Are you considering emotionally focused therapy for couples?
Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) is a specific model of couple therapy that focuses on the attachment bonds between partners in a romantic relationship. It presumes that human beings are naturally relational and wired for intimate connection.
In EFT, adult attachment is seen as an essential part of human relationships and wellbeing. When the attachment bond is at risk or damaged, couples struggle to manage emotions resulting in conflict or distancing.
In therapy, the couple learns to express and discuss their natural needs and fears, which if not addressed affect communication, intimacy and the ability to problem solve. As a couple you will come to understand the important role you each can play by turning to each other for comfort, care and connection.
What is your attachment style?
An essential part of emotionally focused therapy is recognizing your own, and your partner's attachment style. Understanding your attachment style can help you heal individually and as a couple.
The image below outlines four styles of attachment: Secure, Anxious, Avoidant or Fearful. Your attachment style is shaped by your childhood attachment history, by the attachment bond modeled by your parents or primary caregivers, by early intimate relationships and any attachment injuries you may have experienced.
It's important to understand that your attachment style, and your partner's style are learned. That also means that your style of attachment can become more secure given a safe and secure environnment.
Stages and Steps of Emotionally Focused Therapy
Emotionally focused therapy takes place in three distinct stages and includes the following steps.
Stage 1: De-escalating Conflict: Understanding the Patterns That Keep You Stuck
Stage 2 – Renew Your Bond and Change Communication Patterns
Changing Your Attachment Patterns?
Once you better understand your attachment styles and the patterns that keep you stuck, you will be better able to listen to, recognize and respond to communicate to one with compassion. This will allow you each to see how you each get triggered, and express your needs more effectively.
Stage 3 – Use New Communication Patterns to Solve Problems and Maintain Intimacy
Is Emotionally Focused Therapy for Me?
If you feel that you and your partner have grown increasingly distant, you are seeing a recurring cycle of conflict, or worse infidelity, emotionally focused therapy can help.
Typically, you will recognize attachment problems by a tell-tale sign, one partner complains about a lack of engagement, support or intimacy from the other. He or she then demands more. In response, the other partner either complies or objects and withdraws.
The more one partner pursues, the greater likelihood that the other withdraws. This negative cycle often ends up in regular arguments, conflict or a complete withdrawal from both partners.
This type of cycle is common in most couples with relationship problems and is the target of emotionally focused couple therapy.
If you recognize this pattern in your relationship, consider Emotionally Focused Therapy.
Book an in-person or online counselling session or learn more about Derrick McEachern, an EFT trained therapist. You can also discover more EFT therapists with the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (ICEEFT).
Take good care,
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About the Author:
Derrick McEachern is a a Canadian Certified Counsellor and Registered Counselling Therapist (RCT) and an Approved Candidacy Supervisor with the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists. He specializes in providing mindfulness-based and emotionally focused individual, couple and family therapy. Derrick also offers workshops and webinars that help businesses improve employee wellbeing and mental health.