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!)