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Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

EFT - Couples, Family and Individual Therapy


Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is an attachment-based treatment approach utilized to create the reconnection between partners, families and for individuals. EFT, developed by Susan Johnson, is based on John Bowlby’s Attachment research over 50 years ago. Bowlby found that humans and higher primate animals appeared to have an innate need to feel attached to and comforted by significant others. 

Adult attachment relationships are believed to have the same survival function as the mother-child bond, since ideally these attachments can provide the same love, comfort, support, and protection throughout the lifespan. However, due to our relationship histories, and the negative interaction cycles we get into with our partners, family members and others in our life, many of us have difficulties with trust and expressing emotions to those who mean the most to us. 

When we argue about such issues as jealousy, sex or money, the origins of these arguments are usually some form of protest  about not feeling connected, not trusting, or not feeling safe or secure in our relationship. When those we are attached or connected to are not available, or are not responding to our needs to feel close or supported, we feel distressed. We may become anxious, fearful, numb or distant. 

These behaviors can become habitual or rigid modes of reacting to our partners, family members and other significant people in our lives. Furthermore, these behavior patterns seem to take on a life of their own as they cycle into repetitive interactions that cause much pain, injury and despair. EFT focuses on these patterns and begins changing the negative interaction cycles in a non-judgmental environment. 

In a relatively short time, couples, families and individuals begin to recognize and eventually express their needs for love, support, protection and comfort that are often hidden or disguised by the harsh or angry words used in repetitive self-defeating patterns, conflict or arguments with each other and sometimes directed at ourselves. In time, we begin to “listen with the heart,” one of the cornerstones of EFT - which means listening not for the literal meaning of another’s words, but for the feelings that lie beneath. In return, other significant people in our life are better able to respond from their heart in kind. This is the emotional focus of Emotionally Focused Therapy. 

The building of “a safe haven” in your relationships is the primary task that leads to focusing on your primary needs - to feel close, secure and responded to. Once this safe haven and feelings of connection are re-established, you will be better able to manage conflict and the painful or difficult feelings that will inevitable arise from time to time in a close relationship. Furthermore, without so much defensiveness, you will be able to send clearer messages and will be better able to hear the other’s perspective. As a couple and family you will begin to collaborate, problem-solve, and compromise -- you’ll be more of a team. This is the secret of long-lived, successful relationships!

For more information on EFT, please click here: 

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