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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) For Couples: The Importance of Primary Emotions to Improve Your Relationship

In my prior article, Why Does Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) Focus on Emotions? I began discussing why EFT places so much emphasis on emotions to help couples to make changes and improve their relationship.  In this article, I'm focusing more in depth on primary emotions (see my articles: What is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) For Couples?What Happens During Stage One of EFT Couple Therapy? and What Happens During Stage Two of EFT Couple Therapy?).

EFT For Couples: The Importance of Primary Emotions to Improve Your Relationship

What Are Primary Emotions?
As I discussed in my prior article, primary emotions are your first emotional reaction to an experience, and these emotions happen very quickly--so quickly, at times, that you might not notice them, especially if they are emotions that you're not comfortable with, like sadness or fear.

Primary emotions include:
  • joy/happiness
  • sadness
  • hurt
  • surprise
  • excitement
  • disgust
  • shame
  • anger (although not always)
  • fear
Primary emotions are biologically based and instinctual so they are hard wired into human beings.

From an evolutionary standpoint this makes sense.  For instance, centuries ago when people lived in caves, they needed an emotional response to danger that was quick and efficient.  If a caveman or cavewoman walked into the wrong cave--the cave where the lion lived--instead of the family cave, having an emotional response, in this case fear, that propels you to run before you even have time to think about it, is immediate and could make the difference between life and death.

Although we no longer live in caves and we don't need to run from bears or tigers, primary emotions still contain important information for you as an individual and for your partner (more about this below).

Anger, as noted above in the list of primary emotions, isn't always a primary emotion.  Sometimes, it's a secondary emotion.  For instance, when someone experiences anger because she is being abused or manipulated, this is usually a primary emotion.  However, if someone uses anger to mask deeper feelings (primary emotions) of hurt or sadness, then anger is a secondary emotion (more about what secondary emotions are below).

Primary emotions are you at your most emotionally vulnerable, especially when you attempt to share your deepest emotions with your partner.

Being able to say, "I'm afraid you might leave me because I keep disappointing you" is a lot different than saying in anger, "You make me so angry when you complain about how I disappoint you, and I know you're probably going to bail on our relationship!"

In the first example, the person is showing an emotional vulnerability, which is more likely to elicit a compassionate response than in the second example where the statement is said in an angry tone and which is blaming and critical.  The partner is more likely to become defensive after hearing the second statement.

As you can see from the list of primary emotions above, these emotions include both positive emotions (like joy) and so-called "negative emotions" (like disgust).  The "negative emotions" are not called "negative because they're "bad."  They're called "negative" in contrast to the positive emotions.

All emotions, whether they are labeled as "positive" or "negative," are normal and they provide you with important information about what you're feeling, how you might be impacting your spouse or partner, and what might be going on in your relationship (more about this below).

Secondary emotions, which I will discuss in a future article, are emotions that are a reaction to primary emotions, so they come later.  These emotions often mask the primary emotions that you feel uncomfortable with.

What Role Do Primary Emotions Play in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) For Couples?
An EFT couple therapist understands the importance of primary emotions and helps each individual in the relationship to become aware of these emotions to help the couple overcome a negative dynamic in their relationship and to make positive changes.

Becoming aware of primary emotions is important because they:
  • Let you know how you are feeling in the moment
  • Provide you with information about what you need to do to take care of yourself, your partner and your relationship
  • Motivate you to seek help from those who can help you
  • Encourage your loved ones to be compassionate to comfort and reassure you (when you share your primary emotions in a vulnerable way without criticism or blame)
As I mentioned in an earlier article, EFT Couple Therapy: Overcoming the Negative Dynamic in Your Relationship That Keeps You Stuck, the EFT couple therapist will assess the couple's pattern of relating during Stage One of EFT  and reflect this back to each individual.

She will also help each individual to become aware of the primary emotions that are being masked by and communicated with secondary emotions.

In addition, she will help each person to get comfortable with communicating primary emotions once the dynamic in the relationship has been de-escalated so that each person can feel safe enough emotionally to risk being vulnerable.

In my next article, I'll give some examples of couples who use secondary emotions, instead of primary emotions, to communicate with each other, show the detrimental effects of this dynamic, and why it's so difficult to change these patterns on your own.

Getting Help in EFT Couple Therapy
So many people, who love their spouses or partners, get stuck in destructive relationship dynamics that destroy an otherwise good relationship.

If you and your partner haven't been successful with improving your relationship on your own, you could benefit from attending couple therapy with an EFT couple therapist.  

Not only is EFT, which was developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, one of the most well-researched couple therapies, but it also has a high success rate.

Rather than remaining stuck in a negative cycle that's ruining your relationship, you could get help in EFT couple therapy and save your relationship.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, Somatic Experiencing and EFT couple therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.















Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Why Does Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) For Couples Focus on Emotions ?

I have been discussing Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples in the last several articles (see my articles: What is Emotionally Focused Therapy For Couples (EFT)?What Happens During Stage One of Emotionally Focused Therapy For Couples? and What Happens During Stage Two of EFT Couple Counseling?).  In this article, I'm addressing a common question that couples often have when they are considering EFT couple therapy: Why does EFT focus on emotions?

Why Does Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) For Couples Focus on Emotions?

Focusing on Emotions in EFT Couple Therapy
Based on recent neuroaffective research, we now know that emotions occur at least two and a half times faster than thoughts.  Since emotions occur so quickly, it's possible to be unaware of what you're feeling emotionally before you have a thought about whatever you're experiencing.

Emotions also motivate your behavior, whether you realize it or not, both as an individual and as an individual in a relationship.  Emotions also motivate you to change much more than your thoughts.  So, it's important to be aware of what's going on emotionally, especially if you want to make changes.

Understanding Why Emotions Are Important
An important role for the EFT couple therapist is helping each member in the relationship to be able to:
  • Identify emotions as they occur in the present and in the past 
  • Learn to distinguish between primary, secondary and instrumental emotions (more about this below)
  • Understand the positive and negative roles emotions play on a personal level as well as in the relationship
  • Create an emotionally safe environment in couple therapy for each individual to identify and reveal more vulnerable (primary) emotions to his or her spouse or partner
  • Understand whether a secondary emotion is masking a primary emotion (more about this below)
  • Learn to feel and expression self compassion as well as compassion for your partner
Primary, Secondary and Instrumental Emotions:
  • Primary emotions are the emotions that you feel first with a sense of immediacy.  These emotions, which include: fear, anger, sadness, joy/happiness, disgust, contempt and surprise.  They occur in the body, including on a gut level.  These emotions are biologically hardwired into humans.  These emotions are also the most vulnerable emotions that you have, and since you can feel so emotionally vulnerable with a primary emotion, you might shy away or distract yourself from your primary emotions and have difficulty expressing these emotions to your partner.
  • Secondary emotions are reactions to your primary emotions.  They often serve the purpose of masking the more vulnerable primary emotions.  For instance, a wife, who is sad when she feels her husband is ignoring her, might feel anger as a secondary emotion to mask the hurt and sadness (primary emotions) she feels.  Although she feels more comfortable expressing her anger to her husband, her angry communication won't be as effective as compared to her revealing her hurt and sadness.  Chances are that her husband, who might feel an inward sense of remorse for ignoring his wife, will become outwardly defensive rather than addressing the problem between them.  In response to her anger, he might defensively deny that he is ignoring her, dismiss or belittle her concerns, criticize her for some shortcoming that he sees in her or withdraw/stonewall in silence.  No matter which defensive response he gives, the problem isn't solved and it might even become worse.
  • Instrumental emotions are emotions that are often used in relationships, consciously or unconsciously, to manipulate.  For instance, a husband who, on a primary emotional level, is hurt and sad that his wife tends to be late whenever they're meeting for dinner or to go to a show, might try to make his wife feel guilty by exaggerating a headache that developed while he was waiting for her.  Rather than being direct with his wife and expressing his hurt, he tells her that waiting for her caused him to develop the headache.  If he really wants to rub it in, he might portray himself as the victim in the relationship who is "always waiting" for her.  Although the husband might accomplish his short-term goal (assuming he is aware of it) of manipulating his wife into feeling guilty, in the long run, this strategy does more harm than good.  
Changing Negative Dynamics in Your Relationship
Changing negative dynamics in a relationship is challenging, especially if both people have been engaging in these dynamics for a long time.

Becoming aware of the dynamics and the role that each person plays is the first step.  It's normal for both people to feel uncomfortable at first when they're exploring their negative dynamics with their EFT couple therapist.  

But if both people really want to improve their relationship, this is an important step.  And rather than blaming yourself or your spouse for the dynamics, it's important to focus on the dynamic as happening between you and realize that there are no "bad guys."  It's the dynamic that needs to change (see my article: EFT Couple Counseling Helps Couples to Move Beyond Reactive Emotions and Destructive Arguing Cycles).

Rather than blaming yourself or your partner, it's much more effective to become curious about the dynamic and to be willing to take a risk to change (see my article: EFT Couple Therapy: New Bonds of Love Can Replace a Negative Dynamic in a Relationship).

More about this in my next article.

Getting Help in EFT Couple Therapy
Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples is internationally recognized as a well-researched and effective form of couple therapy developed by Dr. Sue Johnson.

Rather than continuing to struggle in a negative dynamic with your partner or spouse, you could get help to improve your relationship in EFT couple therapy.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, AEDP and EFT couple therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.














Saturday, August 25, 2018

EFT Couple Counseling Helps Couples to Move Beyond Reactive Emotions and Destructive Arguing Cycles

In prior articles about EFT (Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy), which was developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, I discussed how this well-researched form of couple counseling can help couples to improve their relationship.

See my prior articles:
In this article, I'm focusing specifically on how EFT can help couples to move beyond reactive emotions, like anger and frustration, to the more vulnerable underlying emotions, like hurt and fear, to help change destructive patterns of relating.

EFT Couple Counseling Helps Couples to Move Beyond Reactive Emotions and Destructive Cycles  
Reactive emotions tend to drive arguments.  Rather than communicating the hurt, sadness or fear that are underneath these reactive emotions, couples often tend to lead with emotional reactivity.

Not only does this often lead to defensiveness, but it all tends to fuel escalating, destructive arguments.  After a while, this can become a pattern of relating that couples often find difficult to change on their own.

Fictional Clinical Vignette:  EFT Couple Counseling Helps Couples to Move Beyond Reactive Emotions and Destructive Arguing Cycles
The following fictional clinical vignette illustrates how an EFT couple therapist can help a couple to move beyond their reactive emotions to end destructive arguing cycles:

Mark and Tara
After more than a year of couple therapy where they were focusing on developing "better communication skills," Mark and Tara decided to see an EFT couple therapist recommended by Tara's individual therapist because their regular couple therapy wasn't helping them.

Tara's individual psychotherapist, who was training in EFT couple therapy, told Tara that EFT went far beyond looking at communication skills and focused on the dynamic between the couple, including their individual ways of relating.  She also told her that the latest research indicated that getting to the underlying emotions was key to improving relationship dynamics.

During their first EFT couple therapy session, Tara told the couple therapist that, in their five years of marriage, she and Mark usually had arguments that escalated to the point where she was yelling and Mark "stonewalled" her by not speaking or leaving the apartment during heated arguments.

She said that the worst part was that nothing ever got resolved between them and, even though they still loved each other, they were growing farther and farther apart with time.  She feared that they weren't going to make it if they continued arguing this way.  Focusing on communication skills in their prior couple therapy did nothing to change their dynamic, Tara said.

While Tara spoke, Mark looked away and remained quiet.  When it was his turn to speak, he admitted that he never wanted to start couple therapy, but he did it at Tara's insistence.  Initially, before they started their prior couple therapy, he feared that he would be blamed by both his wife and their female couple therapist.  He thought they would "gang up" on him.  So, he said, he was pleasantly surprised that their prior couple therapist was evenhanded and didn't automatically blame him for the problems in the relationship.  However, he agreed with Tara that, even though they were in couple therapy, they continued to have destructive arguments that went nowhere.

With some prompting from the EFT couple therapist, Mark gave an example of a recent argument that was typical of the type of arguments that he and Tara would have.  He said he came home from work last week and Tara seemed annoyed and as if she was waiting for him to say or do something.

At a loss as to what was going on, he asked Tara why she looked so annoyed, and she began yelling at him that, once again, he forgot their wedding anniversary.  She told him that she had hoped that when he came home, he would tell her that he remembered this year and he made a reservation at their favorite restaurant for that evening.  But when he said nothing about it, she told him, she realized that this was all a repeat performance of the last few years where he completely forgot.

At that point, Mark told the EFT couple therapist, he felt guilty, he was genuinely sorry and he wanted to apologize to Tara, but he knew that he had done this each year and she wasn't ready to accept his apology.  He also knew that his apology wouldn't make up for Tara's disappointment.

In thinking about what to do, Mark knew from their prior arguments that Tara would be piling on a litany of complaints and disappointments.  Even though he knew he was at fault, he also felt too tired to deal with Tara's anger.  So, instead of listening to her, he went upstairs to take a shower, and he thought he would come back down to talk to Tara when both of them had cooled off.

Rather than giving him his "space," he said, Tara followed him upstairs and pushed the door open to their bathroom.  She was even more angry that he left her standing downstairs by herself than she had been originally when he got home, and she yelled at him for all the things he did to disappoint her over the last few months.

Mark said that he felt at the "breaking point" when Tara "cornered" him in their bathroom.  At first, he said, he wasn't sure what to do.  From his perspective, Tara saw him as "a loser" who couldn't even remember their wedding anniversary, and he felt like "a loser" too.  He dreaded the thought that Tara might get fed up one day and leave him.  But not knowing what else to do, he remained silent, hoping that Tara would eventually stop yelling at him and he could calm himself.  But rather than stopping, Tara was escalating and getting louder.

When he felt he couldn't take it anymore, Mark said, he reminded Tara about things that were important to him that she had forgotten.  He told her that she acted like she was "Miss Perfect," but she was far from perfect, so she should get off his back.

After he said this, he told the EFT counselor, he was immediately sorry, especially when he saw the hurt and guilty look on Tara's face.  His first impulse was to take Tara in his arms and kiss her, but she walked out of the room and he decided not to pursue her.

Later on, Mark said, when they were having dinner, they were both quiet and barely made eye contact.  The argument had stopped, but now they remained in stony silence for the rest of the evening.  He told the EFT counselor that, when they first got married, they had agreed that they would never go to bed angry, but there were so many arguments like this that they often went to bed angry and woke up barely speaking to one another.

That particular night when they each remained on their side of the bed, Mark said, he thought about reaching out to Tara, but he thought it would be pointless.  He stayed up most of the night thinking about how Tara would probably leave him and feeling scared and lonely.  The next morning, he said, was the same as many other mornings after they argued--they barely spoke before each of them went off to work.

When the EFT couple therapist asked Tara for her reaction to Mark's recounting their last argument, Tara said that she was surprised.  From her perspective at the time of the argument, she thought that Mark's initial lack of response meant that he didn't care, and this infuriated her.  Then, when he walked away from her, she said, she became even more angry.  When he reminded her of the things that she had done wrong, she didn't know what to say.  She felt so guilty that she needed to withdraw from him.  She said she also spent a sleepless night after their last argument, and she wanted to reach out to Mark too, but she didn't know how anymore.  She agreed that this was the usual pattern to their arguments and these arguments were eroding their relationship.  She was beginning to feel hopeless about their marriage, but she didn't want to give up.

Their EFT couple therapist helped them to see that there were "no bad guys" in their relationship--instead, there was a destructive pattern of interacting that wasn't working.  Then, over the next several sessions, she helped each of them to focus on their pattern--rather than blaming each other--and express the more vulnerable feelings that were underneath their anger.

Mark had an easier time expressing his sadness, loneliness and fear.  In response, Tara seemed genuinely moved by his expression of vulnerability, but she said she also felt too afraid to allow herself to be emotionally vulnerable with Mark.  She said there had been too many times in the past when she opened up to Mark to express her sadness and he responded, from her point of view, by being "cold and rational," telling her that she had "no reason" to be sad.  Now, she felt she had to protect herself from being emotionally vulnerable with him.

During the next several sessions, the EFT counselor helped Mark to tell Tara that he now realized that his attempts at being "rational" were hurtful to her, and he wanted to be open to whatever she had to tell him about her more vulnerable feelings.  At various times, Tara seemed on the verge of opening up emotionally to Mark, but then she would shut down again.

Based on what she learned in EFT couple therapy, Tara said she understood that, in order for their negative dynamic to change, she and Mark needed to get beyond their reactivity to express their emotional needs and she asked Mark to be patient with her, which he agreed to do.

During that time, the EFT counselor reflected back to each of them what she saw in terms of the love that each of them felt for the other.  She also modeled the type of open dialogue that they were striving to have with one another.

Then, in their next EFT couple session, Tara made a tentative effort to begin telling Mark how sad and fearful she felt whenever they had destructive arguments.  At first, her words were halting and she looked at the couple therapist, who encouraged her to continue.

When Tara was midway through expressing her feelings, Mark reached out and held her hand to reassure her that he was there, he was listening and he wasn't going anywhere.  At that point, feeling assured by him, Tara responded by squeezing his hand and smiling at him.

They both acknowledged that this was the first time in a long time that they held hands and felt so close to one another.  Mark said that he realized that Tara didn't think of him as "a loser" and that she was committed to their relationship, which was a big relief to him.  Tara said that this was the first time in a long time that she felt "heard" by Mark and really cared about.

During subsequent EFT couple therapy sessions, Mark and Tara continued to open up to each other.  They told their couple therapist that they still had arguments, but they were able to stop them more easily to say what they were really feeling underneath their anger.  Rather than remaining reactive to each other, they were able to respond with love and compassion to one another.  This tended to end the argument so that they could talk about what they each needed.

Mark and Tara remained in EFT couple therapy to consolidate what they had learned and to develop other healthy ways of relating.

Getting Help in EFT Couple Therapy
Many forms of couple therapy focus on how to communicate and listening skills.  There's nothing wrong with this, but the problem is that couples often don't get to look at their destructive dynamic.  Just as important, they don't get to the underlying emotions beyond their reactivity so that little or nothing changes.

An EFT trained couple therapist has the skills to help couples to get to their more vulnerable emotions underneath the reactivity.  She knows that, ultimately, getting to these more vulnerable emotions is what enables the dynamic to change.

Rather than continuing to engage in destructive patterns that are ruining your relationship, you can get help in EFT couple therapy to salvage your relationship.

For more information about EFT Couple Therapy, read the following books:

Hold Me Tight - by Dr. Sue Johnson
Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy For Dummies - by Brent Bradley and James Furrow

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, Somatic Experiencing and EFT couple therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.























Thursday, August 23, 2018

Stage Two of EFT Couple Counseling: A Clinical Example

In a prior article about Stage One of EFT couple therapy, I provided a fictional clinical vignette to illustrate what happens during Stage One.  Also, see my articles:
Stage Two of EFT Couple Counseling: A Clinical Example
In this article, I'm providing a fictional clinical vignette of Stage Two using the same fictional couple to show the next step in the process of EFT couple therapy.

Fictional Clinical Vignette: Stage Two of EFT Couple Therapy:
The following vignette illustrates how an EFT couple therapist works with a couple during Stage Two of EFT couple therapy:

Ted and Rita
In a prior article, Ted and Rita, who were married for five years, began EFT couple therapy after Rita found out that Ted had been cheating with his ex-girlfriend.  Ted ended his affair with his ex and expressed genuine remorse for the pain that it caused Rita and the damage it did to their relationship.

Initially, Rita, who was historically the pursuer in the relationship, wasn't sure if she wanted to remain in the relationship.  As the pursuer, Rita had been the one who tried to get Ted to talk about their relationship and would feel insecure and emotionally abandoned when Ted, as a withdrawer/distancer, tended to avoid these discussions.  This pattern changed after Rita found out about the affair.

After she found out about the affair, Rita withdrew emotionally from the relationship and asked Ted to move out temporarily to give her time to think things over.  As a way to try to salvage the marriage, Ted asked Rita to participate with him in couple therapy, which she agreed to somewhat reluctantly.

During Stage One of EFT couple therapy, the EFT couple therapist helped both Rita and Ted to feel safe in therapy.  After a while, Rita was able to stop criticizing Ted so he could re-engage emotionally in the relationship.  At that point, they both realized that their problem was rooted in a negative dynamic in their relationship.

Rather than blame and criticize each other for their problems, they realized that they each had their own emotional needs that weren't being met or communicated in the relationship.  At that point, they both made a greater commitment to couple therapy to work out their problems.

After Ted and Rita were able to de-escalate their emotions during Stage One with the help of their EFT couple therapist, they were ready to move onto Stage Two, which entails restructuring their bond.

Even though it was hard for each of them at first, their EFT couple therapist helped each of them to express what they each needed from the other.  Their EFT couple therapist also helped them to accept each other and show compassion for one another.

During this stage of therapy, both Ted and Rita expressed how emotionally vulnerable they felt when they expressed their emotional needs.  Rita said she feared that Ted would think of her as being "needy," and Ted still feared that Rita saw him as "a loser," especially after she found out about his sexual affair with his ex.

Their couple therapist was able to help them to trace back these fears to their childhood history so that they could understand the power these fears had over them, and they could begin to work through these issues.

As would be expected, they each took one step forward before backsliding again due to their fears around emotional vulnerability, and their EFT counselor helped them to get back on track whenever they took steps backward.

When they became sexual again, Rita said there were times when she remembered that Ted had an affair and she felt repulsed by him.

During those times, she said she said she had to stop their sexual activity and withdraw from Ted.  She said she feared that, instead of feeling close to her, Ted might be thinking of his ex.  She told him that she needed to know that he felt emotionally connected to her so that she wouldn't think he was thinking of his ex.

Ted expressed how hurtful it was for him whenever Rita stopped their lovemaking because of her thoughts of his infidelity.  Yet, he understood that Rita was having a normal reaction, and he tried to be patient and understanding.  He said he tried to reassure Rita that he was only thinking of her, but he couldn't convince her at certain times.

Their EFT couple therapist helped Rita to express what she needed from Ted when she began having doubts when they were sexual together.  Rita was able to tell Ted that she needed him to look directly at her, talk to her and hold her so she would know that when they made love, he was fully engaged with her and not thinking about his ex.

After a few aborted attempts, Rita and Ted came back to their next session and told their therapist that they were able to be emotionally and sexually engaged with each other so that they could enjoy being sexual together.  Rita said she still thought about Ted's affair occasionally, but she also knew that he loved her and he was committed to their marriage.

After several more sessions, Rita and Ted were able to express their emotional needs more easily to one another.

Once Rita was able to stop criticizing Ted, Ted was able to remain emotionally present rather than engaging in avoidance tactics where he distanced himself emotionally.

They also felt more deeply bonded to one another.  It was the first time that, even though they had a long way to go, they both felt that they were really on the road to mending their relationship.

Getting Help in EFT Couple Therapy
As I mentioned in prior articles, EFT couple therapy is one of most researched models of couple therapy with a high success rate.

Rather than engaging in the same negative patterns that are ruining your relationship, you owe it to yourself and your partner to get help in EFT couple therapy.

Coming to couple therapy sooner rather than later is an important aspect of salvaging a relationship.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, AEDP and EFT couple therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.












Monday, August 20, 2018

What Happens During Stage Two of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT)?

I have been discussing Emotionally Focused couple therapy (EFT) in prior articles (see my articles: What is Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT)?What Happens During Stage One of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT)? and Stage One of EFT Couple Therapy: A Clinical Example).  In this article, I'm focusing on what happens during Stage Two of EFT couple therapy.

What Happens During Stage Two of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT)?

As I mentioned in my earlier articles, EFT is a research-based couple therapy developed by Dr. Sue Johnson that helps couples to connect with each other in healthy ways and improves their emotional attachment.

I described what happens during Stage One of EFT in an earlier article.

After a couple completes the necessary steps of Stage One, their EFT couple therapist will guide them through Stage  Two, which is about changing the patterns of their interaction that cause problems in their relationship (see my article: Overcoming the Negative Dynamic in Your Relationship That Keeps You Stuck).

During Stage Two, the EFT couple therapist helps each person in the relationship to feel safe enough to express his or her attachment needs and deep emotions (see my article: EFT Couple Counseling: New Bonding Can Replace a Negative Cycle in a Relationship).

Since this can be difficult, especially for a couple who have longstanding problems and who might not feel comfortable allowing themselves to be so emotionally vulnerable, the EFT couple therapist acts as a coach to help each person to express their emotional needs to each other and to also express acceptance and compassion for the partner's needs.

During Stage Two of EFT, the couple also learn to discuss issues that have created conflict in their relationship in a new and healthy way.

This stage often involves one step forward and one step back as each individual in the couple learns to express his or her emotional vulnerability, compassion, and learns to adjust to new ways to approach issues that caused conflict in the past.

In my next article, I'll provide a clinical example of Stage Two using the same fictional couple that I discussed in my earlier article about Stage One of EFT couple therapy.

See my article: Stage Two of EFT Couple Therapy: A Clinical Example

Getting Help in Couple Therapy
Many couples remain stuck in old, dysfunctional ways of relating and, eventually, these patterns erode their relationship until the relationship is beyond salvaging.

By seeking help in couple therapy, the couple have an opportunity to stop enacting destructive patterns in their relationship, learn to express their emotional needs and express compassion for their partner's needs.  They also learn new ways of dealing with conflict.

Rather than continuing to engage in old patterns that are ruining your relationship, you can get help from an experienced couple therapist and salvage your relationship.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, Somatic Experiencing, and EFT couple therapist.

I work with individuals and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.