1) You will not be judged, lectured or criticized by an E.F.T. therapist.
Perhaps one of the biggest fears that people have about entering couples therapy is that they are going to be judged. lectured, or simply made to feel flawed as a partner, husband or wife, by the therapist. Or, as a friend told me of his unfortunate experience in couples therapy, “The therapist kept telling me that I lacked empathy, that I needed to be a better husband to my wife.”
Fortunately an E.F.T. trained therapist knows better than to take such a stance. It is safe to say that no one in the couple is going to be judged. Why? Because an E.F.T. therapist understands that a person’s behavior (no matter how dramatic or superficially “dysfunctional”) is simply that person’s best attempt to get very valid needs met. In other words the E.F.T. therapist sees that her client is doing his best (although in a temporarily misguided way) to feel safe, secure, seen, validated, valued, wanted, or loved. The E.F.T. therapist understands that when a person’s relational needs are taken seriously (first by the therapist, and ultimately by the person’s partner), then old problematic behaviors can gracefully step aside – no judgment or criticism required.
2) An E.F.T. therapist is deeply committed to your emotional safety within the couples therapy process.
Emotionally Focused Therapy does not overlook the importance of emotional safety in the couple’s healing process. In short, the E.F.T. therapist recognize that no lasting and real change can happen in the absence of safety. Because of this recognition, the therapist is committed first and foremost to aiding the couple in recognizing and overcoming relational patterns that have contributed to this ground of unsafety. She understands that emotional injuries are commonplace in any relationship, and she takes the effects of these injuries seriously. She understands that safety can and does get shaken up, and that it is our natural impulse to want to protect ourselves from further injury. She understands the importance of re-creating safety, and is committed to making sure that ground of safety is cultivated. Then and only then does the E..FT. therapist invite and guide the couple into a more vulnerable and open encounter with each other. In short, an E.F.T. therapist is not going to be prematurely invite a client into emotional vulnerability with their partner, a risk many even the best intentioned of couples therapies often inadvertently take.
3) An E.F.T. therapist is not going to waste your precious time and money getting caught up in the content of your relationship struggles.
I can’t count how many times a couple has told me how they had spent session after couples session having the same argument that they had prior to seeking couples therapy, however this time simply had another person caught up in the details with them. Alternatively, and E.F.T. therapist is trained to avoid this frustrating experience. As Sue Johnson (originator of E.F.T.) describes it, the E.F.T, trained therapist does not “get sucked down the content tube” with her clients. Rather the E.F.T. therapist slows things down, and gets below the surface to what is really important. She helps the couple distill the valid needs and feelings they have in relationship to their partner, rather than, for example, focusing on who is doing more of the housework. In short, an E.F.T. therapist is trained to be expert tracker of the couple’s process, so when a couple is lost in a painful argument (that they have had a million times over), the E.F.T. therapist does not get lost with them. She stays centered. She stays at the helm of the ship, unswayed by the storm around her.
4) E.F.T. is the most optimistic approach to couple’s therapy that I have encountered.
E.F.T. therapists absolutely believe that change and healing can and does happen, even within the most distressed of couples. They believe this because they see it happen over and over again. And they believe this because they utilize a therapeutic technique and approach that is backed up by a substantial body of research. In short, 90% of couples experience significant positive change within their relationship after a course of E.F.T. And, this change persists years after completing therapy.