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Emotionally Focused Therapy

What Is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) For Couples?

A couple’s desire to feel emotionally and physically close to each other can sometimes be hampered by everyday conflicts that eventually damage the relationship. When they get stuck in never-ending disagreements over things like household chores, finances, or parenting, these recurring and unresolved arguments can lead to ineffective ways of coping, such as blaming, defensiveness, avoidance, giving in, or shutting down. Once they get caught up in this vicious cycle of arguing, each partner feels alone, misunderstood, and not good enough in the eyes of the other.

couple smiling

Left unaddressed, some couples find themselves on the brink of divorce because the negative cycle has perpetuated for too long. Self-destructive ways of dealing with their pain—such as affairs, addictions, or pornography—create even more hurt and might impact their mental health. Once they reach this point, couples feel hopeless about the possibility of rebuilding their relationship. 

Using emotionally focused therapy (EFT), couples can gain clarity about why they continue to get stuck in cycles that cause conflict and erode connection. Instead, they learn ways to develop healthier and more emotionally effective ways of communicating. This evidence-based approach has gained wide acceptance due to its intuitive nature and positive outcomes. With EFT therapy, couples can finally break free from their harmful patterns that block empathy and understanding of each other to rediscover and strengthen the meaningful connection they share.

How Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy Works

Initially, emotionally focused couples therapy sets out to identify the persistent cycles of miscommunication and disconnection that have developed between partners. Even though their arguments may vary, the underlying pattern remains the same. The therapist helps the couple understand what fuels their painful cycle of miscommunication, including their triggers and what causes each partner to get stuck. Most importantly, EFT counseling helps partners explore the deeper emotional world that lies beneath the role each plays in perpetuating disconnection.

couple picnicking

As the recurring pattern is slowed down and carefully examined, couples begin to build compassion for themselves and their partner. Safety and trust are established to ensure each partner will safeguard and cherish what is shared with them. The therapist then guides the couple to identify and explore their underlying emotions, ensuring that these vulnerable feelings—such as sadness, shame, fear of abandonment, or losing oneself within the relationship—are authentically and productively communicated.

Sharing vulnerability allows couples to feel more understood, valued, and loved. This rediscovered connection enables them to collaboratively resolve whatever conflicts may exist between them in ways that bring them closer to each other. When partners know they are deserving of love and always have a safe place to return to in their relationship, they can take more thriving steps to change and feel more alive.

What makes emotionally focused couples therapy so impactful and effective is its experiential approach. Aided by the therapist, couples create new emotional experiences in every session that lead to breakthroughs. The therapist remains an active participant and emotionally involved as couples make their discoveries to ensure they restore and strengthen their connection. Additionally, they tailor their approach to suit the couples’ unique needs in the moment.

Who Can Benefit From EFT Counseling?

Because we are all genetically wired for connection and crave safety and security in our relationships, emotionally focused therapy can help any couple invested in committing to each other. In addition to couples, Emotionally Focused Therapy for individuals (EFIT) offers beneficial treatment for anyone who may suffer from anxiety, depression, or trauma. Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) applies the same principles of EFT for couples to the broader family unit.

As a group practice that focuses on working with couples, we approach our clients holistically, ensuring that we support each partner’s overall health and well-being throughout therapy. In addition to EFT couples therapy, your therapist might also incorporate other modalities, such as Internal Family Systems (IFS), the Gottman Method, and mindfulness techniques.

Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples has been widely researched and its effectiveness is well documented, making EFT the gold standard for evidence-based marriage counseling. [1] [2] As noted by the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT), “EFT has a body of process research showing that change does indeed occur in the way that the theory suggests.” [3]

Why We Love Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

couple on sofa smiling

The high standard of care we aspire to deliver at Select Counseling means our therapists never stop researching, learning, and implementing effective methods of therapy to help those in distress overcome challenges and learn how to thrive. We are each committed to ensuring our practice reflects the most up-to-date, evidence-based approaches. Based on our collective experience and the research that has been conducted, we believe emotionally focused therapy is one of the most effective modalities for couples.

Each couples therapist on our staff is well-equipped to effectively address the issues that arise in relationships. By developing a place of safety where growth is possible, emotionally focused couples therapy positively impacts each partner, leading to an improved family dynamic. Our therapists are passionate about helping couples because they believe that by helping one couple at a time, they in turn are also helping families, and, eventually, the next generation, to heal.

Couples who engage in EFT often spend less time in therapy because this modality gets to the heart of the matter quickly. Whether the issue is related to disagreements over money, household chores, communication styles, extended family, or infidelity, emotionally focused therapy helps reveal the underlying pattern fueling these disagreements. Usually, by the fourth or fifth session, couples recognize how this pattern keeps arising in different contexts and that their argument isn’t about the problem that brought them to therapy.

Within approximately 12 sessions of EFT, couples have journeyed into their deeper emotions, exposed their vulnerabilities to each other, and healed their wounds rather than putting a Band-Aid on the recurring and unresolved issues that brought them to therapy. By understanding the cycle, nurturing mutual compassion, sharing deep vulnerabilities, and healing from hidden emotional injuries, couples that utilize EFT therapy gain new perspectives of their partner’s emotional experiences. This understanding brings them closer together.

Find Out How EFT For Couples Can Help You

If you want to grow closer to your partner and interrupt the patterns that cause conflict and discord, we can help. To find out more about online emotionally focused couples therapy with Select Counseling, please contact us.

[1] https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2019-00536-001
[2] https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2023-02978-001
[3] https://iceeft.com/eft-research-3/

You may not know which modality is best for you, that’s why we’re here.

Give us a call at 410-949-1238 and we will be happy to assist you.