Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) works well for most couples seeking a therapeutic process that can help them understand each others’ behaviors, the dynamic of the communication style between them, and an opportunity to change the negative patterns into healthy engagement.
Couples who want to begin healing their relationship but are not sure about starting therapy or are not sure how to find a therapist who specializes in relationships can use Dr. Sue Johnson’s book Hold Me Tight is a good jumping off point. As with many skills, the ones in this book need to be practiced ongoing in order to gain and maintain any progress.
The main question partners are asking of each other in a relationship is, “Are you there for me?” Though, this question isn’t normally asked out loud, anybody in a relationship is wondering about the answer. In order to feel safe and secure in your relationship you will want to know “If I turn to this person will they be there for me when I need them?”
Everybody wants to feel cared about. A good way to give that feeling is to listen and give your attention to your partner, family member, friend, co-worker, or boss. Boss? Yes, every relationship. Even at work.
Giving attention is more likely to happen if you feel the give and take is mutual. If you are not feeling safe and secure in a relationship you will not give so freely. People who continue to give freely and don’t get equal in return may be giving in hopes that someday the other person will return the favor. Or they give without any expectations of getting anything in return. Which one are you?
If you hope and expect something that is not given to you, you may end up disappointed and your sense of self-worth will diminish. Even though worth is an abstract term and should not be based on what you do or what others do or think of you, many people rely on these external factors to justify their worth. This can lead to feeling depressed or anxious. This is also unstable ground for any relationship. If you give without expectations you may be less disappointed in the end, but you are not looking to grow a healthy relationship.
In relationship counseling, it is important to believe that your relationships can flourish if you and the other person put in the time and effort, then you might experience a greater sense of satisfaction. That is why you and your partner should be sitting there together in therapy.
In order for relationships to flourish, both people have to be willing to make the changes to their behaviors. This is mentioned in Dr. Dave Burns’s book Feeling Good Together. His book is a cognitive behavioral approach to relationships. A basic assumption is that when you take ownership of your thoughts and the part you play in your relationships you will have healthier relationships.
This is why I think Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Emotion Focused Therapy can work well together. You are in control of what you think. Those thoughts will determine how you feel and, consequently, behave in your relationships. It is good to use therapy as a way to explore the parts you play in your relationships. In couples therapy you can learn how your thoughts create your feelings which makes you behave a particular way. You will learn that your behavior triggers thoughts, feelings and behaviors in your partner. When both people are willing to take responsibility for how their actions play a part in the dynamics of the relationship, they open the doors of understanding to how they do a lot of things.
That is growth.
They will also learn not only is the other person there for them, they will learn if they are truly there for the other person.