Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) was developed primarily by Dr. Susan Johnson for working with couples, but it is also effective with families.

EFT’s main goals are to expand and reorganize important emotional responses, implement and foster the creation of a secure bond between partners and family members, and help shift each person’s position of interaction while initiating new cycles of interaction that are more beneficial for the relationship. Emotionally focused therapy helps create secure and lasting bonds between partners and family members and strives to reinforce the positive bonds that already exist. EFT is a practical technique that has enormous success, especially with couples, and can facilitate change in marriages and other relationships that exhibit a wide range of challenges.

Through the exploration of emotions, reactions, inter-relations, and behaviors, couples and families can identify and study their individual roles and the effect each has on the dynamic of the relationship. Each participant is encouraged to express their experiences and emotions in a non-judgmental and secure environment. By witnessing the release of feelings and anxieties of one partner or family member, the other is able to gain new insight and perception into the validity and emotional state that their own actions and experiences have on the relationship as a whole. Without criticism or consequences, the partners or family members are permitted to voice their deepest concerns and conflicts in order to address them and move beyond to develop more productive and collaborative behaviors.

Emotionally focused therapy is generally a short-term approach—usually requiring about 8-20 sessions. It has been found that 70 to 75 percent of couples effectively move from distress to recovery using EFT and approximately 90 percent of couples show significant improvement in their relationships. It is currently used in private practices, hospital clinics, and training centers throughout the world. More on EFT.

See a video of an EFT session.