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Laurie Sanders, Relationship Counselor

A person's "heart withers if it does not answer another heart." Pearl S. Buck

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Emotionally Focused Therapy For Couples

For Couples (Married or Unmarried, Lesbian, Gay or Straight):

Do you feel lonely even though you have a partner? Did you at one time feel valued and accepted by your partner but don't feel that now? Do you long for closeness but do or say things that lead to feeling separated?

Emotionally Focused Therapy Can Help

Staying married for a lifetime is, for most of us, a challenge. School didn't teach us how. Our parents often got it wrong. Movies tend to show the worst or the best, but not the way successful couples manage to stay together.

One approach to couples and family counseling, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), has recently been found to be highly effective at helping couples stay together. And after 12 - 20 sessions over 75% report that conflicts are shortened and resolved acceptably, and that couples once again feel the closeness and trust that brought them together in the first place.

Emotionally Focused Therapy is clearly the most effective way of helping couples and family members feel safe, accepted, comforted, valued and understood. It has also been the most helpful to me in my marriage and my family. I have two young adult children and I've been married for 30 years. As I learn about EFT I try to apply the concepts to my relationships with my husband and children and I find that instead of being defensive and on-guard with each other, we are enjoying our time together and feeling closely connected.

Videos that Explain EFT:
Sue Johnson answers the question:How can I tell my relationship is in trouble and what can I do to prevent breakup?

Sue Johnson answers the question: What is a healthy marriage?

Scott Wooley talks about EFT on a talk showA brief description of EFT

The Nitty-Gritty of EFT
(brief summary of the approach plus description of Hold Me Tight)
Emotionally Focused Therapy is an empirically validated counseling approach used to help couples and families. It is a short-term therapy process with specific steps and stages that quickly leads couples to feel closer to one another, able to work through their difficulties successfully, and ready to leave counseling within 12-20 sessions.*
Sue Johnson has written a book to help couples, entitled Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. The book guides couples to work through seven crucial conversations that have been shown to lead to healing of past wounds and renewed feelings of trust, understanding and emotional connection. In therapy, the counselor helps facilitate these seven conversations. In a workshop, a facilitator models the conversations and provides direction for couples to follow in order to have each conversation successfully. And, of course, a couple can work through the book on their own without the help of a counselor or facilitator.
The specific seven conversations help couples through a journey that begins with seeing their conflicts in a different way--that the couple is stuck in a pattern that leads to feeling disconnected and alone when each person longs for the opposite--emotional engagement and a feeling of togetherness. When each person in a couple sees that their partner desires close emotional connection, but that each is stuck in a pattern of interacting that prevents close connection, they begin to let their guard down to talk about the vulnerable feelings that haven't been shared in a long time. Partners then move, on this journey, from blaming and fault finding to a sense of shared struggle and responsibility. Their focus moves from the other's flaws to focus on their fears and longings. The relationship is redefined. When each is able to express his or her fears and longings clearly to his or her partner then both feel empowered and hopeful that emotional connection is possible and that the path to it is obtainable.

Here Are Brief Descriptions of the Seven Conversations:
#1 Recognizing the Demon Dialogues
Each person figures out what pattern of interacting they get stuck in that leads to feeling distant or disconnected, and shares this with their partner.

#2 Finding Raw Spots in Demon Dialogues
Each figures out which one or two deeper (vulnerable) emotions get triggered during a fight or time of disconnection, and shares this with their partner.

#3 Revisiting a Rocky Moment
The couple looks at 1 or 2 past conflicts and shares with their partner what their moves in the disconnection dance were (as learned about in Conversation 1) and what their raw spot was during the conflict (as learned about in Conversation 2). Each learns that unspoken fears (that have fueled their conflicts) can be recognized, and responded to in comforting or reassuring ways.

#4 Hold Me Tight
Each person shares a deep fear that was triggered in a past relationship, and what was longed for in that relationship. Then each person shares the deep fear each has about their relationship, and asks their partner to comfort or reassure them.

#5 Forgiving Injuries
Each shares an experience of being hurt by another and then the couple works together to formulate what kind of apology, conversation or new connection would have helped the healing of the wound. Then each person reflects on whether there was a wounding with their partner that needs to be healed, and each shares how they tried to heal the wound and/or what would help to heal the wound.

#6 Bonding Through Sex and Touch
This is a guided conversation about a couple's sex life. Each is encouraged to share what is best about their current sexual relationship, what matters most, when each feels most unsure or uncomfortable, what is one most important tip each would give their lover, how each would like to be and how does each deal with not wanting sex.

#7 Keeping Your Love Alive
In this conversation, the couple reflects on the specialness of their relationship and makes plans to continue the secure emotional attachments made.

*more time will probably be required if one or both have experienced trauma.
Quotes about EFT from professionals:

One of the few approaches to marital therapy
that has been proven to be effective.
Jay Lebow, Ph.D, President,
Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association

EFT is a proven road map to the process of change in couples therapy.
John Gottman, Ph.D,
bestselling author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

EFT is one of the best documented, most substantive
and well researched approaches to couples therapy.
Alan S. Gurman, Ph.D

EFT has achieved an astounding 75 percent success rate.
Results are lasting!
American Psychological Association

My office is at:
701 High Street Suite 228
Auburn, CA 95603


Call or text: (530) 906-0718



Auburn & Colfax Couples Counseling | Marriage Therapy | Individual Counseling | Family Counseling