what is emotionally focused couples therapy (efct)?
EFCT 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. Since then, Sue Johnson has further developed the model, adding attachment theory to further understand what is happening in couple relationships and to guide therapists in helping them. EFT is also used with families and individuals.
A substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of EFT now exists. Research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements. The major contraindication for EFT is on-going violence in the relationship. EFT is being used with many different kinds of couples in private practice, university training centers and hospital clinics and many different cultural groups throughout the world.
These distressed couples include partners suffering from disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and chronic illness.Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT) is an affirming, caring, supportive way to get out of the "stuck places" we all get into. It helps couples and families move beyond fighting and withdrawing into closeness and security.
EFCT works to restore the bonds we have formed and secure the connection we desire. It is based on clear, explicit conceptualizations of marital distress and adult love. These conceptualizations are supported by empirical research on the nature of marital distress and adult attachment.
Goals of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
To expand and re-organize key emotional responses – the music of the attachment dance.
To create a shift in partners' interactional positions and initiate new cycles of interaction.
To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners.
An Example of the Change Process
In a therapy session, a husband’s numb withdrawal expands into a sense of helplessness, a feeling of being intimidated. He begins to assert his need for respect and, in doing so, becomes more accessible to his wife. He moves from "There is no point in talking to you. I don't want to fight." to "I do want to be close. I want you to give me a chance. Stop poking me and let me learn to be there for you." His wife’s critical anger then expands into fear and sadness. She can now ask for and elicit comfort. She moves from "You just don't care. You don't get it." to "It is so difficult to say – but I need you to hold me – reassure me – can you?"