EMOTION FOCUSED THERAPY

 

The following is an edited excerpt from the website of Dr Melissa Harte - an internationally accredited EFT trainer who is also Genevieve's clinical supervisor and professional mentor. Further information regarding EFT can be found on Dr Harte's website: www.hartefeltpsychology.com/resources

'Two basic principles underlie the Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) model. The first principle is to create a genuine empathic valuing relationship which is seen as curative in its own right and the second is deepening the client’s experiencing in therapy. The sequence of activation, exploration, expression and reflection on emotion expression is central to EFT.

An important task of EFT is to bring emotions and their associated action tendencies into awareness. EFT practitioners differ from their more traditional client-centred counterparts in using more questions and conjectures to explore and stimulate the client’s inner experience. In addition, attention is given to specific client statements or markers that indicate a client is struggling with a particular issue and is ready to work with it. The work of the EFT therapist is characterised by the recognition of these distinctive markers that inform the therapist of the need for a specific task or intervention.

The tasks of EFT are intended to heighten the client’s inner experiencing, so that this can be more easily symbolised into awareness and thus processed consciously. Different interventions pursue particular types of exploration suited to different types of issues and promote different types of resolutions. Some tasks are focused on intra-psychic processes, others indirectly facilitate interpersonal functioning. Evoking an emotional response can help the client to identify the impact of the events that gave rise to the emotion, to symbolise their relationship to the events, to discover their own needs and goals, and to recognise the action tendencies inherent in their emotional responses. This emotional activation and processing allows clients to become aware of the links between their inner experience, the external world and their behaviour. Once these links are available to awareness and integrated through their emotional and rational systems, clients can reflect on them and make choices about alternative ways of acting that might enhance their adaption and growth, and facilitate their achievement of life goals. 

Briefly, the EFT therapist tracks or follows the client’s internal experience as it evolves moment by moment within the session, offering processing proposals to guide or facilitate meaning construction. The therapist seeks active client collaboration and works in the creative tension between “following” the client’s experience and “leading” the therapeutic process. The EFT interventions are regarded as particular ways of relating rather than technical treatments dealing with the client as an object. This marker-guided task strategy is combined with a genuinely prizing, empathic working relationship to foster a shared, engaging, safe environment that enables the client to express and explore personal difficulties and emotional pain. An EFT therapist, therefore, needs to follow the client through focused responsiveness, or empathic attunement, in order to track their process, as well as assess whether to propose the use of more specific interventions or tasks. The client remains the expert and final arbitrator.'