What Is Emotion Focused Therapy?

While many other kinds of therapy focus on the emotions of clients, both intra- and interpersonal, the emphasis on adult attachment and bonding theory is what sets emotion-focused therapy apart. An EFT therapist observes the dynamics between clients in the therapy setting, ties this behavior to the dynamics in their home lives, and helps direct new conversations and interactions based on more honest feelings. To accomplish this, your therapist will encourage you to look at your current emotional issues and then help you discover feelings and emotions that you may not realize you have. You may discover deeper past feelings and vulnerabilities that are blocked by the more immediate emotions you display in your current relationship. You will learn to express these emotions in a way that will help you connect, rather than disconnect with your partner or family member. You will learn new ways to listen and stay attuned to another’s emotions and discover more productive ways to respond to emotional situations.

Principles of EFT

Emotion Focused Therapy, or EFT, is based on the idea that emotions are not the only important factors in our lives, but the key to who we are. The theory behind EFT posits that we construct our very selves based on emotion.

  • Become more aware of emotions
  • Learn to welcome, allow, and regulate emotions
  • Learn to describe emotions clearly and in detail.
  • Increase awareness of the multiple layers of emotional experiences and learn to identify the most direct reaction

Emotion Focused Therapy: Stages and Steps

Phase One – Assess and Deescalate Phase

In phase one, the goal is to uncover the underlying emotional problem and begin to change the way clients perceive it. There are four steps to this phase: 

  •  Identify the conflict
  • Identify the cycle where conflict is expressed
  • Access unacknowledged emotions
  • Reframe the problem from a different perspective

Phase Two – Change Events Phase

Phase two is focused on creating new emotional experiences to replace the negative experiences and setting the clients up for more effective communication. There are 3 steps to this phase:

  • Promote identification of disowned needs 
  • Promote partner acceptance
  • Facilitate expression of needs and wants

Phase Three – Consolidation of Change Phase

Phase three wraps up the EFT experience through resolving old problems and creating a plan for continued success outside of the therapist’s office. There are two steps to this phase 

  • Creating new solutions
  • Consolidation, and using the work at home

Who is Emotion Focused Therapy For?

While Emotion Focused Therapy began as a form of therapy for couples, the principles of EFT can be applied to other therapy modes as well.

Emotion Focused Therapy for Couples

EFT can help couples understand themselves and their partner better, EFT can help couples strengthen their very foundation through deeper and more resilient emotional bonds.

Emotion Focused Therapy for Individuals

The focus is on emotion awareness, regulating, and transformation for the individual only. The client will likely learn about how to interact and share emotions with others in a healthy way, but the focus of this therapy will be on interpersonal rather than interpersonal emotional learning and skill building. The therapist will lead the client through discussions and exercises aimed at enhancing their understanding of their own personal emotions and their emotional responses.

Emotion Focused Therapy for Families

Emotion Focused Therapy can also be applied in a family setting as well. Participating in EFT can help family members feel more connected with one another and instill or enhance the sense of belonging in the family.

  • EFT may be particularly effective for families dealing with the following issues:
    • Child(ren) reaching adolescence
    • Divorce
    • New blended family (step-parents, step-siblings coming into the family)
    • Eating disorders
    • Behavioral problems in teens, adolescents, and children

Emotion Focused Therapy in Los Angeles

At Launch, we want all clients and members of the family to leave with a deeper understanding of themselves and each other. This is necessary for people to move forward as healthy, well adjusted individuals. Learn more about our EFT programs in Los Angeles today.

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