What is Emotion-Focused Therapy?
Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), is an empirically validated type of therapy that helps people to identify, experience, express, accept, regulate, understand, and transform a full range of emotions. It’s a therapeutic modality that works successfully in individual therapy, as well as with couples or families.
Emotion-Focused Therapy helps people to break free from negative patterns of communication, such as pursuing-withdrawing or criticizing-defending. In the safe space of the therapy room, clients can learn to express emotions in a healthy way. This creates a sense of bonding, which reinforces the communication process, and facilitates long-lasting change. In so doing, the therapy becomes a healing environment in and of itself. Not only will clients gain knowledge about emotions, they will experience and work through them in the here-and-now.
Emotions are adaptive and healthy. However, emotions can surface in relation to current life circumstances as well as past experiences. In therapy, you can learn to distinguish what you are feeling and why. This may guide how you want to respond when emotions arise. For example, if you notice that you are having a strong reaction due to remnants of the past, this awareness can guide you to respond more calmly than if you did not possess this awareness. Additionally, emotion-focused therapy can help you to understand the wisdom behind emotions – they tell us what we value. Therefore, instead of acting out emotionally, or trying to push away or suppress painful emotions, you can learn to experience your emotions, decode what your emotions are telling you, and consciously decide how to respond when painful emotions arise.
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