For Therapists

What Is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?

Dr. Sue Johnson provides a brief summary of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). This leading edge, empirically validated form of therapy which is taught all over the world. EFT is based on the last 50 years of scientific research on bonding: bonding between mother and child and romantic bonds between partners. EFT provides a map to what matters in intimate relationships: how they work, how they go wrong, and what is needed to put them right.

Of couples who use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements.

EFT or Emotionally Focused Therapy offers couples, families and individuals a relatively-short, structured path to solving their relationship problems. Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Les Greenberg launched EFT in the early 1980s as a way to help partners find their way back to love and happiness. Since then Dr. Johnson has continued to develop the model and added the study of attachment theory to the mix, helping therapists and couples themselves best understand what is happening in their relationships.

Today EFT is used in private practice, university training centers, hospital clinics and other therapeutic settings around the world. And, it works. Research shows that more than 70 percent of couples who try EFT move from distress to recovery, and about 90 percent show significant improvement. Problems distressed couples address in the sessions include depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and chronic illness.

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Goals of Emotionally Focused Therapy

  • To expand and re-organize key emotional responses – the music of the attachment dance.
  • To create a shift in partners' interactional positions and initiate new cycles of interaction.
  • To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners

Strengths of Emotionally Focused Therapy

  • EFT is based on clear, explicit conceptualizations of marital distress and adult love. These conceptualizations are supported by empirical research on the nature of marital distress and adult attachment.
  • EFT is collaborative and respectful of clients. It is a combination of experiential Rogerian techniques with structural systemic interventions.
  • Change strategies and interventions are specified.
  • Key moves and moments in the change process have been mapped into nine steps and three change events.
  • EFT has been validated by over 20 years of empirical research. There is also research on the change processes and predictors of success.
  • EFT has been applied to many different kinds of problems and populations.
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