Emotion Focused Therapy is a holistic and experiential psychotherapy that draws on humanistic, person-centred and experiential therapy, contemporary emotion theory and research into affective neurosciences. Its focus is on experiential body awareness and emotional healing. Emotion Focused Therapy is a therapy that has been developed to work with individuals and is at its heart a transformative psychotherapy that utilises deep empathically attuned processes and immediate, in-the-moment experiencing. The approach views emotion as central to human functioning and the experience of adaptive emotion as central to therapeutic change. Emotion Focused Therapy explores emotional pain and its origins and distinguishes amongst the varieties of emotional expression. The approach examines the purpose of emotion in our lives. Most of us are unable to distinguish which emotion we are feeling. We may even feel bad, worried or depressed but cannot label what emotions underly these experiences or differentiate between all the possible emotions we are feeling. In the process of therapy, clients learn about their emotional life and learn to differentiate and transform their feelings.
Why practice Emotion Focused Therapy?
We practise Emotion Focused Therapy because it works! Emotion Focused Therapy is an evidence-based, empirically supported psychotherapy and the subject of hundreds of studies. It is a rich, holistic and transformative therapy that works with interpersonal difficulties, attachment difficulties, non-valuing in relationships and interpersonal alienation. It focuses on resolving past emotional injuries and toxic repeated childhood experiences with unmet core emotional needs. Emotion Focused Therapy has a cohesive underlying philosophy and theory of practice. Within the philosophy, theory and practice of Emotion Focused Therapy we find distinctive elements found in person-centred therapy, mindfulness, focusing-oriented psychotherapy, internal family systems, voice dialogue, attachment theory, affective neuroscience, contemporary emotion theory, dialectical constructivism, psychodynamic psychotherapy, gestalt therapy, existential practice and schema therapy. These elements are woven into a coherent Emotion Focused Therapy case formulation for each client.
How does Emotion Focused Therapy Work?
Emotion Focused Therapy works by supporting people to process experience by using a variety of therapeutic tasks for accessing and working with emotion at somato-bodily, cognitive, behavioural, emotional, experiential and creative levels in order to develop awareness and to enter deeply into inner bodily felt experiencing. Emotional experience that is often out of awareness is processed and transformed for the development of emotional health and wellbeing and the enhancement of relationships. Emotion Focused Therapy emphasises the experience of emotion. Research has found that the deeper the ‘in therapy’ inner experiencing, the deeper the emotion processing, and flowing from this, the likelihood of relapse is less. Therapy focuses on the client experiencing a shift in their internal self-organisation or meaning structures and a creation of new emotional meaning and life narratives which in turn de-activate a variety of unwanted mental health and relationship concerns.
Emotion Focused Therapy involves emotion coaching, which aims to increase emotional intelligence. It helps to label and identify emotional experiences and recognise underlying needs central to healing. In addition, Emotion Focused Therapy identifies, works with and synthesises inner voices and parts of self, since healing occurs where the voices are brought into a dialectical relationship with each other. There is a series of processes for resolving intrapsychic conflict and self-criticism. The model privileges the innate knowledge held by the ‘experiencing self’ and supports the client to access and build the strength of the ‘experiencing self’. This brings a sense of personal empowerment when it is touched, and even more so when listening to the voice of the ‘experiencing self’ is a regular lived experience. Interruptions to the ‘experiencing self’ are identified and resolved with active experiential interventions.
Who is Emotion Focused Therapy for?
Emotion Focused Therapy has been proven to be effective with people experiencing depression, generalised anxiety, panic, worry and social phobia, eating difficulties, complex trauma and PTSD, abuse, interpersonal issues, unregulated anger, sadness, vulnerability and shame. Emotion Focused Therapy can be effectively used with adolescents and young people in addition to adults. Early research has indicated that Emotion Focused Therapy has shown promising results for psychosis and self-damaging activities such as substance abuse. Emotion Focused Therapy can also be used with couples. In that form it integrates the theory and practice of the individual Emotion Focused work and extends this with additional couple theory and practice. (It should be noted that Emotion Focused Therapy for couples is not to be confused with Emotionally Focused Therapy, a therapy designed for couple work, as there are differences.)