Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is an effective attachment based and experiential therapy that helps partners connect at a deep emotional level. It was first developed by Dr Sue Johnson in Canada. It shows couples how to transform negative patterns through identifying their couple cycle and creating a more secure connection.

EFT uses a series of steps to work towards buiding a stonger bond. Through actively engaging with each other with empathy and shared vulnerability, couples begin to understand and resolve their conflict and distress. The therapist aims to bring the couple to a place where they can soften critism and blame, can engage rather than withdraw and risk reaching out to each other. Trust can grow and flourish within such a shared experience.

As an EFT Therapist, I link body experience (including trauma) with emotion and, by expanding and deepening authentic underlying primary emotions, I work collaboratively with the couple to create a more tender and satisfying couple relationship.

Couples therapy uses skilled emotional focus to attune to the needs of the partnership and how the two fit together. It explores areas of conflict and of growth between a couple. It is a process that can be beneficial to couples of all ages and stages of life.

The therapist aims to encourage clear communication and draws on the qualities currently available within the couple relationship, working with the couple to locate difficult issues likely to be expressed though repeated arguments, sexual difficulties, withdrawal of affection, parenting styles or unrealistic expections of one another.

Sometimes where appropriate the outcome can lead towards the realistic ending of a relationship. But frequently when couple interaction is tracked and re-experienced empathically within the consulting room, the acknowledging of what actually happens can enable a breathing space and inspire hope. The therapy requires of both partners a desire to change ways of relating, and confidence that the therapist can assist with their attempts to make this change.

All shell images copyright Harold Feinstein and reproduced with permission

A couple might work with a therapist for a few focused months or may require a longer period of time when there are more complex issues to resolve. Frequency of sessions is negotiable. The role of the couples therapist is to help find in each partner an authentic couple voice that is clearly heard by the other, in what can be a challenging yet rewarding experience.

Many factors may colour the therapy process and affect the relationship, amongst them -

  • what was it that first drew the partners together
  • the impact of having a baby - family
  • infertility, PCOS, osteoporosis
  • sexual difficulties and loss of desire
  • adoption of a child
  • underemployment - retirement
  • bereavement, loss or estrangement
  • responsibility for the care of older parents
  • understanding of the immune system and how it impacts emotional health.

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