Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

John Gottman, Ph.D. has observed that when couples come in for their first appointment with a marital therapist, their relationship has had serious problems for, on average, six years.  I often tell couples that it is rare that two people will sit across me me and say something like, “We’re basically doing fine.  We just need some help with communication.”  Much more likely, I am sitting with two very wounded people, their feelings rubbed raw from years of conflict, pain and emotional distance.  Dr. Sue Johnson observed years ago that the intensity of the conflict – the very sense of being out of control – is tragically understandable – as each person’s deepest need for connection has been unmet.  This “attachment” need (see earlier posts) is so deep it is felt, literally, on a cellular level.  People are just so emotionally exhausted and strained when they first enter marital therapy that any therapist who blames either person, rather than compassionately trying to understand the particular wounds and needs of each is doing more harm than good.  Emotionally Focused Therapy, among many things, is like a balm to people’s psychic sores.   I am on the EFT community’s list serve and I am frequently moved by the deep care and compassion of these attachment therapists.  It is a pure and fine form of therapy.  The abiding belief of this community is that healing of even the most strained relationships can come to us if we are patient and give care rather than judgment.