Couples & Relationships

Emotionally Focused Therapy For Couples

Gottman Method Couples Therapy


Emotionally-Focused Therapy for Couples

Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples is an empirically supported treatment approach based on attachment research, which suggests that humans have an innate need to feel securely attached to and comforted by significant others.  In adult love relationships, however, our learning histories and entrenched negative interaction cycles that emerge with our partners may interfere with the development of deep trust and emotional safety in our relationships.  In these cases, the attachment bond can deteriorate, resulting in distress, anxiety, and sometimes a desperate panic which may ironically push our partners further away. 

EFT works to restore a secure attachment bond by replacing the toxic patterns of anger, defensiveness, and withdrawal with more vulnerable and genuine expressions of each partner’s underlying emotional needs for love, support, protection and comfort.  Over time the safe haven created in therapy becomes a platform for learning and practicing new forms of relating and caring for one another inside therapy and out.  

EFT is structured in three stages.  In Stage 1, emphasis is placed on unearthing the hidden feelings and needs that are fueling the conflicts or distance the couple has been experiencing. Couples learn how to de-escalate their conflict cycle in light of these feelings, and increase their emotional closeness by talking more honestly and vulnerably about the real issues at hand. In stage 2, both partners work towards expressing their deeper attachment needs, their avoided emotions, and their sense of who they are in the relationship. As these previously hidden feelings are revealed, care is taken to help partners accept and respond lovingly to each other’s vulnerability. At this stage, partners have the skills they need to begin to address old wounds and provide the healing response needed to move the relationship forward towards trust, safety, and intimacy.  In Stage 3, new patterns of expression and responding are solidified and new narratives are created that reflect the evolution of the relationship and each person in it.



Click here for a comprehensive list of EFT research articles

Click here for a summary of the findings from outcome studies on EFT

Click here to link to a meta analysis on EFT


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Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Gottman Method Therapy for Couples is the result of over 40 years of research into what makes couples succeed and fail. Findings from this body of research have pointed to four key predictors of relationship demise: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. In order to counteract these “Four Horsemen of the Apolcalypse,” couples must become better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each other’s hopes for the future. Drs. John and Julie Gottman have found that couples can accomplish this by incorporating nine successive components of healthy relationships which comprise the targets of Gottman Method Therapy:
1. Build Love Maps: Cultivate knowledge each other’s inner emotional world, and your personal histories, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes.
2. Express Fondness & Admiration: Reconnect with and express your fondness and admiration for one another.
3. Turn Towards: Learn to directly state your needs, be aware of each other’s bids for connection, and respond to them.
4. The Positive Perspective: Develop a positive approach to problem-solving and improve your ability to successfully repair ruptures in your relationship.
5. Manage Conflict: Learn how to respond effectively to solvable problems vs. perpetual problems.
6. Make Life Dreams Come True: Create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions and aspirations.
7. Create Shared Meaning: Understand important visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship.
8. Trust: Learn to keep your partner’s best interests at heart and “have their back” so they can develop greater trust in you and rest easy knowing you’ll be there for them.
9. Commitment: This means believing (and acting on the belief) that your relationship with this person is completely your lifelong journey, for better or for worse (meaning that if it gets worse you will both work to improve it). It implies cherishing and reinforcing your partner’s positive qualities and cultivating gratitude



Click here to read a summary article on the status of Gottman Method research



The Atlantic: Masters of Love

Huffington Post: Love in the Age of Big Data