The Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy process consists of three stages. In the first stage, the therapist and the couple focus is on de-escalating the couple’s relationship cycle or dance. Specifically, the dance often starts with reactive criticism followed by angry defensiveness. As a result, painful distance is created between the couple. These behaviors often take over the couple’s relationship.
The central focus of stage one of Couples therapy/Marriage Counseling is successfully dealing with the couple’s reactivity. This is accomplished by identifying and expressing the softer feelings that are underneath the reactivity. Additionally, the couple’s negative relationship dance is reframed as the primary problem, not each other. To emphasize, this can lead to greater shared acceptance and a unified goal of defeating the cycle together.
The goal of Stage two is to deepen the couple’s emotional connection. As a result, couples begin to feel safer and comfortable enough to express their deepest needs and fears to one another. The bonding experiences in stage two can be very powerful. To illustrate, these moments are called “hold me tight moments.” To emphasize, stage two helps couples achieve a deep and satisfying secure connection and attain a positive view of themselves and their partner.
Another important objective in stage two is to heal any attachment injuries that exist between the couple. To explain, an attachment Injury is a feeling of betrayal or abandonment in a time of need. When an attachment injury occurs, the partner that has received the injury believes the relationship has negatively changed. Additionally, they view their partner in a different light, because of the damage inflicted.
To illustrate, an affair is a common example of an attachment injury, but their can be many other experiences that can result in one. Additionally, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy is uniquely equipped to help couples successfully heal from attachment injuries.
Stage three is about consolidating the experiences learned in therapy. Couples effectively discuss new solutions to problematic issues. Additionally, the couple’s ability to effectively navigate their relationship dance and to reduce and repair conflict is reviewed, and solidified.
Research has shown that Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples is effective 75% of the time. Moreover, this type of Couple’s Therapy has been helping couples reach secure connection for over 30 years. Sue Johnson, the creator of Emotionally Focused Couples therapy, has cracked the code of how to help couples become securely connected. Undeniably, she has created a road map that strongly assists couples in finding their way back to each other.