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Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT)

EFCT is usually a short term (8-20 sessions), structured approach to couples counselling formulated in the early 80's by Drs. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. Since then, Sue Johnson has further developed the model, adding attachment theory to further understand what is happening in couple relationships and to guide therapists in helping them. EFCT is also used with families and individuals. A substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of EFCT now exists. EFCT has been validated by 20 years of empirical research and is approved by the American Psychology Association. Research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements.

A secure attachment underlies the strongest relationships. And both partners in such relationships tend to feel calm, connected, centered and safe.

Emotionally focused couples therapy or EFCT draws on attachment theory, which asserts that humans are hardwired for strong emotional bonds with others. According to EFCT, couples have relationship problems when they've "experienced emotional disconnection with their partner at key moments, which then leads to struggles" with negative cycles of criticism and anger (among other emotions and reactions). Therefore, the aim of EFCT is to help couples overcome these negative cycles, re-establish their connection, and strengthen their emotional bond.

A secure attachment signifies a successful relationship. So what does a securely attached couple look like? According to Blum, both partners in a secure relationship are able to tune into, identify and accept their own emotions and needs. They're able to recognize when they're feeling disconnected and distant from their partner and to speak candidly about their needs and emotions.

On a side note, many people, especially men, feel ashamed about feeling lonely or needing their partner. Again, there's an expectation in our society that we shouldn't need anyone. But remember that we're hardwired for closeness. So don't put yourself down for these thoughts and reactions.

Goals of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

EFCT's main goals are to expand and reorganize important emotional responses, implement and foster the creation of a secure bond between partners, and help shift each partner's position of interaction while initiating new cycles of interaction that are more beneficial for the relationship. Emotionally focused therapy helps create secure and lasting bonds between partners and family members and strives to reinforce the positive bonds that already exist. EFCT is a practical technique that has enormous success with couples, and can facilitate change in marriages and relationships that exhibit a wide range of challenges. EFCT works to intervene where needed and create change to help relationships work more effectively through a spirit of harmony and respect.

Article: Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy - Status and Challenges
             - Susan M. Johnson, John Hunsley, Leslie Greenberg & Dwayne Schindler