What is EFT – Emotionally Focused Therapy?
EFT is based on the idea that relationships throughout our life
influence our thoughts about ourselves as well as our thoughts about
other people. The goal of EFT is to help us consider how the way we
are engaging with other people may be contributing to the situations
that cause us hurt and to then find alternate ways to engage with other
people. While EFT started as a model primarily for couples’ therapy, it
has been expanded to be used in family and individual therapy
How does EFT work?
As the name implies, EFT is about “emotion” and the important part
emotions play in our lives. In EFT there is a big difference between
emotional regulation and emotional suppression. EFT views emotion
as an integral part of our experiences and how we make sense of the
The therapist’s job in EFT is to create a safe and accepting
environment in therapy to allow someone to access deeper emotions;
for instance, behind one person’s anger is usually a deeper level of
hurt or a fear of rejection.
Once a person has accessed these more vulnerable emotions, therapy
is then about helping someone express those emotions to the
important people in their lives – a romantic partner, a family member,
a friend, etc.
New, healthier cycles of behavior and attachment begin to replace
negative cycles that were perpetuating issues
How effective is it?
EFT as a couples-based therapy has been validated by over 20 years of
empirical research; research studies find that 70-75% of couples move
from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant
improvements and the American Psychological Association recognizes EFT for Couples as an empirically supported treatment.
While research for EFT for individuals and families is ongoing,
The American Psychological Association considers EFT for individuals to be an empirically supported treatment for depression and studies have suggested that it is also effective in the treatment of interpersonal problems, trauma, and avoidant personality disorder.
How long does it take?
EFT is considered a “brief therapy” in that it usually can take as little
as 8 sessions to begin seeing results, with the average length of EFT
usually lasting from 12-20 sessions.
Where can I read more about EFT?
Dr. Sue Johnson, one of the co-founders of EFT, explains the model on her YouTube page.
“What is EFT?” on the official International Center for Excellence in EFT website.
“Hold Me Tight” by Dr. Sue Johnson, a self-help book for couples
who are considering EFT (This is not an affiliate link and we do not
make money off of recommending this book!)