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What is 

Emotionally Focused Therapy?

Emotionally Focused Therapy (or EFT) is an effective, respectful, nonjudgmental form of education and therapy for couples, individuals and families that proceeds from three powerful ideas:

  • Emotional connection is a highly effective, logical, and essential strategy for survival.

  • One important role of emotion is to move us to seek, create, and maintain safe, trustworthy, loving relationships.

  • And, it is possible to learn the logic of the dance of conflicting emotions and to use that knowledge to create stronger, more satisfying relationships.


EFT provides a long-awaited road map for deepening trust, heightening joy, and expanding the potential to live life to the fullest. This map charts a course through three stages: (1) discovering what stands in the way of feeling safe and secure with your partner or significant others, (2) imagining more satisfying patterns of interaction, and then (3) bringing those patterns to life. Depending on the level of distress, a program of EFT usually takes from 8 to 20 sessions.


Three decades of research on the model have found that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery in 10-12 sessions, and that 90% of couples who complete a program of EFT show improvement. A 2014 review reported that EFT is one of only three models of couple therapy that have been subjected to rigorous scientific testing and, thus, have earned the designation of "evidenced-based." Of those three, EFT has scored the highest success rate by a significant margin. Recent studies on EFT have utilized fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to measure results directly in terms of brain response (see video below). These studies help explain why EFT has been acclaimed as "paradigm-shifting," "revolutionary," and  “the most successful approach to creating loving relationships."



“Dr. Sue Johnson is the most original contributor to couples therapy to come along in thirty years."


William J. Doherty, Ph.D.

author, educator, therapist, and project director for

MN Couples on the Brink 


"Dr. Johnson's superb science, humor, and clinical wisdom are finally accessible to us all. I couldn't pick a smarter, warmer, more real guide for this journey."


John Gottman, Ph.D.,

world renowned for his breakthrough research on relationships and author of multiple articles and best-selling books including 

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

"Attachment lives deep in primordial pathways in the brain. And Johnson’s impressive work at commandeering this brain system to rehabilitate failing partnerships is an important contribution to those lost in the thicket of unhappy pair-bonding".  


Dr. Helen Fisher, New York Times Sunday Book Review

For a list of books and articles published on EFT, see "EFT Publications" at the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy website (

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