Thanks to the brilliance of George Faller and Dr. Lori Watson, EFT has moved into the physical intimacy realm. Now EFTers such as myself, who are trained by these knowledgeable therapists can help couples work through not only their emotional cycles but their sexual cycles as well. This can really help the couple become connected both sexually and emotionally.
Maybe you thought you needed a couples therapist and a sex therapist but they can now be one and the same. This article helps couples understand your different Physical Intimacy Attachment styles and how this can lead to cycles:
The ultimate goal of Emotionally Focused Therapy or Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, (EFT/EFCT), is to help partners safely turn towards one another in times of distress and to work through their problems from the past, the present, and the future. This is in line of turning to an individual or couple therapist when things go wrong. That said, working with a collaborative, supportive, Emotionally Focused Individual Therapist (EFIT) while the couple is in couples therapy can be effective. Working with an individual therapist who is not EFT trained can also be helpful except for some of the following reasons:
At times, challenges occur when partners do concurrent individual therapy while also seeking ongoing EFT/EFCT couples therapy, and each partner or one partner is still turning to their individual therapists for support, rather than taking the risk of turning toward their partner with their concerns. The individual therapist may think they are opening up in couples therapy but that may not be the case, stalling couples therapy instead.
When this occurs, each partner may have inadvertently attached to their individual therapist which is fine if the individual client needs that support but, when they are in couples therapy this is not recommended for a good outcome and may be a warning sign. This means when a couple hits a hard spot, their respective ‘go to’ for support is someone outside their relationship, not each other, or the couple’s therapist who can help them navigate these waters in session. This basically leaves the couple in the same place they were when they sought couples therapy, to begin with, and is counterproductive to the EFT/EFCT process, as we are working to have the couple safely attach to one another. This is where Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy can be different because we are working towards creating a safe, compassionate environment for both partners to work towards connection. If the partner does not feel safe turning to the other partner, this can be explored further in individual therapy within the context of couples therapy. In other words, the couples therapist does a breakout session for each partner, carefully balanced by exploring the blocks. When blocks are identified, we help the partner express the block and work it through with the safe other and the therapist. This, along with identifying the negative cycles, helps the couple work towards building their bridge of safe connection and secure attachment.
When is it recommended to see an individual therapist? There are some instances where it is recommended for one or both partners to see an individual therapist during ongoing EFT/EFCT couples therapy such as when there are substance abuse/dependence problems, also known as process addictions, that are not managed and create more distress for the individual and the relationship. Also, major depression with suicidal ideation as well as difficulty functioning with severe anxiety and highly triggering PTSD symptoms can benefit from individual therapy during EFT/EFCT. That said, depression and anxiety can be reduced through the process of good couple EFT/EFCT Therapy. Moderate to severe dissociation, as well as delusions and hallucinations, can also necessitate individual therapy during couples counseling. In these instances listed above, both the individual and couple therapist need to effectively collaborate and communicate with one another frequently, with the client’s consent, of course, to ensure all parties are ‘on the same page’ and working towards ‘similar goals’.
Beyond these exceptions, there are several other concerns one needs to be aware of when continuing individual therapy or pursuing individual therapy during ongoing EFT/EFCT couple therapy. There may be serious implications and complications, such as when the individual therapist and the couple therapist are working towards two opposite goals. An example of this conflict occurs when the individual therapist believes it is in the client’s best interest to leave the marriage or the relationship and this is being explicitly or implicitly shared with the partner in individual therapy. Or, even if the individual therapist doesn’t have an expressed opinion, but may be aligning with the individual client who has thoughts of leaving. Sadly, this desire to leave is not being shared in the couples therapy or with the couples therapist for long periods of time, causing the couples counseling to stall. This is usually based on a desire to help the individual partner, who complains about the other partner to the individual therapist, but can lead to an inaccurate perception of the relationship by the individual therapist, as they have not worked with the partner or are getting a one-sided view of the situation.
At the same time, the individual therapist is working with one partner who is on the fence about leaving, and the EFT/EFCT couples therapist is working to deepen the relationship and has no idea that one partner is seriously intent on leaving. This can be extremely confusing for the client and may lead to the client to act out by continuing an affair, medicating with substances or other process addictions, withdrawing as a way to cope, or not being fully engaged with the EFT process because they turn to their individual therapist as well as process addictions. This again, stalls the couples therapy and or can lead to failure for the relationship.
I have known some couples who started with a particular couple therapist, and then the couple therapist became an individual therapist for one of the partners because the other partners didn’t feel comfortable with the therapist. This can go on for years, ten years in one case. The individual client may believe they are working on the relationship without the partner present, which is not really individual therapy, it is relationship therapy, without the partner present and is ineffective. The rare exception to this dynamic working is when there is an EFIT Individual Therapist helping from an attachment framework. Otherwise, most individual therapists hear one side of the relationship, the one with the partner complaining about their non-present partner, and arrive at negatively biased conclusions that drive the marriage further apart, causing the relationship to end in separation or divorce.
Now, let’s say that the withdrawing partner has left the therapy and the remaining partner then decides to work with the couple therapist, who has now become an individual therapist but was a couples therapist. It turns out, there may not be any legal implications here, but there may be some ethical contraindications, because the therapist has allowed a couple to go from the client as a relationship, to the client as an individual, which changes the therapeutic relationship between the client and the therapist.
Emotionally Focused Therapy is different because when a couple works with a certified EFT Therapist who is also a Marriage and Family Therapist, their relationship is the client. If one of the partners is uncomfortable, CHC will work with that partner to determine what is getting in the way and do what I can to create comfort and safety. If a partner decides therapy isn’t what they want, the couples therapy is terminated and referrals are made to other therapists, if that is what is requested. Why? Because, should the couple decide to return to therapy at CHC at a later time, the couple is the client once again and no significant alliance has developed between one of the partners which could cause bias and create a rupture in the therapeutic alliance should they both want to be seen again. As a couple therapist, it is not advisable to go from seeing a couple to seeing one of the partners for an extended period of time because this creates a bias. I do however, provide several individual sessions for each partner within the context of the relationship to learn more about the relationship with each partner individually, but this is kept in balance.
If however, access to the individual therapist by the couple therapist for one or both partners is not possible during ongoing couple therapy, the couple therapy may need to be terminated with referrals for another couples therapist or delayed until all therapists are able to be on the same page and or the individual client has worked to detached from their individual therapist in order to work towards safe attachment to their partner in couple therapy, which is the primary goal of EFT.
Working together, collaboratively, with an EFT Certified Therapist for couples work, while seeing an individual therapist, when warranted, is imperative for the success of the relationship. Signed releases with all parties allow for this open collaboration.
EFT Can be a Valuable Investment
A complete therapy process can be expensive, but divorce is far more costly, both emotionally, financially and in other ways. Divorce could cost you ten times as much as therapy–maybe more–and could uproot you, your spouse, and your children. If there’s even a small chance your relationship could survive whatever is currently impacting it, isn’t it worth it to make to learn more about how your relationship can change and improve?
EFT Couples Therapy and Why it Works!
After over 25 years of providing several different forms of couple therapy, there is clearly one that stands above the rest, with both the empirical research and results to prove it. Emotionally Focused Therapy stands head and shoulders above Cognitive behavioral Therapy (CBT) in outcome studies and in my own experience working with couples. In the past, I provided CBT for several years with couples and individuals, but once I delved into EFT and became a Certified EFT Therapist, I knew which one worked for me and the couples I work with. There is a great deal of research to show that EFT works and works exceptionally well, with a 70-90% success rate!
EFT can change your relationship for the better. Fully 70-90% of distressed couples who complete EFT experience significant improvement in their relationship. Almost three-fourths can be classified as “recovered” by the end of treatment, having made gains so significant they no longer qualify as distressed.
EFT works even where other treatments fail
EFT has been shown to work well with couples in all social strata, couples with little formal education, and couples where the husband or withdrawn partner is rated by the wife or expressive partner, as “inexpressive” These three groups are historically the groups that don’t do well in other forms of couples therapy. If you think that your relationship (or your spouse) isn’t fit for traditional therapy, EFT may be just what you’re looking for.
EFT brings about Lasting change
Unlike in other forms of couples therapy where the positive effects of therapy begin to drop off almost immediately at the end of treatment, couples who fully complete the 3 stages and 9 steps of EFT maintain their gains–and even continue to improve on them–over the next 24 months ad beyond, without any additional treatment.
EFT can be challenged by some of the following:
If there is ongoing violence or partner aggression in your relationship, or if one partner is absolutely unwilling to even attempt emotional reconnection, EFT may take longer and in some cases may not be effective. No therapy works for everyone, but EFT is among the most effective available especially combined with a strong commitment to the process.
ways to ensure eft is effective
Attend therapy weekly. Read ‘Hold Me Tight’ or ‘Created for Connection’ and or do the ‘Two of Us’ workbook together. Explore substance issues and better understand how they are getting in the way of your recovery and your connection. Complete your homework in order to facilitate an understanding of the cycles that take down the relationship and create disconnection in order to create something better.
For more information on the scientific research supporting EFT, including sources for all of the statistics cited above, please visit the EFT supportive research menu.
This is a new video on how partners become stuck in the negative, interactional cycle where pursuers are a bit like badgers and withdrawers become more like turtles. A great way to learn about the negative interactional cycles where one pushes for contact and the other avoids connection.
When it comes to arguing couples tend to fall into certain patterns called the ‘Demon Dialogues‘ (click on the link to learn even more). EFT helps us identify where couples become stuck called ‘cycles’ or ‘patterns’. Once identified, it is helpful to understand how we get caught and then slow it down.
As we learn more about trauma from our childhood, recent science studies shows us trauma is passed down through the generations. This is important because safe, loving connections helps reduce the effects of trauma on our psyche and can be healed with EFT Couples Therapy. This article by Scientific American helps us better understand the impact trauma has on us, and on our future generations and how best to reduce it.
At last, you’ve made the decision to find the right couple therapist focused on helping you with your relationship, but now you are faced with where to turn and whom to turn to? Like most of us, you head to the internet, only to be bombarded by counselors, therapists, social-workers, psychologists, you name it, all claiming they all have the skills to help you with your relationship. This makes the process even more daunting, and once again, you are left with the thought who is best suited to help me with the most important relationship of my life?
The following are all paid sites, that means a therapist pays to be there and there are no other requisite skills other than having a license in the field of counseling or psychotherapy:
- The National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists
- Psychology Today
- All the postings with Ad in a square which indicates a paid ad. Again, these are posted by counselors who paid for an advertisement. This includes Google, and now under Google, other therapists are rating the therapist, even though they have never had counseling with that therapist.
So now what do you do and where do you go since these are not really helpful?
I seriously pondered the process couples face in their search for a relationship healer, and realized how much partners really do need help with this very challenging and vexing conundrum.
Not long ago, two couples in one week told me they had seen 6 different therapists before arriving on my doorstep. The fact that these couples, and many others have hit multiple walls when it comes to finding help for their relationship, broke my heart, because the matter of helping partners connect is not to be taken lightly, and in fact, is sacred. Entering into this process with a therapist of limited experience or training does not have a neutral effect, despite the fact these couples may be limping along together. It had taken a serious toll on their relationship and their ability to trust one another. After six different therapists, my job becomes vastly more complicated, because, in addition to the complex but powerful EFT map I utilize in helping them heal, they feel hopeless and helpless on what feels like and ‘endless journey’ when they arrive at my door after doing so much ineffective therapy.
On the positive side, I also realized that after seeing multiple therapists, there was an amazing bond between these partners, that even inadequate couple therapy couldn’t shake. That said, after numerous therapists, most partners are more than reluctant, feel war weary from the process and are financially depleted. This is the primary reason I am writing this blog, because it is my passion to help partners in distress and seeing multiple therapists for your relationship is tragic. Please know, I am not perfect and will post more in a future blog regarding the limits of couple therapy success. Don’t worry, many of the couples I work with make it and thrive because Emotionally Focused Therapy has a 70-90% successrate.
Keeping all of the preceding in mind, I thought I would do what I could to help partners find the best, most well suited therapist for their relationship. Here are some steps to follow when going to the internet in search of a healer for your wounded partnership, this includes what to do if you have the name of a therapist from a friend or other referral.
When googling ‘Couple Therapy in your area’, the listing will include organizations such as ‘Google’, ‘Psychology Today’, ‘Theravive’, ‘Thervo’ and ‘GoodTherapy’. Again, these are sites where multiple paying therapists are listed, some of which may indicate training in the field of couples, relationships, marriage etc., and some may not have specific training in couple and family therapy. Please look for certifications in the area of couple therapy on the therapists postings, such as ‘Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist’. Above all, please know this, the therapists listed on these sites ‘pay money’ to be on these listings, which means they may not actually have the training and experience you are looking for to help your relationship. Let’s face it, we all need to make a name for ourselves on the world wide web, but we also need to know what we are getting when we hire someone to help our disconnection.
AAMFT (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists) had been the only organization designated to support and regulate Marriage and Family Therapists across the country, but their standards have significantly dropped. If you go to the AAMFT page link here you will see one listing for MFTs posted adjacent to a ‘Psychology Today’ listing all on one page. Here are posting of all levels of therapists, some with training in couple and family and others listed with without training, yet they are members of AAMFT, again because they paid a fee. The point is, AAMFT was initially designed for MFTs, similar to the National Association of Social Workers who represents social workers, but AAMFT has opened its doors to all disciplines, regardless, and as long as new members pay their dues and support AAMFT, they are listed as being able to work with relationships. That’s because AAMFT, a national agency designated to further the profession of Marriage and Family Therapists is now focused on membership rather than the advancement and specialization in marriage and family therapy.
When doing your search, the next step is to focus on the couple therapist, or couple counselor’s credentials. Marriage and Family Therapists or MFTs have attended graduate school with the specific focus on relationships and family systems. Additionally, there are two prominent psychotherapy models in the field of couple and family therapy. 1) Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and 2) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I was initially trained in CBT over 25 years ago, and provided this approach to couples for many years. Sadly, CBT didn’t have nearly the success I have experienced with couples providing a pure ‘EFT’ approach, which the research bares out. EFT has a 70-90% success rate, which is why it is my modality of choice for helping partners connect at a deep and profound level. I have gone well beyond my grad school focus of Marriage, Family Therapy, to include an advanced certification in Emotionally Focused Therapy which took several years to obtain. This indicates a much more advanced skill set than simply taking some additional course work or and having attended several trainings.
In many ways, EFT has been pushed into the background, because it’s been around since the 80’s, wait, that means it has been a focus for 30 years with tons of research to back it up. While CBT is considered the granddaddy of couple therapy, it only began being utilized in the 60’s and not much has changed. The challenge is, CBT is supported by the old guard of most Universities and Departments at Grad Schools, where it hasn’t moved to open the doors to new, more effective therapeutic modalities, such as EFT. This means, CBT is what most American therapists are taught at most Universities and colleges. Conversely, EFT is flourishing around the globe and is close to replacing the old CBT model everywhere but the U.S. I am well am aware of many American graduate students who only know about EFT from Dr. Johnson’s books and journals, because they did a paper on it rather than an entire course focused on it, which is very unfortunate.
This old guard, who maintains the CBT approach in grad school, also affects the way insurance companies view therapy. Most insurance companies are more than happy to provide the names of individual therapists or therapists who provide CBT, which is only effective for the one partner, which in reality, doesn’t really help the relationship. An EFT therapist working with a couple can not only drastically help the primary relationship, but can help create a ripple effect by positively affecting the couple’s children and extended family members. When we are deeply connected, we can work through just about anything together, but when we aren’t, life can be so very challenging. We are meant to connect with our partner and not turn to our therapists for help and support in our marriage once EFT therapy is completed.
The gold standard search for a couple therapist, relationship therapist or marriage counselor is The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT linked here), because you can be assured, the Certified EFT Therapists in your area have undergone rigorous training needed to help you and your partner salvage and deepen your relationship. At this site you will also find the research to support the high effectiveness rate of EFT along with the parts of the world where EFT is thriving.
In addition, you may want to research the therapist you choose by doing an on line search on Google, or the search engine of our choice. If you do have a therapist in mind, type the prospective therapist’s name and credentials followed by ‘reviews’ or if you want to be very thorough, type ‘negative reviews’. If the reviews are negative, you may want to continue your search. Positive reviews can help narrow down the process of finding a good fit for you and your partner. If however, there are no positive or negative reviews, that is a cautionary sign, and I would recommend you continue your search.
Finding a therapist trained to help you with your relationship is one of the most important decisions of your life. Please make yourself and your relationship top priority by doing thorough research to ensure you are comfortable with the person you hire to restore your connection with your parter. Some couples give up after one therapist, a select few hang on to see six or more therapists, you don’t want to do either. Start the process of therapy by doing all you can to ensure the best possible fit for your relationship and do your research.
“If we can reveal our inner vulnerability to our partner, we can have a corrective emotional experience if our partner empathically and compassionately responds. So I can say to you, “Here I am with all of my blemishes.” And if I can experience that you love me, in my nakedness I begin to feel lovable. This is the deepest and scariest place for couples to go. And yet EFT couples therapy can produce much deeper change than individual therapy, because it is your actual partner who can confirm and validate you. So it is a corrective emotional experience that disconfirms your negative beliefs about yourself, and your negative feelings about yourself.” Les Greenberg
Awhile back, you discussed couple therapy with your partner, but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen then. Turns out most couples come to therapy a good 6 years later then when it would have been ideal to start. But, because the negative cycles between you were so bad, you couldn’t even decide on someone together, and now ‘it is crunch time’. No pressure here, but it is important to know how divorce can affect your relationship and your future compared to effective, and by that I am referring to, Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples as one of the best, and well researched, couple therapy currently.
Nancy Michaels has written an eye-opening article entitled ‘Divorce = $1000,000 Love is Grand, but When It’s Gone, Divorce Can Cost More Than Twenty Grand’, In this article Nancy paints the picture for the average couple regarding the average costs of divorce, depending on your situation.
In another article by Frank Ginzburg, there are other financial costs to consider when comparing divorce to couple therapy:
- Splitting property, investments and income.
- Retirement accounts will need to be separated, which will likely incur fees.
- After divorce, you will probably need to obtain two separate medical benefits packages.
- child custody and visitation, as well as babysitting, may have financial implications.
- Legal fees can become a major factor in divorce. Legal fees can range in the tens of thousands or more.
- Compared to extensive EFT couple therapy with a certified EFT therapist, which can cost as little as a few thousand dollars.
- The same income you and your spouse receive now will need to support two separate households – making it unlikely that you and your spouse will be able to continue on in the level you have been accustomed to.
- Disagreements, complicated settlements and/or complicated custody decisions can cause legal fees to be become exorbitant.
- At times, one person, either by intention or obstinacy or even misunderstanding, can drive up the legal expenses for both partners considerably.
You do the math, because at the end of the day there is no comparison. Besides, returning to a loving, healed relationship with your partner and creating a space for your child or children to witness parents who can work through struggles and stay connected is worth it on so many levels.