What Is Emotionally Focused Therapy?
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a short-term counseling approach that improves bonding and mutual understanding between couples. With the goal of building more secure attachments, partners using EFT can connect and communicate more effectively.
Often considered one of the best treatment interventions for couples, EFT derives from attachment science, or the idea that emotional responses are strongly intertwined with basic human needs.
Psychologists Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg developed EFT in the 1980s as they observed the systems being created between their clients in marriage counseling. By looking at relationship issues through a systemic lens, couples using this method can more readily view problems as flaws in the system rather than the fault of one partner.
Citing Emotionally Focused Therapy as “The Most Effective Couples Therapy, By Far,” Psychology Today argues that 90 percent of couples who use EFT in marriage counseling “significantly improve their relationship,” while close to 75 percent of couples “no longer fit the criteria for relationship distress following treatment.” By comparison, the next leading couples counseling approach has a success rate of 35 percent.¹
Who Can Benefit From EFT?
For couples, in particular, Emotionally Focused Therapy can help address any relational issue, including:
- Unhealthy communication patterns
- Lack of sex and intimacy
- Outside life stressors impacting the relationship
- Separation and discernment
EFT is not only effective for couples, however. Following its success in marriage counseling, Sue Johnson developed emotion-focused therapeutic frameworks for clients in individual and family therapy. Drawing from the same premise of healing attachment wounds, EFT can help anyone from any background struggling with emotional dysregulation, relational challenges, negative self-beliefs, and low self-esteem.
EFT Is The Predominant Couples Therapy I Use
Since writing my doctoral dissertation on the role of early attachments in intimate relationships, I have been interested in EFT as an effective method of couples counseling. Upon receiving formal training in the modality, I began incorporating it into sessions for all the couples I work with.
As a therapist with extensive training in Emotionally Focused Therapy, I have witnessed its amazing ability to promote positive change and growth in the lives of my clients. I work with a range of couples in counseling, including those who are reeling from infidelity, betrayal, and trauma (as is the case with First Responders, in particular). Where other interventions may have fallen short for these partnerships, EFT has facilitated more secure attachments, naturally improving communication and a healthier version of each individual within the partnership.