What is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy?

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a dynamic and evidence-based option for couples who are stuck in a cycle of negative patterns within their relationship. It’s an attachment-based therapy designed to help partners form a safe and strong bond with each other while honoring their own needs as well as their partners. While your relationship doesn’t necessarily need to have a lot of conflict for EFT to be effective, feeling dissatisfied with or resentful towards your partner is a good sign that this type of therapy could benefit both of you.

Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from EFT and whether it’s the right solution for you and your partner. 

What’s the Goal of EFT For Couples?

There are two main goals to Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. The first is to create a stronger, more secure connection between you and your partner. Your therapist will help to foster that connection and work on improving your bond as a couple. If you’re seeking out EFT for your relationship, you might worry that you’ve fallen into negative or harmful patterns. The second goal is to identify and break these patterns and give you other ways of communicating and behaving. EFT is meant to help you slow down and attend to the deep attachment needs at play when you feel distance between you.

Communication Issues

Communication is a crucial component of any relationship. Unfortunately, a lack of active communication is often what causes couples to struggle. That’s especially true in a “pursuer-distancer” pattern, where one partner tries to initiate conversation and closeness, and the other consistently backs away. If that sounds familiar, it’s a type of pattern that EFT can help with.

This negative communication pattern creates a vicious cycle that leaves the pursuer with a deeper desire to connect and the distancer feeling pressured, criticized, or intruded upon. While it’s just one example of a negative pattern, it’s an important one. Through EFT, couples can learn how to break this pattern by figuring out how to effectively express their needs and wants and even how to argue in healthy ways. Learning how to identify negative patterns that lead up to arguments and the patterns that fuel them can make it easier for you and your partner to change and remember you’re on the same team.

What to Expect

EFT is typically a short-term, structured solution for couples who wish to stay together and are willing to take action and accountability. Typically, couples will attend anywhere from 8-20 sessions with the overall goal of creating a more secure attachment. Secure attachment in a relationship leads to more healthy interdependence and can also boost your own personal emotional regulation. EFT isn’t meant to be a long-term therapy, though couples with trauma, mental health challenges, or significant life stressors such as a chronic illness may benefit from a longer course of therapy.

EFT is different from other types of couples therapy in a variety of ways. First, you won’t spend a lot of time keeping track of things like positive and negative behaviors and interactions. You also won’t spend a large amount of time focusing on who is “right” and who is “wrong” or who’s needs and wants take priority. Instead, your therapist will guide you to explore how your attachment styles are contributing to cycles of conflict or distress in your relationship. From there, you’ll learn how to break those negative patterns.

By the time you’ve completed your sessions, you should feel empowered and closer to your partner than ever. The best part? You can use the skills learned throughout your sessions to address any new communication issues or negative patterns that might appear later.

Who Is EFT For?

Couples use EFT to help in a variety of situations. It’s been shown to be extremely helpful for couples dealing with the effects of depression, PTSD, illnesses, or generational trauma. 

If you have an interest in learning more about Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and how I work, learn more here. You can break free from the negative patterns of your relationship, learn to argue effectively, and increase your emotional attachment to your partner more than you ever thought possible. 

Hello, I’m Miriam. I’m a psychotherapist with an online practice in California and Illinois.

Learn more about me and how I can help you here.