Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT)

EFCT is a short term (12 to 30 sessions), structured approach to couples and relationship therapy formulated in the early 80’s by Drs. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg.

EFT has been validated by 20 years of empirical research and is approved by the American Psychology Association. These research studies found that 70 to 75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% showed significant improvements. EFT’s original focus was on couples, but it has expanded to individuals and families.

EFT helps to:

  • Defuse conflict
  • Feel closer and more connected to your partner
  • Improve emotional, physical, and sexual intimacy
  • Resolve problematic issues in your relationship


The Change Process in EFT has been mapped into three stages:

The First Stage

When our most important relationships are not close, secure, and dependable we will experience emotional distress.  Our intense emotions drive patterns that can actually push us further away from each other. In Stage One you will start to understand these patterns and connect with your deeper emotions and needs. You will start to recognize that the problem is not you or your partner but the negative pattern that has taken you over. EFT uses the ‘here and now’ experience of the session to access and use these emotions to change your interactions and negative patterns into more connected, loving ones.

The Second Stage

You are taught to shift from your current pattern to healthier patterns of connection. Generally, you will be working on either staying engaged or softening your approach. You will be assisted to express your needs and wants from a less defensive stance and to express the deeper needs that are not being fulfilled.

The Third Stage

You will now apply your new patterns of communication to unresolved issues.  You will practice you new ways of communicating and connecting.  Strategies will be reviewed so you can use them in the future and not revert back to your unhealthy, destructive ways.

The Gottman method is based on nearly forty years of research and clinical practice on what makes relationships last.

According to the Gottman Method, in lasting relationships, 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 summarized the essential components of a healthy relationship into what they call the Sound Relationship House.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy helps partners:

  • Increase respect, affection, and closeness
  • Break through and resolve conflicts when they feel stuck
  • Generate greater understanding between partners
  • Keep conflict discussions calm


The 9 components of a healthy relationship are:

1. Build Love Maps

How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world, his or her history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes?

2. Share Fondness and Admiration

The antidote for contempt, this level focuses on the amount of affection and respect within a relationship (To strengthen fondness and admiration, express appreciation and respect).

3. Turn Towards

State your needs, be aware of bids for connection and respond to (turn towards) them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of relationships.

4. The Positive Perspective

The presence of a positive approach to problem-solving and the success of repair attempts.

5. Manage Conflict

We say “manage” conflict rather than “resolve” conflict, because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects. Understand that there is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable 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

This is the state that occurs when a person knows that his or her partner acts and thinks to maximize that person’s best interests and benefits, not just the partner’s own interests and benefits. In other words, this means, “my partner has my back and is there for me.”

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 your partner’s positive qualities and nurturing gratitude by comparing the partner favourably with real or imagined others, rather than trashing the partner by magnifying negative qualities, and nurturing resentment by comparing unfavourably with real or imagined others.