapists in helping them most effectively.
Evidence-base for EFCT
A substantial body of research supporting the effectiveness of EFT for couples now exists. To date, the research on EFT has been conducted with couples; mostly cis-gender and monogamous, but research is beginning to explore the effectiveness of EFT across a broader range of relationships. Research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements in relationship satisfaction. The major contraindications for EFT are lack of safety in the relationship or ongoing boundary violations such as an affair in a couple with an expectation of monogamy.
Positive Impact of EFCT
EFT can assist by improving attachment security in many different kinds of relationships; couples and relationships of other configurations as well as families, friendships and work relationships. EFT is being used in private practice settings, university training centres, hospital clinics and workplaces. Not only does EFT improve relationships – EFT has been proven to be successful for assisting individual relationship members to improve their mental health. Improvements have been shown in those suffering from disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and chronic illness as they work through a course of EFT.
What does EFT for couples and relationships look like?
EFT is all about attachment. EFT focuses on repetitive cycles of interaction that partners become caught in where they trigger each other’s attachment panic and react in rigid, protective ways. Each partner’s best attempt to get their emotional needs met unfortunately triggers the other to react defensively and serves to create distance and pain, rather than closeness and emotional safety. We call this a negative pattern or cycle a “dance” because the steps are so well known and each partner affects the other intimately. Most intimately connected people know the steps of their pattern very well and often feel helpless to change the steps.
This is where EFT comes in. Instead of simply working on communication skills that can sometimes feel like a “band-aid” to the situation, EFT aims to help relationship members to see their pattern and exit it.
EFT goes to the heart of the matter by uncovering the deeper needs and fears that often go unheard when partners are in reactive and defensive stances. An EFT therapist helps partners explore and express their softer vulnerabilities so that they can send clearer signals to each other. This is how we help people to create a new dance of connection, safety and security. EFT is deeply moving, satisfying and meaningful… And it works! Research shows that not only is EFT effective, the positive changes are maintained at three-month and two-year follow-up in research studies.
EFT for Individuals - EFIT
EFIT is about deepening your connection to yourself in order to fully engage with your life.
It makes sense that this powerful model of therapy can be used to assist individuals. EFIT does this by harnessing the power of the therapeutic relationship and working with a person’s emotional world and their attachment relationships to create positive change in their life. EFIT improves a person’s mental health and well-being by helping them to befriend their inner world in order to derive richness and meaning in life.
Based on attachment science, EFIT is an approach to individual therapy that, like the other EFT modalities (EFCT for couples and EFFT for families), offers an integration of humanistic experiential interventions focused on reshaping intrapsychic experience and systemic patterns of engagement with significant others. Emotion is given precedence across treatment modalities given its powerful role in structuring inner experience. Emotion links and organizes core experience and interaction with others.
In EFIT, focus is given to key interactional patterns in relationships, knowing that connection with self leads to clearer signals with those who matter most in our world.
EFIT aims to bring a person into security and balance within themselves and with their most special others. We believe that this is a royal road to growth and adaptation as humans.
EFT for Families - EFFT
EFFT is about building connections with yourself and with those who matter most in your world.
As EFT is based on attachment theory and focuses on building strong emotional bonds between people who matter to each other, it makes perfect sense that EFT is helpful for close relationships such as family groups. Taking in account self and system, Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) helps to improve family cohesion and connection.
How does EFFT help families?
EFT for families (EFFT), focuses on the family system and interactional patterns between family members. EFFT aims to strengthen connections between members and to create secure bonds within the larger family group.
EFFT does this by mapping and tracking patterns of miscommunication and misunderstanding, and by assisting family members to send clear signals of need. This leads to the breaking down of “old” stuck ways of communicating and to the establishment of new communication patterns that build closeness.
EFFT is effective in preventing escalation and resolving conflict, healing hurts and breeches of trust, promoting healthy communication, and in building strong family connections.
EFFT differs from the EFT for couples/relationships model because instead of encouraging shared vulnerability from all parties (as in an adult egalitarian relationship), EFFT encourages parents/care-givers to send clear signals of care and support and younger family members to clearly express their attachment needs.
View our training
Click here for more information on Clare Rosoman's EFT training events that meet the ICEEFT requirements for certification as an EFT therapist.