Are you looking to make a good relationship even better, or to improve one that is in distress? Do you and your loved one end up having the same disagreements over and over?

Despite your best attempt to communicate effectively, do you find yourselves stuck, saying, “Here we go again; we cannot seem to get through to one another.”?

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is an approach that helps couples connect in a new way that enables them to feel closer and more intimate with one another.

Created in the 1980s by Dr. Susan Johnson, EFT is an empirically researched and tested approach that focuses on strengthening the attachment bond that exists between two individuals in a relationship.

According to Dr. Johnson, behind the disagreements and the issues that couples present, what each person most wants to know is, “Are you really there for me? Do I really matter to you enough that you will put me first when it really counts?”

EFT therapists help clients clarify and explore the emotions behind those predictable patterns they have developed with one another.

Dr. Johnson refers to these patterns as a couples “dance.” By that she means that one partner’s behavior or “step” in a relationship pulls the other into his or her own step (or behavior) and that creates the dance.

Once the steps in a couple’s dance have been identified, couples begin to explore the fears, hurt, sadness, or loneliness and longing that usually accompany the moves.

In the safety of an EFT session, key moments of emotional engagement are highlighted with the goal of re-creating, or in some cases creating for the first time, a secure bond with one’s partner.

Instead of attacking one another or shutting down, couples learn how to ask directly for their needs to be met.

To learn more about how you can apply the principles of EFT to your relationship, I would suggest reading Dr. Johnson’s book, “Hold Me Tight,” and doing the exercises with your partner, or contact a couples therapist who is trained in EFT.

Mary Bieda, MS, LPC is a licensed professional counselor and pastoral counselor in private practice in Old Town Bluffton.