Emotionally Focused Therapy
Mark has trained extensively through the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT). Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) addresses the vital role that emotions play in our well-being, especially in relationships, such as marriage. EFT is based on Attachment Theory, which says that all humans have a hard-wired, innate need to connect, to bond with someone (or ones) on whom we can depend for affection, support, security and love. We have long known that infants need this. But, in fact, we never outgrow it. As adults, a bond with a secure partner, someone we can count on, who is "there for us," gives us a sense of safety and security. This is a universal human need.
Although popular culture has viewed this need for connection negatively, we are learning that dependence is not "needy" or "clingy." It's human. We are born to bond.
Research shows that securely attached adults are by and large happier, tend to live longer, manage stress better, suffer from fewer chronic illnesses, have less anxiety and depression and generally report greater overall well-being. On the other hand, if we feel emotionally isolated, betrayed or abandoned, if that bond is threatened, we sense danger. The more severe the threat, the greater the fear. Our brain sends panic signals, as if our very life is at risk.
These signals are often instantaneous. If we sense our partner's anger or abandonment, we might respond to the threat either by protesting or pulling away from our partner. We either retaliate or retreat. (It's the old "fight or flight" response.) We may not consciously feel that pain or panic. Those emotions are often beneath the surface. The more visible emotions are usually anger, resentment, shame, disgust, sadness or depression. We might cry, criticize, blame, berate, might get sarcastic or sullen, feel guilty, withdrawn or become passive aggressive. We might do any or all of these things in the hopes of reconnection or reassurance. Sadly, what we do to make it better often only makes it worse. Those reactive emotions and behaviors usually only push us further apart.
How we handle conflict often seems to take on a life of its own, like a dance where each partner follows the other's lead. Conflict often happens in very predictable patterns. Ever wonder why you seem to have the same arguments over and over? These are the only "steps" you and your partner know. In that pattern, couples often feel stuck and hopeless. Many give up and the relationship flounders or fails.
Although both partners usually blame each other, actually, the pattern is the problem. Both partners contribute, but It's the pattern, not the partner.
EFT works to understand, defuse and change that pattern. You will learn to see your relationship in new ways, to recognize and change your destructive "dance" and to understand the emotions behind it. You will learn to reach for one another, to reconnect, repair and bring back safety and comfort. EFT helps couples to change the music and learn a new dance.