Emotion-Focused Therapy for individuals is a modality that approaches therapy as an experiential process, wherein change occurs through processing emotions in new ways and moving through defenses and secondary emotions to reach the core of one’s experience.
A basic assumption of EFT is that emotions are adaptive and serve important functions for survival, connection, and sense of self. Emotions are not seen as inherently good or bad, but they can be adaptive or maladaptive depending on how they are experienced and whether they impede one’s functioning or relationships. Emotions hold intrinsic wisdom about one’s needs and desires, and when they can be experienced consciously and intentionally, they can provide direction for growth and change not available through cognition alone. By processing emotions in new ways in the presence of a caring other, profound transformations can occur.
Emotion-Focused therapy maintains an experiential focus on how individuals process their emotions. Because a basic tenet of EFT is that emotions must be activated in the here-and-now in order to be transformed, therapists join with their clients in processing defenses and blocks to emotions so that clients develop greater awareness of what their emotions are, how they experience them, and how they may be serving or limiting them. Therapy aims at welcoming the range of emotional experience such that the information that emotions hold can provide valuable knowledge for what one needs and how they can go about getting those needs met.
Emotions are evoked in session and processed in new ways that facilitate connection with core needs and experience. In this way, they can be transformed to make way for healthier, more adaptive emotional experience.
What it’s used to treat:
References: Greenberg, L. S. (2002). Emotion-focused therapy: coaching clients to work through their feelings [2nd ed.]. Washington: American Psychological Association.
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