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Download Introduction to Emotionally Focused Therapy Fellowship of Christian Counselors January 9, 2014 Suzanna Hicks, MA, LMHC

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  • Introduction to Emotionally Focused Therapy Fellowship of Christian Counselors January 9, 2014 Suzanna Hicks, MA, LMHC
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  • EFT Core Belief : Seeking and maintaining contact with significant others is essential for human beings across the life span
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  • In EFT the underlying question couples ask is Will you be there for me? Can I trust you in times of crisis? Are you my safe haven? The role of the therapist is to help the couple create and maintain a safe haven relationship.
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  • The word emotion comes from the Latin word to move. Authentic passion moves people. (Frank Viola, 9/19/14). To be emotionally moved means to be touched, stirred up, compelled to respond to a powerful cue that evokes action in us. Emotion is an essential transforming agent that moves couples toward healing according to Dr. Susan Johnson, the main proponent of EFT couples and family therapy.
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  • EFT is Experiential We are formed and transformed by our relationships with others. Experiential approaches encourage an examination of how inner and outer realities define each other The EFT therapist helps the couple tune into what is going on inside emotionally as it relates to how they are relating to one another. Susan Johnson calls this, the couples relational dance.
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  • EFT is Experiential The EFT therapist focuses on what is moment to moment happening in the counseling session. Watching her clients non-verbal language the counselor brings these observations into the room. The counselor observes how the couple interactshow they inadvertently trigger responses in each other.
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  • The Humanistic Perspective Focuses on a strong therapeutic alliance. People are inherently good. EFT agrees that a non-pathologizing and optimistic stance is essential. The Christian worldview: No one is righteousnot even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away Romans 3:10-12
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  • The Humanistic Perspective Human beings grow and make creative, healthy choices if given the opportunity. Focuses on the person, not the problemthe process of growth, not the symptom or the offering of solutions by the therapist. Through soliciting emotion, the therapist helps them identify their conflict cycle and the meaning behind the emotion.
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  • The Systemic Approach Addresses people as part of a systemas people in relationship to others. EFT pays attention to the organization and patterns of interaction with intimate others. While systemic therapy focuses on specific elements such as power hierarchy and boundaries, EFT looks more at nurturance and connection.
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  • The Systemic Approach EFT borrows from Salvador Minuchins Structural Family Therapy that focused on establishing new patterns of interaction. In Systems Theory, people are seen as stuck, not innately dysfunctional. Systems have predictable, patterned relationships. Distress increases when the patterns are rigid and inflexible. Couples get stuck in negative interaction cycles or dances.
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  • Constructivist Perspective Clients encounter problems not because life is inherently problematic or because they have a mental disease but because of the way they frame their problems, or how they make sense of events that occur in their lives. Makes sense to me
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  • Attachment Theory Focuses on the relationships and bonds between people, particularly long-term relationships.
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  • Research Within the past 20 years, EFT has become recognized by the American Psychological Association as mainstream and empirically valid. Attachment theory as it relates to adult relationships has been the focus of research in the past two decades. It links congruently to other bodies of research including those of John Gottman and colleagues. There is a 70-73% recovery rate in 10-12 EFT sessions. 90% of couples show a significant improvement rate
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  • Research Results are stable, even under high stress. Retests at 3 months, 6 months and 2 years show stable results and in some cases improved results. Research has shown a strong link between depression in women and their marital satisfaction. EFT therapy significantly reduces depression in women.
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  • Theoretical Assumptions The need to attach to a significant other is hard wired in humans. Genesis 1 tells us we are made in Gods image. We serve a relational God. You did not choose me but I chose you. John 15:14-16 I Corinthians 12, reminds us of that God designed us to be connected to a group-- the Body of Christ.
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  • Farewell to a Friend
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  • More Theoretical Assumptions Oxytocin and vasopressin, considered the two cuddle hormones, play a role in creating attachment behaviors. Some examples of attachment behaviors might include seeing a loved one (smile), being touched by someone who loves youhugs or holding hands. Sex with a loved one or nursing a baby can be strong attachment behaviors. Secure dependence fosters autonomy and self- confidence. The more secure we are the more we can be ourselves.
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  • Theoretical Assumptions During times of crisis, our attachment needs are heightened. We want our partners to show acceptance, availability, to offer comfort and support. We want to feel nurtured. When a spouse does not respond to her partners bid for attention or reassurance this called an attachment injury. Ouch!
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  • Attachment Styles 1. Secure Attachment 2. Anxious Attachment 3. Avoidant Attachment 4. Fearful Avoidant Attachment These ways of engaging significant others are self- maintaining patterns of social interaction and help regulate emotion. These can be modified in new relationships, but they can also mold relationships and become self-perpetuating
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  • The Therapist (thats you!) EFT is a combination of Art & Theory Susan Johnson
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  • Three Main Tasks of the Therapist 1. Create and maintain a strong, therapeutic alliance. 2. Access and reformulate emotion. 3. Help the couple restructure a couples interactional pattern--the main treatment goal.
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  • Therapeutic Interventions Reflection Reframing Evocative responding Validation Empathic attunement Tracking the cycle Heightening There are 9 steps and 3 stages in EFT therapy.
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  • Stage I: Cycle De-escalation Step 1: Alliance and Assessment C onnect with both partners, build an alliance T herapist gathers relationship history/key events I ndividual sessions to build rapport, assess for safety, affairs, mental health and addiction issues and obtain attachment history C reates therapeutic agreement
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  • Stage I Step 2: Identifying the Negative Interactional Cycle Therapist tracks the conflict cycle Therapist validates secondary emotion and watches for primary emotion Therapist uses attachment language
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  • Typical Conflict Patterns Pursue/withdraw Withdraw/withdraw Attack/attack Complex cycle
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  • Stage I Step 3: Accessing unacknowledged feelings underlying interactional positions Therapist helps access primary emotion A deep Step 3 is necessary for de-escalation
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  • Stage I Step 4: Reframe the problem in terms of underlying feelings and attachment needs. Therapist helps expand couples understanding how the problem is a reoccurring pattern The cycles becomes the enemy.
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  • You know a couple has de- escalated when Couple views cycle as the problem Couple can look beyond their own Partner sees role in cycle and impact on other Couple can begin to exit their cycle
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  • Stage II: Deeper Connections Step 5: Promote Identification with disowned attachment emotions, needs and aspects of self. Therapist helps couple increase awareness and ownership of attachment vulnerabilities accessed in Stage 1. Couples identify underlying emotions and place them in their cycle. Initial focus is on the withdrawn partner who elaborates on his emotional reality in the relationship. Observing partner sees a softer, more engaged partner.
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  • Stage II Step 6: Promote acceptance by each partner of the others experience. Therapist supports both partnersthe one disclosing thoughts & feelings and the one listening. Listening partners typically have difficulty accepting their partners newly accessed emotions. Acceptance of new emotions occurs when the listening partner allows herself to feel empathy for her spouse.
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  • Stage II Step 7: Facilitate the expression of needs and wants, restructuring interaction to create new experience and bonding. W ithdrawer re-engagement: Previously withdrawn partner shares attachment wants and needs from a newly engaged, relational position. O nce withdrawer is re-engaged, therapist completes Step 7 with blaming partner P owerful bonding events are now possible.
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  • Stage III: Consolidation and Integration Step 8: Facilitate emergence of new solutions to old problems. Therapist helps the couple find new solutions to long-standing issues in their relationship and consolidate the gains they