Therapy for Couples
Every couple faces obstacles to maintaining a satisfying, lively, close relationship. Sometimes those obstacles become so great that partners can't communicate any more, and both start to feel disconnected, lonely, or constantly criticized. Even the smallest disagreement or slightest critical comment can spark a fight. Some couples, trying to avoid conflict, become withdrawn and emotionally disengaged. They feel more like roommates than loving partners. This can change. Couple therapy can help you improve your relationship.
Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT-C) is a research validated method of helping couples resolve relationship conflicts, improve emotional communication, and increase intimacy. As EFT-C therapists, we help you understand how relationships work at an emotional level where reactive emotions and negative cycles can hijack your interactions. We will support both of you and foster an environment where deeper emotions, old hurts, and important needs can be safely expressed and understood by your partner. Together, we can create new, positive ways of engaging that will strengthen your emotional bond, build resilience when coping with conflicts, and increase liveliness and spontaneity.
In EFT-C, emotion is seen as the key organizer of interactions and the transforming element in couple therapy. Partners are helped to explore their emotional responses to each other, become more aware of their deeper needs, and understand how their emotional vulnerabilities can drive escalating negative cycles. They are then guided into creating new, positive cycles of interaction by being more open about their deeper needs and emotionally responsive to each other at these critical moments.
EFT-C and Attachment Theory
Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT-C) uses attachment theory to understand the nature of adult emotional bonds. A multitude of studies on the subject have emerged in recent years, and they show that the human need for a secure attachment to another person is a biologically wired-in survival mechanism. Everyone needs a dependable emotional connection in primary relationships, one in which partners are able to support, validate, and enjoy each other.
EFT-C views the central problem in distressed relationships as the lack of reliable, attuned emotional responses at critical moments. All relationships deal with hurt feelings, differences, and moments of emotional disconnection. These disconnections, if not repaired, result in increasing distress because they threaten our basic human needs for emotional security, respect, and emotional engagement from our partners.
When partners can't protect and repair their emotional bond, normal differences, routine conflicts, and inevitable hurt feelings escalate because of underlying fears about the deeper connection. Over time, these conflicts can become rigid negative cycles that erode trust and security. What couples often do not understand is that most escalating fights are really protests over feeling emotionally disconnected. They involve desperate demands to be supported, respected, or cherished. Beneath the surface, each partner is really asking: "Are you emotionally available when I need you? ... Do you respect me and value my autonomy? ... Am I special to you and do you enjoy being with me?" Our approach works with these questions.
Our Approach to Couples Therapy
While emotionally focused therapy is our primary model for working with couples, we also incorporate other approaches. We integrate several theories that share common principles, adapting them to fit the unique needs of each couple.
EFT-C can help couples who are:
Trapped in escalating arguments
Frustrated by the way they communicate
Becoming more resentful and angry
Feeling emotionally disconnected
Losing respect for each other
Feeling distant after the birth of a child
Dealing with life transitions
Rebuilding their relationship after an affair
Coping with illness or depression
Validated by Empirical Research
EFT-C has been extensively studied, researched, and practiced by therapists for more than 30 years. It's effectiveness has been documented in many research studies.
70-75% of couples in EFT-C report recovery from relationship distress
90% show improvement
Results have been shown to last, even in the face of significant stress
Research has detailed precisely how change occurs in the therapy process
Choosing a Couple Therapist
Couple therapy involves a serious financial and emotional commitment. There are some important facts that you should know about couple therapy before choosing a therapist. Also, there are some critical questions you should ask any potential couple therapist before deciding to work with them.
Tips on Maintaining a Lively, Intimate Relationship
Read a brief article by Charles & Jamie:
Keeping Your Love Alive - PDF