What Is EFT? Tips For Therapy

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated August 3, 2022

Ever wondered what EFT counseling is? Well, this is the article for you! Emotionally Focused Therapy, EFT, is a treatment that was initially started by doctor Sue Johnson. The 'T' actually stands for therapy, and it focuses on the notion that there is a connection between human feelings and needs. It can help you with emotional regulation and navigating one's own emotions. This treatment primarily focuses on adult relationships as well as attachment or bonding.

The ETF can help
Work Through Challenging Emotions With EFT

EFT holds that changing problematic interpersonal relationships and issues can happen using short-term therapy. Research shows that EFT is highly effective and the majority of those who use it have the chance of showing remarkable improvement using these techniques, which can be explored in person or through online therapy services. Emotionally focused family therapy can help you cultivate emotional awareness and change strategies on how to deal with one's emotions. Keep reading to find out five benefits, focused therapy strengths, as well as weaknesses.

Emotionally Focused Therapy

  1. EFT Links Emotions And Your Health

Most of the mental or overall health concerns people suffer with are present because of the avoidance of feelings and failing to accept when things are not okay. Consequently, this leads to unmet needs.

EFT plays a vital role in helping individuals deal with their unpleasant feelings instead of suppressing or avoiding them. The result is the manifestation of not only mental but also physical healing. Counseling can indeed be the bridge between strong mental and physical health.

One positive of this focused treatment is that it can work on anyone and virtually any issue. No problem is too big or deep. Counseling results also present in a short amount of time and are often permanent.

  1. Emotionally Focused Therapy Is A Step-By-Step Process

Emotional therapy technique adapts nine steps. During an EFT session, couples or families explore their feelings and their corresponding behaviors, and this helps in identifying the role that each play in the relationship. The effect that their actions have on the connection is discussed as well.

Initially, the emotional counselor assesses how the couple interacts. In the mid-cycle, the counselor together with the parties involved comes up with ways of forming stronger and new bonds between the individuals. Negative cycle interactions are de-escalated and changed through this process.

Counselors are expected to be nonjudgmental to enable the participants to express their feelings without any fear of being judged.

The nine steps of emotionally focused therapy are below:

Identification of main issues in the relationship.

Pinpointing the various ways through which negativity increase conflict when dealing with the main issues.

At this stage, the counselor will identify any fears and unpleasant feelings that either of the parties fails to accept that are contributing to the negativity. They can help you describe emotions and navigate emotional experiences better.

Next, the counselor will help the couple or family to change their interaction patterns by allowing them to voice their deep feelings. They are then taught how to express and accept the needs of the other party.

The final stage is when the couples are shown ways of adopting new communication methods to voice their problems and come up with new solutions. Finally, the couple, family, or individual learn how they can use their newly acquired skills outside of the counseling session.

  1. Emotionally Focused Therapy Can Improve All Of Your Romantic Relationships

Emotionally focused couples' therapy is an effective method of reducing conflict between a couple and help in couples dealing with communication issues. During relationships, couples are likely to deal with various conflicts and if not settled this can lead to an end of a marriage. It is especially so if one of the party's needs are not met. Couples or family members who have a disconnection or are continually criticizing and displaying anger towards each other can utilize emotionally focused therapy.

When couples are dealing with significant issues, there may be feelings of anger and resentment. Through EFT, couples are more aware of the present feelings, the effect they have on the relationship, and how they can overcome the issues. It will help them to have a stronger bond.

Although the western world views independence even in relationships as being strong, one must accept that having secure attachment helps in having a strong and fulfilling relationship. You are human and having a secure bond helps one to feel more positive towards life. 

  1. Emotionally Focused Therapy Can Make You A Stronger Person

Emotionally focused therapy can also work on individuals. It can help rectify an individual's experiences during counseling to help the person become more secure when dealing with others. During the study of attachment theory, you will realize that EFT provides individuals with ways of dealing with their depression and anxiety.

This therapy can help individuals to expand and broaden their responses in their key relationships in life. Besides, it can improve a person's level interactions and aide in creating new interactions or relationships. It is a successful way of dealing with an individual's stressors such as trauma borderline personalities, anxiety, eating disorders, or unpleasant childhood experiences.

  1. Emotionally Focused Therapy Can Improve Family Communication

Families can also benefit from EFT. Counseling has long been a way of helping people become more connected and emotionally focused therapy can take relationships to the next level.

The ability of the counselor to assess the underlying feelings in the particular family's interaction patterns is the primary goal in emotionally focused family counseling. EFT will help each family member understand their feelings and those of the other family members. In turn, the counselor will help them to be more effective in their communication and during interactions.

In the family setting, EFT may be useful in dealing with issues such as the following: behavioral problems in teens, divorce, and handling of blended families.

  1. EFT Can Solve Major Issues

Emotionally focused therapy can be used to solve the following issues:

Work Through Challenging Emotions With EFT

  • Mistrust and betrayal, especially in cases where infidelity has been a problem in the past
  • Lack of intimacy in marriage. There is a considerable number of couples who are no longer intimate with their partners and make use of EFT to solve their issues so that they can create stronger bonds between them
  • Family issues such as finances, parenting of children, divorce, etc.
  • Individuals who are unable to control their feelings because of personality and mood disorders or past trauma
  • People with borderline personality disorders, in particular, can learn new ways of expressing themselves and the best ways of interacting with the community at large

The Strengths And Benefits Of EFT

  • The application of EFT has been validated through empirical research making it an excellent option for those wanting to overcome issues through science-backed therapies
  • Under the right set up and environment, clients will learn how to deal with their hidden feelings instead of avoidance resulting in positively transformed individual, families, and couples
  • It utilizes specified interventions and strategies. It is done by certified counselors who are continually getting training and assessment for them to keep their certification
  • A better understanding of individual and partner's needs
  • Helps in achieving a strong and lasting relationship


  • Some psychotherapists have criticized EFT's approaches by claiming that they use flawed theoretical claims that are very different from the everyday troubles of human beings
  • For the techniques to be effective, the client needs to very open and honest. Therefore, if an individual is not forthcoming during the counseling process, then they will not benefit from emotional therapy

How To Find An Emotionally-Focused Therapist

There are many ways of finding an emotionally focused counselor. When looking for potential counselor, it is essential to find out whether they have experience in couple or family therapy. Don't be shy or afraid to ask about their training and level of education regarding EFT. Counselors understand that knowing their background is important to patients and will be willing to share with you.

If you want to take a guess working out of finding a counselor, BetterHelp can assist you in getting the most suitable one. If you have issues that you feel are best addressed by EFT, counseling can be arranged by contacting BetterHelp today. The therapist change process is simple if you don't find yourself meshing with the therapist you're matched with.

The great thing about this service that they ensure your counselor is licensed as a mental health therapist. If you are not sure whether your issues can be solved by engaging in EFT, a licensed professional counselor can help you make that call.

Final Thoughts On Emotionally Focused Therapy
If you notice that you or your partner are manifesting negative feelings that are affecting your relationships, daily activities, or work, then it is good to seek support. Finding the right help will play a key role in dealing with the issues at hand.
There has been extensive research on emotionally focused therapy. Through research, there has been the identification of the diverse ways through which couples relate and how their different ways of interacting impact on their relationships.
If you as an individual, couple, or family are struggling with relationship problems, you can try EFT. Instead of waiting for things to get worse, contact us, and we will help you.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Does emotionally focused therapy work well? What disorders can it be used to treat?

Emotionally focused therapy is one of the many types of counseling that can work help improve mental health. With any therapy, the results can depend on certain factors. For example, you need to find a counselor who is a good fit for your emotionally focused therapy session. Some counselors may not be the best fit for you.
Also, with any of the types of counseling, you benefit from EFT, the more effort you put into it. You're not going to be treated with just one therapy session. Stay committed and you should see results. Adults see a variety of results based on the state of practice, office, and information given during sessions.
With that said, everyone has a different feeling and response towards counseling and it may not be the best choice for your situation. Find a counselor and see if EFT is right for you-- pay attention to what the experts say on this practice, and any up-to-date changes in the field.

How does EFT counseling work?

Emotionally focused therapy has a process, just like any form of counseling. You can divide emotionally focused therapy into three stages. The first stage of emotion focused therapy is:
  1. De-Escalation
In couple therapy, when a couple or family member has a constant cycle of negativity, the first stage is to stop it. Quite often, many people who are having negative cycles are not aware of it. An emotionally focused counselor can help people realize their negative problems may be due to insecurities, distance, or another issue. These counselors allow you to better be the author of your own life, recognizing patterns in situations and specific groups.
  1. Restructure
The next stage in emotionally focused therapy is to restructure. This stage involves everyone talking about their fears, particularly in a relationship. Whether it's couples counseling or emotionally focused family counseling, every relationship comes with its own form of insecurities, and a counselor will help everyone explain their problems in a way that's easy to understand.
  1. Consolidation
The last stage of emotionally focused therapy is consolidation. This is when a counselor helps the clients realize how they got to those negative cycles, and how they can change themselves.
This is the main skeletal structure of emotionally focused therapy. You're going to follow these stages of counseling through every EMT experience.

What is EFT counseling for couples?

EFT is automatically for couples, as it's a form of counseling centered around relationships. For couples, negative patterns are common. There are many responses couples have to their issues, and this can ruin their relationship. The EFT model can look at each experience and find the cause for all of these negative patterns.
What is the goal?
The goal of EFT is for clients to end negative cycles of feelings, but also help with regulation of feelings. As people, we all experience patterns of regulation that may be problematic. We can get angry or upset when it's inappropriate. EFT helps us cope with our feelings, and any EFT counselor will teach you healthy manners to express the way you feel without scaring off the ones you love.

What does EFT stand for in counseling?

In this context, it stands for emotionally focused therapy. There are other forms of counseling with a similar abbreviation, such as emotional-freedom technique. When doing research, using the full term and not the abbreviation may help you find the right EFT counselor you're looking for. Additionally, ICEEFT (The International Centre For Excellence In Emotionally Focused Therapy) offers information and training to mental health professionals looking to get certified as EFT therapists.

How long do emotion focused therapy sessions usually take to complete?

EFT is a short-term form of counseling, taking about 8-20 sessions. Of course, it's going to depend from person to person. Some people may need more sessions, some less. EFT is a short-term approach, but with any approach, don't think you'll get instant results. Sometimes, you need to take your time if you want the best results, learning to practice compassion and vulnerability when changes arise.
How long does Tapping take to work?
When one believes EFT doesn't work, this may be because the EFT has been applied during a short period. EFT can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes, give or take. Make sure you give it the proper amount of time before you decide if EFT is right for you or not. Additionally, if you are suffering from PTSD, EFT and the principles of this therapy are often recommended as an go-to intervention method for clinicians.

How often should you do tapping? Can you do it at home?

Everyone has their perfect amount, so when doing training, there is no magic number. A good amount is at least two times a day, with more being added should you need it. As mentioned, make sure you're tapping for about 20-45 minutes. While some people experience freedom in a short time, that is the exception rather than the rule, and any EFT counselor will tell you that.

How long does EFT take to work?
This depends on what EFT you're talking about. For emotionally focused therapy, EFT can take anywhere from 8-20 sessions. This is going to depend on the counselor and the person. A good EFT counselor helps the client discover how to regulate their feelings faster.
For the emotional freedom tapping, the results can vary. It may take around 20-45 minutes, and you may need to do it for a few sessions.
With any form of counseling, don't expect instant results. For focused individual counseling, you may have a lot of issues, and individual counseling can take a good while. For family counseling or focused counseling for couples, you and someone else, sometimes more than one extra, are dealing with your own issues and interactions. You're using all the counselor resources you can to get better, but don't expect instant results. This is not a good approach to psychotherapy whatsoever. Never rush it.
How does EFT approach changing emotions?
EFT is a focused treatment that focuses on feelings. In particular, it's a form of counseling that focuses on changing feelings. Our feelings change, and we can change them on our own as well. When you find a counselor who specializes in EFT, you're going to learn how to regulate your feelings. Research in emotionally focused therapy is deep, and it involves a great understanding of how we behave and respond to events.
Who created EFT counseling?
Emotional freedom techniques were created by Gary Craig. The people who originated emotionally focused family counseling (or couples) were Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. They were the ones who originated the research in emotionally focused therapy.
How do I become EFT certified?
Sometimes, you don't want to find a counselor who specializes in EFT research, but instead, you want to be one. So, how do you be EFT certified? Is it like becoming any other kind of counselor, corrective emotional or otherwise?
With emotionally-focused therapy, it's just like any other form of counseling. You go to school for many years, have internships, take your license exam, and so on. With EFT tapping, it's a little bit different. For one thing, it's a lot less expensive. It can take a few thousand to get your certification. So, how do you do it? It's a 16-step process, and the best way you can learn more is to read the process here. With any career, it's something you do want to think about and decide whether or not it's right for you.
What are the stages of EFT?
In EFT research, the methods have been divided into three stages. These stages are de-escalation of feelings, restructuring, and consolidation.
Like any form of counseling, these stages can have different lengths, and sometimes, things can repeat. When you find a counselor who specializes in EFT and EFT research, make sure you ask how they handle these stages.
What is an emotional counselor called?
An emotional counselor doesn't go by any particular name. When you're trying to find a counselor who specializes in emotional therapy, make sure you find a counselor by doing a specific Google search. You may type "find a counselor" and "EFT" together, for example. An EFT counselor helps you by giving you the counselor resources needed to regulate your feelings.
What is emotional therapeutic Counseling?
Emotional therapeutic counseling, or ETC, involves helping those who are experiencing a certain type of emotional distress in their lives. ETC can involve someone who is going through a life change, problems with relationships, or they just feel upset for whatever reason.
ETC allows a client to express how they feel, and the counselor helps the client to figure out where these feelings are coming from. With enough counseling, the client can learn how to move on with their experiences and have a better life as a result.
Does Faster EFT really work?
Faster EFT is a quick release, and it can work for many people. While faster EFT has been validated, its effectiveness can depend on how persistent you are. Some people may find that when they keep tapping, they see better results. Make sure that you keep trying, and you may see results at the end. If you're still not seeing results, find an EFT professional. When you find an EFT professional, they can help improve your technique.
Can EFT be harmful?
All forms of EFT are not harmful, but there may be some feelings one must face that can be hard to handle. With the right counselor, however, EFT can benefit everyone. Whether it's EFT for couples or an emotional freedom technique, find a counselor who is right for the job.
Is EFT evidence based?
Yes, EFT is an evidence-based approach. EFT research is always ongoing, but what EFT research has found shows promising results. Find a counselor who specializes in EFT and see what they can do for you.
Is person centered counseling evidence based?
If you're considering person-centered counseling, you may wonder if there has been any evidence for it. It is indeed an evidence-based form of counseling, with many people reporting improved symptoms, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other negative feelings.
Of course, different forms of counseling may bring different results, so try them all out.
What are three theories of emotion?
There are more than three theories, but you can break down the theories into one of three categories:
Physiological: This is the theory that suggests the feelings we feel are due to how our bodies respond.
Neurological: Neurological theory says that our feelings are due to our brain activity.
Cognitive: This theory says that our feelings are due to thoughts.
Most people can probably agree that they've had emotional responses from a combination of all three of these feelings. You've probably felt feelings because you've had pain in your body. You've also probably felt feelings due to a chemical imbalance in your mind or felt better due to an endorphin rush. Self-defeating thoughts exist as well. Emotionally focused therapy can help.
Is Emotion Focused Therapy humanistic?
Yes, emotionally focused individual counseling is a humanistic approach to counseling. It's an empathetic approach that teaches people how to come into terms with their feelings.
How does EFT counseling work?
Focused counseling eft aims at the meridian points, also known as energy hotspots, of the body. It is believed that, through EFT, these hotspots can be restored, and your physical or mental energy will recover. EFT stands for emotionally focused therapy and is empirically supported as an alternative focused treatment of physical pain and distress. Studies conducted and review of the research shows that this form of counseling can be quite helpful in regard to treating anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. EFT focused counseling for depression has also seen positive results. There are many other types of counseling that a counselor may use, but EFT tapping is a non-invasive form of energy rebalance that is still being researched. In most cases, a counselor will “tap” certain points on your body in an effort to restore energy to those hotspots.
What is the goal of emotionally focused therapy?
The point of emotionally focused therapy is to work towards a secure attachment and secure bond between partners. Each partner, through EFT, should be capable of providing a sense of security, protection, and comfort for the other. This can help increase sexual desire in a relationship or reestablish broken connections, as well as solve problems that seem to be at the root of conflict. EFT focuses on helping patients create a positive sense of self and effectively regulating their own feelings.
What should I say during EFT tapping?
EFT tapping can be self-done and reaffirming positive thoughts for mental health while doing so is important. At its core, EFT is about acceptance of the self, so acknowledging shortcomings as a natural part of personal growth, as well as progress, are key parts of acceptance and commitment counseling. EFT based tapping counseling is experiential therapy and requires opening your thoughts up to a more positive idea. Visit a support group as well to speak with others about EFT focused treatment and how they use it to address any issues that may exist. Counseling emotionally requires openness and acceptance, both on the side of a counselor and a patient. While at home, recognize that EFT tapping is only half the journey, and that to achieve the counseling emotionally effective benefits, you will need to positively reaffirm your acceptance.
Is EFT really effective?
While focused counseling for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and other conditions are still being studied, data seems to indicate that focused treatment is effective. Find a counselor in your area who can offer medical advice and tell you about the many types of counseling. In general, an EFT focused treatment center can likely help with whatever unique challenge you are facing. As with other types of counseling, such as cognitive behavioral based counseling, it may take some time to see the positive results. It’s important to stick to the treatment plan a counselor provides in order to see the most beneficial effects and personal growth. Additionally, visit a support group if counseling becomes emotionally draining.
What are the stages of EFT?
The main stages of EFT are broken into three phases and nine steps: identify the conflict, identify the cycle where conflict is expressed, access unacknowledged feelings, reframe thoughts, promote identification of disowned needs, promote partner acceptance, facilitate expression needs and wants, create new solutions, and consolidate. The stages of EFT are a continuing education for the family process or partner process and are meant to help participants increase their understanding of those around them. Emotion schemes are slowly broken down and restructured in effective ways during the three phases, and counseling cognitive measures are used to build a secure attachment-based relationship. In couples, EFT focused treatment can even help restore sexual desire and strengthen the relationship bond. Find a counselor at a treatment center for EFT if you believe this strategy may help you find comfort and help you to increase awareness of your feelings.
How long does emotionally focused therapy take?
The amount of time emotionally focused therapy takes can vary from person to person, but the average length of time is between eight to twenty session. EFT is a short term counseling regardless, so the process of moving through the three phases and nine steps involved is quite a quick process. Find a counselor who specializes in EFT based counseling or feeling schemes if you believe this form of counseling could help. EFT used counseling cognitive strategies that can help a person living with chronic pain or disorders. Additionally, seek a support group in your area if there are not EFT counselors near you.
What are the 9 tapping points?
There are nine primary tapping points used to increase sexual desire, awareness, and more in EFT focused treatment: small intestine, top of the head, eyebrow, side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose, the chin, beginning of the collarbone, and under the arm. EFT training is about continuing education as to the emotion schemes of the mind and how the tapping points of the body store energy. Talk therapy emotionally gets at behaviors or ideas, but EFT focuses more on how the energy of the body relates to feelings and thoughts. If you believe EFT tapping may help, find a counselor or focused treatment center in your area.
What is EFT therapy good for?
EFT, or emotion-focused therapy, works for individuals in therapy and couples therapy. It relies on a humanistic approach to treat both emotional and physical distress.
What are the 3 stages of EFT?
Step one is to assess and deescalate. Step two is restructuring interactions. Step three is the consolidation of change.
What kind of therapy is EFT?
EFT is comparable to CBT, though it is its own kind of therapy. It's helpful in love relationships, with a therapy focus on emotion regulation and emotion coaching. 
 Is EFT evidence based?
Yes, there is evidence that supports the efficacy of EFT.
What is attachment based therapy for adults?
According to Psychology Today, attachment based therapy for adults examines early attachment experiences from infancy and their effect on adult attachment. This, in turn, helps adults work on bonding interactions and unmet attachment needs.
What are the signs of attachment disorder in adults?

There are several signs that could point to attachment bond disorder. They include being uncomfortable with emotional intimacy, feeling insecure even in close relationships, pushing people away (especially those one wants to be close to), a lack of trust for others, a hard time discerning emotions in others, and difficulty expressing emotions.
What are the signs of attachment disorder?
Attachment disorder in children can show up as small amounts of interaction with others, lack of emotion during interaction with others, difficulty self-soothing, and seeming unhappy while interacting with caregivers.
What happens in attachment therapy?
In attachment based therapy, the therapist will meet with their patient individually at first, then may have sessions including the patient's family members or relationship partners. So-called "attachment therapy" is not supported by evidence or accepted by the psychology community, and can involve the discomfort, manipulation, and endangerment of unwilling child or teen participants.
What is the best therapy for attachment disorder?

A mental health professional can help assess a child or adult for an attachment disorder. An EFT therapist can be found at hospital clinics, university training centers, and mental health centers. They can assist the patient in decision making, change processes, and healthy coping skills for human functioning. For couples, there is an abridged version of EFT called "Hold Me Tight" that is designed to treat attachment disorder in adult relationships.
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