I practice Emotionally Focused Couples (EFT) therapy. EFT is based on 25 years of research on what works in couples therapy. Of course, not every couple will resolve their differences and decide to stay together, but the evidence is that with this therapy, overall, 70% of couples move from distress to recovery and 88% of couples show significant improvement. Results are often dependent on the commitment each person brings to the process and on the rapport we can build together.
Many couples therapy approaches focus on teaching you skills for communication, but loving communication is more complicated than words. It is much easier to communicate lovingly with someone we trust to have our backs. Emotionally Focused Therapy focuses on the needs we all have for love and acceptance, especially from our romantic partners. The part I play is to help you feel safe enough to make this transformation from distrust, anger, or fear to openness and connection. Sue Johnson, one of the originators of EFT says “We are, at last, building a science of intimate relationships.” That science includes new information about how the brain operates under stress of disconnection and the protection afforded by a safe trusting relationship.
See this video for a remarkable demonstration of the power of a trusting relationship.
Most people come to couples therapy hoping the other person will change. The good news is that’s exactly what has to happen but the whole story is that it has to happen for both of you. When we succeed, both of you will end up feeling more heard and valued by the other person and in turn value and listen to your partner. When marriages are in distress, it is hard to take that first step toward your partner, sometimes impossible.
The most important thing in couples therapy is that you both feel heard and understood even when your points of view are drastically different. Research shows that 69% of disagreements are unresolvable in both the best and the worst relationships. The secret is in the way you relate to each other when these disagreements come up and the way you make repairs when feelings are inevitably ruffled. Research shows that good repairs are more important than agreement.
In distressed relationships, there are negative patterns of interaction that gradually set in. The negative patterns keep you and your partner apart from each other, sometimes arguing, sometimes with deadly silences and avoidance. You end up lonely and alone and unable to turn to the one person you want to be able to go to for comfort, celebration, and love.
I want to help you cultivate the healthy relationship you deserve. My role is to make it safe for you to explore the issues that you haven’t been able to talk about product-ively at home. I’ve worked with couples who couldn’t even sit next to each other in the waiting room and who began to open up to each other about their deepest needs.
You will learn to recognize the negative patterns in your relationship and identify them as the enemy, not each other. That way, no one has to go first; no one has to be the one to give in to the other; no one has to always sacrifice their needs for the sake of peace. I will help you each take responsibility for your part in the relationship in an accepting environment. We will join together to fight a common enemy and cultivate your healthy relationship.
Marital distress raises the risk for depression tenfold!
Susan Johnson, PhD - Originator Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy