Do you long to feel
closer to your partner?
Counseling for Contentment at Lotus Point Wellness specializes in Emotionally Focused Therapy based on the science and research of adult attachment. The approach helps couples create a safe environment to explore and express their underlying feelings, needs and longings.
What is Emotionally Focused Therapy?
Emotionally Focused Therapy is a model of psychotherapy that is based on a “theory of love” originally developed by John Bowlby who pioneered parent-child attachment theories. Over the past two decades that research has been applied to adults to create a theory on adult attachment.
The approach is based the belief that no matter what age we are, it is secure, loving relationships which give us our greatest sense of safety, connection, comfort, and strength in dealing with the challenges, stresses, and joys of life.
Emotionally Focused Therapy accounts for the high level of emotions people experience in relationships and tackles the patterns and negative cycles that cause people to be unhappy in their relationships. By helping couples de-escalate and create a safe environment, they can explore and express their underlying feelings and needs.
The Science of Emotionally Focused Therapy
In November 2013, Sue Johnson and University of Virginia neuroscientist Dr. James Coan released research that showed Emotionally Focused Therapy changes how the brain perceives and responds to threat.
Their study showcases how couples therapy teaches people to bond securely, builds the pathway for loving contact that soothes the brain and calms our perception of danger. It shows strong evidence of how our mammalian brain is wired to use another intelligence — loving contact — to manage the fears and pains of daily life.
Teaching people how to build these connections can save countless marriages and families.
Reflecting years of collaborative effort, this fascinating study speaks to:
- The power of loving contact to give us safety and comfort
- The power of Emotionally Focused Therapy couple interventions that create and shape a powerful antidote to fear
- How our brains are wired to use connection with others to help us cope with threat and uncertainty
What the study showed
AN EXAMPLE of the typical participants in this study might be Jane and Carl, an unhappy couple who have sought out Emotionally Focused Therapy:
Before their first emotionally focused therapy session, Jane lies in an MRI machine for a brain scan. She is signaled that a shock will be coming. Alone in the machine, her brain lights up in alarm and when it comes, she says the shock is very unpleasant. When a stranger holds her hand, the results are the same. Unpleasant! When Carl holds Jane’s hand, her brain activity again indicates alarm and she says the shock is painful. Contact with her husband does not soothe or calm her.
After Jane and Carl’s last emotionally focused therapy session and bonding conversations, Jane is again alone for the MRI and her brain lights up when she sees the “X” indicating a shock is coming, and the shock is very unpleasant. When a stranger holds her hand, her alarm response and pain are lessened. Then, when Carl holds Jane’s hand and she sees the “X,” there is a powerful difference — relatively little brain activity indicating anxiety or threat can be seen. The loving comfort she now perceives from her husband’s touch persuasively changes how her brain encodes this “threat” and she reports that the shock is only “uncomfortable.”