Learning EFT with Couples

In the course of providing supervision and trainings in EFT, I’ve become aware that certain questions tend to arise almost like clockwork as people begin to learn and apply EFT in their work. Typical recurring questions include:

  • How do I know – with a given couple – where we are in the steps/stages?
  • How do I more effectively evoke and work with emotion?
  • How can I better recognize attachment themes as they arise?
  • How do I keep from getting sidetracked by content issues?

Most therapists learning EFT are either seasoned therapists who have been trained in and utilize very different models or therapists who have discovered the model early in their career as they are beginning to develop couple therapy skills.   Two main things are needed to become fluent as an EFT practitioner. First, understand the stages of therapy and the basic interventions and second, understand how to work with reactive secondary emotion while accessing and  processing attachment-related primary emotion. Whether you’re interested in becoming proficient in this model or just want to add some elements to what you are already doing, the following suggestions should help with both of these areas and deepen your understanding of the model.

  • Read Creating Connection (2004) by Sue Johnson. This is the treatment manual for EFT with couples.
  • Read and work thru the exercises in Becoming an Emotionally Focused Therapist: The Workbook (2005) by Sue Johnson, et al. The exercises will go a long way in helping you  develop some familiarity and ease with the interventions.
  • Work on an ongoing basis, with at least 2 couples. Practice helps. And with your couples:
    • Record and review sessions – at least one per week (video if possible)
    • Complete case formulations for at least 2 of your couples (Workbook, Appendix G)
    • Complete the pre-session checklist, (Workbook, Appendix C)
  • Transcribe a portion of a session. It slows down and highlights your interventions.
  • Watch videos of Sue and others, and listen to how the therapist helps clients move from a more narrative, content focus to an experiential level. And observe the flow of the session, try to label the interventions, note how she uses reflecting and validation to  hold one partner while working with the other.
  • Get some supervision. Group is good, individual is even better.
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