Emotionally Focused Therapy, or EFT, is an empirically tested model that has shown excellent outcomes with many different kinds of couples and families. A substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of EFT now exists. Research studies for instance find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery, while approximately 90% show significant improvements. It has also shown positive results with couples who are dealing with particularly difficult problems. Such problems include partners who are trauma survivors, parents caring for a chronically ill child, partners who have experienced infidelity in their relationship, or those struggling with depression or severe anxiety.
EFT views the central problem in a distressed relationship as the loss of secure emotional connection, and the pattern of negative interactions that both reflects and perpetuates this loss. When we experience our partner or a parent as unavailable, or we feel in any way unsafe within our family, this starts an “alarm” in our system. When we feel this alarm, we have an intense urge to pull our loved ones close again. The signals we send that tells our loved one that we need them however become distorted. The signals may be shaded with criticism, anger or apparent indifference. Our loved one will then act towards us in similarly angry or indifferent ways. This feeds a negative spiral of interaction. This spiral erodes trust and continually worsens each person’s sense of vulnerability, hurt and isolation.
EFT helps people take control of this negative pattern. It helps guide them to send clear emotional signals about their needs for love and security, in a way that encourages their partner or family member to respond with love and compassion. In this way a new emotional experience of secure connection is developed, giving each person a sense that their loved ones are readily ‘Accessible’ when needed, are ‘Responsive’ to them when they call, and remain ‘Engaged’. It is this that transforms our intimate and family relationships. Partners and family members who are able to openly reach for and connect with each other can create effective dependency that makes for a safe haven from which to grow.