What is EFT?

EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED THERAPY (EFT) is a type of therapy that focuses on your emotions as central to your perception of the world and the basis upon which you make choices and interact with others. EFT usually lasts 8-20 sessions and can be used to treat individuals, couples, and families. EFT has over 20 years of research demonstrating its effectiveness treating a variety of problems and psychiatric disorders. In fact, EFT works over 80% of the time, no matter what the reason for treatment.

It’s also one of the most effective therapies for promoting long-term change, so the results you achieve in therapy will last long after you have finished your sessions.

The theory behind EFT is that everyone experiences a variety of emotions, some of which are helpful in a given situation, and others of which can be dysfunctional, depending on the context. An emotion may be adaptive in one situation but not in another.

For example, if a person was in an abusive relationship, it would serve them well to be fearful when with their significant other as a form of self-protection. If that same person entered into a healthy, loving relationship, however, experiencing fear in the presence of the new significant other would hurt the relationship. Our emotions are powerful tools that guide us through our decision-making, and it is important to recognize the emotions we are experiencing to understand and change our behavior.

EFT moves through progressive steps in therapy. These are slightly different in individual therapy, as opposed to couples and family therapy (see Couples Counseling for more information).

If you’re working one-on-one with an EFT therapist, therapy will move through three phases: bonding and awareness, evocation and exploration, and transformation. During the bonding and awareness phase, you and your therapist get to know each other and decide what the focus of therapy will be. Your therapist explains the theory behind EFT and introduces you to some of the techniques that will be used. During the evocation and exploration phase, you will explore the core emotions that are preventing you from achieving your goals or living the life you wish to live.

Your therapist will help you become aware of any thoughts, physical sensations, and behaviors that may be preventing you from experiencing that core emotion and will safely guide you through that emotional experience. During the final transformation phase, you will achieve the change you are seeking by responding to old situations with new emotions and interpreting your emotional experience in a positive and beneficial manner.

Take, for example, a 23-year-old woman who came for treatment for depression. She worked in sales since graduating from college the year before. She lived with her parents and two younger siblings her whole life, including while attending college and this past year while working. She had never been in a romantic relationship and described herself as having few friends. In the first phase of treatment, she worked with her therapist to set goals for treatment. She decided she wanted to feel less depressed, enter into a romantic relationship, and improve her relationship with her siblings. During this bonding and awareness phase, she and her therapist began identifying the major themes related to her depression, particularly that the underlying feelings were those of rejection and loneliness, followed by hopelessness and worthlessness.

During the evocation and exploration phase, her therapist helped her explore those feelings in greater depth, becoming aware of the ways in which she avoided feeling lonely and rejected (such as changing the topic of conversation and feeling physically ill). They identified a core belief that she believed that she was unlovable, and they worked to access alternate beliefs associated with other emotional experiences. During the transformation phase, she began to recognize how critical she had been of herself and began addressing herself differently, using a less critical voice and contributing to the new belief that she deserved love. She changed her relationships with her siblings and created an online dating profile by the end of therapy. Most importantly, she no longer felt hopeless and worthless, and she was able to respond to potential rejection and loneliness with different emotions and associated thoughts.

Our therapists are specially trained in EFT and continue to receive training and education throughout their careers to make sure that you get the best treatment possible.

We strive to provide patients with an atmosphere where they can achieve set mental health and personal development milestones, utilizing the latest evidenced-based treatments and therapies.

- Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D. -