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Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples

What is Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples?

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a type of therapy designed to help couples improve their emotional bond and strengthen their relationship. It was developed by Dr. Sue Johnson in the 1980s and is rooted in the understanding that emotions and attachment are central to human relationships.

The goal of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy is to create a secure and trusting connection between partners by helping them identify and address the underlying emotions and attachment needs that drive their behaviors and interactions. The therapy process typically involves the following steps:

1. Assessment: The therapist helps the couple identify their patterns of interaction and underlying emotional dynamics. This involves exploring each partner's attachment history and understanding how it influences their current relationship.

2. Identifying negative patterns: The therapist helps the couple identify the negative cycles or patterns of interaction that perpetuate conflict, distance, or disconnection. These patterns often involve cycles of pursuing and withdrawing or engaging in negative communication patterns.


3. Creating new interactions: The therapist helps the couple develop new ways of interacting that promote emotional safety, responsiveness, and vulnerability. This involves fostering open communication, empathy, and understanding between partners.

4. Addressing underlying emotions: The therapist helps each partner express and validate their underlying emotions and attachment needs. This process aims to foster emotional engagement, empathy, and a secure emotional bond.


5. Consolidation and integration: The therapist assists the couple in consolidating their progress, reinforcing positive changes, and developing strategies to maintain and further enhance their emotional connection.


Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy has been widely researched and has shown effectiveness in improving relationship satisfaction, reducing relationship distress, and creating lasting positive changes in couples' relationships. It is often used to address issues such as communication difficulties, conflict resolution, infidelity, and trust issues.


It's important to note that EFT is typically conducted by trained therapists who specialize in couples therapy. If you are interested in pursuing Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, it is recommended to seek out a qualified therapist with experience in this approach. Dr. Angela Koivula has advanced training in EFT including completion of Externship, Core Skills, and she participates in ongoing individual and group supervision. She also has completed additional workshops and trainings on use of EFT with military couples and trauma informed approaches to EFT work.

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