What is Emotionally Focused Therapy

What is Emotionally Focused Therapy?

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) – Susan Johnson

Susan Johnson is a clinical psychologist, professor of clinical psychology, researcher in marital and family therapy, publisher for over 50 books, and the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy. Dr. Johnson has won numerous awards for her contribution towards couple and family therapy and adult attachment (CEEFT, 2007).  She is also the director of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (CEEFT) and the director of the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute.

Emotionally Focused Therapy, founded by Dr. Johnson, is a therapy that helps couples, families, or individuals understand their own emotional responses and those of significant people in their lives (Good Therapy, 2016). This therapy helps people connect with their significant others and build stronger relationships. The main focus in this therapy is on emotionally focused interventions through three stages.

Stage one: Cycle De-escalation, the therapist or psychologist identifies the issues and the negative patterns of interactions between the couple or family members. Then the therapist identifies the unacknowledged needs and emotions of each person.

Stage two: Changing Interaction Patterns, the therapist or psychologist has the couple or family members each talk about their needs and emotions. The therapist or psychologist then teaches the couple or family members’ better ways to accept and show compassion towards their significant other’s needs and emotions (Good Therapy, 2016).

Stage Three: Consolidation and Integration, the therapist teaches the clients how to communicate their problems and resolve conflict. Then the skills learned in the sessions are applied outside of sessions and are supposed to be used consistently throughout life (Good Therapy, 2016)   `.

These three stages, that use emotionally focused interventions, help each individual realize where disconnections are between them and their significant other and how they can re-establish their connection. If the partners or family members understand where the problem is and better work through it, then they can fix the problem and create a stronger emotional bond. Partners and family members will then have learned various skills from this therapy and counseling and better know how to handle each other’s emotional needs outside of sessions.


Good Therapy (2016). Emotionally Focused Therapy.


ICEEFT (2007). Dr. Sue Johnson.


Article was written by our intern and UNF Student, Ashley Pisciotanno

If you are interested in receiving Emotionally Focused Therapy, schedule an appointment with one of the psychologists, therapists, or counselors at D’Arienzo Psychological Group. EFT and other forms of couples counseling and therapy are proven methods to reduce couple’s conflict and improve relationship satisfaction.