Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is an empirically validated, evidence-based model and it is based mostly on the enormous body of attachment research and the continuously growing neuroscience research in emotions, processing, and more. EFT therapist do not simply offer cognitive, behavioral options but rather requires the EFT therapist to come closer in the connection with couples.
An EFT therapist must “get into the pool and get wet” with the couple and experience their emotions as they experience their emotions. It is not a detached process. Similarly to how swim instructors cannot teach others how to swim without getting into the pool with their students, EFT therapists cannot help couples without the willingness to be vulnerable. EFT therapist invite their neurons to activate. EFT therapists not only witness the couples negative cycle, but we essentially experience their cycle and help them unpack it.
Emotionally Focused couples Therapists are not distant or detached, objective observers as in the Structural Therapists of Minuchin but rather we become part of the system. In other words, EFT therapists are process coaches that truly empathize and care. An EFT couples therapist offers their alliance, attunement, and assessment skills. They explore the patterns of disconnection and closeness. EFT therapists invite the partners to go deeper into their primary, vulnerable emotional experience.
In the primary emotional experience, the partners will discover meaning together as it surfaces. EFT for couples is a bottom-up, engaged, and safe process of encouraging couples to move out of the content of their negative cycles (i.e., demon dialogues). To effectively do this with couples, the therapist must be willing to get “into the pool and get their heads wet.” As the couple experiences a deeper connection, a new more positive cycle replaces the negative one with closeness and safety. Both partners experience each other as a secure connection and trust is restored.