Using Emotion-Focused Therapy in Couples Therapy
Do you feel like you’ve lost the connection you used to have with your partner? Seeking professional help may be just the answer you are looking for - and emotionally-focused therapy (EFT) can help in the process of rebuilding the relationship from the ground up. Through the process of building more empathy and communication skills within the relationship, a path forward can be established.
Phase 1 - Understanding the Problems and Gaining Stability
First, we will work to figure out what brought you and your partner to therapy in the first place. Is there a lack of communication? Unhealthy argument styles? Too much or too little time spent together? Getting a clear picture of what each partner hopes to work on is highly important to ensure effective therapy. For some couples, it may also be surprising what comes up during this phase of treatment - perhaps there is an underlying problem that one partner hasn’t felt comfortable bringing up. This stage can be difficult to get through, but ultimately the honesty and openness lead to a greater understanding of what each partner needs.
Phase 2 - Building Empathy and Changing Communication Patterns
Once the problems within the relationship have been established, discussions about the wants and needs of each partner can occur that allow both partners to begin to feel more understood. Building this base of understanding can help lead to a better ability to empathize between partners. This empathy is crucial as the deeper comprehension of where our partner is coming from can help lead towards a resolution that works for both partners. It can also be highly useful while establishing empathy to recognize past hurts, whether from family or previous relationships, that may have created negative behavior or communication patterns. Knowing where a pattern started can help both partners understand more about themselves and their partner. Throughout this phase, we will also work to notice unhealthy communication styles and begin to adjust to a more supportive style of communication. Often, it can take a while for new patterns to take root, and so a therapist can play the crucial role of reminding each partner what they can work on and point out patterns during the sessions.
Phase 3 - Securing New Communication Patterns
Finally, once the foundation of empathy and new communication skills is in place, we will begin working on firming up new communication styles so that you can begin to handle any new problems that may pop up. For instance, if one partner habitually becomes highly defensive when discussing problems, that behavior can be addressed and resolved through EFT and will no longer be as present in future discussions. Addressing issues such as defensiveness, stonewalling (non-responsiveness), avoidance of difficult topics, or a lack of utilizing listening skills can greatly improve communication between partners. No relationship can ever be 100% perfect all the time, however, through hard work couples can begin to make progress in reconnecting to one another and get back on track.
Knowing the game plan for therapy can help couples better understand the path they are on, so they can keep the end goal in mind. If you and your partner need help to reconnect, don’t wait - reach out today for help!