Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)
Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) is an approach that aims to help people better understand, accept, regulate, and express their emotions. It promotes the notion that avoidance of emotions could mean that we miss out on using the valuable information they provide in terms of decision making and directing one's life choices. It was developed by Dr. Leslie Greenberg in the late 1970s.
Similar to psychodynamic therapy, EFT is a humanistic approach, which means working collaboratively with your therapist to better understand your experience. Emotion focused therapists help people actively experience their emotions in a safe space, while learning emotional containment by means of self-soothing, self-compassion, and self-validation. You will learn how to 'be with' and evaluate your emotions, rather than push them away, so that you can embrace your human experience, learn from it, and use it to shape your life in meaningful, healthy ways.
EFT is an empirically supported therapy for the treatment of depression. It was designed as a brief treatment (16-20 sessions), but it could be longer or shorter depending your individual circumstances. The emotion focused therapist offers psycho-education on how and why emotions are produced, their relevance to human functioning and survival, and how they impact the quality of our lives. It incorporates experiential therapy, systematic therapy, and attachment theory. A core component of this work might be changing unhelpful emotion schemes or patterns.
Types of Emotion Schemes
- Primary emotions: natural, 'gut' reactions. Primary emotions could be your survival fight-flight-freeze response or natural human responses to events, such as sadness, anger, guilt, surprise, disgust, anticipation, trust, and joy.
- Secondary emotions: narrative reactions to primary emotions. For example, you feel disappointed because you made a mistake at work and tell yourself this means "I'm a failure" or "I'm terrible at my job", and consequently, you feel shame. Secondary emotions contribute to emotional suffering because of the story attached.
- Instrumental emotions: automatic or conscious attempts to manipulate the environment. For example, raising your voice to get what you want or crying to avoid punishment. These can be helpful or harmful to a person's relationships.
Learn more about EFT here:
Five Components of Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT)
"Rather than being guided by images of how to be, people need to attend to how they actually are and to respect this." - Leslie S. Greenberg, Facilitating Emotional Change: The Moment-by-Moment Process
- Greenberg, L. S. (2004). Emotion–focused therapy. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy: An International Journal of Theory & Practice, 11(1), 3-16.
- International Society for Emotion Focused Therapy (n.d.). What is emotion focused therapy? http://www.iseft.org/What-is-EFT
- Effectiveness. Research shows that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy for issues related to mental health.
- Accessible. Accommodates those living in rural or remote areas, people living with disabilities that prevent them from leaving the home, and eliminates transportation barriers.
- Convenience. No need to schedule time for a commute.
- Cost Effective. Eliminates cost of parking and transportation.
- Coverage. Some insurance companies may not cover it. We encourage you to check with yours.
- Confidentiality and Privacy. Although we use encrypted, HIPAA-compliant software and abide by telehealth guidelines, communicating over the Internet entails a greater risk for security breach compared to in-person. It also means possible Internet connectivity issues.
- Distractions. Possibilities for disruption depending on your living circumstances and others in the home.
- Trust and Body Language. Some people may prefer viewing the entire body language of their therapist for more effective communication.
- Severe mental health or psychiatric concerns. A more appropriate and accommodating option for people that may need crisis intervention that is better supported with in-person care.
- Participation. It is an opportunity to engage in an activity outside of your home.
- Time consuming. Ensuring commute time may be challenging for busy schedules.
- Expenses. Possible parking and transportation fees.
All virtual sessions are conducted using secure, HIPAA-compliant software. Research has shown that psychotherapy offered through telehealth is an effective solution for mental health treatment. The efficacy of either option depends on individual preference and comfort level.