It is uncomfortable at best and terrifying at worst to feel distance or disconnection in our love relationship. Unfortunately, often our responses to these moments of disconnection can make repairing the connection even more difficult. Take for example, Jill, who feels cutoff from Mark whenever he goes out with his friends. She knows that she and his current best buddy didn’t hit it off, especially because he is single and likes Mark to go with him to bars to meet women. Jill feels tense and angry all day when she knows Mark is going out with the guys. By the time, they do see each other briefly after work she feels exhausted and irritable. She snaps at him about not washing his dishes and demands to know where they are going and when he will be home. Mark feels overwhelmed by her anger; he is afraid of making her madder and starting a fight before he must leave. He tries to explain that it’s no big deal and they are just going to have a few drinks. He escapes the room as quickly as he can. As he leaves, Jill finds herself in a rage that he didn’t take her questions seriously and feels he is hiding information about his evening. Talking about this experience in their next session, Jill reveals that she fears that Mark will prefer spending time with his friends to being with her and feels this fear is confirmed when he leaves the room to get away from her. Understanding attachment theory helps us see that beneath Jill’s anger and demanding questions is fear of rejection or abandonment. She longs for reassurance that Mark values her and she is important to him. Jill and Mark have developed a pattern or cycle of these negative interactions.
In Emotionally focused therapy for couples (EFT), Jill and Mark learn to identify this cycle and see how they have repeated the same reactions and behaviors again and again. They work on recognizing the need for love, support, protection and comfort that are the sources of their anger and withdrawal. By the end of therapy, Mark can hear that Jill needs reassurance and respond so she feels heard and valued. Once they have re-established their connect, Mark and Jill are able to discuss their feelings without accusations and defensiveness, leading to better communication and problem-solving.
In Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, the primary goal is to create a safe relationship in which both partners feel close, secure, and responded to. When these needs are met, couples are able to send clearer messages and better hear the other’s perspective. Research on the success of EFT found that 90% of couples experienced significant improvements within 12 sessions, with 70% moving from distress to recovery.
Contact me to discuss how emotionally focused couples therapy can help your relationship.