Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a treatment whose goal is the reconnection between partners. It is based in the understanding that humans like higher primates and many animal species have an innate need to feel attached to and comforted by significant others in order to enhance safety and survival.
Adult attachment realtionships have a similar survival function as the the mother-child bond, since ideally, these attachments can provide the same love, comfort, support and protection through the lifespan. However, due to our relationship histories, and the negative interaction cycles we get into with our partners, many of us have difficulties with trust and expressing emotion to those who mean the most to us especially when our relationships are challenged.
When couples argue about such important issues as time, care, sex, money, or whatever, no matter how trivial it may seem on the surface, the origins of these arguments are usually some form of protest from one partner to the other about not feeling connected understood,safe or secure. When those we are attached to are not available or not responding to our need to feel close or supported, we feel distressed. We may become angry, anxious or fearful, numb or distant.
These behaviors can become habitual or rigid modes of reacting to our partners. Such toxic behavior patterns seem to take on a life of their own as they cycle into repetitive interactions that cause injury and despair and lead to increasing emotional estrangements. In EFT we focus on these patterns and work on changing the negative interaction cycles in a non-judmental manner.
In the process of EFT, couples begin to recognize and eventually express their needs for understanding, support, closeness and comfort that are often hidden or disguised by harsh or angry words used in self-defeating cycles of conflict with each other. Partners begin to listen with their heart one of the cornerstones of EFT - which means listening not for the literal meaning of a partner's words, but for the feelings that lie beneath them. In return, the other partner is better able to respond from the heart, in kind. Thus, a "safe haven" is created between partners. Creating a "safe haven" is the primary task of EFT.
Once this safe haven and feelings of connection are reestablished, you will be better able to manage conflict and difficult feelings that inevitably arise from time to time in a close relationship. Furthermore, without so much defensiveness, each of you will be able to communicate more effectively and will be better able to hear the other's perspective. In short, you'll be more of a team which is essential to a successful relationship.
I recommend these book available at www.amazon.com:
Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
An Emotionally Focused Workbook For Couples by Veronica Kallos-Lilly & Jennifer Fitzgerald
After the Affair by Janice Abrams Spring
Not "Just Friends" by Dr. Shirley Glass
To view further references, recent articals describing EFT, books and videos on EFT, please refer to www.LACEFT.org and www.eft.ca.