Emotionally Focused Therapy With Couples

Format: DVD [Closed Captioned]
Running Time: Over 100 minutes
Item #: 4310755
ISBN: 978-1-59147-441-8
List Price: $99.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $69.95
Copyright: 2007
Availability: In Stock
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In Emotionally Focused Therapy With Couples, Leslie S. Greenberg demonstrates his affect-centered approach to working with couples. In this session, Dr. Greenberg works with a couple in their 20s who have been married for 2 years and live with the female partner's family. During the session, the focus shifts from problems with her family to problems with the couple's relationship. By focusing on the couple's problems, Dr. Greenberg helps them to begin to reveal their underlying emotions to each other in order to change their negative interactional pattern.

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) focuses on the emotional bond between a couple and on each partner's emotional experience, attachment longings, needs, and fears as well their needs for validation of their identities. EFT strives to uncover how each partner reacts emotionally to events that cause negative interactional patterns.

These patterns are seen as being created when partners express secondary emotions, often anger, rather than openly expressing their primary emotions and needs, such as their basic attachment fears and needs, shame at self esteem injury, and needs for validation of their identity. The fractured emotional bond is healed by identifying negative interactional cycles that dominate the couple's interaction and transforming these by means of the expression of primary attachment and identity related emotions. The essential goal of EFT is the creation of new, healthy patterns of interaction by using emotion to restructure interactions.

The nine treatment steps, or tasks, of EFT treatment can be broken into three stages:

  • Stage 1) Negative Cycle De-escalation

  • Stage 2) Changing or Restructuring Interactional Positions

  • Stage 3) Consolidation and Integration

The most important goal of the first stage is establishing a collaborative alliance, which allows the partners to more easily express their vulnerabilities. While establishing this alliance, the therapist is also assessing the negative interactional cycles between the couple and the underlying emotions of each partner in creating the negative cycles. The therapist helps the couple to reframe their problems in terms of their underlying emotions, and also to externalize the problem as the negative interactional cycle.

In the second stage the therapist works closely with each partner to experience their underlying emotions and attempt to uncover their attachment and identity feelings and needs. This allows each partner to express their vulnerabilities and self-doubts; ask for the comfort and validation they need; and ultimately become more approachable, emotionally expressive, and communicative with their mate.

This is a crucial stage in the process of therapy, because it reengages both partners emotionally in the relationship. Important processes involve softening criticism and blame from the pursuing partner, while encouraging the withdrawing partner to reconnect. These critical change events help in restructuring the couple's interactional cycles. The couple is now more emotionally engaged, with a greater sense of attachment to each other and to the relationship, and a greater sense of validation and self esteem.

The third stage involves consolidation of each partner's new position, and the positive cycles of interactions and their integration into their everyday relationship. The consolidation and integration is achieved by having the therapist review the couple's transition from negative cycle to positive cycle, and eliciting examples of their personal and relational growth and change. The therapist also encourages the articulation of a new narrative of the relationship.

About the Therapist

Leslie S. Greenberg, PhD, is a professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is the director of the York University Psychotherapy Research Clinic.

He has co-authored major texts on emotion-focused approaches to treatment of individuals and couples. His most recent book is Emotion-Focused Therapy: Coaching Clients to Work Through Their Feelings (2001). He recently co-edited Empathy Reconsidered (1997) and the Handbook of Experiential Psychotherapy.

Dr. Greenberg is a founding member of the Society of the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration (SEPI) and a past president of the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR). He is on the editorial board of a number of psychotherapy journals, including the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration and the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.


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Suggested Readings
  • Greenberg, L., & Johnson, S. (1988). Emotionally focused therapy for couples. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Greenberg, L. (2002). Emotion-focused therapy: Coaching clients to work through feelings. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. [Translated in German and Korean].
  • Elliott, R., Watson, J., Goldman, R., & Greenberg, L. (2004). Learning Emotion-focused therapy: The Process-Experiential Approach to Change. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Greenberg, L., & Watson, J. (2005). Emotion-focused therapy of depression. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Johnson, S. (2004). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy: Creating connection. Philadelphia: Bruner Routledge.

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