Couples therapy has undergone many productive shifts and transitions over the years. Through it all, the success rate of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) remains consistently impressive. Thus, EFT for couples has been studied extensively.
Research shows the following:
70-75 percent of couples move from distress to recovery. These couples report being much happier with each other (compared to 35 percent for cognitive-behavioral counseling).
90 percent of couples make significant improvements due to EFT.
The EFT for couples dropout rate is negligible.
Perhaps now, Emotionally Focused Therapy has your full attention. Let’s learn more about what it is and how it works.
What is EFT for Couples?
The foundation of EFT is built upon partners recognizing their emotional dependence on each other. This includes:
When couples feel such safety in their relationship, they grow far more comfortable with navigating difficult situations and feelings. Hence, EFT teaches us that we may already possess good communication skills. But, it’s not enough.
Emotional security must also be present in order for such skills to be properly and regularly applied. This belief is a component of “attachment theory.”
Attachment, of course, is not a one-time event. It’s ongoing and fluid. EFT helps couples grow in this process, with one of the goals being a deeper, more secure emotional connection. From this springs more loving and productive interactions.
Some Goals When Utilizing EFT for Couples
Re-organize our palette of emotional responses
Create new cycles of communication
Cultivate a more secure bond between partners
The 9 Steps to a Stronger, More Secure, and Happier Marriage
EFT for couples is divided into three stages. Steps 1 through 4 (below) constitute the “Assessment and Cycle De-escalation” stage. The second stage is “Changing Interaction Patterns and Creating New Bonds” and consists of steps 5, 6, and 7. The final two steps make up a stage called “Consolidation and Integration.”
STAGE 1: ASSESSMENT AND CYCLE DE-ESCALATION
1. Identify primary issues of concern. Set goals. Then, assess your relationship history.
2. Identify negative patterns in your interactions. Work with your therapist to trace past patterns.
3. Recognize previously unacknowledged attachment-related emotions. Identify the feelings “underneath” your behavioral patterns and discuss this “underneath” with your partner.
4. With help from your therapist, reframe all of the above into categories. Especially relevant to your relationship are negative cycles, underlying feelings, and attachment needs categories. Subsequently, use this time to assess your emotional cycle and identify triggers each step of the way.
STAGE 2: CHANGING INTERACTIONAL POSITIONS AND CREATING NEW BONDING EVENTS
5. Partners voice their attachment needs and define whatever emotions have been previously disowned.
6. Listen and accept. While each partner responds with compassion to the other partner’s expressed needs and emotions, sometimes those needs and emotions take you by surprise and require processing.
7. Your therapist coaches you on how you’re expressing your attachment needs, your fears, and your new interactional goals. In addition, couples work more deeply with listening and acceptance. As a result, they work more purposefully towards the goal of “being there” for each other.
STAGE 3: CONSOLIDATION/ INTEGRATION
8. Work on ways to apply your new communication styles and techniques while discussing old problems to create new solutions. This includes time outside of the therapy session environment. Then, it’s time to re-visit issues that have been put on hold.
9. Consolidate. Blend all your developing skills with the awareness of new closeness and deeper bonds. Begin to work together on future plans. Also, don’t forget to celebrate your efforts. Create rituals too. In addition, be sure to set up safeguards to address concerns as they arise.
Again, EFT for couples has an extremely strong track record.
However, its intangible power may lie beyond the research studies. Most of all, Emotionally Focused Therapy reminds couples how much they need each other!