Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT)

What is Emotion Focused Therapy?

Emotion Focused Therapy – or EFT – is a cutting-edge, humanistic, evidence-based approach to healing relationships. EFT is particularly effective at addressing emotional injuries, traumas, and unhealthy communication patterns in relationships.

Unlike traditional forms of couples talk therapy, EFT is an experiential model that reprocesses emotions within the sessions. Rather than simply talking about the content of problems (which tends to end in ineffective ‘rabbit hole’ discussions), EFT focuses on the processes that occur between partners or family members.

For instance, rather than focusing on a disagreement and a therapist mediating to a compromise, an EFT therapist observes, reflects, and helps couples reprocess the patterns in the session: What are your triggers? What are the beliefs you hold about your partner? How do your emotions impact your view about yourself and your partner?

Because the truth is, no one knows the “right” answers better than you do. Therapy helps you organize the pain so that you can access them.

This work is not about miracle pills or quick fixes. Rather, it is about getting to the root of the matter to create change that will last.

By accessing core emotions, labeling affect, exploring thought patterns, and sharing your internal experience, partners build greater self-awareness and a deeper, more secure connection to one another. Once that happens, we create transformative shifts that support the wellbeing of each partner.

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EFT’s Effectiveness is Documented

Dr. Sue Johnson blended models of human behavior into one cohesive model of psychotherapy:

  1. Attachment Theory– a profound developmental theory of personality and intimate relationships
  2. Systems Theory– considers individuals in the context of their environment
  3. Non-judgmental– assumes people are well-meaning if we determine the function of behavior

This blend of these frames supports individuals and couples in building safe, reliable connection in relationships.

EFT has demonstrated its effectiveness in over 35 years of peer-reviewed clinical research, moving couples from distress to recovery for 70 to 75% of the cases, and creating improvements in 90% of the couples seeking therapy.

How Does Emotion Focused Therapy Work?

Rooted in the science of emotion processing and attachment theory, Emotion Focused Therapy helps clients identify and transform the negative ways they communicate with each other. Working from this model, clients build more self-awareness and relational compassion, transforming they way they communicate with each other.

Instead of relying on clients or emotions to haphazardly determine the structure of the session, an emotion focused therapist has an intricate understanding of the process emotions and interactions. You can expect a therapist that balances the time and space for each partner, yet asks pointed questions to get to the root of your distress.

EFT is a short term (15 to 20 sessions) structured approach to couples therapy which occurs over three phases.

  • Stage 1: Identifying the patterns in the processes that partners are stuck in to de-escalate the level of distress and guide partners to relate to one another in a new way
  • Stage 2: Creating new communication patterns that support the needs of each partner
  • Stage 3: Reviewing treatment, consolidating the progress, and maintenance planning

Emotionally focused couples therapy or individual therapy will be a transformative choice if you:

  • Want to deepen your relationships
  • Need to better manage challenging emotions and communicate better
  • Would like to strengthen self confidence
  • Are passionate about improving family + romantic relationships

All of these goals will support you in leading a happier, more fulfilled and connected life.

This approach supports couples and family members in committed relationships. One of the great aspects about EFT is its versatility is application, including:

  • Emotionally focused marriage therapy: Married couples facing disconnection and strain
  • Emotionally focused couples therapy: Couples in patterns of relationship conflict, distress, betrayal
  • EFT for individuals: Individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, or trauma
  • EFT for families: Families attempting to heal strained relationships

Whether you are working with a loved one or seeking therapy on your own, this model can support you in reaching transformational goals and relationship healing through EFT marriage counseling and EFT couples therapy.

Why I Specialize in Emotion Focused Therapy

I am an emotion-focused therapist because I full-heartedly believe in the model’s approach to change.

And of course, the search for sustained change and healing is typical what brings people to therapy.

Together we’ll uncover the underlying mechanisms of the problems you bring to sessions and work toward a fresh new chapter of connection.

Since our work focuses on the root of negative communication, the insights, trust, and tools you build will apply to multiple contexts of your life and relationship.

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Throughout my training as a therapist in the EFT model, I’ve learned a few key lessons that I carry throughout my practice:

  • Behaviors serve a purpose, even if the purpose is unconscious and we can’t see it
  • We cannot change behaviors if we don’t understand what function they are serving
  • We also cannot change behaviors by shaming ourselves, or our partners, out of them
  • Change comes from a combination of insights (I.e. learning the function of the behaviors) AND new experiences in the therapy room that allow us to choose different options in the future

Emotionally focused therapy is based on the idea that humans are naturally designed to have a secure sense of who we are and a sense of self we can trust and rely on.

This base of trust allows for strong, supportive bonds with others, and when these bonds are secure, we tend to be happier, healthier, and better resourced to take on the inevitable stress and pain life brings.

The mission of EFT is transformative.

Develop insight into your patterns and strengthen bonds in your closest relationships.

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More Questions about Emotion Focused Therapy?

Please review frequently asked questions and information about up-to-date rates.

My job as an EFT therapist is to build understanding of and between both partners. I will help you understand what is happening and why it is happening.

The decisions you make about your life and relationship are yours. Yet, often clients find clarity around these questions when their emotions have been organized and processed in therapy.

Given the need for emotional safety in this work, I do not work with couples where any of the following are present:

  • Active affairs
  • Active substance misuse
  • Active physical, emotional, sexual abuse
  • Hospitalization for mental health of either partner in the past year
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology (Villanova University)
  • Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (University of South Florida)
  • EFT Graduate Track (Weekly Supervision and Consultation)
  • EFT Graduate Capstone Dissertation (EFT with a couple facing complex grief and loss)
  • EFT Externship (ICEEFT, Arkansas Center for EFT)
  • EFT Core Skills (ICEEFT, Ackerman Institute in NYC)
  • 1×1 EFT Supervision (Ongoing)

Read more about my background and approach to therapy here.

Here are the specific EFT services I provide. Please visit the service page for more details about specific specialty areas and next steps.

Learn more about these services and reach out below to inquire about what’s best for you and your situation.

Alternatively, you may use this link to contact me.

Schedule Your Consultation & Request Information

Dr. Sue Johnson

Hear from Our Founder

You can break free from negative patterns and have a new relationship.

If you struggle with relationships, with yourself or others, and live in Florida, EFT counseling services can guide you in finding more connection and satisfaction. Contact me to get started.

Emotion Focused Therapy Naples (Note: At this time, I am only seeing weekly clients virtually online).