Here’s What to Know About Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) has been growing in popularity in recent years, due to the fact that more people are recognizing how effective it can be in dealing with relationship challenges.

However, there are still many who don’t fully understand what it is. Developing a basic understanding of EFT principles can help you decide if it’s the right option for you and your relationship.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you need to know about the principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy. The more you know before starting a session, the more open you’ll be to making the most of your experience.

What Are the Principles of EFT?

EFT focuses on the fact that a person’s emotions are key to creating positive and lasting change with their partner. The main principles of this type of therapy include:

  • Identifying negative patterns of interaction.
  • Restructuring those patterns through vulnerably sharing attachment emotions and relational needs.
  • Creating and sustaining a safe and secure bond.

When it comes to increasing awareness, the individual (or couple) becomes more aware of their emotions. That includes how they’re feeling and why. Depending on the situation, that awareness can stem back to childhood. It’s important to develop an understanding of your emotions so you can better recognize them and move forward.

Viewing relationship distress through an attachment and bonding lens is essentially the backbone of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. You and your partner will learn how to identify negative patterns of interaction in your relationship and move past the self-protective behaviors and reactive emotions such as anger, disgust, and numbness.  You will learn how to both co-regulate and regulate your emotions in healthy more effective ways. You’ll discover how essential vulnerability is to intimacy which is the key to every successful relationship.

In short, you and your partner will learn how to change the negative patterns you’ve been dealing with into healthy patterns that help each of to create a safe and secure bond.

What Is the Main Goal of EFT?

If you’re a couple or a family with relationship issues, the goal of EFT is to help you find a secure attachment. You’ll learn to process and regulate your own emotions effectively and healthily, so you’ll be a stronger partner and person that can help others with their emotions.

EFT can be used for individuals, couples, and even families, and the principles remain the same. When it comes to EFT for relationships, you’ll focus more on how your emotional identity could be causing problems between you and your partner, and how you can deal with those issues with regulation and transformation.

Even if you attend EFT sessions on your own, they can help you interact in more productive ways with other people, and share your emotions in healthy ways. It will focus on your identity, as a whole, and how the way you handle your emotions impacts how you (and others) see yourself.

Getting Through the Stages

EFT is designed as a short-term treatment. It typically takes anywhere from 8 to 20 sessions to reach your goals. During that time, you’ll go through three stages as you try to work through the principles of the process.

The first stage is the de-escalation process, which can be difficult when you’re trying to hold on to the familiar patterns, emotions, and behaviors you and your partner have been stuck.

The second stage of EFT is focused on helping each partner vulnerably express their softer emotions and relational needs.  This is often referred to as withdrawer reengagement and pursuer softening.  An EFT therapist will help the couple to have corrective emotional conversations and experiences with each other which help heal past wounds and foster deeper levels of intimacy.

The final stage is integration and consolidation, where you’ll use what you’ve discovered in your sessions in real-world situations.

Is EFT Right for You?

As you can see, there’s a lot to discover about EFT. While the principles are simple and easy to understand, that doesn’t mean the process is easy for every couple to go through. You have to be willing to open up, take the risk to share your most vulnerable self, emotions, and needs and also be willing to respond with accessibility and emotional engagement when your partner is risking and reaching out to you.

If you’re interested in learning more about Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and whether it’s right for you, don’t hesitate to contact one of our EFT therapists on our directory.  They can help you decided if EFT is the right choice for you and your relationship.
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