Many relationships are on the rocks. Often, before breaking up, couples make one last attempt to salvage with the help of a therapist. Couples therapies help – but with varying degrees of success. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) works much better than most other therapies, according to researchers at the University of Trier.
Along with certain behavioral therapies, EFT is “superior to other therapy methods,” says psychotherapy researcher Wolfgang Lutz of the University of Trier. Dozens of studies show that it helps with partner problems after a short time and that almost no other therapy can.
The basis of emotion-focused couples therapy is attachment theory. Children learn in childhood to trust others – or they don’t. Bonding with parents not only provides physical proximity, nourishment, and protection, but also provides a safe haven from which to explore the world and helps children cope with excitement and emotions. Childhood attachment experiences affect later relationships.
In stressful situations, people seek comfort and security from their loved ones. While children look to their parents for a safe haven , adults usually turn to their partner. With him or her you feel loved, understood and accepted.
However, if our loved one rejects us or even attacks us during an argument, we react with anger, disappointment, frustration and sadness. The best way to relieve the stress these emotions cause is understanding and closeness. However, the partner cannot offer both during a conflict, after all, it is he who is causing the stress. The quarrel is superficially about why one person doesn’t do what the other wants – vacuuming or something – but at the bottom it is about safety.
Common forms of couples therapy often focus on superficial annoyances and communication – ie vacuuming. However, it has turned out that tackling mutual irritations and being able to talk to each other is not enough to make it as a couple. EFT couples therapy focuses on attachment. To what extent do partners dare to be emotionally dependent and connected to each other
“When adults have had the experience of showing their emotions—even anger and sadness—to their parents and counting on comfort and understanding in their childhood, they are usually securely attached,” Roesler says. But there are also people with insecure attachments who as children were ignored and punished when they were angry, sad or needy. These adults find it more difficult to deal with their own feelings and those of their partner. It’s no wonder that there is often a certain crisis in relationships when two people who are insecurely attached come together, Christian Roesler, relationship counselor, tells Die Zeit.
According to Die Zeit, EFT has the future to control the divorce wave and to ensure that people who actually fit quite well together do not needlessly end up in divorce.
Christian Roesler has found that EFT is very good for most couples. Studies support this: Even in so-called high-risk couples, whose conflicts are particularly violent and especially accusatory, the relationship improves lastingly with emotion-focused couples therapy. About 80 percent of couples make a full recovery and remain happily together for years, according to follow-up studies ( Journal of Marital and Family Therapy: Susan M. Johnson, 2016 ). A meta-study found that three-quarters of the couples surveyed described their relationship with their partner as fully recovered after just 12 therapy sessions.