How Can Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT) Help a Marriage in Distress?

Couple experiencing discord

There are countless ways a marriage can slide into distress. It would be futile to attempt compiling such a list. However, it’s very useful to be aware of this reality. Marriages require work. When things go sideways, they also require help.

There are countless ways to get such help. Many couples have found resolution and recovery thanks to counseling. One particularly effective approach is emotionally-focused therapy (EFT). Seventy percent of couples who have tried this short-term therapy have reported moving from distress to recovery. Ninety percent experienced “significant improvements.” So how can you use EFT  to help a marriage in distress?

Who Can Benefit From EFT?

Some of the couple issues EFT can effectively address are:

  • Detachment
  • Infidelity
  • Loveless and/or sexless relationship
  • Communication problems
  • Starting a family/child-rearing
  • Loss of trust
  • Burn-out
  • On the verge of divorce

Of course, as mentioned above, there are so many more potential problems you may encounter. As you’re about to see, the short but intensive process of EFT is applicable to just about anything a couple may be dealing with.

The 3 Stages and 9 Steps of EFT

STAGE 1: Assessment and Cycle Deescalation

Step 1

Not surprisingly, the initial step involves the identification of what led the couple to try EFT in the first place. This process may include:

  • Identify and name the couples’ primary areas of concern
  • Collaborate on setting goals
  • Talk to the therapist about your relationship history

Step 2

Work backward to reveal past patterns of conflict and disagreement in your marriage. Analyze this cycle of negativity to narrow things down to the core issues.

Step 3

Say what hasn’t yet been said. This means you dig deep to expose emotions that have gone unmentioned and thus, unexplored.

Step 4

Break down all of the above information into useful categories, e.g.

  • Triggers and cycles
  • Attachment needs
  • Underlying emotions

STAGE 2: Change Positions and Create Bonding Events

Step 5

To help each partner understand their wants and needs, they are asked to give them a voice. This is an opportunity to name emotions they may have repressed.

Step 6

Listen and accept. Each partner is encouraged to meet the other partner’s needs with compassion and understanding. They support each other during this challenging process.

Step 7

The Couples Counseling therapist offer input on what they are hearing. This can help you with expressing yourself and with validating your partner.

STAGE 3: Consolidation and Integration

Step 8

Start applying what you’ve learned. For example, your enhanced communication skills can be employed toward the goal of creating new patterns and solutions.

Step 9

Some of the major goals of consolidate and integration are:

  • Celebrating the work you’ve done
  • Creating new plans and rituals for the future
  • Safeguarding your connection with an awareness of what went wrong in the past

In addition, you begin to integrate all your progress into life outside the therapy office. Couples move into everyday life with an increased sense of security. Perhaps most importantly, they understand each other’s attachment needs. Hence, they can better meet those needs and make their long-term relationship more healthy and flexible.

You Probably Have More Than a Few Questions!

Perhaps what you’ve just read has you curious and intrigued. Maybe you’re feeling hopeful. Like any form of therapy, EFT is full of nuance and variations. So, it makes sense to reach out for a free and confidential consultation. We can discuss what’s going on with you and your partner. Also, of course, I’ll be ready to answer any questions this post has inspired.

Emotionally-focused therapy has a stellar track record and usually requires only 15 to 20 sessions. Why not learn more about the marriage-enhancing potential of this approach? I’d love to hear from you! Please read more about couples counseling and contact me soon for a consultation.