All couples have occasions when partners wound each another. The result is often a strain or even a rupture in the attachment bond. A key difference between those who thrive and those who merely survive – or don’t – is the ability to turn to each other, take risks to share vulnerabilities with their partner and ask for specific needs to be met. Those who cannot reconnect in this way generally resort to coping strategies – such as angry escalation or stoney withdrawal – that contribute added conflict or distance to the relationship.
Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples is an integrated model utilizing elements of humanistic, experiential and systemic approaches rooted in adult attachment theory. The actual content of couples’ arguments is generally much less important than how their interactions erode attachment security. The therapist’s task is to first help couples de-escalate conflict patterns, then promote engagement by creating the powerful bonding events that lead to lasting change.
Since the mid 1980’s, an ever-growing body of research, including randomized clinical trials and task analysis have shown EFT to be effective with both general and specific populations. It is currently one of the few couple therapy models to meet the APA criteria for empirically supported therapies. Therapists appreciate EFT’s clearly delineated change process and couples benefit from a therapy that not only explains their distress, but also provides a clear direction for relief. For a short summary of EFT research visit the ICEEFT site.