Emotion-Focused Therapy aka EFT in Less Than Four Minutes

Based on the premise that human emotions are connected to human needs, Emotion-focused therapy attempts to help people with their emotional state and relationship issues by working through emotions. We are believed to have been able to survive because of our emotions’ innate adaptive potential–they alert us in significant situations, guide us in meeting our needs, and influence the way we interact with others and construct a sense of self from such social events.

Made for individuals, couples, or families, EFT provides a safe environment for you to freely express yourself as you learn how to handle your emotions, which also makes it effective for different mental health conditions such as avoidant personality disorder, depression, and trauma. Moreover, this form of psychotherapy is backed up by 30 years of research, and is known to be collaborative and respectful of clients. Find out more about Emotion-focused therapy, aka EFT, in less than three minutes:


According to psychologists Leslie S. Greenberg and Rhonda N. Goldman, emotion-related problems can possibly stem from lack of awareness or avoidance of emotion, dysregulation of emotion, maladaptive emotion response, or a problem with making meaning of experiences. In EFT, you learn to be aware of, accept, and make sense of your emotions. Therapists help you by making use of particular methods. One of them is determining Emotion Response Types.

Emotion-focused theorists believe that each person’s emotions are organized into distinctive emotion schemes which, for practical purposes, can be classified into four broad types: 

  • Primary Adaptive – emotional responses to stimuli that give a direct benefit. For example, sadness when you’ve lost a relationship you need to rebuild.
  • Primary Maladaptive – similar to primary adaptive, but dysfunctional. Responses like fearing a harmless situation and feeling insecure usually come from past traumatic experiences.
  • Secondary Reactive – emotional responses to prior emotional responses. For instance, feeling angry for being angry.
  • Instrumental – consciously or unconsciously expressed by a person to elicit a response from others (attention, approval, or cooperation).


The main goal of therapy is transformation. EFT takes you through the therapeutic process to hopefully empower you in managing your emotions. Another method therapists use is giving therapeutic tasks. A therapeutic task involves an immediate problem that a client needs to resolve in an EFT session. Here are some examples:

  • Empathic Exploration – the therapist helps you explore unclear experiences that may be hindering you.
  • Empty Chair Dialogue – you express your thoughts or feelings to a specific person or part of yourself by imagining they are in front of you. 
  • Two Chair Technique – you move between two chairs which represent different sides of yourself (e.g. rational versus emotional) 


Just like other forms of psychotherapy, EFT aims to help you achieve well-being by overcoming your problems. Aside from learning how to deal with your emotions, you discover that part of you who sees the good in your lows. For instance, that voice who knows there are people who truly love you, even when you‘ve fully convinced yourself otherwise. EFT can help you become well-acquainted with your emotions and your needs. You’re able to practice self-care by working through your emotions.

All in all, Emotion-focused therapy advocates that emotional change is necessary for recovery, growth, and well-being. Expression of emotions and development of positive emotions lead to healing. Once you learn how to accept, express, understand, and manage your emotions, you can overcome your problems. Moreover, EFT is usually a short-term treatment. If you wish to undergo this form of psychotherapy or find out if it’s right for you, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Just remember that no matter which type of therapeutic intervention you receive, you need to stay committed and open until the end. Always try to trust the process and look forward to recovery.

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Written by Hannah Grace

A B.S. Psychology graduate who fights both real and imaginary shadows every day with music and words.

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