Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) was developed in the 1980s by Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Les Greenberg. This innovative therapeutic approach was created to address the emotional underpinnings of relationship distress and to help couples build stronger, more secure connections. EFT integrates principles from Attachment Theory, humanistic psychology, and systemic therapy, offering a structured yet flexible framework for understanding and improving relationships.

Key Figures: Dr. Sue Johnson

Dr. Sue Johnson is a clinical psychologist, researcher, and one of the foremost experts in the field of couple therapy. She co-created EFT and has been instrumental in its development and dissemination. Dr. Johnson’s research and clinical work have demonstrated the effectiveness of EFT in fostering emotional connection and healing in relationships. Her books, such as "Hold Me Tight" and "The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy," have made the principles of EFT accessible to both therapists and the general public.

Basic Concepts

Emotional Bonding and Attachment Needs

Emotional Bonding: At the heart of EFT is the concept of emotional bonding. EFT posits that secure emotional bonds are crucial for relationship satisfaction and individual well-being. Emotional bonding involves the creation and maintenance of a deep emotional connection between partners, characterized by mutual trust, responsiveness, and emotional engagement. EFT helps couples identify and strengthen these bonds by addressing the underlying emotions that drive their interactions.

Attachment Needs: EFT is grounded in the idea that human beings have fundamental attachment needs that must be met for emotional health. These needs include:

  • Safety and Security: Feeling safe and protected in the relationship.
  • Closeness and Connection: Experiencing intimacy and emotional closeness with a partner.
  • Validation and Understanding: Feeling understood and valued by a partner.
  • Support and Comfort: Receiving emotional support and comfort from a partner, especially during times of stress or distress.

In EFT, therapists help couples recognize and articulate these attachment needs. By bringing these needs to the forefront of therapy, EFT enables partners to respond to each other in ways that foster security and closeness. This process helps to de-escalate negative interaction patterns, create new cycles of positive engagement, and consolidate changes to build a more resilient and connected relationship.

Understanding the fundamentals of EFT provides a roadmap for transforming relationships through emotional bonding and meeting attachment needs. This therapeutic approach empowers couples to move past conflict and disconnection, fostering deeper understanding and lasting emotional intimacy.