What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a type of psychotherapy developed primarily for couples by Dr. Sue Johnson in the 1980s. Since then, it has expanded to include individual therapy and family therapy approaches. EFT is grounded in attachment theory, which suggests that humans are wired to seek and maintain emotional bonds with others, particularly close relationships.

The primary goal of Emotionally Focused Therapy is to help individuals, couples, or families understand and improve their emotional responses within relationships.Here are some key aspects of EFT :

Attachment Theory

EFT is deeply rooted in attachment theory, which emphasizes the importance of secure emotional bonds in shaping human behavior and well-being. According to attachment theory, secure attachment to significant others provides a sense of safety and security, which allows individuals to explore the world and regulate their emotions effectively.

Emotion Regulation

EFT focuses on helping individuals recognize and regulate their emotions within the context of their relationships. Clients learn to identify and express their emotions in a healthy and constructive manner, fostering greater emotional awareness and resilience.

Patterns of Interaction

EFT explores the patterns of interaction and communication within relationships, particularly negative cycles of interaction that lead to conflict, disconnection, or emotional distance. By understanding these patterns, clients can learn to interrupt negative cycles and create more positive and secure connections with their partners or family members.

Change Process

EFT views emotional change as a process of creating new emotional experiences within the therapeutic relationship and within the client’s significant relationships. Through therapeutic interventions, clients are encouraged to express vulnerable emotions, such as fears and needs, and to respond empathically to their partner’s or family member’s emotional bids.

Therapeutic Techniques

EFT utilizes a range of therapeutic techniques to facilitate emotional change and connection, including empathic listening, reflective questioning, validation of emotions, reframing of negative interactions, and role-playing exercises. Therapists also help clients develop effective communication and conflict resolution skills.


The ultimate goal of Emotionally Focused Therapy is to create stronger emotional bonds and secure attachment within relationships, leading to greater intimacy, trust, and satisfaction. Clients learn to create a more supportive and responsive emotional connection with their partners or family members, leading to a deeper sense of connection and fulfillment in their relationships.

Overall, Emotionally Focused Therapy provides a structured and evidence-based approach to addressing relational issues and fostering emotional growth and connection within individuals, couples, and families. It is widely recognized for its effectiveness in improving relationship satisfaction and overall well-being.

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