Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a couples’ therapy technique which has successfully treated many couples.
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It bases its approach on attachment theory and focuses on bringing awareness to a couple of their negative communication patterns and helps them to attain a secure attachment bond between them which has been established through love.
It’s an interesting strategy that really makes sense, and one of the best things about emotionally focused couples therapy is that it takes a structured step by step approach that doesn’t involve having counselling sessions for the next ten years – it usually takes between 8-20 sessions depending on the couples involved.
So what’s emotionally focused couples therapy all about?
Let’s start with the proof of success
According to studies have found that 70 to 75% of couples who go through emotionally focused couples therapy have achieved successful outcomes – where they began in distress and are now moving into the recovery process.
And that’s not all – the study has also shown that this recovery we speak of is reasonably stable and long-lasting. There has not been much evidence at all of a relapse. Plus if that didn’t satisfy you completely, 90% of these couples who participated in the study showed significant improvements.
When you think about all of the factors and variables involved in a relationship, it’s easy to see that the complexity of couple counseling is intense. So when you can get such strong results from emotionally focused couples therapy, it really is quite incredible.
How does emotionally focused couples therapy work?
Emotionally focused couples therapy is based in John Bowlby’s attachment theory.
Attachment theory focuses on how we build attachment as children it poses that dependent upon the level of care and attention that we received from our primary caregiver.
If we received adequate care and attention, we tend to form positive and balanced attachments in our adult relationships.
If we didn’t receive ‘adequate’ care and attention from our primary caregiver, then we form negative attachment styles. Or even an attachment disorder, depending on the intensity of the lack of care we receive.
Almost half of the US adults are said to have a negative attachment style or an attachment disorder. Which means that there’s a high chance that you or your partner or spouse might have such a problem.
Essentially what happens when we do not form healthy attachments is we become insecure in the world, we don’t have a safe platform to stand on, and as children, we will have learned how to behave in a certain way to get our needs met and survive.
But the way that we do so may have been successful in helping us navigate and survive turbulent waters as an infant, but it doesn’t help us form healthy relationships as adults.
The problem is, according to attachment theory, that at the time when we were experiencing the need for these behavioral traits it was also at the time when our brain was developing.
And so, the patterns we have developed for survival can be deeply ingrained into us. So ingrained in fact that we might not even realize that there’s a problem other than the fact that we can’t seem to attract a healthy relationship or sustain one when we have the opportunity.
How we relate comes from the need to feel safe
All of these issues in how we relate comes from the need to feel safe in the world, and so we might become insecure in a relationship to avoid losing something precious, aloof to avoid being hurt, or disorganized because we have grown disorganized, all as a way to protect our fragile vulnerability.
So, emotionally focused couples therapists can help you understand these patterns and support you in navigating them together as a couple. You both might begin to understand each other deeply and learn how to trust and relate to each other.
Developing an innate sense of safety built out of love
When this occurs both of you start to develop an innate sense of safety built out of love that overrides the former lack of security that you may have unconsciously felt before.
As somebody who has once had a negative attachment style, I can attest to the fact that it is possible to overcome and correct.
So when or if you consider emotionally focused couples therapy as an option for your situation just know this; the work you do is likely to help your marriage or relationship to find its way out of distress.
And if you do the work, it will ensure that you have taken the psychological steps to repair the damage that your early childhood experience might have had on your ability to attract and maintain healthy relationships. So that in the future, and for the rest of your life, you won’t need to deal with that issue again.
There is a saying that says ‘if you complete your past you don’t repeat your past,’ and emotionally focused couples therapy is certainly one way to do so. Emotionally focused couple therapy helps you to do just that.
Emotionally focused couples therapy is used with many different couples, across cultures, and practices.
EFT is known to help couples where one or both partners suffer from either addiction, depression, chronic illness or PTSD disorder.
It has even proven to be extremely powerful in situations where couples have had to deal with infidelity or other extremely traumatic incidents.
It can help to rewind our previous programming, or beliefs and reconcile any repressed or presenting emotion, warranted or unwarranted along with soothing and healing any conflicts we might be experiencing.
It ultimately fosters a healthy dependency and an innate sense of safety for both partners.
Now imagine that, a relationship based on security, confidence, and emotional and mental wellbeing. That’s the ideal way to start a new chapter in any relationship. Don’t you think?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.