Mental Health Awareness Month


Mental Health Awareness Month
Recognizing Couples Counselors Needs

Mental Health Awareness Month, receiving special recognition during May, seems the opportune time to talk about how Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) not only improves client relationships, but benefits the therapist as well. My own personal story has been a career and transforming experience, and I would like to share it here, in hopes of inspiring/encouraging others.

My parents divorced when I was 9 years old. This was quite an overwhelming emotionally profound experience. Seeing my father leave the home and the despair both of my parents experienced had a big impact on the reason I decided to go into counseling field. Feeling different than all the other kids was so hard for me already a socially awkward child who cared too much about what others thought.  My mother remarried, and my stepfather had a son and daughter, both younger than I . They would come to visit every summer and we would spend fun times as a family. We saw each other once or twice a year, and although infrequent, the visits were pleasant and I felt that perhaps we were a family again. However, due to other issues, a difficult relationship between my stepdad and his children and some of our family dynamics, there was a significant disconnect that occurred and we lost touch with them for the rest of my childhood. Occasionally I would hear about my stepfathers son but no word of his daughter.  She was not spoken of nor did ever learn until recently what had happened. It was rather strange to say the least. . 


My story resumes about 40 years later. Training as an EFT therapist is a quite intensive training typically lasting about one year. This involves a three-stage process:

  1. Externship- an introductory weekend about the specialty itself, its principles, and the power of connection and steps in working with someone having relationship issues just to see if emotionally-focused therapy was a fit for you.
  2. Core Skills-a year-long program over five weekends, combining educational role plays, theory and practice. Each weekend covers different steps of the emotion-focused therapy model, and on the fifth and final weekend, each therapist presented a case and received feedback. Most participants were already experienced counselors with active practices seeing couples, but what happened in this training was quite unique and transforming to us all.
  3. Ongoing supervision- As an EFT therapist you need to demonstrate to other trained EFT therapists your skills. Clients in Emotionally Focused Therapy can be assured they are getting good quality care.


This article was originally published at Stuart Fensterheim The Couples Expert Scotsdale . Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
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Stuart Fensterheim

Marriage and Family Therapist

Stuart Fensterheim LCSW

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Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Credentials: LCSW
Specialties: Attachment Issues, Blended Family Issues, Couples/Marital Issues, Divorce Rehabilitation, Infidelity / Affair Recovery, Marriage, Step Parent, Stepfamilies
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