You may be thinking that all types of therapy are ‘emotion-focused.’ And you aren’t wrong. After all, most therapies do focus on your emotions, as well as your behaviours and thoughts. In turn, this allows you to see new perspectives and change thought patterns that aren’t serving you.
However, emotion focused therapy, also called EFT therapy, is different in more ways than one. In this blog, we outline exactly what emotion-focused therapy is and what it involves.
Understanding Emotion Focused Therapy
In EFT, the individual (not the therapist) is considered the person who can best interpret and relay their emotions. It involves equal contributions from the person receiving the therapy and the therapist. In particular, this type of therapy focuses on bonding theory and adult attachment.
This type of therapy also recognizes that your emotions can act as a signal. They can let you know when you need to pay attention to something, when something is wrong, when you need something, and when you may need to take action.
In other words, understanding your emotions can create personal awareness, as well as help you use them in a more productive and effective way. In fact, the theory behind EFT is that individuals construct their sense of self from their emotional experiences.
EFT puts emotions first through the entire therapeutic process. Generally, it is based on the following three principles:
- Enhancing emotional awareness.
- Improving emotional regulation.
- Transforming or altering emotions.
How Does Emotion Focused Therapy Work?
For different practitioners, emotion focused therapy and the stages involved may vary slightly. EFT can also be broken down into emotionally focused couples therapy and emotionally focused therapy for individuals. However, they generally involve the following three phases.
Phase 1: Assess & Deescalate
In this initial stage in therapy, you and your therapist aim to pinpoint your emotional problem. At the very beginning, you will identify the main conflict, such as issues occurring in a relationship. It also involves uncovering the root of the problem and assessing potentially unacknowledged emotions. From there, your therapist works with you to reframe the problem and alter your perception of it.
Phase 2: Change Events/Restructure Old Patterns
This second phase focuses on understanding more effective communication tactics and creating new emotional experiences to counteract the negative ones. As a couple or as an individual, you will dive into understanding your needs. If you are in a relationship, this will involve addressing both parties’ wants and needs. The next step is accepting each other and yourself for these wants and needs. You will learn how to interact in a more positive way when it comes to expressing these needs, as well as explore new solutions for them.
Phase 3: Consolidating Change
This stage involves the creation of a plan to continue with outside of your therapist’s room or office. It concludes with an understanding of your own emotions in older problems, and a new way to perceive things. In other words, this is the adaptation phase. You take what you learned in therapy and apply it to your life.
Who is EFT For?
While EFT originally began as therapy for couples, it has since been applied to individual therapy plans as well. It has helped various couples strengthen their emotional bond and build deeper connections.
For individuals, EFT focuses more on regulating emotions, emotional awareness, and the transformation of emotions – as opposed to understanding your and your partner’s emotions and needs. This means it focuses more on the intrapersonal aspects of your emotions, rather than the interpersonal relationship which is involved in couples’ counselling.
EFT has also been applied in family situations. It can help individual members of a family cope with divorce, a new blended family, behavioural issues, and other transitional periods.
If you think you may benefit from Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT), Bhatia Psychology group is here to help. Our caring and compassionate therapy team is ready to listen and help guide you through those tough times. Book your appointment today, and begin your journey toward better emotional awareness and understanding.