What is Emotion-Focused Therapy?

EFT, or Emotional-Focused Therapy, is a type of therapy used with adults either individually or within couples or family groups. The therapy harnesses our natural drives to bond with others in order to repair relationship problems and strengthen the connections between members of a couple or family group.

Can Emotion-Focused Therapy Help You?

If you’re struggling with your partner or with members of your family, if you find yourself quick to anger or to become defensive, then EFT may be the right type of therapy for you. You might also benefit from EFT if minor triggers cause you and your spouse to get into major arguments.

EFT looks to understand the patterns that exist between people in close relationships and to change negative ones so they become less harmful to the relationship. Less anger, frustration and hopelessness, and more trust, comfort and closeness are often the outcomes with EFT treatments in relationships. Individuals suffering from anxiety and/or depression have also found to benefit from EFT.

What to Expect During Emotional-Focused Therapy

EFT therapists observe how couples and families interact during therapy sessions, really focusing on the types of behaviours that work to bring people closer together or push them farther apart. A good EFT therapist will look to the bigger and more stable patterns of interaction, instead of becoming caught up in the details of any single, negative interaction.

For example, in many couples where there is conflict, one person is often pursuing a closer relationship while the other is attempting to move away. Sometimes, a partner who has pursued and pursued only to feel rejected will also withdraw and the bonds of the connection weaken.

In really challenging situations, both partners fall into an attack mode, repeatedly going after the other person’s character or feelings. EFT therapists will help all members of the couple or family to understand the types of pattern they are in and work towards helping members feel safe enough to say what is real to them, and feel truly heard.

What is EFT?

There are three stages of EFT that the therapist focuses on. The first step is a critical step; it is the de-escalation process. This step helps couples and families break the negative interaction cycle so they can discover their fears, their real needs, and how to openly discuss these issues with their partners.  

Restructuring interactions are the second step in EFT therapy. This step helps the individuals learn how to express themselves in non-aggressive and non-accusatory ways, ways that invite the others to listen, instead of backing off into defensiveness. Third, the consolidation stage takes place.

The therapist will help the couple or family members learn how they got into those negative emotional patterns, to begin with, and assist with tools to prevent such patterns from happening again.