“The most functional way to regulate difficult emotions in love relationships is to share them.”
― Sue Johnson
Relationships come in all forms and can be both incredibly rewarding and immensely challenging. It is not uncommon for partners in consensually non-monogamous relationships, or within the LGBTQIA+ communities to encounter difficulties that strain their bonds and create emotional distance. At Unison Counselling we provide relationship therapy that is grounded in the EFT approach due to the inclusive nature of the therapy style and the high degree of clinical evidence for its effectiveness.
When conflicts and unresolved issues start to impact these relationships, seeking help through relationship counselling can provide a valuable path towards understanding and repair. One approach that has shown remarkable effectiveness in this realm is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) developed by renowned psychologist Susan Johnson. EFT is a therapeutic approach that is based on Attachment Theory and the idea that core attachment wounds are the source of tension in relationships.
Understanding Emotion-Focused Therapy
Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) is a highly regarded and evidence-based therapeutic model designed specifically for relationships of any style. Susan Johnson developed EFT with the belief that emotions are the key to understanding and transforming the dynamics between people. By helping partners identify and address the underlying emotions driving their interactions, EFT aims to foster emotional safety, create secure attachment bonds, and support the unique needs of the relationship.
- Building a Safe and Supportive Environment
A crucial aspect of EFT is creating a safe and supportive therapeutic environment that acknowledges and respects the uniqueness of the relationship(s). Partners can expect their therapist to provide a judgement-free space where they can express their thoughts, emotions, and concerns in a way that their partner can hear and understand. The therapist acts as a compassionate guide, helping partners navigate through difficult conversations and provides a framework for understanding their emotional experiences.
- Identifying Negative Patterns and Attachment Wounds
In EFT, the focus is on identifying negative cycles of interaction that perpetuate distress within the relationship(s). Partners will work with their therapist to identify attachment wounds and notice the moments where the wound is triggered. By understanding how these wounds impact their behaviour and emotions, partners can begin to unravel the cycle of conflict and disconnection.
- Exploring and Validating Emotions
Emotions play a central role in EFT, partners are encouraged to explore and express their emotions openly, allowing them to be witnessed and validated by their partners. This process of emotional attunement helps foster empathy, understanding, and a deeper connection through true understanding. By acknowledging and accepting each other’s emotions, partners can begin to rebuild trust, cultivate individual growth, and create a stronger emotional bond.
- Restructuring Interactions and Communication
Once emotional exploration and validation have taken place, EFT guides partners towards restructuring their interactions and communication patterns in ways that honour their needs and desires. Partners will learn healthier ways to express themselves while actively listening and responding to their partners’ emotions. By reframing negative interactions into positive ones, partners can transform their relationship dynamics, fostering a more secure and loving connection.
- Creating a Secure Attachment Bond
Ultimately, the goal of EFT is to create a secure attachment bond between partners. Through the therapeutic process, couples will gain a deeper understanding of each other’s vulnerabilities, needs, and longings. They will learn to provide comfort, support, and reassurance, fostering a sense of safety and trust within the relationship. As the attachment bond strengthens, couples will experience greater intimacy, closeness, and a renewed sense of emotional connection.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) offers a hopeful and effective approach to couples counseling, providing a roadmap for healing and rebuilding relationships. Susan Johnson’s model emphasizes the power of emotions and secure attachment in transforming the dynamics between partners. By creating a safe environment, exploring emotions, identifying negative patterns, and restructuring interactions, EFT guides couples towards a more secure and fulfilling bond.
If you and your partner are struggling with relationship challenges, seeking the support of an EFT-trained therapist may be a valuable step towards rediscovering the love and connection you both desire. Remember, investing in your relationship through couples counseling can lead to profound growth, healing, and a brighter future together.