Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples or EFT couples therapy is a structured, short-term (8 to 20 sessions) approach to couples counseling that focuses on negative communication patterns, adult relationships, and attachment. Dr. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg developed EFT in the 1980s, on the grounds of a 50-year long research.
The effectiveness of Emotionally Focused Therapy has been empirically proved. That is, research shows that 90 percent of couples undertaking Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy show significant improvements while 70-75 percent of couples move out of of distress.
During EFT couples therapy, the therapist and clients explore patterns in the relationship and plan strategies to develop trust and create a more secure bond between partners.
Promoting Healthy Dependency
Healthy dependency in a relationship is the flexible middle ground between the fused overdependence and rigid independence; it is the ability to rely on your partner while maintaining a strong sense of self. In addition, healthy dependency means feeling good about showing vulnerability and asking for help when you need it.
Healthy dependency can have many positive effects on a relationship, including:
• Increased satisfaction
• Better communication
• Improved parenting skills
• Better mental and physical health
Healthy dependency helps create a more secure emotional bond between partners, teaching couples to show vulnerability with each other, express deep underlying emotions, and openly ask their partner to meet their needs.
Who Can Benefit from EFT Couples Therapy?
EFT helps couples learn to show empathy and experience each other's feelings, which in turn strengthens the attachment bond between them. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy has been proven helpful in improving distressed relationships and helping clients deal with fear, anger, infidelity, and loss of trust in their bond. Additionally, EFT can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
What to Expect from EFT Couples Therapy?
An EFT therapist normally observes the dynamics between the partners in both therapy settings and the dynamics in their home lives, linking these dynamics and directing the couple's interactions on more honest feelings. To do this, your EFT therapist will encourage you to explore your vulnerability and help you recognize the most profound and often blocked emotions. Furthermore, you and your partner will learn to stay attuned to each other's feelings and to express these feelings in a way that will help you connect or rekindle your closeness. Finally, EFT will help you learn more productive ways to respond to emotional situations and conflicts in a relationship. EFT focuses on the present and helps you make changes in your relationship in the here and now.
Three Stages of EFT
Emotionally Focused Therapy consists of three steps:
1. De-escalating the couple's negative cycle of interactions and help them understand that their problems lie in emotional distance and insecurities.
2. Restructuring Interactions: the therapist helps clients discuss their worries and fears in the relationship, encouraging them to turn to each other, be vulnerable, and become more open and responsive to each other.
3. Consolidation is the third stage of ETF: the therapist helps clients understand how they developed negative patterns and helps them identify how to change those patterns.
EFT focuses on the emotions and patterns in the relationship, encouraging both partners to become accessible, responsive, and emotionally engaged. Adults are capable of "secure attachment" and healthy dependency, meaning that they value bonding in close relationships but also keep up a strong sense of self.
A secure attachment means that a person does not become overly distressed and insecure at being separated for a period of time. Securely attached adults know how to ask for their needs to be met and have no problem seeking support when they need it.
Page written by Zev John Berkowitz, LCSW, MSEd
About the author:
Zev John Berkowitz received his dual Master's Degrees in Social Work and School Psychology from both Long Island University and New York University. He has extensive postgraduate training and experience in areas including the treatment of anxiety and depression, recovery from trauma (including EMDR work), and treatment for couples (specifically but not exclusively with those couples dealing with infidelity and/or addiction issues).
He also provide therapy for tweens/teens and their families; helping them navigate and work on the tenuous issues that arise during these sensitive years. He likewise helps with addiction issues with a sub-specialization in behavioral addictions such as gaming, porn, gambling and eating.
If you would like to learn more about EFT couples therapy please contact:
Zev J. Berkowitz, LCSW, MSEd
Modern Family Counseling, LLC