EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED THERAPY FOR COUPLES

therapy for couples

Are you feeling stuck or distressed in your relationship and wondering where loving connection has gone?

Our couple therapist Rosemary has been working with couples since 2009 and uses a powerful, evidence-based model called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). EFT is considered the gold standard approach for couple therapy and draws on Attachment theory (John Bowlby) and the power of emotion to improve the quality of couple relationships. Attachment theory explains how babies attach to their caregivers and how the nature of that early attachment bond influences how they relate to others. All humans need emotional connection with others and to feel safe and secure in their significant relationships, particularly with intimate partners.

EFT can help couples to explore and understand impasses in their relationships, and to recognise behaviours and patterns that lead to conflict or disconnection and to exit these. Getting into patterns in our relationships is normal but sometimes the pattern (or “cycle” as it is often referred to in EFT) that a couple gets into, when one partner tries to get a need met by the other, results in tension or distance, rather than connection. EFT helps couples to change this dynamic.

EFT harnesses the power of emotion to facilitate experiences of deeper connection, which can restructure and strengthen the couple’s attachment bond and lead to enduring change. Outcomes from more than 30 years of research speak to the long-lasting benefits of EFT. While it is inevitable that from time to time our partner will still do or say something that hurts us and we them, when our bond with each other feels secure, we are far more likely to be able to repair and get back on track quickly.

There are three stages to the therapy.  Stage One involves de-escalation of the negative cycle. Stage Two involves restructuring the couple bond, as partners learn to have deeper conversations with their partner about their relationship fears, needs and yearnings. Stage Three is consolidation. In this stage, couples utilise their secure bond and loving connection to navigate the challenges in day-to-day life and develop a deeper sense of resilience about their relationship.

Couple therapy represents a significant commitment, in terms of time and money. Perhaps you might be wondering how long you might need to come, and how often. The number of sessions needed will very much depend on the individual couple and what they have experienced. For instance, if there has been infidelity, deception, or another experience which has eroded the security of the relationship bond, it can be anticipated that it will take longer to re-establish this. This will also likely be the case, if one or both partners have experienced significant trauma, such as childhood abuse or neglect. Complex trauma affects how we learn to be in relationships with others. The good news is that while changing long-established ways of relating may be challenging and take time, your couple relationship can be a place where healing takes place.

Fortnightly sessions are recommended, at least in the beginning and some couples may prefer to come weekly. While the sessions will generally involve both partners, there may be one or more individual sessions with each partner, alongside the sessions together.

Contraindications for EFT include:

  • ongoing violence in the relationship,
  • competing attachments including ongoing affairs or serious addiction issues
  • one or both partners profoundly distressed and suicidal.

Please raise these issues at intake if you consider they may apply to you or your partner.

Recommended Reading: All couples are recommended to read or listen to the audio book of Hold Me Tight by Dr Sue Johnson.

If you would like to make an appointment with Rosemary or would like to find out more about couple therapy at Mindful Living, please call us on 03 9688 8049.