About EFT for Couples Counseling

 James Trone, Nashville Marriage Counseling, Therapy,

The purpose is to draw out a deeper connection in the marriage. Typically, the connection is there but the negative cycle or negative dance has distorted or damaged the reality of what drew you together in the first place. The approach is less about the data and more about the connection or heart in the relationship. This specifically means navigating through the emotions of the relationship. It is a call to remember. Remember when you felt safe…remember when you felt that nothing else mattered in the world but that other person. Those experiences were real and authentic. The problem is that relationships can also be very harmful and damaging. Thereby causing us to not trust the other person. There could be valid reasons for not trusting and not feeling safe such as a deep hurts, abuse, or extramarital affairs.

The Approach

Past abuse, affairs, and hurts are important and cannot be overlooked. I believe Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is one of the most effective modes of helping couples reattach and connect. EFT is a very structured couples therapy that draws out the deeper emotions in the relationship. The hope or goal is that when we are completely vulnerable with the other person we over time become more compassionate thereby establishing that bond that initially drew you to each other. EFT is all about attachment. Fundamentally, it is when we are securely attached we are much more able to work together as a team in dealing with the other stresses of life.

EFT’s founder Sue Johnson believes that at the core of every person we are asking our partner (silently or subconsciously) "Will you be there for me when I reach for you?" and "Do I matter"? EFT helps to foster the environment for the couple to not only ask these types of questions but to experience the connection as well. It is the experience of the connection that bring lastly change, not the knowledge or know how. 

EFT also helps distinguish between you as a couple and the negative cycle. EFT’s approach is to help delineate the cycle from the couple. This means that the negative cycle (the same ole fight) is the enemy/problem not each other.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) has been empirically researched and shown to have a 70 to 75% success rate. EFT focuses on the emotions which can lead a couple to have a deeper connection if one they feel safe to share the hidden emotions and feelings. I believe we were created as emotional beings, so much so, that we cannot help but have emotion. The challenge is that we only see and display our secondary emotions at times which come out as "Anger" or "Sadness". The  primary emotions are typically more of "Fear" or "Hurt". It is these emotions that are harder to show because it harder for us to see them as well. It is when we attempt and fall short that we get stuck in a negative cycle that can feel like a tornado or emotional flu. Sue Johnson, the developer of EFT, believes that at the core of every person we are asking our partner (silently or subconsciously) "Will you be there for me when I reach for you?" and "Do I matter"? EFT helps to foster the environment for the couple to not only ask these types of questions but to experience the connection as well. It is the experience of the connection that bring lastly change, not the knowledge or know how. 

EFT on YouTube: 

Susan Johnson explaining EFT ( click here )

How can I tell if my marriage is in trouble? ( click here 

Recommended Readings:

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson ( click here 

The Voice of the Heart: A Call to Full Living by Chip Dodd ( click here 

Various Articles and Research papers on EFT ( click here ) 

Research Supporting EFT

Dr. Sue Johnson writes, “Rigorous studies during the past fifteen years have shown that 70 to 75 percent of couples who go through EFT recover from distress and are happy in their relationships…EFT has been recognized by the American Psychological Association as an empirically proven form of couple therapy” (p. 7). Johnson, S. (2008). Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. New York: Little Brown.

About EFT and Sue Johnson:

Here is the link to EFT's main website: International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT)