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 and approximately 90% show significant improvements. It has also shown positive results with couples who are dealing with particularly difficult problems, for example, where partners are trauma survivors, are caring for a chronically ill child, have experienced infidelity in the relationship, or are struggling with depression as a result of relationship distress.
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 that urges us to pull our loved ones close again. The signals we send that tells our loved one that we need them in order to settle us down and turn our alarm off, often become distorted and shaded with criticism, anger or apparent indifference. Our loved one will then act towards us in similarly angry/indifferent ways. This feeds a negative spiral of interaction. This spiral erodes trust and continually worsens each person’s sense of vulnerability and isolation.
EFT helps individuals take control of this negative pattern. It helps guide them in sending 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 the other person can be Accessible, Responsive and Engaged (A.R.E.). 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.