Emotionally Focused Therapy was created and developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, Ottawa, starting in the nineteen-eighties. Sue Johnson is a professor in clinical psychology at the University of Ottawa, head of Ottawa Couple and Family Institute and International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, ICEEFT.
EFT is a structured short term therapy for couples who want to restore their couple relationship. It includes nine steps in three stages. The therapist helps the couple to understand in what way both of them contribute to, and are involved in, a pattern of interaction that is creating frustration and distance. The EFT work is both interpersonal and intrapsychic. The estimated number of sessions is between twelve and twenty.
EFT has theoretical roots in systems theory and existential theory and an important starting point in attachment theory. The adult love relationship is seen as an attachment relationship with many similarities with the relationship between the small child and the parent. When the adult couple develops problems in their relationship, in EFT it is seen as an attachment related problem. The adult love relationship requires a safe emotional experience where accessibility, acceptance and response are central concepts. Couples who have relationship problems have developed negative patterns of interaction that are constantly repeated. The interaction gets more constricted and so does the perception of oneself and the other. The feelings in the relationship are formed by the interaction, which means that all parts of the relationship are negatively affected, from communication to sex. A good couple relationship is significant for the wellbeing of the children in the family. Both of us have long experience of working with dysfunctional families. Working with EFT means being able to help many children and young people to an upbringing in an emotionally well functioning family, a very meaningful aim.
Emotionally Focused Therapy offers a comprehensive theory of adult love and attachment, as well as a process of healing relationships. This experiential -systemic therapy focuses on helping partners reprocess the emotional responses that maintain their negative interaction patterns.
Emotionally Focused Therapy is an integrative model, in which three perspectives are combined, the attachment theory, the intra-psychic or experiential perspective and the interpersonal or systemic perspective. Emotionally Focused Therapy offers good results with couples. In other groups of clients, the relapse percentage is lower than in other models. The effectiveness of EFT is proven in an increasing number of clinical studies around the world. In EFT, the role of the therapist is one of an emotionally engaged choreographer who helps the couple (again or for the first time) to dance. The focus on the here and know emotions of the partners requires an active and engaged therapist.
"Overseas trainers fly about 2 to 3 times a year to the Netherlands to get therapists acquainted with EFT by giving EFT Externships, Advanced Coreskills trainings and supervision. The two Dutch organisations, EFT Netwerk and stichting EFT Nederland, both affiliated with ICEEFT, do also have their own training program. In the recent years, EFT Netwerk Nederland built a solid partnership with EFT centers in Los Angeles, San Diego, Vancouver and Ottawa.
The therapists that are linked with the EFT network Nederland are trained in EFT and offer in addition to EFT, therapy supervision, training and coaching.
The Dutch EFT Centre want to contribute to the development of EFT in Europe.