Written & Reviewed by
Gaston Molina
Published on
March 25, 2024

‍What is Emotionally Focused Therapy?

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a form of therapy that focuses on the emotional experiences of individuals and how these emotions impact their relationships. It was developed by psychologists Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg in the 1980s and has since gained recognition and popularity in the field of couples therapy.

EFT is based on the premise that emotions play a central role in human experience and are essential for creating and maintaining secure connections with others. This therapy approach aims to help individuals identify and understand their emotions, as well as the underlying patterns and dynamics in their relationships.

Understanding the Power of Emotions in Therapy

Emotions are powerful forces that influence our thoughts, behaviors, and interactions with others. They provide us with valuable information about ourselves and our needs. However, when emotions are repressed, ignored, or misunderstood, they can lead to emotional distress, relationship conflicts, and even physical health problems.

Emotionally Focused Therapy recognizes the importance of emotions in therapy and seeks to create a safe and supportive environment where individuals can explore and express their emotions freely. By understanding and working through these emotions, individuals can gain insight into their own needs, desires, and vulnerabilities, as well as develop healthier ways of relating to others.

How Emotionally Focused Therapy Works

Emotionally Focused Therapy follows a structured and evidence-based approach to help individuals and couples create more secure and satisfying relationships. The therapy typically consists of three stages:

  1. Assessment and cycle de-escalation: The therapist helps individuals and couples identify the negative patterns, or “cycles,” that perpetuate their relationship conflicts. By understanding these cycles and the underlying emotions driving them, individuals can begin to de-escalate and interrupt these patterns.
  2. Changing negative interaction patterns: Once the negative cycles are identified, the therapist helps individuals and couples develop healthier ways of relating to each other. This involves increasing emotional accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement. The goal is to create a secure emotional bond that fosters trust, safety, and intimacy.
  3. Consolidation and integration: In the final stage, the therapist helps individuals and couples solidify the changes made during therapy and integrate them into their daily lives. This involves practicing new ways of relating, strengthening emotional bonds, and developing skills to maintain a secure and satisfying relationship.

The Benefits of Emotionally Focused Therapy

Emotionally Focused Therapy has been shown to be highly effective in helping individuals and couples improve their relationships and achieve emotional healing. Research has demonstrated the following benefits of EFT:

  1. Improved relationship satisfaction: EFT helps individuals and couples build stronger emotional connections, leading to increased relationship satisfaction and intimacy.
  2. Resolution of relationship conflicts: By addressing the underlying emotions driving relationship conflicts, EFT helps individuals and couples resolve conflicts in a more constructive and compassionate manner.
  3. Enhanced emotional well-being: EFT provides individuals with a safe space to explore and express their emotions, leading to a greater sense of emotional well-being and self-awareness.
  4. Long-lasting results: The changes made during EFT have been found to be durable and long-lasting, with individuals and couples reporting continued improvements even after therapy has ended.

Ready to prioritize your mental well-being?

Finding an Emotionally Focused Therapist

If you are considering emotionally focused therapy, it is important to find a qualified and experienced therapist who specializes in this approach. Here are some steps to help you find the right therapist:

  1. Research and gather information: Start by researching therapists in your area who offer emotionally focused therapy. Read through their profiles, websites, and client reviews to get a sense of their expertise and approach.
  2. Ask for recommendations: Reach out to friends, family, or healthcare professionals who may have experience or knowledge of therapists who specialize in emotionally focused therapy.
  3. Schedule an initial consultation: Once you have identified potential therapists, schedule an initial consultation to discuss your goals, concerns, and to determine if the therapist is a good fit for you.
  4. Consider experience and qualifications: When selecting a therapist, consider their experience and qualifications in emotionally focused therapy. Look for therapists who have received formal training and have a solid understanding of this therapeutic approach

How to Prepare for Emotionally Focused Therapy

Preparing for emotionally focused therapy can help you make the most of your therapy sessions and facilitate the healing process. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Reflect on your emotions and experiences: Take some time to reflect on your emotions, experiences, and relationship dynamics. Consider what you would like to explore and work on during therapy.
  2. Set clear goals: Identify your therapy goals and communicate them to your therapist. This will help guide the therapy process and ensure that you are working towards desired outcomes.
  3. Be open and honest: Emotionally focused therapy relies on open and honest communication. Be prepared to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with your therapist to facilitate the healing process.
  4. Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Taking care of yourself outside of therapy can support your emotional healing journey.

Exploring Alternative Therapies for Emotional Healing

While emotionally focused therapy is a powerful approach to emotional healing, it is not the only option available. There are several alternative therapies that can complement or be used in conjunction with EFT. Some of these therapies include:

  1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to emotional distress.
  2. Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Mindfulness-based therapies, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), help individuals cultivate present-moment awareness, reduce stress, and promote emotional well-being.
  3. Art Therapy: Art therapy utilizes creative expression to explore and process emotions. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle to verbalize their feelings.
  4. Body-Based Therapies: Body-based therapies, such as Somatic Experiencing or Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, focus on the connection between the mind and body to release and heal stored emotional trauma.

It is important to consult with a qualified therapist to determine which therapy approach or combination of approaches is best suited to your specific needs and goals.


Emotionally Focused Therapy offers a powerful and effective approach to emotional healing and relationship improvement. By focusing on emotions and their impact on relationships, individuals can develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their partners, leading to greater emotional well-being and satisfaction. Whether you are seeking therapy for yourself or as a couple, emotionally focused therapy has the potential to unlock transformative healing and create lasting change in your life.

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