Emotionally Focused Therapy
What is emotionally focused therapy?
Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) is based on observations and experience, which looks at emotions and emotional intelligence, which helps support stronger and more secure relationships by helping better understand how our actions impact others, and how our emotions drive our interaction.
EFT was developed by Les Greenberg and Sue Johnson who worked together in the 1980s to develop a psychological theory based on the remarkable similarities in adult relationships.
How does emotionally focused therapy work?
EFT believes that we experience the emotions we feel to help us cope and guide our relationship needs. Therapy helps us learn how to tolerate and regulate unpleasant emotions and express them in heathy ways that strengthen our relationships, while also making sense of feelings expressed by others.
This therapy practice is based on methods designed to help you to accept, express, regulate, make sense of, and transform your emotions, thereby increasing your overall emotional intelligence. EFT is ultimately based on the belief that we all have an innate drive towards bonding and connecting with others.
The goal of EFT is for you to make deep emotional changes and relationship changes by shifting from fear and conflict to corrective emotional experiences – a process where you challenge your past beliefs based on your present experiences. You are taught to honor your feelings and express them in ways that bring others closer and resolve your needs, rather than engage in patterns that push others away and leaves your need to connect with others unresolved.
EFT therapists are nonjudgmental and great listeners who will help you to reflect on your emotions and how they are serving you (or not) and to break negative patterns.
When is emotionally focused therapy used?
While Les Greenberg diverged to focus on individual therapy and emphasize internal dynamic processes (called emotion focused therapy), Sue Johnson developed emotionally focused therapy primarily to treat couples. EFT is helpful for individuals, couples, and families experiencing:
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Children’s mental health issues
- Developmental disorders
- Coping with changes in physical health
- Marriage and relationship concerns
- Family caregiver stress
- First responder & uniformed personnel PTSD
- Family issues
- Interracial family issues
- Sex compulsion/OCSB
- Sexuality & intimacy issues
- Trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder)
This type of therapy may be used to treat other conditions and concerns in addition to those listed above. It may also be used in conjunction with other treatment methods. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstances.
You should be aware that there is no treatment method that is successful for every person. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
What to expect from therapy
Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.