• Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy

    John Gallagher, LMHC

    Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy


    What is Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, how does it work, and how successful is it as a treatment?

    Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT) is a research-based approach that has been helping couples since its inception in the early 1980s. Numerous studies have demonstrated that EFT significantly helps couples who are disconnected or in conflict form more loving and secure emotional bonds.

    Research shows that EFT has a success rate of over 70% and is often (but not always) completed 8 to 20 sessions. The typical length of an EFT session ranges from 60-90 minutes.

    The EFT therapist always takes great care to establish an alliance with both partners. An EFT therapist never "takes sides."The negative cycle of interaction" is considered the source of the problem.

    The typical course of EFT begins with a thorough four session intake assessment.  The intake assessment is followed by the subsequent treatment sessions.  The length of therapy varies depending on the unique issues and life experiences presented by each couple.  

    Session 1: The therapist meets with both partners to gather history, delineate conflict issues and begin an initial discussion of goals.

    Sessions 2 & 3: The therapist meets with each partner individually to gather additional history and gain more understanding with regard to each partner’s perspective on the conflict issues.

    Session 4: The therapist and both clients come together to agree on the conflict issues and collaborate on setting goals for therapy.

           Subsequent Sessions: In subsequent meetings clients learn to identify and change the cycle of conflict. During therapy each partner becomes  more aware of the emotions driving the negative cycle. Neither partner will ever be identified as "the problem." Rather, the negative cycle of conflict is the problem to be treated.  Both partners learn to better manage their emotions and create more loving interactions. Specifically, couples learn to speak with one another in softer and more vulnerable ways. Finally, as a result of these new and more positive interactions clients learn to create stronger emotional bonds. They are then in a much better position to solve old problems and meet future challenges in a mutually supportive way.

    Recommended Reading

    Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson

    Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships by Dr. Sue Johnson

    My, How Couples Therapy has Changed! Attachment, Love and Science by Sue Johnson

    Hold Me Tight, Love demands the reassurance of touch Psychology Today


    Other Treatment Approaches

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
    This approach helps clients become more aware of inaccurate or negative thinking styles.
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    Eye Movement Desentization Reprocessing (EMDR):
    EMDR helps people heal from recent and long-standing emotional trauma and anxiety.
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    This well established therapeutic approach helps individuals learn to observe their perceptions, thoughts and emotions in the present moment.
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    Therapy services available via Telehealth.