Our Approach to Emotion-Focused Therapy

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) emphasizes that the therapeutic relationship is a critical part of the change process while using research-based maps to guide the therapy. These maps evolved from cutting edge research on emotions, modern attachment theory, and the emotional change process. There are maps (tasks) that provide optimal ways to intervene in the moment-by-moment therapy process (What do I do right now?). EFT has also developed maps (emotional change models) to guide the process of changing clients’ core emotional conflicts (How do I change the underlying emotional patterns that maintain my client’s problems?). Maintaining an attuned, validating therapeutic relationship while using these maps to guide the client into new, optimal patterns of emotional processing is the hallmark of EFT.

Whether working with individuals or couples, we believe that modern emotion-focused therapy is a cutting edge approach for facilitating clients’ growth. We provide training in EFT with an emphasis on developing a solid foundation in the fundamental EFT principles and emotional change models that underlie work with both individuals and couples. Therapists who use our approach can rely on clear-cut maps and a large repertoire of interventions to help their clients access and change the critical emotional patterns that will resolve their most painful conflicts.

The Evolution of Our Approach

We believe that therapists wanting to use emotion-focused therapy to work with individuals or couples tend to encounter two major obstacles that make it difficult to learn and master this approach.

First, EFT has evolved into two distinct schools that have very little interaction with each other. Until recently, Susan Johnson's school has focused primarily on couple therapy. Leslie Greenberg's school, with the exception of an important update to the couple therapy model, has focused primarily on individual therapy. Although there are significant differences, both of these approaches evolved from Greenberg’s earlier work, and they overlap considerably in both theory and practice. However, their use of different terms and different therapy models make it difficult to integrate information from the two schools. Our approach integrates the best of both schools.

Second, Greenberg’s school has evolved rapidly in the last 15 years as their research has developed more detailed, nuanced maps of the emotional change process (emotional change models). However, this rapid evolution has been accompanied by significant conceptual shifts, changing terms, and a series of different therapy models that make it difficult to understand and master their fundamental model for working with individuals. We have integrated these different models into one consistent approach.

Our approach to emotion-focused therapy evolved from our desire to use and teach a single, coherent framework for working with both individuals and couples. We have attempted to deconstruct the EFT treatment manuals (see EFT books) and critical research articles, fill in some gaps in EFT theory and practice, and then re-integrate all of the crucial EFT concepts into one consistent, accessible model. This model systematically links the EFT emotional change models with the specific interventions used at each step of the change process.

For more information about our unique approach to integrating individual and couple EFT models, you can contact us or read our chapter in the Clinical Handbook of Emotion-Focused Therapy (Greenberg & Goldman, 2019).

Training Groups

Portland EFT™ offers two training groups, EFT for Individuals and EFT for Couples. These groups provide a theoretical foundation in emotion-focused therapy, our clear-cut maps to guide both the overall therapy process and specific interventions, and practice in small groups to develop confidence in using these maps.

Each training group is offered on alternating years and meets on four weekends for a total of forty CE hours of training. The format includes guided readings, lectures, skill building exercises, small group practice, and videos of therapy sessions. Our approach to training is highly organized and information dense. Throughout our training, we connect theory with practice to keep the learning experience lively and clinically relevant.


Following our training groups, we offer advanced training groups focusing primarily on case consultation. These training groups meet monthly on Fridays for four hours. A group can opt to do ongoing readings. The format is then a brief review and discussion of the selected reading, followed by case consultation. The readings are chosen by the group from a list of Books for Training Groups.


We also offer consultation for individual and couple therapy cases on an ongoing basis or for single appointments.

Learn more about our training groups >>

Comments About Our Training

"Excellent organization and handouts."

"Charles and Jamie, your warmth and supportiveness really facilitates the learning process. You were always reassuring and encouraging."

"Charles and Jamie keep things lively and interesting. I really looked forward to doing this... Thanks for a great learning experience!"

"It was intellectually stimulating and practical. This exposure to The Edwardses has been edifying and improved my practice 10 fold!"

"You two have made a huge impact on my work as a therapist. Thank you so much!"

"The best training I've ever been in!"

"Great experience. Has radically evolved my work. Excited to keep learning EFT."

"This has been huge in solidifying a theoretical orientation for me - something I've been searching for since graduate school... Thank you!"

"Jamie and Charles are also trained in psychodynamic therapy and have other theoretical lenses so they teach from a wide knowledge base."

"Jamie and Charles are clearly top notch clinicians and trainers. Their presentations are clear, concise, varied, and always interesting. They have gleaned immense amounts of state of the art theory...and present it in such a way that you are fascinated throughout...Highly personable and not threatening. I cannot recommend this training highly enough."