What Is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?

“The message of EFT is simple: Forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection. EFT focuses on creating and strengthening this emotional bond by identifying and transforming the key moments that foster an adult loving relationship.” — Dr. Sue Johnson

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is an incredibly effective therapeutic approach for couples and families developed by relationship expert
Dr. Sue Johnson. Studies show that an astounding 70% to 75% of couples who complete their EFT work effectively move from distress to recovery and that 90% of couples show significant improvement in their relationships.

EFT is founded on the exciting science of
attachment theory, which explains that we are all wired for strong, loving bonds with our partners and that we have deep needs for acceptance, belonging, closeness, and safety. When we perceive these needs are threatened in some way, or we feel insecure in our relationship with our partner, we naturally go into distress. Unfortunately, many of us deal with that distress by protecting ourselves with critical, blaming approaches or by shutting down and shutting out our partners. These responses keep us stuck in disconnected, painful cycles that leave both partners alone and insecure.

As the name implies, EFT is powered by connecting with our vulnerable emotions and needs, which we often mask with defensive criticism or withdrawal. EFT therapy involves tracking our behavioral and emotional responses to each other, and mapping out the negative cycles of conflict we often get caught in. By exploring their emotions, perceptions of each other, and automatic responses to each other, partners can start to identify their roles in the dynamic, and the effect they have on the relationship.

Here’s a short video of Sue Johnson talking about how to know if your marriage is in trouble and what you can do:



And because infidelity can be a common challenge for couples, here’s another video with Sue explaining why people cheat on their partners: