For an appointment:
Call  917-692-3867
For an appointment : Call  917-692-3867

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

spiral2grow Marriage Family Therapy, a leading provider of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and marriages in New York City, has professionals that include emotionally focused psychotherapists (EFT) and counselors, who are expert in the EFT approach and its application in couples therapy as well as marriage counseling. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers EFT treatment for couples who are interested in improving and rebuilding their relationship while learning constructive relationship skills.

Emotionally focused therapy for couples

Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) is an evidence-based, pluralistic form of person-centered/experiential therapy. It’s been shown to be an effective treatment for couples and families facing sexual abuse histories, depression, grief, management of chronic illness, eating disorders, and PTSD. Emotionally focused couples therapy (EFT) was developed by Dr. Susan Johnson and Dr. Leslie Greenberg. EFT evolved out of the humanistic tradition with its focus on the role of emotional experience in human growth and its emphasis on a safe, non-judgmental relationship in which to explore and experiment. As EFT was developed specifically for couples, the model incorporated systems theory, which understands individual experience in terms of interactional cycles and interpersonal contexts. By conceptualizing primary adult relationships as attachment bonds, EFT targets the issues of emotional engagement and security that are relevant for so many distressed couples.

The goal of EFT couples therapy is to provide partners with both a “safe haven,” which they can turn to for comfort, and a “secure base,” which supports their autonomy. EFT understands couples’ issues in terms of the distress that is a natural reaction to a lack of security in attachment relationships. This distress is reflected in a couple’s interactional cycle, as each partner’s efforts to get his or her attachment needs met are experienced as triggering by the other. One of the most common patterns is a blamer-withdrawer (pursuer-distancer) cycle or dance.

In research studies 90%of marital distress couples, that were engaged in EFT therapy have shown significant improvement. EFT pay close attention and emphasis on emotional engagement, secure attachment, and responsiveness between partners in healthy relationships.

EFT helps couples develop the skills to emotionally connect while promoting responsibility and de-escalation. It allows couples to overcome negative, repetitive, and rigid patterns of interaction that prevent them from having a closer and more caring relationship. The process of EFT allows a deeper understanding of their own and each other’s feelings, and to find new ways of being with each other that facilitate a stronger bond and a more fulfilling connection.

EFT also explore and identify the cycle in terms of behaviors and then in terms of underlying feelings and needs. Clients are helped to access and process emotion using interventions such as reflecting, validating, heightening, and emphatic exploration. Interactions are restructured as the problematic cycle is tracked, explored, and reframed to highlight the partners’ importance to each other as well as their longing for a secure connection. As partners’ de-escalate, EFT therapists support them in both expressing more vulnerable emotions and in responding to each other in an attuned and responsive way.

  • Basic Ideas of Emotionally Focused Therapy:
    • Emotion and attachment are key to the treatment. EFT therapists emphasize the importance of couples’ emotional engagement. Therapists validate the partners’ emotions and attachment needs, respond genuinely to the partners individually, and try to stir the two partners’ own ability to heal themselves and their relationship (the relationship is the client).
    • The process of uncovering emotions is not the same as catharsis, but is an effort to reveal and integrate marginalized and denied emotions by identifying and engaging them in the moment.
    • The therapy session is seen as a healing place where a corrective emotional experience between partners happens, and it is that process that is the method of therapeutic change. The therapist is egalitarian, and empowers the partners.
    • The therapist avoids over-pathologization by remembering that current negative emotional responses were adaptive at some place and time; what seems irrational now actually was a logical response somewhere and somewhen. However, previously adaptive behaviors are now mismatched to the situation, or are rigidly practiced, and so are now maladaptive.
    • Systems theory combines two individuals and creates a whole relationship that is more than the sum of the part(ner)s. For Partner 1, inner emotional experiences influence external experiences, which in turn prime the person for the same inner emotional experiences, re-influencing external experiences…. This cycle for Partner 1 feeds itself and the same cycle for Partner 2, whose cycle feeds itself and that of Partner 1…. The whole thing takes on a life of its own and becomes “a self-maintaining positive feedback loop”. This means positive encounters can have a compounding effect, while experiences in which one partner failed to respond to the other’s needs (attachment injuries) can warp perceptions of future experiences.
  • Process of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
    • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) integrates two main perspectives; humanistic and systemic approaches. It states that attachment theory of close relationship is applied to adults, and attends to both intra-psychic and interpersonal. The founders of that EFT approach are Susan Johnson and Les Greenberg, which build this approach bases on theorist such as Carl Rogers, bertalanffy and Bowlby.
    • Three stages and nine step of Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT):
    • Building of an Alliance with the Therapy – This stage is an ongoing process that spans the whole of therapy. But it should be the starting point of the counseling and first goal for therapy. It is important to create a safe holding environment for the partners in order for them to open up and share intense and difficult emotions. Few of the elements that are keys to doing this well are: build trust, be genuine, be transparent, serve as a consultant who educates and moves with them.
    • Phase one – Assess and De-Escalate
    • Step 1 Create alliance and identify the relationship conflict issues.
    • Step 2 Identify the negative interaction cycle where the issue is expressed
    • Step 3 Access unacknowledged emotions underline the position each partner takes in regards to the issue.
    • Step 4 Reframe the problem in terms of cycle, accompanying emotions and attachment needs (as well as victims allies)
    • The main idea in these steps in to understand the context, stay in the present, figure out process patterns, and primary affect. In this phase you have to seek out vulnerable emotions, and very slowly build the awareness of them.
    • In this phase a good EFT therapists use techniques like:
    • Set supportive atmosphere by speaking slowly, calmly, and patiently, checking with the client to make sure they are remaining engaged.
    • Provide reflective statements (“It seems you are feeling terribly scared by that”) for empathy, acknowledgment and validation.
    • Ask evocative questions (“What’s happening now for you as i say that… What’s it like to say that out loud, here and now?”). These reflective questions focus on the meta-emotion, or emotions about emotions and expressing feelings. It can help one partner connect to their feelings and be mindful of what they feel in their bodies.
    • Use heightening (using images like “It feels like a noose around your throat that could strangle you at any time” to evoke images that captures their emotional experiences, or requesting the partners to repeat something that seems to be important).
    • Going deeper with emotions – The key is to shift the emotional expressions from the secondary aggressive ones to the underlying primary vulnerable ones, moving the couples toward a softening or corrective experience.
    • Phase two – Change Events
    • Step 5 Promote Identification of Disowned Needs, emotions and hidden aspects of self
    • Step 6 Promote Partner Acceptance of the other person view and experience
    • Step 7 Facilitate Expression of Needs and Wants to restructure the dynamic based on new perspective, while promoting bonding experiences.
    • The main idea in phase two is to create corrective emotional experiences. Utilizing “I” statements to identify their needs for themselves, promoting the partner to accept and maybe meet these needs, and coaching them to effectively compromise and mainly to give (rather than focusing on receiving).
    • In this phase psychotherapist uses techniques like:
    • Tracking (“Is this what it’s like at home? What’s missing?). Using the calmness in the session to reflect on the real (challenging) dynamic that take place home.
    • Reframing and restructuring to clarify, deepen and expand experiences. This sometimes means translating experiences for the partner for increased understanding and empathy.
    • “Asoftening” – Helping partner to hear and listen and realize the partner is not a monster, bad person that they saw before. Rather, the partner is just a hurt and scared person like them.
    • In this phase EFT couples therapist hope to expand clients’ awareness of their inner emotional processes, change the ways they feel about problems, and thus change the way they experience the world. Also the psychotherapist affirms for the clients how hard it is to do this, how risky it feels, and make sure the partner integrates this, and the mate realizes how hard it is for the partner.
    • Phase Three – Consolidation of Change
    • Step 8 New Solutions
    • Step 9 Consolidation
    • In this third phase, as couples removed contamination and now became in a better place, while engaging constructively, providing positive energy and implementing healthy skills, couples able to address old problems and resolve it more maturely easier and more naturally).
    • Impasses
    • In addition to focusing on successes, Emotionally focused therapist address failures and impasses. Bellow are few techniques that can be used when therapy progress seems stuck:
    • Conduct individual sessions to influence that individual and to explore what is needed to be happening to unstuck.
    • Use disinquisitions. Disinquisitions are stories, fables, metaphors… that invite introspection but don’t demand it. The disinquistions normalize couples’ experience by “reducing” it to a basic and universal struggle, and offer a new way of looking at issues without labeling things for the client.
    • It is important to look for an attachment injury that may be preventing progress.
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Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in New York City
License # : 000697