Emotionally Focused Therapy – EFT – Couples/Marriage Counselling – Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph

What is Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples?

Older Couple Embracing
EFT is a clinically researched and proven process to help couples suffering from distress. It is based on a now well understood map of adult love and attachment. The foundation of a secure bond with our loved one is trusting that he/she will be Accessible, Responsive and Empathic to us. Distress in couple relationships originates in perceived threats to the security of the attachment. EFT has a 70-75% major turn-around from distress to recovery (and a 90% significant improvement rate) through working with a trained therapist over a course of 10-20 sessions, something no other approach to couple therapy has ever achieved.

The message of EFT is simple: Forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection. EFT focuses on creating and strengthening this emotional bond by identifying and transforming the key moments that foster an adult loving relationship. –   Dr. Sue Johnson    (Author of books for laypersons Hold Me Tight and Love Sense (just released in January, 2014)

How does EFT help?

  • identifying the harmful patterns that block each partner from getting needs met and instead maintain the relationship distress
  • learning together how to stop the pattern (“dance”) once it begins again and repair/redirect the interchange
  • recognizing how traumatic relationship events from the past affect the present

How will you benefit?

Happy Middle-Aged Women

It is essential that we experience our partner as a safe haven, a place of security, comfort and protection from the storms of life.  Here is how our work can help you foster this:

  • by increasing acceptance and compassion for self and other
  • by regaining respect, safety and trust
  • by re-discovering softness and loving feelings
  • by learning to communicate your vulnerable needs to your partner
  • by learning skills and insight to maintain and deepen your relationship going forward

Who needs EFT couple therapy?

Those who are struggling in various ways:

  • Distancefeeling helpless to fix things themselves
  • efforts to “talk” results in more conflict and pain
  • irritable and frustrated with each other
  • leading separate lives
  • sexual intimacy has faded or been abandoned
  • caught in a web of criticism/defense/attack
  • Loss of Trustfeeling lonely
  • suffering betrayal and loss of trust
  • struggling with step-parenting, blending
  • challenged by loss and change

Those who have failed to fix things by themselves have usually fallen into the same unhelpful patterns.  Learning new ways requires skilled help with a commitment to the work and the time.

Therapy can also help couples separate well, establish a healthy co-parenting role, gain insight into unhelpful patterns that could undermine a future relationship.  Separation counselling can minimize the harm to everyone involved.

Is EFT for all couples?

Loss of Sexual IntimacyEFT/couple therapy is for older couples, couples in middle age, young couples, same gender couples, couples in second marriages, couples in blended/step-parenting families, etc.

EFT is NOT for couples who are experiencing ongoing domestic violence.  Additionally, partners who have chronic problems with substance abuse need to address this issue before turning to the relationship.  Lastly, if one partner is actively involved in an affair, couple therapy would not be appropriate.  The reason for this is that couple work is about emotional intimacy and fostering attachment safety

New ParentsCrises and transitions that benefit from skilled help:

  • transition to parenting
  • job loss and financial stress
  • children leaving home
  • retirement
  • mental and physical health challenges in one partner
  • Financial Stressinfidelity
  • substance abuse

The Consequences of Unresolved Relationship Distress and Separation/Divorce:

  • The major impact of divorce on kids often doesn’t show up until romantic relationships develop.
  • Couple ArguingTwo-thirds of divorces are initiated by women — despite the high price they pay emotionally or financially.
  • An unhappy marriage can increase your chances of getting sick by 35%.
  • Stress of divorce/separation can depress your immune system’s function; happy marriages boost it.
  • Children raised in homes with marital hostility show chronically elevated stress hormones that can have long term psychological and behavioral consequences.


  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
  • The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith Wallerstein