Why Emotionally-Focused Therapy May Save Your Relationship

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Expert Dr. Sue Johnson discusses the benefits to EFT.

Some say EFT stands for extremely funny therapy, but actually, it stands for Emotionally Focused Therapy — a short-term approach (only 8 to 20 sessions with a therapist) that gets great results solving problems in your relationship.

EFT started in the 1980s and developed alongside the new science of love and bonding. The EFT therapist uses this science as a guide in every session so he or she knows how to get to the heart of the problem fast.

We don't teach communication skills or focus on how your family history has impacted your relationship. We help you really see the dance you get into with each other and the emotional music that plays and keeps you stuck in conflict.

We help you make sense of your powerful emotions and your relationship needs and talk about these things in a safe way. No one has to be the bad guy. All relationships reach sticky points.

We also help you know that it's OK to have relationship needs. Often we don't feel entitled to our needs or can't quite articulate them in a way that our partner can hear.


There are three stages to the EFT process:

  • Stage One: You learn to step out of painful patterns so that you can both feel safe again.
  • Stage Two: You learn how to reach for your partner in a way that helps them respond and come closer. We can all learn to make sense of our feelings and express them in a way that pulls our partner towards us. At this point, we also help people heal wounds such as affairs. Our research shows that EFT is successful in helping couples struggling with these kinds of injuries move into forgiveness and renewed trust.
  • Stage 3: Focuses on consolidating your gains so that you can continue to handle differences well and find your way. Here, we ensure that you don't just have a satisfying relationship, but a truly loving bond.

We work with all kinds of couples, including those who struggle with problems other than relationship distress, such as depression or problems with anxiety.

If there has been violence in the relationship, we have to do a thorough assessment to make sure that both partners will feel safe in our sessions and able to openly explore their relationship issues.

In the last 15 years, we really have discovered the rhymes and reasons of romantic love. And now that we understand it, we can shape it.

Love relationships do not have to be hit and miss or a matter of luck anymore. We all need a loving connection and more and more of us are learning how to make that happen.

You can read about the new science of love and the way we understand relationships in Hold Me Tight (2008) and Love Sense and you can find an EFT therapist near you on the EFT website, where therapists are listed by area and their level of EFT training.

In many cities, there are EFT centers where there are many therapists. Some therapists now also do sessions by skype to reach couples in more remote areas.