Emotionally Focused Therapy
Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) for couples is an approach to relationship counselling that focuses on the importance of creating a secure bond of adult attachment. Over the past 30 years, Dr Sue Johnson and her colleagues have developed and rigorously researched EFT for couples. It is now one of the best delineated and empirically validated approaches in the field of couples therapy.
EFT for couples is built on the premise that a strong relationship is based on feeling that your partner is emotionally available and responsive to you. What this means is that your partner is a safe person for you to share your feelings and vulnerabilities with, someone you can depend on and reach out to when you need reassurance that they love you. This encompasses questions such as:
“Do I matter to you?”
“Do you love me?”
“Will you be there for me when I need you? Have you got my back?”
“Can I count on you?”
Relationship distress is one of the most common reasons for seeking therapy. When a couple is in difficulty, it undermines family functioning and is strongly associated with depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. EFT for couples offers a comprehensive process for healing distressed relationships. EFT recognises that relationship distress results from a perceived threat to the basic adult needs for safety, security, and closeness in intimate relationships. This experiential therapy focuses on helping partners restructure the emotional responses that keep them stuck in their negative patterns of interaction. Through a serious of nine steps, the therapist leads the couple away from conflict deadlock into new bonding patterns.
The EFT therapist helps the couple recognise cycles of conflict in the form of “the more I do this, the more it triggers you to do that” and how the pattern repeats. The couple sees how this is a vicious circle, and that the cycle is the enemy, not each other. For example, a common pattern is that one partner “pursues” in a critical demanding manner while the other partner withdraws. The pursuer feels unloved, while the withdrawer feels they can’t get it right. They end up turning away from each other and distancing to protect their relationship and to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
If you would like to learn more about Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples, click on the following link: www.eftcommunity.com.
Trauma & Couples Therapy
Traumatic events and experience in childhood or adulthood can have a challenging impact on relationships. Different forms of trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic sexual experiences and abuse can cause emotional disconnection. Couples therapy can help people to tease out and understand what is happening in their relationship. From there the couple, with the support of their therapist, can begin to heal.
In order to understand the symptoms of trauma, and its emotional impact on the self and on the couple relationship, it is important to also understand the physical symptoms of what is happening to the body. Symptoms like sudden angry outbursts, irritability, forgetfulness, fast heartbeat, sweating and ‘spacing out’ (seeming as though the person is in a world of their own) are all possible hints to some form of trauma that is worth exploring.
Trauma responses manifest in relationships as defensiveness, mistrust, miscommunication and suspiciousness. This reinforces negative interactions between partners. When people gain insight and understanding into how and why they behave in a certain manner they can then begin to see the potential of moving towards their partner rather than away. Kindness and compassion begin to replace suspicion and self-protection. Sadness and anger get replaced with contentment and peacefulness. Room is created for fun, playfulness and being comfortable with each other.
What is the Process?
It is a process that requires a commitment from both partners and a willingness to engage with what they will learn about themselves and each other. Couples therapy that helps couples work through past trauma deepens a couples’ resilience and helps them redefine who they want to be as a couple. The journey may not be easy, but the potential life-enhancing rewards are undoubtedly worth it. We at Reconnect have a particular interest in working with emotions and believe that when couples strengthen their emotional bond they can reconnect to all the good and positive reasons that drew them together initially.
“Couples therapy that addresses trauma can also allow the couple assume a new more cohesive whole” Trauma and Couple Therapy, Laura Hecker Phd.