What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) All About?

What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) All About?

EFT teaches you how to identify underlying emotions

Emotionally Focused Therapy – often called simply EFT – is a form of therapy that strives to help couples identify the underlying emotions that are guiding their relationship. The EFT approach was first developed by Susan Johnson and Les Greenberg in the 1980s, and it continues to become one of the most popular and effective ways to improve relationships.

All humans are designed to turn towards each other in times of distress, but when a negative cycle emerges in a relationship, one partner may not be available to tend to the needs of the other. EFT aims to help couples figure out how to improve their communication cycle through the acknowledgement and communication of honest emotions.

EFT assumes that all adult attachment relationships seek the same mutual comfort and love that you require from your parents when you’re a child. EFT can help bring to light why couples continue to foster an attachment to each other even when their relationship is in distress or hurt feelings are involved, and figure out a way to improve those attachments.

emotionally focused therapy counselingEmotionally Focused Therapy is helpful in a variety of situations; any time two partners are involved in arguments about topics like money or jealousy, the underlying cause is often the result of one person believing that his or her feelings are ignored. As a result, anxiety and anger can begin to rise to the surface, and arguments or avoidance may show up. EFT gets to the bottom of why a couple is experiencing these feelings and works to make each partner feel safe in expressing his or her emotions – the ultimate goal of EFT is to create a relationship that serves as a safe haven.

Applying the EFT technique in the counseling session, you will be lead through a nine-step process, which includes identifying negative patterns in the relationship, discovering unacknowledged feelings that inform your interactions, redefining problems in terms of your underlying feelings, and accepting your partner’s experience in the relationship.

At the end of the day, EFT focuses on reconnecting you and your partner, giving you the tools necessary to ask for what you need in the relationship. You might think of it as rewiring the way you and your partner respond to one another. EFT helps you establish a safe space where both people can learn to trust that their partner is available to hear what they’re feeling and respond in a way that is constructive and loving, even if there is a disagreement.


Sandberg, J. E. & Knestel, A. The Experience of Learning Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Brigham Young University.
Capella University. Solution-Focused Therapy vs. Emotionally-Focused Therapy.

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About Jennine Estes, MFT

Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653