Emotion Focused Therapy is a long-standing, evidence-based and successful approach to both individual and couple’s therapy work. Our couples therapy approach at Keil Psych Group uses both Emotion Focused and Gottman influenced understandings and techniques.
In EFT, the approach is based on the premise that human emotions are connected to human needs. Emotions are to be honored, experienced, and worked through. It is the belief of the EFT therapist that emotions are not pathological but signal a truth and adaptive potential if allowed and understood appropriately. If worked through properly, emotions are the juice to help people change problematic states and trouble in relationships.
The EFT therapist is expertly trained in facilitating healthy emotional experience (e.g. to accept, tolerate, and symbolize emotions rather than to avoid them). Patients are helped to make sense of what their emotions is telling them, identify the goal/need/concern that it is organizing them to attain, and the action tendency provided and to use these to improve coping. Emotion is used both to inform and to move the patient. In therapy, you will learn a great deal about your personal emotional life and the nuances between feeling states. You will also develop a capacity to allow and develop a comfort with experiencing your own and others emotions.
It is a strong human tendency to avoid expressing painful emotions. In session, patients are encouraged to overcome avoidance and approach painful emotion by attending to their bodily experience, often in small steps. There is a real art in EFT to this. Those who participate in EFT learn to allow and tolerate being in live contact with their emotions, without trying to fix, change, think, or escape experiencing their raw feelings. It’s harder to do than you might imagine. Then, our patients learn how to effectively identify and regulate emotions in a safe, calming, validating, and empathic environment. The process of how the therapist attends to the emotional experience is done a specific way that allows patients to begin taking over the process themselves, outside of session. A whole repertoire of emotional skillfulness and helpful coping techniques are imparted throughout the work.
The EFT goal with couples is to help facilitate a more secure attachment style between partners. Couples learn how to interact and communicate in a way that facilitates security, protection, and comfort to one another. Both partners will develop a better understanding of the unhealthy emotional patterns that lie at the core of the relationship. Couples come out more insightful about their personal history and how it affects the love, security, and communication involved. Couples often report that they are better able to identify what they are feeling, put it into words, and communicate and accept what the other has to offer.