What is Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFCT)?
Goal of EFCT Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy’s goal is to reconnect partners that are distressed, created by Dr. Sue Johnson in the 1980’s. EFT is an attachment-based therapy that views humans as being innately relational beings that are social and driven to bond with other humans.
Attachment Theory Attachment theory is based on John Bowlby’s 50 years of research. Attachment theory’s belief is adult relationships serve the same survival function as the mother-child bond. Attachment relationships provide love, comfort, support and protection throughout the lifespan.
Emotional Focus Sometimes, due to individual or couple relationship histories, people get into negative interactional cycles. This causes couples to have difficulties with trust and expressing emotion to people who mean the most. When couples argue about specific issues like sex, money, or jealousy these arguments are really a type of protest from one partner to the other about feeling mistrustful, disconnected, unsafe or insecure. When an attachment figure is not available or not responsive to requests for closeness the result is a feeling of distress. This distress can cause anxiety, fear, numbness or distance.
Negative Interactional Cycles These behaviors can become habitual and eventually become rigid reactive patterns of interaction. Ultimately these reactive patterns take on a life of their own and cycle into repetitive couple interactions that can cause a lot of pain, injury, despair and even hopelessness. The EFT therapist focuses on these patterns to work on changing this dynamic.
Deeper Conversations Fairly quickly, couples can recognize and can express their needs for love, support and protection and comfort that have been hidden or disguised by the harsh or angry words used during the conflictual cycles of arguments. EFT is known for having deeper conversations by highlighting the feelings that are beneath the angry protests or the shut-down that drive the negative interactional patterns. Both partners are better able to respond from this deeper understanding.
Secure Connection Once couples can have these deeper conversations and talk from the heart, they can manage conflict on their own. Inevitably, all couples have difficulties from time to time. Once couples feel more secure the defensiveness is gone, they are able to send clear messages and are better able to understand each other’s perspectives. They can collaborate, problem-solve and compromise. Partners are back on the same team.
Research Validated Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy is considered the gold standard of couple therapy with over 32 outcome studies. EFT can transform couples to recovery in 70-75% of the cases and creates improvements in 90% of couples coming into therapy.
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