EFT Outcome Studies


Much of the statistics on Emotionally Focused Therapy, as established in a recent meta-analysis (a compilation of several academic studies):
* Roughly 9 out of 10 couples who complete EFT will improve their relationship more than an untreated couple. (1)
* More than half of distressed couples who complete EFT wind up not just improved, but recovered. (See definitions below.) (1) UPDATE: A second meta analysis has raised the recovery rate with EFT to up to 73 percent. (3)
* Participants in EFT complete the process with higher ratings of adjustment, intellectual intimacy, and improvement on their target complaints than couples who complete a therapy focused specifically on problem-solving.(1)
* EFT is designed to be completed in 15 to 22 weekly sessions.(1) Trauma, substance issues, prior DV and infidelity may delay progress, but can still be effective.


Distressed – A couple is said to be “distressed” if their scores on measures of relationship satisfaction place them at major risk for separation or divorce, based on long-term studies of other couples. Distressed couples have historically been the hardest for therapists to treat successfully; Emotionally Focused Therapy seems to work quite well.

Improved – A couple completing treatment is considered “improved” if their scores on relationship satisfaction measures have increased beyond what could be expected by chance. “Improved” is one way of saying a couple’s relationship has gotten better.

Recovered – A couple completing treatment is said to have “recovered” only if all of the following are true: They entered therapy as a “distressed” couple; they made significant and reliable improvement through the course of therapy; and at the end of therapy, they no longer qualify as “distressed” on measures of relationship satisfaction.

In the practice of EFT attachment injuries (infidelity, perceived abandonment and or rejection, betrayals, constant criticism, etc.) often block the progress in couple’s therapy. In moments where there is a high need for connection with one’s partner, these attachment injuries block connection and trigger panic and insecurity instead. Studies conducted on the outlined steps for forgiving attachment injuries (2006) used in a brief EFT intervention show: 63% of the couples were able to forgive the injury and complete the therapy events that predict success in EFT: these results were found to be stable in a follow-up study (2010). Less effective results were reported in couples who: had multiple attachment injuries: had lower levels of initial trust: reported the intervention was too brief.

Finally, EFT research indicates that a couple’s engagement in the therapy sessions is more significant as a predictor of treatment success than their level of distress at the time they initiated therapy (1996).

Note: These are in order of their appearance above.

1. Byrne, M., Carr, A., & Clark, M. (2004). The efficacy of behavioral couples therapy and emotionally focused therapy for couple distress. Contemporary Family Therapy, 26(4), 361-387.

2. Cloutier, P. F., Manion, I. G. Walker, J. G., & Johnson, S. M. (2002). Emotionally focused interventions for couples with chronically ill children: A two year follow-up. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 28(4), 391-398.

3. Johnson, S. M. (2002). Marital problems. In Sprenkle, D. H. (Ed.), Effectiveness research in marriage and family therapy. Washington, DC: AAMFT.

*Much of the information provided above is by Dr. Benjamin Caldwell

Insightful Adult attachment questionaire

You can learn about your own attachment style.

EFT is:

Empirically validated: It’s one of the few approaches to couple therapy shown by research to be effective – even with highly distressed couples. An impressive 90% of couples experienced at least some improvement in their relationship.
See EFT research PDF.

Based on John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory: As applied to adult love relationships, it recognizes the ongoing need we all have for reliable attachment figures in our intimate relationships and assumes that a secure attachment with our partner provides the solid base that helps us manage emotional distress.
An experiential approach: Couples change by identifying and expressing their ongoing need for strong, accessible, responsive emotional connections. Emotions are the focus because they are compelling and instructive; they tell us what’s important to us.
Growth oriented: The focus is on individual and couple strengths and recognizes that human beings have an inherent drive towards growth and healthy relationships.
Collaborative: A strong alliance – where couples are the experts on their own experience and can express this in therapy – is key. The therapist’s role is that of process consultant, helping partners connect their own internal experience with their couple interactions.
Focused on the present: While history often plays an important role in shaping our ways of relating, it is the emotionally driven interactions in the here and now that are the focus of therapy.
Emotionally engaging: The active, evocative approach is especially effective at drawing out men, who often have more difficulty accessing and expressing their emotions.
Clear and concise: Susan Johnson, the principal developer of EFT for couples, has clearly elaborated a therapy model that relies on attachment theory as the basis for understanding adult love relationships, including the nature of conflict and the change process in couple therapy.
“Rigorous studies during the past fifteen years have shown that 70 to 75 percent of couples who go through EFT recover from distress and are happy in their relationships. The results appear lasting, even with couples at high risk for divorce.”
-Dr. Sue Johnson, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Ottawa; Director of Ottawa Couple and Family Institute and International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (www.iceeft.com); Research Professor, Alliant University (www.alliant.edu).

“EFT is a proven road map to the process of change in couple therapy.”
-John M. Gottman, Ph.D., world-renowned marriage expert, cofounder of the Seattle Marital and Family Institute, Professor of Psychology, University of Washington, and bestselling author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. (www.gottman.com)

“EFT is one of the best documented, most substantive and well researched approaches to couple therapy.”
-Alan S. Gurman, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Family Therapy Training, University of Wisconsin Medical School, and a leading authority on the clinical practice of couple therapy.

EFT is “one of the few approaches to marital therapy that has been proven to be effective.”
-Jay Lebow, Ph.D., LMFT, ABPP, Past President, Division of Family Psychology, American Psychological Association (www.apa.org); Research Consultant, The Family Institute, Northwestern University (www.family-institute.org).

For more information about EFT, EFT training and EFT research, read Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, by Dr. Sue Johnson and go to www.iceeft.com, www.emotionallyfocusedtherapy.us, and www.holdmetight.com.

Still Face experiment comes to life in adult couples

Revolutionary film footage of a couple in distress and the affect of the ‘still face experiment’ on a partner compared to an infants lack of response from a mother.  The classic still face experiment was initially done with a mother and their infant to show attachment reactions, but this video goes a step further to show how powerful disrupted attachment is on the partners.  A must see.

Rethinking Narcissism

The Bad-and Surprising Good-About Feeling Special

In ‘Rethinking Narcissism,’ Dr. Malkin presents narcissism on a spectrum, too much is problematic and too little, it turns out, is a problem as well. Like most things in life there is a balance.  But what really stands out here is that old thinking that once a narcissist always a narcissist, just doesn’t hold up anymore.  Narcissism isn’t created in a vacuum and for many folks dealing with this issue, change is possible.  Especially with empathy and helping them and their partner understand the consequences of their behavior.  By the way, when taking the narcissism test, don’t attempt to take it for your partner, mother etc., this needs to be more further evaluated by a mental health practitioner.  I have had couples who have  been told by their former therapists that their partner is a narcissist and therefore is not treatable.  I often wonder, if the therapist is burned out and feeling helpless in such situations, rather than working to help those with narcissistic traits feel heard and understood.

How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive the Freedom not to.

When partners are traumatized by infidelity and betrayal, ‘How Can I Forgive You’ helps the body and heart of the reader begin to explore options to healing. For example,  how not to be caught up the pain that in many cases keeps the person who has been betrayed, hurting more.  It is also helpful for the partner who had the affair, read or listen to, in order for them to better understand the pain their partner is experiencing.  Reading out loud to one another helps provide  healing and creates connection and understanding. Click Here to Order NOW!

Not Just Friends

The seminal read for partners when an attachment injury such as infidelity has occurred. Shirley Glass helps both the person who cheated and the one who was cheated on understand one another’s experience as though they are in the shoes of the other and what has created these tragic events.  This is a book many cannot put down and is usually devoured when an affair has been recognized.  Please couple this process with Hold Me Tight otherwise it can be too much at one time. Caution:  Creating a timeline of the infidelity,  will only create more PTSD symptoms making it harder to heal.  I am not suggesting that the evens be ignored, they, in fact, need to be processed with the partner in a way the partner can hear the pain not only the rage. Click Here to Order NOW!

EFT Work Book for Couples: The Two of Us

A workbook based on EFT methods to help build a sold foundation for connection.[/fusion_title][fusion_text]This hands on must read, resource  helps couples begin the process of building a foundation of new ways of connecting together.  While Hold Me Tight is an excellent primer for therapy, this workbook will help carry the couple throughout the therapeutic process to really integrate the experience of therapy and create more safety between sessions.  Reading and doing the exercises in the book together, between sessions, helps each partner better understand themselves, their partner and their relationship, and the deep connective work they have done in the session.  The reason I recommend this book so strongly is because I noticed that couples who integrate the workbook into their therapeutic process, build more safety and connection within their relationship and between sessions, progress through the therapeutic process more quickly. Oh and BTW, I have utilized the book within my own relationship and really enjoyed getting to know my husband and my patterns with him even more. Click here to order NOW!

Hold Me Tight by Dr. Susan Johnson

The ‘Demon Dialogues’ and ways to stop the cycle and pain. ‘Hold Me Tight’ by Dr. Susan Johnson is a must read for any couple embarking on the journey of reconnecting and rebuilding their primary relationship.  It is my first recommended reading for any couple beginning couples therapy for several reasons.  Number one, the book helps one understand the science and research behind EFT, because it is not some fly by night couples therapy approach, but has deep scientific roots.  Second, Dr. Johnson lays out the dances couples become caught in found in the section entitled ‘Demon Dialogues’ which enables couples to see that they are not alone in their dances and can start to identify when they become caught so they can stop these demon dances.  Third, the deeper core wounds or attachment injuries can and do occur as a result of the negative dances and she gives hope on how to help couples moving through the hurts.  Using this book alone to change your relationship, especially when you have been caught in pain and disconnection for some time, can help but it is not enough.  It will help to facilitate your process when combined with Emotionally Focused Therapy.
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