There are typically three patterns this distress is expressed in a relationship. The most common is when one partner pursues and the other partner withdraws from the relationship. Sometimes both partners can withdraw, and sometimes they may attack each other, and some may do all three!
It may seem like the issue is about the finances, or in-laws, or child raising or frequency of sex, but upon greater observation there is something much deeper going on between couples. More recent science and research about love and couples attachment has revealed that couples in a bonded or attachment relationship are looking for safety and security in their relationship. Research has shown that we have a biological imperative to stay close to our primary attachment figures for survival, acceptance and love. In an attachment relationship, the heart of the matter is that couples are really looking to answer affirmatively a few basic attachment questions such as
“Are you there for me?”
“Can I count on you?”
“Will you come when I call?”
“Do I matter to you?”
Back in the mid 1980’s Susan Johnson, Ed.D. and Leslie Greenberg, Ph.D. developed a form of therapy that powerfully attended to these questions to help couples reconnect with each other, they called it emotionally focused therapy. Since that time it has been further developed by Dr. Johnson, adding attachment theory and the new science of love to really get to the heart of the matter with couples. Emotionally focused therapy is an integrated model of treatment comes from the humanistic and person centered perspective. This means it is experiential in nature and focused upon the moment to moment expression.
EFT has a substantial amount of research to support its effectiveness. Studies have found that 70% to 75% of couples move from distress to recovery, and approximately 90% show significant improvements. Follow up studies indicate that couples continue to improve in their relationship even up to 2 years after therapy ended. Those results surprised researchers and therapists because most couples therapies have about a 35% success rate. EFT continues to be researched and developed to bring couples more satisfying relationships.
Seeking out therapy is big step for many of us. An EFT therapist will collaborate and consult with you on how to get unstuck and create change that lasts. Most of the therapists on the Therapist page work with individuals as well as couples, and some work with families. For more information on EFT for couples visit How EFT Works for Couples.