Emotionally Focused Couples' Therapy (EFT)

EFT founder Susan Johnson: 

Excerpt from New Perspectives on Couples' Therapy

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a structured approach to individual, family, and couples' therapy formulated in the early 80's by Drs. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. It is based on attachment theory, and focuses on developing strong bonds in relationships and with oneself. 

The major goals of EFT is to expand and re-organize key emotional responses, which Sue Johnson calls "the music of the attachment dance." Shifts are created in the way partners interact and deal with their distress. The aim is to foster the creation of a secure bond, and move away from habitual patterns that maintain distance and dissatisfaction in the relationship.

 A substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of EFT now exists. For example, research studies of EFT have found  that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery, and approximately 90% show significant improvements. These distressed couples include partners suffering from disorders such as depression, post traumatic stress disorders and chronic illness. 

The major contraindication for EFT is on-going violence in the relationship. 

EFT has been applied to many different kinds of problems and populations.

Strengths of Emotionally Focused Couples'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.
  • 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.

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