Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT) is a humanistic approach to psychotherapy developed in the 1980's in conjunction with the science of adult attachment. Theories of adult attachment grew from the early work by John Bowlby and colleagues on infant attachment and its critical nature for healthy, long-term psychosocial development. This work was expanded over subsequent decades to acknowledge the importance and dynamic nature of attachment across the lifespan. Attachment theories view human beings as innately relational, social, and wired for intimate bonding with others. The primary aims of the EFT model are to bring understanding to emotion and regulate these emotions as the key organizing factors for individual experience and key relationship interactions. EFT for couples was adapted from the original model to target the following, 1) expand and re-organize key emotional responses and in the process, the organization of the self, 2) to create a positive shift in partner's interactional positions and patterns, and 3) to foster the creation of a secure bond between partners. Most couples, those with and without high conflict, often find that a pattern emerges in the partnership in which attachment injuries and longings can be triggered and enacted. This is referred to as the couple's "negative cycle." During Stage 1 of EFT (known as Stabilization), the therapist begins to slow down this cycle in session and assists couples with identifying their positions in the cycle as either the "pursuer" or the "withdrawer." The therapist helps the couple describe and understand their own emotional triggers and responses and normalizes these inside of each individual's attachment history. The therapist also helps each person understand how individual emotional patterns affect the partner and trigger his or her own emotional responses, etc., as this gets enacted when the couple is inside of this "negative cycle." Considerable time is often spent in Stage 1 of the work. Stage 2 is the phase in which the couples is Restructuring the Bond. As the negative cycle slows down and greater understanding and awareness of this process is achieved, partners are better able to identify needs of the self and of their partner. The therapist assists the couple in beginning to accept their partner's emotional experience. New bonds are created as understanding of the current interactional process and new emotions grows. During Stage 3, known as Integration and Consolidation, the couple can begin to find new solutions to old problems and forms new stories about their bond and cycle. New cycles of connected behavior emerge and are reinforced during the session.
Below are some introductory videos on EFT if you would like to learn more and determine whether this approach might be right for you and your partner.
Dr. Mann-Wrobel's Training and Experience
I first became exposed to the Emotion-Focused model for working with couples while on internship at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and instantly connected with the model and it's utility for many aspects of relationships. While completing post-doctoral training, I underwent training and supervision in the application of EFT for couples at the same setting. I continued working with couples using EFT while at the Durham VA Medical Center in an OEF/OIF outpatient treatment setting. Since beginning my private practice, EFT for couples has been a focus of my work with clients. I completed the Externship training in EFT for couples followed by Core Skills training provided by the Carolina Center for EFT with Dr. Lorrie Brubacher. I engage in ongoing consultation in individual and group formats for my work with EFT for couples.