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What Is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy And How Can It Help?

Couples often seek therapy when their relationship is reaching a breaking point. There are many approaches to couples therapy that address conflict resolution, communication strategies, and rebuilding intimacy. It can be hard to choose a particular therapeutic option. If you’re looking to repair your attachment to your partner, emotionally focused therapy might be right for you. By centering emotions and reframing how a couple interacts with each other, emotionally focused couples therapy strengthens their bond.

What is EFT?

Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) is based on attachment theory. As children, the way we attached to the adults in our lives affects how we enter into and maintain relationships for the rest of our lives. When we lack secure attachments as children, we likely struggle with creating emotional bonds as adults. While shared beliefs and values, attraction, and life stage are all important to a relationship, a secure attachment is perhaps the most important. The main goal of EFT is to create a secure attachment bond with our partner. EFT sees love as an attachment bond and prioritizes emotions as the key factor in how couples communicate. Instead of blaming relationship problems on one or both partners, EFT shifts the focus to the negative patterns and dysfunctional communication between them.

How can it help couples?

EFT is one of the therapeutic approaches that have the highest rates of success among partnerships. It’s been shown to effectively treat couples coping with a variety of problems, health issues, and traumas. Therapists trained in EFT often see people who are considering divorce, dealing with the aftermath of an affair, or are stuck in repetitive dysfunctional conflicts. EFT can help couples where either one or both parties are struggling with:

  • depression

  • post-traumatic stress disorder

  • addiction

  • chronic illness

  • infidelity

  • childhood trauma

  • sexual dissatisfaction

  • frequent arguments

How do EFT techniques work?

Over the course of eight to 20 sessions, the therapist will observe how you interact with one another and guide you through the EFT-specific therapeutic steps. They’ll coach you through new, healthy ways of communicating and interacting. Instead of being a passive listener, which is common with other therapy styles, your therapist will take an active role in your sessions to guide you. EFT consists of three stages that take place over nine steps.

  1. Stabilization

This first stage involves identifying key concerns, negative interaction patterns, and underlying negative emotions and fears. This stage also includes de-escalation of conflict. The therapist will also pinpoint each person’s attachment needs.

  1. Restructuring

The second stage is important for changing interaction patterns. Each person will continue to voice their particular attachment needs and emotions. The therapist coaches the couple on accepting their partner’s attachment needs and expressing empathy for their emotional states. As they continue to express their needs, they’ll also be guided through healthy ways of dealing with conflict.

  1. Consolidation

In the final stage, the therapist will help the couple integrate the skills they learned in the earlier stages into their everyday interactions. They may reevaluate old issues with this new mindset and make a plan for addressing future conflicts and relationship hurdles.

Seeking an EFT therapist

If you’re feeling lost, angry, lonely, or upset in your relationship, it’s okay to ask for help. EFT could be the therapy to reconnect you and your partner. The key to its success is that both partners should actively participate. This technique is much more effective when there’s equal effort put in. Therapists need training and certification to offer EFT to couples, and there are many resources for finding an accredited EFT couple’s counselor.

To find out more about how emotionally focused couples therapy can help you form a secure attachment to your partner, please reach out to us.