Emotion-focused Therapy (EFT) is an empirically-based approach, that utilizes research methods designed to help people evoke, experience, regulate, explore, express, and transform emotion. An EFT approach focuses on the development of emotional intelligence and on the importance of secure relationships.
EFT helps people identify which of their emotions they can rely upon as adaptive guides and which of their emotions are residues of painful experiences and memories that have become maladaptive to the person’s current context and need to be changed. With the help of the therapist’s empathic understanding and the use of experiential methods, clients learn how to make healthy contact with emotions, memories, thoughts, and physical sensations that have been ignored or feared and avoided.
Central to EFT is for clients to experience their emotions as they arise in the safety of a strong therapeutic alliance during the therapy session, whereby they can discover for themselves the value of emotional regulation and greater emotional awareness and intelligence as well as engage in a more flexible and productive management of their emotions. Emotion-focused therapy systematically and flexibly helps clients become aware of and make productive use of their emotions.
30+ years of empirical research has demonstrated that emotions tell us what is important in life and thus act as adaptive guides that help us get what we need or want. This, in turn, helps us to figure out what actions are appropriate in a given situation. EFT works from the position that during the change process, people cannot leave a place until they have arrived. Clients therefore need to uncover and experience their emotions in the present before they can adaptively change their emotions for the future.