Distressed couples enter therapy focused on painful events and behaviors. Caught up in negative patterns, they describe what is happening to them rather than what they are feeling and needing from each other. They are often engaged in reactive anger and unable to listen to each other's emotions. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) looks at what is taking place within the relationship, the repetitive behavior patterns that the couple has become stuck in and the unexpressed emotions and needs of each partner. This approach aims to identify what the behavior is really about: fear of rejection, fear of abandonment and the longing for connection wired in all of us.
EFT teaches each partner how to be responsive to the needs of their partner by focusing on the underlying emotions and by identifying the repetitive, cyclic patterns in the relationship. The goal is for the couple to learn to work together to notice when their negative cycle is happening, step back from the ‘dance’ and begin to put new responses into place. It teaches couples how to talk to each other in new ways and create new ways of interacting.
People look to their partners to be reassured, know that they matter and find safety in their relationship. EFT is an effective and focused approach to healing relationships and helping couples deepen their connection.
In recent years, EFT has been found to be highly effective with families as well as couples. I have had success teaching EFT skills to families with adolescents and young adult children.