What Is EFT?
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a researched-based approach to couples therapy that was developed by Susan Johnson and Les Greenberg. This approach is based on John Bowlby’s Attachment research over 50 years ago which found that humans have an innate need to feel attached to and comforted by significant others.
Adult attachment relationships have the same survival function as the mother-child bond since ideally these attachments can provide the same love, comfort, support and protection throughout the lifespan. However, due to our relationship histories and the negative interaction cycles we get into with our partners, many of us have difficulties with trust and expressing emotion to those who mean the most to us.
When couples argue about such issues as jealousy, sex or money the origins of these arguments are usually some form of protest from one partner about not feeling connected, not trusting or not feeling safe or secure with the other partner. When those we are attached to are not available, or are not responding to our needs to feel close or supported when we feel distressed. We may become anxious or fearful, numb or distant. These behaviors can become habitual or rigid modes of reacting to our partners. Furthermore, these toxic behavior patterns seem to take on a life of their own as they cycle into repetitive couple interactions that cause much pain, injury and despair. During EFT couples therapy, we focus on these patterns and work on changing these negative interaction cycles in a non-judgmental environment.
In a relatively short time, couples begin to recognize and eventually express their needs for love, support, protection and comfort that are often hidden or disguised by the harsh or angry words used in repetitive self-defeating patterns of conflict or arguments with each other. Partners begin to “listen with the heart.” This concept is one of the cornerstones of EFT – which means listening not for the literal meaning of a partner’s words but for the feelings that lie beneath. In return, the other partner is better able to respond from their heart in kind. This is the emotional focus of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.
We view the building of “a safe haven” in your relationship as our primary task and we will try to focus on your primary needs — to feel close, secure and responded to — which probably underlie most of your couple conflict. Once this safe haven and feelings of connection are reestablished, you will be better able to manage conflict and the painful or difficult feelings that will inevitably arise from time to time in a close relationship. Furthermore, without so much defensiveness, each of you will be able to send clearer messages and will be better able to hear the other’s perspective. You will be better able to collaborate, problem-solve and compromise. In short, you’ll be more of a team which is the secret of a long-lived, successful marriage!
All AZRI therapists receive weekly training and supervision to effectively practice EFT.