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Yes, but...

What is EFT and can it really help ME?

Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) for couples (or couples counselling) has taken the guess-work out of building a secure and satisfying relationship.

Decades of research has given us a clear MAP that shows us what it is we really need, and also helps us to make sense of the ways we can really mess it up – even when we're doing the best we can.

EFT therapists use this map to cut to the chase. Research (lots of it over the last 30 years..) shows that with a trained EFT therapist most couples (over 70%) turned their relationship around (from distressed – even very badly distressed - to happy and securely connected) in 15-20 sessions, and over 90% of couples reported that they were 'significantly improved'.

EFT helps address the core questions we tend to ask ourselves in our most important relationships: Do I matter deeply to my partner? Will he/she be there for me when I really need them? Can I count on them to have my back? Do I feel secure enough in my relationship to relax and be my real authentic self?

These questions tend to be at the heart of how we relate to each other.If we get a 'no' or a 'maybe' to any of them, we can be left feeling very isolated and alone, and reacting in some very predicatable, but unhelpful ways.

EFT is all about making sense of those predictable but unhelpful ways of relating, and building better, more satisfying patterns that leave us feeling more open, trusting and understood. 

This is a blame-free process. Whether you are living like room-mates or sparring partners. Whether you're having the same argument over and over again, or living lives of quiet, lonely desperation. Whether you are having unsatisfying sex, or not enough sex, or no sex at all.

And even if one of you has done something that's left the other wounded and wondering if trust can ever be restored.

I'm nervous talking to a stranger. This stuff is hard to talk about and it's personal!

The depth of your trust will directly influence how much of yourself you can invest in the process, and the depth of the change that can occur as a result. We will spend time building that trust at whatever pace is right for you. Not everyone is a "band-aid ripper", and that is completely OK. This can be healing in itself, and an opportunity for you practice taking “safe” risks.

The idea of a safe risk is a tricky area but it's important. You may want to give it some thought ahead of time. Making significant changes in your most important relationship can be intimidating, uncomfortable and just plain scary. On the other hand, that's what we're here for – right? If it was easy – there wouldn't be a problem!

To me, the guiding principle is your comfort zone. Stay right in the middle of that and you may as well save your time and money and make your peace with the way things are. On the other hand – you don't want to be plucked right out of that safe place and fed to hungry sharks, right? The good news is that the solution centers around you being in control. The trick is in allow yourself to be brought to the very edge of your comfort zone and then to consider skooching the edge out a bit. That way you engage your head and your heart in the decision to take a risk. My job is to help you get there and to make it an informed decision when you do. It isn't easy and it may not be fun. But the rewards? - you be the judge.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom ...Anais Nin

I'm worried I'll be judged and blamed.

You can find a judge in a courtroom. My hope and my bias is to keep you out of there.

EFT builds on the assumption that every choice makes sense in its context – no matter how much it may be missing the mark. We're all doing the best we can under the circumstances!

That's very different to saying that in a disagreement or disconnection that someone isn't “at fault” or that each partner is equally “to blame”. In many cases that may not be true. But that's not my call. When the goal, though, is to find your way back to each other and build a more secure bond, it is just not helpful for a therapist to try to play referee. Connection and forgiveness come through mutual understanding. One of the best ways to start is to create a blame-free zone. When we are all on the same team, we can better apologize, empathize and be truly sorry and also accept an apology so you can truly heal and move on stronger.

Will I have to talk about my feelings?

Yep – you will, sorry.... not sorry.

Emotions have a way of running the show anyway – may as well learn how to drive them and save yourself a whole lot of grief. It's really quite empowering once you get used to it...

I've been to a couples counsellor before and it didn't help at all.

Not all therapy is created equal, and not every therapist is trained in an outcome-based, empirically validated model of couples therapy.

Counselling can be a huge investment of hope, emotional energy and financial resources. You take a risk and trust a stranger with the most intimate and important part of you – your heart. When you take that step and it misses the mark you can be left feeling discouraged – maybe even cheated. Perhaps the experience left you feeling judged. Or you ended up feeling worse – you were just having the same fight in a different setting. Or maybe the whole process left you underwhelmed: Didn't offer anything that felt like it got to the heart of the matter.

But good news: research supports strong positive outcomes in some models of couple therapy. Over 90% of couples who participated in research on Emotionally Focused Therapy couples therapy got better and continued to have strong and growing marital relationships even at 2 years of completing therapy. (see Johnson, S., Hunsley, J., Greenberg, L. & Schindler, D. (1999). Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (A meta-analysis). Journal of Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 6,67-79.)

It's important to find a therapist who has specific training and experience working with couples and who is also someone you feel you can trust and connect with – someone who really “gets” you. It can take a few tries to find the right match for you.

Please don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. This is too important to give up on!

ICEFT  ICEEFT serves as a centre of excellence for the promotion of secure, resilient and successful relationships between partners and within families. Our mission includes the further expansion and refinement of the Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) model through process and outcome research. Another central aspect of our mission is to educate health professionals and to increase public awareness about the efficacy of EFT and its role in strengthening relationship bonds. (More) 

I can't afford counselling - doesn't it cost me a lot of $$$?

Counselling is a big investment in more ways than one. On top of the emotional risk you take, you are expected to part with a lot of hard earned dollars!!

A good counsellor has trained long and hard to be in a position to offer you help that really helps. Investing in the things that matter brings the biggest reward. But even though we're all doing the best we can, not everyone can afford the same things. Trust me - I get it.

My wish is to be able to provide help to anyone who's really serious about working on their relationship. Please ask me about reduced fees for special circumstances. We just might find a way to make it work.

And BTW, please consider the alternative. A divorce can cost so much more in oh, so many ways.

How long is this going to take??!

Most people experience a positive change in the first few hours of therapy - we begin to make sense of your distress and see a way through it! This is a temporary improvement that will be permanent when we then replace those old unhelpful ways of relating with better ones. This whole process can happen in as little as 15-20 hours of therapy. For others it will take longer. If you have a significant trauma in your past, or if your relationship has experienced an injury like infidelity it will probably take longer. If one or both of you are not sure you want to commit to couples counselling, you may benefit better from Discernment Counselling until you're both on the same page. For an overview of the process of EFT, please visit or this page from TRIEFT.