Want to learn from the original definitive guide? Read the third edition of Dr. Johnson’s The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection, which includes fundamental EFT practices, as well as changes that have been applied to couples therapy and updated research. This includes an expansion on clinical interventions, emotional regulation, adult attachment, neuroscience and more.
The Emotionally Focused Casebook: New Directions in Treating Couples by Dr. Johnson, James L. Furrow and Brent A. Bradley serves as a go-to text for clinicians, students, professors and more to reference theoretical, conceptual and treatment applications of EFT knowledge. Every single chapter details an example case study approach and how to apply them to specific treatment populations as a therapist.
Discover recent EFT research with clinical transcripts and firsthand case examples in Emotionally Focused Family Therapy: Restoring Connection and Promoting Resilience by Dr. Johnson, James L. Furrow, Gail Palmer, George Faller and Lisa Palmer-Olsen. This book was written for mental health professionals that are treating families and want to improve their understanding of family dynamics with EFT concepts.
Who can benefit from Emotionally Focused Therapy?
Although EFT was originally developed for couples therapy, it has since been expanded to apply to different groups — and individuals. Below are those who can benefit from EFT, according to Dr. Johnson:
When applied to couples, EFT is referred to as Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT). EFCT can benefit those in relationships that may struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma symptoms, chronic medical illness or emotional disputes that challenge forgiveness. Per Dr. Johnson, the technique aims to improve the emotional connection between traditional and non-traditional couples. Relationship problems are analyzed — taking into account interactional responses and patterns — to improve the attachment bond between couples.
Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) was developed to help families reestablish secure attachment patterns and resilience. The key is to repair emotional bonds and improve negative interaction patterns between parents and children. To do this, the EFFT therapist provides a step-by-step approach to parental availability, responsiveness and coherent attachment communications. Alongside these concepts, parents are encouraged to understand why their child or adolescent may act out or respond negatively based on their unique attachment needs or fears.
Beyond the direct relationship between parent and child, an EFFT therapist will work through generational influences on both parties.
Similar to other EFT methods, the EFIT approach dives into how individuals engage with others and how to reshape those patterns in a positive manner. Emotions are the main focus, and patients are taught how to identify and improve interactional patterns. Explorations of self and vulnerability are also covered.
To learn more about EFIT, read A Primer for Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT): Cultivating Fitness and Growth in Every Client by Dr. Johnson and T. Leanne Campbell. This introductory text was written for any therapist, at any level of expertise. It covers EFIT interventions, techniques and change processes as a concise and clinical guide. It specifically gives an overview of how a therapist can use EFIT to help clients with depression, anxiety and traumatic stress. You can download a free chapter of this book.
Emotionally Focused Therapy techniques
The EFT process is broken into three clearly defined stages: De-escalation, restructuring and consolidation. These techniques guide the therapist’s approach to patients to provide a clear path toward healing.
This EFT technique teaches the client how to identify negative interaction patterns that cause distress within relationships. These patterns are then linked to attachment issues to reveal the root of unhealthy and/or hurtful behaviors.
By digging into the cause of potential fears (for example, abandonment), partners can recognize when their actions are impairing their interactional relationship. These actions are referred to as “protests of disconnection” and can cause insecurity to grow in the relationship.
Restructuring gives clients a stage to focus on improving how they communicate and share with each other. Partners learn to discuss emotions while also showing empathy and compassion. The fundamental goal of this EFT technique is to build security within the relationship.
Therapists encourage their clients to be vulnerable with each other and engage in a healthy manner that can strengthen their attachment bond.
Finally, EFT comes to the consolidation stage. This is where the therapist teaches their clients new communication skills and how to engage with each other in a positive way. In these sessions, clients can practice their newly acquired EFT skills and dissect how they can reduce the chances of a negative experience or conflict. In this way, couples can prevent further disconnection and begin to reconnect.
As consolidation is reached, new interaction patterns replace the old habits, which may have included reactionary criticism and defensiveness. The goal is for this to be a permanent change for both partners.
What are the advantages of Emotionally Focused Therapy?
EFT has a long, proven history of empirical research, which makes it extremely useful for therapists and mental health clients alike. There are a number of benefits, including:
- Better understanding of attachment needs. Patients can explore why they feel certain emotions and how this affects their interpersonal relationships. This provides them with the tools they need to break prior negative habits.
- Improved bonds and emotional connections with others. EFT prioritizes how individuals relate with one another and create secure attachments.
- Increased compassion and empathy. By exploring the root behind emotions and how those emotions impact actions, patients can develop a deeper understanding of others.
Taylor & Francis resources for Emotionally Focused Therapy
For mental health professionals, staying up-to-date with the latest techniques, research and case studies is an integral part of the job. Taylor & Francis carries a wide assortment of professional books and resources designed to help therapists, clinicians, students and others to build their knowledge for the future.
If you’re interested in reading more about EFT practices and specialized topics, below is an additional curated list of some of our top books on the subject to read alongside those authored and co-authored by Sue Johnson:
An Emotionally Focused Workbook for Couples: The Two of Us by Veronica Kallos-Lilly and Jennifer Fitzgerald is an ideal resource to provide for couples who are battling relationship distress or distance. It walks the patients through the EFT journey with guided reading, reflection, discussion and illustrative examples. The authors have also incorporated new EFT developments and research to help couples through their therapy sessions.
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Each patient brings their own background and life experience to their EFT sessions. Due to this, it’s vital that an EFT therapist can adapt and cater their practices to each patient’s unique needs. A great resource for this is Paul T. Guillory’s Emotionally Focused Therapy with African American Couples: Love Heals. It emphasizes cultural humanity and gives professionals an evidence-based model that can benefit patients with race-based distress, breaking down understanding racial trauma with real-life case studies.
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In Clare Rosoman’s book, An Emotionally Focused Guide to Relationship Loss: Life After Love, EFT and attachment theory are used to show how to help patients navigate relationships and relationship loss. It specifically studies how romantic love is an attachment bond, and how relationship dynamics can lead to security or insecurity. It also explores beyond romantic relationships to include family and friendships. It’s accessible for LGBT+ couples and references cultural humility to promote inclusivity in EFT practices.
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