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What is EFT & Why Do I Care?

A relationship counselor will often talk about their latest training or respond to a question about their “modality of treatment” but that is just water cooler talk for therapists -- or is it?

Interviewing a counselor (more info: Questions to Ask a Therapist) is important but also knowing what the best mode of therapy to actually treat your burning issue is a consideration.

And when it comes to treating relationship issues, there is no better modality than Emotionally Focused Therapy.

Emotionally Focused Therapy was created by Sue Johnson. It should be confused with Emotion Freedom Technique aka “tapping” or Emotion Focused Therapy, two entirely different models altogether.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) gets to the heart of the matters when it comes to relationships. This model looks at our attachment histories and uses them to understand how we attach to others and the corresponding emotions that propel us to do the things we do in relationships.

You know that feeling you get when you know you should stop pestering your partner for something but you just.can’t.stop. Or maybe you know you should open up to your partners but there seems to be this brick wall you can’t fathom taking down. Guess what? There are really good reasons why you do what you do and why your partner does what they do even though it's making your relationship miserable.

It’s emotions. Our outside emotions are trying to meet the needs of our inside emotions. In other words, our inside emotions are driving the outside emotions but the outside emotions are driving our partners either away from us and/or driving them towards us.

What are outside and inside emotions? More on this in a coming blog post but basically our inside or primary emotions are usually our deep-seated fears we don’t want to admit or maybe we don’t even know outright. Am I lovable? Am I wanted? Am I good enough? Do I measure up? Will they leave me? The outside emotions are what usually comes out in conflict with others. Anger, rage, frustration, anxiety and resentment. Basically, and not that basic at all, something happens that triggers our deepest fear. Instead of saying, “When you said you didn’t like my cooking, it triggered my fear that I’m not good enough and that scares me. Because, you know, my dad left us as kids and now I feel like if I’m not perfect at everything, you’ll leave me too.”, we yell, “Then you cook it yourself!” and throw the eggs at your partner’s face while storming off. Lots of doors are slammed as well.

By focusing on how emotions were handled in our family, we get insight into how we handle them in our relationships. We can even gain insight into how we can handle them in business settings!

Now for half of you, you are racing to figure out how to get into this modality of therapy. You can swim comfortably in a sea of emotion and you can’t wait to get your partner to dive right in. The other half of you are saying there is no way you are doing this mode of therapy. You’ll take a worksheet or a book, I don’t have feelings.

Special note to the no thank you bunch: I get it. I’m that 50%. A therapist who doesn’t love feelings. Yep! I’m not your typical therapist. Self-disclosure. I’m comfortable with you expressing emotions but the other way around, it’s a work in progress. So, I have a special place in my heart for the ones that get called cold and stoic. I see you.

The reality is whether you are comfortable in a sea of emotions and doing backstrokes or whether you have built a wall of steel around your emotional world and ain’t no one getting in, it is the very thing that drives our relationships whether we like it or not.

And that is why Emotionally Focused Therapy is such a perfect modality in relationships. It just makes sense.

And with all due respect to the active listening exercises, that are usually a part of your most common approaches to communication, getting into the deeper reason why interactions cause the pain that they cause provides greater understanding. And understanding leads to more emotional intimacy. And intimacy leads to less conflict and deeper satisfaction. And even more passion! When you know your partners fears and they know yours, you both work to understand them and each other. How they contribute both positively and negatively to your relationship and then real security and affection can be obtained.

If you are ready to make a lasting change in the way you understand relationships, be it single and dating or married and struggling, please contact us today to schedule your session. We're here to help.


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