Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT)

EFT is usually a short-term (8-20 sessions) structured approach to couples therapy formulated in the early 80’s by Drs. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. Couples in distress are often caught in a “dance” that keeps them stuck and unable to resolve their conflicts. Using John Bowlby’s attachment theory, Dr. Johnson further developed the model to promote greater understanding of what is happening in couple relationships and to guide therapists in helping couples in distress. She believed that basic attachment issues were underneath these negative cycles of interactions. The goals of EFT are to expand and re-organize key emotional responses – the “music” of the attachment dance. This, in turn, helps create a shift in the partner interactions – new cycles of bonding interactions occur and replace negative cycles such as pursue-withdraw or criticize-defend. These positive cycles then become self-reinforcing and create permanent change. The relationship becomes a safe haven and a healing environment for both partners. More recently, EFT has also been used with families (Emotion Focused Family Therapy; EFFT), specifically children and parents. The goal of EFFT is to repair, activate, and restore attachment bonds between family members.