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  • Caleb Birkhoff

What is Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy and How Can It Help Your Relationship?

Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) is a scientifically validated, and peer reviewed, therapeutic approach that helps individuals identify and address the underlying emotions that contribute to their psychological and physical symptoms. EFT is based on research that suggests emotion plays an important role in psychological healing , attachment and well-being. Through the use of strategies such as active listening, validation, reflection and exploration of feelings through enactments, EFT helps clients gain insight into their own emotions and experience them more deeply. The goal of EFT is to create a safe space for clients to express their feelings without being judged or shamed.


Once this safe space has been established, clients can begin to explore the origin of their distress, gain clarity around core issues or themes, develop options for change and start to move towards meaningful transformation in their lives. In addition, EFT enables clients to increase self-compassion, build healthier relationships with others and reconnect with lost parts of themselves.


If you and your partner are experiencing some issues in your relationship, then considering couples therapy may be a wise choice. When it comes to couples therapy, there are many options, but one approach that has shown great results is EFT. This approach focuses on identifying and processing emotions in couples to strengthen their connection and improve their communication. Below is a deeper dive into what Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is and discuss how it can help you and your partner create a healthier dynamic. Not every couples therapist has the training and experience to effectively practice as an EFT therapist, so you’re left asking yourself why should I look for an EFT therapist near me?


What is Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy?


EFT is an approach that emphasizes emotions and their role in how couples interact with each other. This approach is based on the theory that emotions are at the center of human experience and communication; and that we’re wired for connection and relationship. This approach aims to help couples recognize and express their emotions more effectively, ultimately improving their emotional connection and relationship satisfaction.


EFT helps couples move out of negative communication patterns, by slowing couples down, de-escalating fight-or-flight responses, identifying pursue-withdraw dynamics, and connecting protests responses to vulnerable emotions, needs, and longings. It can help you begin to understand these patterns that you get stuck in, revisit what makes your relationship work, and strengthen your skills to face obstacles that might show up in the future. EFT couples therapy focuses on improving communication, setting boundaries, and reducing conflict in relationships


What are the benefits of Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy?


One of the primary benefits of EFT is that it provides a safe space for both partners to express their feelings. By better understanding and processing emotions, couples can strengthen their emotional bond and improve their communication. This therapy also helps to decrease aggression between partners and reduce emotional distance. The predictable patterns that couples disagree, argue, or fight in are developed over time, requiring couples to gain understanding of their pattern and then skillfully interrupting it. You could find a therapist in San Francisco to help you and your partner disrupt this cycle and build a new one, focusing on closeness, intimacy, and repair.


EFT primarily focuses on building trust and strengthening relationships between individuals. It is particularly useful for people with a history of attachment issues, such as those who have experienced trauma or neglect during childhood. If you've been struggling with unresolved emotional pain or unfulfilling relationships, attachment therapy may be a therapeutic option worth considering.


What to expect in an Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy session.


In an EFT session, your therapist works with both partners to identify and express their emotions. The therapist may also help them understand the significance of certain emotions in their relationship. Through guided exercises and discussions, the therapist will help you and your partner find ways to express your emotions in a healthier way and build a stronger emotional connection.


This treatment modality is grounded in the attachment theory and research, which suggests that healthy relationships are fundamental to human development and well-being. This therapy typically begins by identifying the underlying causes of attachment issues, such as traumas or unmet emotional needs that occurred in early childhood. Therapists who practice attachment based therapy, EFT included, emphasize that these issues can manifest themselves in various ways in adulthood, such as intimacy problems, difficulty trusting others, and fear of abandonment. The objective of EFT therapy is to help clients, as couples or individuals, develop a strong, secure attachment style and learn how to build meaningful connections with others.


Combat Disconnection with More Connection


Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy has shown tremendous benefits in helping couples strengthen their relationships. By identifying and processing emotions, this approach helps partners to reconnect emotionally and improve their communication. While starting therapy can be intimidating, especially for couples, Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy is a supportive, encouraging, and empathetic approach that would enable both partners to express their feelings. If you and your partner are struggling to communicate, consider Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy to help you two reconnect, build a stronger emotional bond, and create a happier, healthier relationship.


An EFT therapist will guide the client to identify their attachment style, explore how they were influenced by their early caretakers, and work towards developing a more secure attachment style in adulthood. EFT has the ability to help clients form healthier, more secure relationships. Attachment based therapy can help you learn to communicate better, trust others, and express your emotions constructively. It can also aid in alleviating the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders that often stem from attachment issues.


I hope that this list helps you feel more confident to consider EFT for couples therapy in San Francisco. If after reading all of that, you’re still swirling with questions feel free to call me at 415-990-1452 for a free 15-minute phone consultation and to get some questions answered. I would be happy to hear what is happening for you, what you’re looking for and provide some direction to finding the right therapist for you.


If you are seeking help with couples therapy, drugs and alcohol, life transitions, discovering yourself, or therapy for men’s issues, you can read more about how Caleb Birkhoff might be able to help by clicking here!










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