Repeated fights, stony silences and long-harbored resentments: unresolved disharmony in a relationship can harm the physical and emotional health of both partners. In all its forms, relationship distress arises from feelings of disconnection and insecurity about the emotional bond that anchors the relationship. Repairing distressed relationships depends on re-establishing a sense of safety, comfort and security in connection – feelings that humans are “hardwired” to need from others.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a short-term couples treatment approach that aims to help couples resolve longstanding conflicts in relationships by strengthening emotional bonds and rebuilding trust. Developed by Dr. Sue Johnson of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, along with Dr. Les Greenberg, EFT is based on psychologist John Bowlby’s 1950s research on adult attachment.
Bowlby found that the earliest bond between infants and their mothers is replicated throughout life, so that humans (and other higher primates) have an innate need to feel attached to the significant others in their lives. Those feelings of attachment in relationships provide the comfort, support and sense of security that helps both partners feel confident and empowered.
Today, over 30 years of research on EFT has consistently confirmed the relevance of Bowlby’s theories of adult attachment processes to the dynamics of relationships. Work by Dr. Sue Johnson, a modern pioneer of EFT and founding director of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, and others continues to demonstrate that EFT is an effective model for treating relationship distress, with results lasting well beyond the initial stages of treatment.
When couples argue about issues such as shared contributions to the household, money or jealousy, this kind of conflict has its roots in feelings of insecurity and lack of trust in the emotional bond between partners. EFT for couples aims to help couples re-establish a secure emotional connection that allows both partners to express feelings safely and ask honestly for what they need. Within a few sessions of EFT therapy, couples are able to improve communication skills, deescalate toxic behavioral patterns and learn new ways to strengthen their attachment bond.
In couples counseling, EFT emphasizes the importance of trust, communication and attention in relationships as a way to rebuild a sense of connection and commitment. This approach is a model of relationship intervention that draws from established theories on adult attachment and bonding in order to understand and resolve relationship problems.
Relationship distress has a profound impact on a person’s emotional and physical well-being, as well as on all areas of life – and for those reasons, relationship conflict has even been called a public health crisis. In a recent study, seven of 10 couples in EFT experienced less stress and a greater sense of support, trust and bonding. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy can bring balance and security to relationships fractured by distrust and disconnection, with benefits that can last a lifetime.
Would you like to start building a safer connection within your relationship? Call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Walling today.