Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples

Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT) is the evidenced-based structured approach to treating relational distress in couples and families.  Developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, EFT provides a well researched road map for helping couples and families move from distress to recovery.  As noted by the International Center for Excellence in EFT, research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements.  In fact, recent brain imaging studies have shown remarkable brain changes among couples who have successfully completed EFT therapy.  EFT is contraindicated for couples with on-going violence in the relationship.  The model is based on the science of human love and attachment.  Specifically, it draws upon the work of John Bowlby and attachment theory; the traditions of humanistic and experiential psychology as developed by Carl Rogers; and the developing fields of brain and neuroscience.  

Strengths of Emotionally Focused Therapy

  • EFT is based on clear conceptualizations of marital distress and adult love. It is  supported by empirical research on the nature of marital distress and adult attachment.
  • EFT is non-pathologizing, collaborative and respectful of clients with the alliance between therapist and clients being a key element.
  • Change strategies and interventions are clear and specific, addressing recurring patterns of negative interaction and the underlying emotions that drive those patterns.
  • EFT has been applied to many different kinds of problems and populations.


  • To expand and re-organize key emotional responses – the music of the attachment dance.
  • To facilitate a shift in partners' interactional positions and initiate new cycles of interaction.
  • To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners.

Dr. Sue Johnson provides a brief summary of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). This leading edge, empirically validated form of therapy which is taught all over the world. EFT is based on the last 50 years of scientific research on bonding: bonding between mother and child and romantic bonds between partners. EFT provides a map to what matters in intimate relationships: how they work, how they go wrong, and what is needed to put them right.