EFT for Couples (EFCT)

EFT is a short term structured approach, originally developed for couple therapy and based on attachment science, formulated in the 1980’s. Interventions in EFCT integrate a humanistic, experiential approach to restructuring emotional experience and a systemic structural approach to restructuring interactions. This research shows large treatment effect sizes and stable results over time. EFCT is used successfully with many different kinds of couples in private practice, university training centers and hospital clinics. Preliminary research exists for couples dealing with depression, with anxiety resulting from trauma, with medical illness and with forgiveness dilemmas. EFCT is used with varied cultural groups and educational levels across North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Africa and Asia. It is used with traditional and non-traditional couples, including same-sex couples.

Goals:

  • To expand and re-organize key emotional responses and, in the process, the organization of self.

  • To create a positive shift in partners interactional positions and patterns.

  • To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners.

The EFFT Approach 

The EFT process of change in EFCT focuses on stabilizing a couples' negative interaction pattern, restructuring parent and child interactions, and consolidating the felt security gained through these new patterns of connection. Following principles of attachment science, the EFCT therapist guides the family to new patterns of parental availability, responsiveness and coherent attachment communications as they face developmental change and life challenges. In EFCT, the focus is on addressing blocks in parental caregiving responses and understanding the child or adolescent’s behavior in terms of attachment needs or fears. These blocks result from constrained, stuck responses to misattunement and injuries in family relationships. The EFCT therapist tracks the generational influences impacting these blocks and works through rigid patterns that disrupt attachment communication between parents, siblings and between parent and child. Work with parents focuses on the building of a coherent parenting team. The process of EFCT often moves quickly as family members become more responsive, accessible, and engaged with previously unacknowledged attachment-related emotions and needs.

Goals:

  • Accessing and expanding awareness of unacknowledged feelings associated with the couple's negative pattern.

  • Promoting awareness and access to underlying caregiving intentions and disowned attachment related needs.

  • Facilitating the sharing of unmet attachment needs and effective caregiving responses.

What to Expect

An EFT therapist observes the dynamics between clients in the therapy setting, ties this behavior to the dynamics in their home lives, and helps direct new conversations and interactions based on more honest feelings. To accomplish this, your therapist will encourage you to look at your current emotional issues and then help you discover feelings and emotions that you may not realize you have. You may discover deeper past feelings and vulnerabilities that are blocked by the more immediate emotions you display in your current relationship. You will learn to express these emotions in a way that will help you connect, rather than disconnect with your partner or family member. You will learn new ways to listen and stay attuned to another’s emotions and discover more productive ways to respond to emotional situations.

How It Works

EFT focuses on the present time to makes changes in the here and now. There are three steps, or stages, of EFT. The first is to de-escalate the couple’s  negative cycle of interactions, and help them see and understand what is happening in their relationship. Clients come to see that the problems lie in insecurities and distance. The next stage is to restructure interactions, wherein the therapist helps clients discuss their fears in the relationship, using language that doesn’t push the other away. Clients learn to turn toward each other and discuss their needs and they become more open and responsive to each other. Consolidation is the third stage of EFT, wherein the therapist helps clients see how they got into negative patterns and points out how they were able to change those patterns and can continue these types of conversations in the future.