Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
“Love is not the icing on the cake of life. It is a primary need like oxygen or water” Dr Sue Johnson, in “hold me tight”
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy is about building an emotionally secure relationship. What does that mean? Close relationships tend to trigger strong and powerful emotions that we thought were long gone. Far and foremost, feelings of anxiety and helplessness dominate, sometimes anger. The partner is not the cause of the emotions, the partner is just the trigger. However, the partner is often perceived as cause which does result in emotional turmoil and, for instance, in endless arguments or endless silence. The emotions stem from attachment wounds we sustained in earlier relationships and / or childhood. They are triggered by way of how the memory is organised: If our attachment needs are not met, our biological alarm system kicks in and makes us fight, flee or freeze.
Partners need the other person to be responsive to our needs and to be emotionally available. In therapy partners can learn to drop unhelpful coping strategies, like shutting down, silent treatment, and learn to express there feelings and needs adequately and clearly. They can learn to drop the fear of opening up as they develop empathy and understanding, and as they learn more functional patterns of communicating and relating.
What matters is being responsive and empathetic towards the partner, and our own willingness to own feelings and to share them openly and honestly.