If you have reached this page, you might be looking for help with your marriage or relationship.
Emotionally Focused Therapy For Couples
A Research-Validated Path to Restoring Connections
Picking up your phone to inquire about couple’s therapy can feel intimidating. You’re certainly not alone if you’ve put off getting professional help for your relationship. As therapists who are specially trained to work with couples, we understand your fears:
“Will the therapist understand our situation?”
“Will therapy make things worse instead of better?”
“There’s been an infidelity. Can therapy really help?”
“Will we be judged or criticized?”
“We tried marriage counseling before and it wasn’t helpful.”
And . . . “Is there any hope for us?”
Research studies demonstrate that Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a highly effective approach to helping couples, with 70 to 75 % of couples moving from distress to complete recovery and 90 percent of couples reporting significant improvement in their relationship.
How Is EFT Different from Other Methods?
For years, couple’s therapy focused mainly on teaching couples to improve their behavior and their communication skills. Unfortunately, these approaches did not usually achieve lasting results. Improved communication skills and behavior changes typically don’t last because they don’t get to the heart of the matter. In Emotionally Focused Therapy, we help couples get to the heart of the matter by applying several basic principles that have a strong scientific foundation.
When you met and fell in love, you created a powerful connection to each other. Humans are “hardwired” to form a strong bond — or attachment — to their adult partner. This bond is as powerful as the one formed between parent and child. When that attachment bond feels threatened, your brain automatically reacts as if you are in danger, triggering fight (arguing, criticism and blame), flight (distancing and disengaging) or freeze (stonewalling, numbing and paralysis) responses. When this danger response is triggered over and over again, you begin to find yourselves reacting strongly to small things. Over time, your reactions to each other form a pattern and it takes less and less to put you into a “negative cycle” of arguing or disengaging. In EFT we help you understand and diffuse that cycle. Couples learn that the negative cycle is their enemy — not each other! We help you understand why the most important person in your life sometimes feels like the enemy, and what you can do to restore a positive connection.
In EFT counseling, you’ll learn that beneath the arguing and distancing are powerful unexpressed emotions. For many people, their deepest fear is losing connection with their partner. Yet, when couples don’t feel secure, partners only see anger or withdrawal. These surface emotions can diminish trust and erode closeness in the relationship.
The Role of the EFT Therapist
At the foundation of EFT is the therapist’s ability to understand the experience of each partner. EFT therapists approach couples in a supportive, non-blaming way, creating an atmosphere in which couples can be open, share vulnerable feelings and make their needs known to their partner.
EFT therapists have helped couples with a range of concerns, including:
- handling life transitions such as the birth of children, coping with a child’s illness or special needs, empty nest, and retirement.
- reaching agreement on unresolved issues such as finances, intimacy, and parenting.
- maintaining one’s relationship as a priority amidst busy careers, parenting activities, and stressful life events.
- recovering from betrayals and hurtful events, including infidelity.
- resolving issues related to addiction and recovery from trauma.
As the therapist “tunes in” to your concerns, you learn to do that for each other. You learn to slow down your immediate reactions, decrease defensiveness, and truly listen to your partner’s deeper feelings.
Rebuilding a Stronger Relationship
Couples who work with an EFT-trained therapist learn to recognize the negative cycle, exit the arguing or distancing, and have heartfelt conversations that resolve important concerns and create deeper understanding between partners. After successful completion of EFT, couples have achieved a new and deeper understanding of themselves and their partner. They can manage their negative emotions and can turn to each other for support, comfort, and security. Their relationship feels stronger and more vibrant.
EFT is called a “brief” model, when compared with other counseling methods. The EFT therapist is skilled at guiding couples to experience profound emotional, reconnecting experiences in therapy sessions. These experiences allow couples to heal and rebuild their relationship in a relatively short time, and to maintain this renewed connection long into the future.
Taking the First Step
Our hope is to make the path to choosing an EFT therapist as easy as possible. We have a list of therapists trained in EFT and their contact information. We welcome your questions about any part of the EFT counseling process.
Here is a great article by Dr. Sue Johnson that explains EFT and the New Science of Love.
CLICK HERE to find an EFT Therapist.
Looking for a Couples Workshop? Check out our HOLD ME TIGHT® Workshops.