The space between.
Why couples therapy Is not just about couples.
Have you heard of EFT? Emotionally Focused Therapy has been around since the 80’s however the roots of it has been around for a lot longer. Based on the work of John Bowlby and others on Attachment and Separation, it has become the most evidence-based therapy for couples. In fact, EFT meets the highest criteria of the American Psychological Association’s task force for empirically based research. Common factor’s research shows that the number one predictor of outcome is safety-how safe and understood are you feeling in the therapy session. Both together-empirically based and common factor research make the perfect storm-the best elements for a therapeutic outcome. There is a huge integration between theory, research and practice.
The old style of marriage counseling stays within the couples; it did not deviate. That is, it focused on what transpired between the couple in the present; it did not look at what came into “the space between”. Rather, good couple’s therapy creates a corrective emotional experience—within and between each other. When I explain EFT for couples I explain it as looking at that space—the space between.
There is a powerful amount of substance that comes into that relational space. ourselves, our pains, our unresolved family of origin hurts and issues People live in the context of their relationships. Their emotional experience exists within the context of their emotional experience. What makes EFT or, alternatively, object relations couple therapy different than what once was is that couples therapy provides a context in which to heal the individual pains. It provides a medium in which to examine the experience of each individual. It provides a place where patients can do the inner child work, the trauma work and the addiction work that all thrive from or effect the attachment-that space between.
I have had some patients tell me that I am a better couples therapist than individual therapist. I think that derives from the model of working directly with that fragile bond, not just talking about it. I think it comes from increasing that safe space while sharing intimate details in the presence of the partner.
All couples fight. Healthy relationships aren’t about no fighting; they aren’t about ‘the good divorce’ where things aren’t talked about—but where everything is talked about. Couples with a healthy connection know how to repair. Fights are about emotional connection and disconnection not about kids, sex and money. Secure effective dependency makes people stronger.
Many couples tell me they have been to couple’s therapy. once, two, three sessions. That is not marriage counseling. That said, eft is not supposed to be a long-term marital/relationship therapy; its 8-20 sessions. Plus, with a method that works couples stay in therapy. With more complicated issues, PTSD, OCD etc. it can take longer because their therapy is slower. Most importantly, couples are afraid to experience and express their emotional needs; they are ashamed of their attachment needs. This model reduces that shame and gives them a space to confront themselves and their partners.
EFT creates permanent changes in individuals and couples emotional life. It is a bottom-up therapy. That means that it does not simply teach skills (i.e.-communication) but it affects a powerful corrective emotional experience that itself changes the connection and hence the communication. Eft reduces depression, anxiety, and PTSD as well as having a strong impact on other psychological symptoms. Think about it . . . when we feel safe we thrive.
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