Emotion Focused Couple’s Therapy (EFT) is a treatment designed for couples who are experiencing troubles within their partnership. EFT is heavily rooted in the research on adult attachment patterns and applies this knowledge in a practical way to help patient’s reformulate the way they feel toward their partner. The research on these attachment patterns serves as a basis for understanding how a couple may have become stuck in an unhelpful pattern. Common patterns treated in EFT include when one partner pursues their partner while the other withdraws or when one partner criticizes while the other one defends.
EFT occurs in three stages: De-escalating negative cycles of interaction; changing positions within the relationship, and consolidating progress made in treatment. The ultimate goal of these stages is create or recreate a safe, dependable bond within a couple. The therapist takes part in this process by being an observer to the couple. The therapist does not give a list of communication strategies or act as a teacher in this sense. Instead, the therapist helps by illuminating and bringing recognition to unhelpful behaviors that each partner does when engaging with their partner. The therapist may pause a couple and check in with how each of them are feeling, then help them find more productive ways of sharing these feelings and building connectedness in situations where they would typically fall apart.