What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)?

Sue JohnsonEFT is usually a short term (8-20 sessions), structured approach to couples therapy formulated in the 1980’s and has developed alongside the science of adult attachment and bonding to expand our understanding about what is happening in couple relationships and to guide therapists.

In the last fifteen years, Dr. Johnson and her colleagues have further developed and refined the model and completed numerous studies. EFT is also used with families and individuals. A substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of EFT now exists. Research studies find that 70 to 75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements.

For more information on EFT research, please see the EFT Research Menu.

The major contraindication for EFT is on-going abuse within the relationship. EFT is being used with many different kinds of couples in private practice, university training centres and hospital clinics and by many different cultural groups throughout the world. These distressed couples include partners suffering from disorders such as depression, post traumatic stress disorders and chronic illness.

Strengths of Emotionally Focused Therapy

  • EFT is based on a clear understanding of relationship distress and adult love and is supported by over 20 years of empirical research.
  • EFT is collaborative and respectful of clients combining experiential Rogerian techniques with structural systemic interventions.
  • EFT provides a clear map that the therapist can follow to help couples and families become emotionally connected and responsive to one another.
  • Change strategies and interventions are specific and address recurring patterns of negative interaction as well as the underlying emotions that drive these patterns.
  • EFT has been successfully applied to many different kinds of problems and populations.

EFT is growing. There are now ICEEFT affiliated centres and communities around the world