Emotionally Focused Couple’s Therapy was developed by Sue Johnson as a way of applying the science of emotions and attachment to help couples heal their troubled relationships.
The science of attachment suggests that when one has a secure bond, beginning in infancy with their caregiver, that they are then able to explore with greater confidence and their emotional distress is easier to manage. This continues into adulthood: when we feel safe with our partners, we are better able to regulate our emotions and depend less on unhealthy coping or unsuccessful forms of communication. EFT aims to establish or re-establish a secure bond between partners so their relationship becomes a kind of safe haven wherein they can look to their partner for support.
Instead of blaming either partner, fights are seen as protests against disconnection that develop into patterns of communicating that can be difficult to break free from. By experimenting with new ways of communicating, both partners can begin to feel as though they are being heard and they can get their needs met.
Therapists join together with the members of the couple to explore their goals for the relationship and the places that seem to get them stuck. As the typical cycles that couples get into are slowed down, the emotions, longings, and unresolved conflicts that fuel them begin to surface. By processing how each partner is impacted by these cycles, old painful patterns can be replaced with healthier ways of relating to one another.
References: Johnson, S. (2019). Attachment theory in practice: emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with individuals, couples, and families. New York: The Guildford Press.
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