How long does EFT Couples Therapy last?

While there is no exact answer to this question, the research shows that Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) has been demonstrated to help couples without histories of trauma, affairs, addictions, and aggression in as little as 15-22 sessions. This means that if you or your partner have a history of trauma, affairs, addictions, aggression (but not physical abuse), EFT may last longer than 15-22 sessions due to the relationship attachment injuries. It is important to note that outcome research for couples struggling with infidelity who seek EFT have reached higher levels of success than other forms of couple therapy, upwards of 70 to 90%.  Combined with a caring, compassionate EFT therapist, the relationship can even become more connected than before.

An Emotionally Focused Workbook for Couples: The Two of Us by Veronica Kallos-Lilly and Jennifer Fitzgerald

As an Emotionally Focused Therapist who works with couples in distress, I have been recommending this book as an adjunct to the couples work since it’s arrival. I do this in order to reinforce the processes that occur during our emotionally focused therapy sessions.  Couples who do utilize this book during our work together, consistently move more quickly through the process and feel more empowered between sessions.  Not long ago, one of my clients queried me asking ‘Have you and your husband used the workbook?’  Realizing we hadn’t, we began working together on it Sunday afternoons using the working book during late lunches. It deepened my, and our, process in our relationship and helps me identify where my couples are in the workbook.  The only recommendation or change I would make regarding this book is to call it something other than a ‘workbook’ such as ‘Bonding Resource’  because that is what it feels like.  ‘Workbook’ doesn’t sound connective, and this book is.

Guided Imagery CDs and Tapes by Belleruth Naparstek

When we struggle in our relationships and in our lives, sleep can be one of the first things to go, which adds to further distress.  If this is the case for you, and your mind and body cannot seem to wind down, click on the icon of the lighthouse you will see various areas were you can be helped to relax your mind and body before sleep.  Even if you wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 AM, putting the earbuds and and drifting away can help you go back to sleep.

A.C.E. test, trauma and healing with Emotionally Focused Therapy

The A.C.E. test (Adverse Childhood Experiences), has gained much attention from researchers, therapists and doctors alike. It is a profound research study involving over 17,000 medical patients who have experienced trauma in childhood, and the effects of that trauma on the body as they age. The outcome research finds that as the traumatized participants age, their bodies experience chronic illness and in some cases, a shorter life span. The events in the A.C.E. test all involve disrupted attachment with a significant caregiver in childhood.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris recently posted a video of the A.C.E where she explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who have experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.

When adult couples argue, they set off a cascade of chemicals in their brains and bodies that literally hijacks the body, as noted in this article entitled ‘What happens to your body when you are fighting with your significant other’.  If we combine the science of abuse on the body in childhood, with the toxic effects of arguing as adults, we are activating those same pathways once again, which can cause illness in our bodies by being disconnected from our partner.   Many times children witness the arguments and are caught in their own struggle as noted in this video of a child trying to help her parents understand what the arguing does to her and to them.

When abusive events occur in childhood as a result of our parental caregivers not providing the safety and security we need, physical illness in the body manifests, as noted previously. This is also related to the overused parasympathetic nervous system which is typically designed to help calm the brain and body down when it becomes activated by a stressor, but because the sense of safety is not perceived to be there, causing it to become activated, again and again.  As adults, when we become activated by a stressor, such as our partner arguing with us or shutting us out, our parasympathetic nervous system tries calming the body down and struggles to do this, resulting in sense of panic and debilitating overwhelm.  Overtime, our bodies and brains become compromised resulting in physical and mental illness.

There is hope, and it comes in the form of  Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for individuals, couples and families.  A study called the Hand Holding Experiment shows us how couples who were connected through EFT therapy, were able to be soothed by their partner when faced with a stressor, unlike the partners who weren’t connected.  It is as if a loving other replaces a burned out parasympathetic nervous system that struggles to sooth the body, and now the gesture of support calms the body down.

EFT is a game and brain changer, as noted by this article entitled ‘Deepening Dependance‘.  In this article,  the research and outcome studies show the power of adult connection through healing trauma with secure attachment.  Remember how years ago, dependence was poo pooed and we were supposed to show our independence from others by becoming strong and independent?  Turns out that can be toxic to the body, especially when there has been early trauma. When couples can work through their difficulties together and find ways to be there for each other by connecting more deeply, it changes the way the body responds and heals.  This then circumvents the brain from signaling a continuous flow of stress chemicals to the body, which leads to physical illness.  Deep, love heals.  Cliche – yes, powerful – definitely.

Couples Counseling for Affairs

After helping many couples where there has been infidelity, one of the sure fire ways facilitate the early process of reconnection, is for the partner who had the affair to no longer be involved in anyway with the person they cheated with. I realize that sounds logical, but sadly, after many hours of therapy, time, energy and money, some partners continue their outside relationships, expecting things to change inside the marriage. This is not possible and is actually highly destructive.

What is happening here is that the person who became involved with someone else hasn’t unplugged from the affair partner, so plugging into their spouse or significant other doesn’t happen or is seriously impaired. Those who cheated may feel justified in the affair because of hurts sustained throughout the relationship. Therefore they believe they shouldn’t have to change their behavior, so they continue with the outside relationship, expecting their partner to make changes before they even consider giving their significant other a chance. Sadly, this spells disaster for the primary relationship and unfortunately it means very little success for the couple in couples therapy.

It can be very difficult to let go when we fall for someone outside our primary relationship, and may result in a period of grief and loss while letting go. Not letting go creates more agony for the significant other to be hurt again and again and again and may manifest in anger and frustration, causing the partner who left the relationship to be reluctant to reengage because of their partner’s anger. This becomes a negative cycle associated with infidelity and can be worked through with EFT for couples therapy, unless the outside partner is still in the picture. By maintaining the outside relationship and never giving the partner a chance when the partner really wants it to work and is making changes, this can be very painful for everyone and will ultimately doom the primary relationship.

When working on your relationship involving an affair, you can process the letting go of the outside relationship with the therapist and even the partner in therapy. Sharing what was lost for the one partner and processing the wounds of the violation with the one that cheated, creates openness and transparency. Without the outside relationship the couple can heal and build a deeper level of connection and safety.

Couples Therapy when there has been an affair

Couples therapy for infidelity or affairs is more effective if the partner who had the affair is no longer engaging in contact with the person they had the affair with.  Many times this is hidden while the couple is in therapy and the therapy stalls for good reason.  Please, do not believe that paying good money, time, energy you can build a bond with your partner if  you are still cheating.