Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) – What is it, and how does it work?

Communication problems, unexpressed needs, lack of attention, attachment needs, or rejection. There are many reasons for relationship problems. Emotion-focused couples therapy (EFT) is a therapeutic approach already widespread in the USA and is becoming increasingly popular in other countries. Sue Johnson and Leslie Greenberg developed the method, and its goal is to recognize and better respond to the emotional needs and desires of the partner.

By recognizing and understanding the other person’s emotions, negative patterns can be broken, and a deeper connection can be built. EFT is now a widely used and recognized method that is being applied in more and more relationship coaching and couples therapy sessions.


What is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy?


Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy is, at its core, about helping couples learn to accept their emotions and to mindfully experience, understand and regulate them. The therapy assumes that relationships are built on emotions and that unresolved emotional conflicts are one of the leading causes of relationship problems. Through Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy, couples aim to gain a deeper understanding of each other and build emotional connections that allow them to be close, respectful, and loving to each other. This involves, among other things, setting boundaries for oneself and respecting the partner’s boundaries.



The Practice Of Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy:

What are the three stages of emotionally focused couples therapy?


EFT therapy is based on the assumption that negative emotions and experiences cause physical blockages, which can lead to physical and psychological ailments. There are three main areas of EFT therapy: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Thought Field Therapy (TFT), and Matrix Reimprinting. EFT refers to tapping acupressure points to release negative emotions. TFT also uses acupressure points and various techniques to regulate energy in the body. Matrix Reimprinting focuses on identifying and overcoming trauma and negative experiences from the past. By integrating these areas, EFT therapists can develop an individualized approach for each person to release blockages and achieve emotional freedom.


How does emotionally focused therapy work for couples? And how effective is EFT Couples Therapy?


Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) is an effective psychotherapeutic intervention that can treat various problems. EFT is designed to help people overcome emotional challenges and improve interpersonal relationships. Thus, it is also used to build and strengthen resilience.

The therapy can be used for various issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, family therapy, relationship problems, or emotional dysregulation. In the context of EFT, the client is helped with emotion regulation. In other words, it is used to learn how to express better and regulate one’s own emotions. Emphasis is placed on mindful interaction between client and therapist. Empirical studies demonstrate the effectiveness of emotion-focused therapy for a variety of psychological disorders, making it a good form of therapy.


Limitations of Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy


EFT couples therapy also has limitations, particularly with relationship issues stemming from more profound individual trauma or psychological disorders. If only one of the partners is emotionally inaccessible or traumatized, therapy can stall. Also, highly conflictual couples may not be the best candidates for this type of therapy. Another factor is the length of therapy, as it often requires a longer treatment period (20+ sessions) and thus can be more costly.


How does emotionally focused therapy work for couples? – EFT for Couples


In Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy, the focus is on working through and coping with negative emotions. The therapist helps partners become more aware of and express their emotions to avoid misunderstandings and escalation. The goal is to develop a deeper understanding of each other and build a more secure bond. For this purpose, specific techniques, such as the use of meta-emotions, the Expressing Listening Dialogue, and the Emotion Focused Imagination Exercise, are used. The therapy course is divided into different phases, in which the partners are successively guided to recognize and communicate their individual emotions, feelings, and needs.


Writing is an essential tool for recognizing and expressing emotions


Writing down and clearly describing one’s emotions and feelings has proven particularly helpful in practice. It promotes mindfulness and self-awareness and encourages clients to express their emotions as accurately and precisely as possible. In addition, writing is a valuable means of first mindfully recognizing feelings and emotions and then successfully processing and mastering them.

Whether the feelings are positive or negative, writing down their thoughts and emotions can help clients gain clarity and feel better. Supporting clients through CleverMemo allows them to keep a journal and conveniently answer questionnaires and other emotion focused couples therapy exercises and worksheets. In doing so, the shared coaching or counseling history gives the couples therapist or coach an insight into the emotional world that would remain hidden in sessions. In addition, the software tool offers the opportunity for self-reflection and introspection at any time.


Conclusion Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy


Emotion-focused couples therapy is a promising therapy method that focuses on the importance of emotions in the relationship. In this type of therapy, attention is paid to helping both partners learn how to identify and express their emotions appropriately. So open and honest communication is vital here.


The therapy aims to help the couple learn to identify their emotional needs and meet them in the partnership. Emotion-focused couples therapy requires a high level of openness and trust between the partners and can take some time to complete. Nevertheless, this type of therapy is an effective way to solve relationship problems and build a happier and more fulfilling partnership.


Here are 14 ready-to use couples therapy worksheets and exercises that are commonly used together with EFT Couples Therapy: