Emotionally Focused Therapy

Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) – or emotionally focused couples therapy as it is sometimes known – is a short-term therapy technique focused on adult relationships. EFT seeks to help clients better understand both their own emotional responses and those of significant people in their lives. A therapist using EFT will look for patterns in the relationship and identify methods to create a more secure bond, increase trust, and help the relationship grow in a healthy direction. In a session, the therapist will observe the interactions between clients, tie this behavior into dynamics in the home, and help guide new interactions based on more open feelings. Sometimes, this includes clients discovering more emotions and feelings than they were aware they had. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of

Meet the specialists

Emotionally Focused Therapy has been my primary modality in working with couples since 2015. I find it a most beneficial therapeutic modality because it enables me to help couples get right down to the root of what's happening in problematic interactions. Using EFT helps me help couples much more quickly because we work with the shared human experience of emotions rather than staying in the story.

— Kelly Arthur, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Portland, OR

Emotions are often assigned a negative reputation, but they hold innate power to help us change and grow. I work with individuals to help them identify and better understand their emotional patterns and how they came to experience their emotions in this way. We also can address ways to better regulate emotions as well as identify the patterns which serve as barriers to connection.

— Brittany Boney, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Portland, OR

Emotionally focused therapy is designed to address distress in the intimate relationships of adults. Therapists who provide emotionally focused couples therapy (as the approach is also known) typically work with couples and families to help facilitate the creation of secure lasting bonds between intimate partners and family members and reinforce any preexisting positive bonds, with the goal of helping those in treatment increase security, closeness, and connection in intimate relationships.

— Eric Henley, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Mesa, AZ

This attachment-based approach is one I use primarily in my work with couples to help couples deescalate negative cycles, restructure and rebuild trust, and practice strengthening the emotional bond.

— Mary Bruce-Owenby, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

Many couples find that they keep having the same fight over and over again. They try to compromise, problem solve, and mediate the disagreement. But nothing seems to help. That's because the fights aren't really about the "problem", they are about deep emotional needs and wounds that get activated by the intimacy of a relationship. EFT helps couples recognize the underlying emotional triggers and teaches them to support each other's emotional needs while resolving conflicts.

— Jacob Brown, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Corte madera, CA

When couples come to me after the discovery of an affair, the emotional bond between them appears broken. I help them to pick up the pieces by exploring the unmet attachment needs they are each dealing with. Emotion is the music of the dance of love. Change the music; change the dance.

— Mark Cagle, Counselor in Dallas, TX

Emotionally Focused Therapy is a special kind of therapy to help couples to reconnect. Couples are bonded to each other in a special way, and the bond or attachment between them can be damaged or wounded by many things in life: betrayal, abandonment, anger, distance, misunderstandings. Once that bond is wounded, things can get out of sorts quickly. Misunderstandings and mistaken assumptions contribute to the distance in the relationship and things can feel too broken to repair. EFT helps couples uncover those relationship wounds and repair or heal them. Only when those wounds are healed do partners feel ready and safe enough to reconnect. EFT is based on careful research and has been shown to be successful across the globe and across cultures. It is well-respected among therapists and researchers, and is used to help couples in many countries around the world.

— Diana Walla, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in West Lake Hills, TX

Emotionally focused therapy has attachment theory at it's core. Dr Sue Johnson has integrated attachment strategies with couples therapy to help partner's understand why they respond and react in helpful and destructive ways. Rather than giving couples advice I prefer to help partners understand their responses so they can make adjustments internally. I want to help individuals make healthy satisfying connections with others.

— Lena Sheffield, Licensed Professional Counselor in Miami, FL

Many couples find themselves having the same fight over and over again. That's because the fight really isn't about the "Problem". The fights are about deep emotional needs and wounds that become activated by the intimacy of the relationship. EFT is effective because it helps couples recognize their own, and their partner's underlying emotional needs and triggers. And it teaches couples how to support each other as they work to gain greater connection, find joy, and navigate conflict.

— Jacob Brown, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Corte madera, CA

Clients often need some education and assistance in experiencing emotions by learning to identify specific, separate feelings with labels and measuring their intensity. In doing so, clients learn to manage their emotional system and harness the powerful assistance that emotions can offer us. They gain the information they need about their personal experience so that they can make better decisions about how they want to proceed for their healing to go the furthest and fastest.

— Laurie Cape, Licensed Professional Counselor in Bowling Green, KY

Emotionally focused therapy is a way to help couples get below the surface issues of repeating conflict and instead focus on deepening their bond and intimate connection.

— Kristal DeSantis, Marriage & Family Therapist in Austin, TX

Every relationship experiences problems and conflict. These challenges can be about specific events or may involve ongoing negative patterns. To help my clients overcome these challenges, my work with relationships draws upon what is known as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). EFT is a structured systems therapy that helps shift negative interactions into positive ones. People in relationships often get caught in negative cycles that eat away at intimacy and a sense of having a loving and trusting relationship. These cycles tend to be self-reinforcing and keep you trapped in hurtful interactions. EFT helps identify these cycles, stop them, and create new ones so you can feel close and connected again. This emotional security and sense of comfort is what ultimately allows you to resolve conflict, communicate better, have more fulfilling sex, and live happier lives. I welcome diverse populations in relationship therapy, including all sexual orientations, genders, and relationship structures (couples, triads, polyamorous and open relationships).

— Smadar Salzman, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Our team specializes in Emotionally Focused Therapy. We have all received advanced training in EFT. Some are Certified in EFT, and the others are working towards Certification. We regularly invest in advancing our skill as couples therapists using EFT, deepening knowledge in specialty topics such as helping couples reconnect sexually; work through a partner's trauma, depression or anxiety; working through relationship crises such as affairs or addictons; and helping couples restore relationships at risk of divorce and significant disconnection.

— Thrive Couple & Family Counseling Services, Counselor in Greenwood Village, CO

I provide evidence based care using Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) to help couples connect rather than continue in a cycle of unresolvable conflict. EFT is considered to be one of the most effective and successful approaches in couples counseling . EFT is based on the understanding that no matter how old we are, it is secure relationships that give us our greatest sense of safety, comfort and strength in dealing with the challenges, stresses, and opportunities of life.

— Chris Paredes, Therapist in Seattle, WA

My primary theoretical orientation is Emotion Focused Therapy as described by Dr. Les Greenberg, (developed for treatment of an individual). My primary use of EFT is based on its empirical/research support, assistance to individuals in understanding, expressing, accepting, regulating, and transforming their emotional responses, and warm, supportive approach.

— Stefanie Tweedly, Clinical Psychologist in Newport Beach, CA

Emotion Focused therapy works well for couples as well as individuals. Often times, we may not be aware of the feelings/emotions that we are experiencing. Emotions are taught by our primary caregivers and often coincide with our attachment styles. By identifying the vulnerable emotions which are often masked by secondary emotions (anger), the client is able to heal past wounds, as well as create more fulling and meaningful relationships with those around them.

— Miranda Bayard-Clark, Licensed Professional Counselor in Lake Oswego, OR

I have completed the EFT Externship and have used EFT in my practice for many years as well as taken other EFT training at conferences.

— Sheila Addison, in Oakland, CA

Using an integrated EFT approach I help couples and individuals identify their primary emotions, work through maladaptive responses, and develop empathy and compassion for themselves and others.

— Alana Ogilvie, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Portland, OR

EFT is an attachment-based model of working with intimate partners. Together we'll explore the underlying emotions that drive distressing communication and behavioral patterns and you'll learn more about your partner as you work towards building safe and secure attachment.

— Deanna Richards, Mental Health Counselor in NEW YORK, NY

I look at patterns in my clients lives and work to understand their meaning. This work can lead to deeper understanding of what emotions are truly driving the behaviors that bring you into counseling.

— Jodi Lietz, Counselor in Portland, OR

Experiencing many different specific emotions (anger, shame, sadness) may have more adaptive value than experiencing fewer states or more general ones (like just feeling bad), as these specific emotions provide richer information to guide our everyday decisions and help us deal with challenges.

— Douglas Rugh, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Washington, DC

I find that exploring emotions in the moment in session and using them as information about underlying needs and values can be very helpful both with couples therapy and individual work. I have done an in-depth EFT training for individual counseling with Jamie and Charles Edwards, and utilize many of the concepts and techniques of EFT in my integrative approach to therapy.

— Sonia Holdaway, Counselor in Portland, OR

EFT is an attachment-based model of working with intimate partners. Together we'll explore the underlying emotions that drive distressing communication and behavioral patterns and you'll learn more about your partner as you work towards building safe and secure attachment.

— Deanna Richards, Mental Health Counselor in NEW YORK, NY

Emotion-Focused Therapy grew out of decades of research into the process of changing emotions, which is what therapy is all about. There are two versions with similar names - I use the approach that is made for individual work (the other one is for couples). EFT uses your emotions as the guide for where therapy needs to go and we look to heal the emotional woundings or blocks that are causing the distress you're currently feeling. In addition to local mentorship, I have sought out training with the creator of the therapy (the original researcher) in Toronto to make sure I am using this approach to the best of my ability. I know that this approach can be very helpful, not only because of the research, but because it's the kind of therapy I seek for myself.

— Darin Bergen, Psychologist in Portland, OR