Healing Wounds in Marriage: Does Emotionally Focused Therapy Work? By Dr. Konstantin Lukin


Healing Wounds in Marriage: Does Emotionally Focused Therapy Work? By Dr. Konstantin Lukin, Bergen County Moms

At The Lukin Center, we have found that Emotionally Focused Therapy is the most effective treatment option for helping people in all kinds of attachment relationships, including marriage. EFT is a kind of therapy for couples that helps both partners communicate better and experience healing. Here’s what sets EFT apart from other types of therapy and why it’s so effective.


Dr. Konstantin Lukin discusses 5 Practical Steps for Emotionally Focused Therapy.

How Does Emotionally Focused Therapy Work?


Emotionally Focused Therapy is a unique type of psychotherapy that is often used in couples therapy. There are two stages in EFT. These main aspects of EFT can be further broken down into nine steps of Emotionally Focused Therapy. However, for this article, let’s stick to a broad overview of each part. Processing Emotional Experiences

The first stage of EFT involves processing the emotional experience of each partner, and the second consists of finding new ways to interact and heal from past wounds. To start, the therapist guides you and your partner in becoming aware of your emotions and how you respond to each other concerning them. Another important aspect of Emotionally Focused Therapy is for both people in the relationship to validate each other’s emotional experiences.

The therapist asks open-ended questions about each partner’s emotional experience and the meaning that is taken from the partner’s responses. These questions help you and your partner to recognize and acknowledge your emotions and responses. The therapist is there to help you interpret what you are trying to express and fully experience your and your partner’s emotions.

Developing New Ways to Interact

Next comes the second stage of EFT. After you both process the emotions that are keeping you apart, the therapist helps you create new ways of responding to each other. You may act out new responses. As you go, your therapist may help you soften your expressions and avoid blaming each other so intensely. How Is EFT Different from Other Types of Therapy?

EFT is a unique type of therapy. It draws on several important movements in psychotherapy, such as humanistic therapy. Its theoretical roots are also grounded in attachment theory. However, its combination of elements and specific aspects of it set it apart from other therapies. Focus on Mental Health Rather Than Pathology

EFT therapists recognize the potential for the couple to come back together in a positive way. The therapist sees you and your partner as a couple that is responding to attachment wounds in an understandable and ultimately human way. This mindset differs from other therapies that search each partner for signs of mental pathology. It also brings hope and empathy to both people in the relationship.

Dealing with Emotions That Hamper Problem-Solving

While some other therapies are designed to teach communication and problem-solving skills, EFT is different in this regard, too. Emotionally Focused Therapy recognizes that partners already have many of these skills. That’s not what they lack.

Instead, they lack the ability to call on those skills because they are so overwhelmed with emotions when their attachment wounds are triggered. They are not effectively processing their feelings, so they don’t use the communication and problem-solving skills that they have.

Therefore, EFT moves straight to the heart of the matter by helping couples deal with their emotions and communicate them effectively. Only then do they go on to build better ways of interacting with each other.

The Therapist’s Attitude and Focus

EFT therapists see the couples who come to them in different ways than they are seen in other therapies. First, they recognize that each person comes to therapy with certain skills and abilities.

Second, because this is a humanistic therapy, therapists follow the basic guidelines of that type of therapy. Here are a few examples of how humanistic therapists like those in EFT see people who seek their help.

  • Innately good

  • Having free will

  • Deserving respect, understanding, and empathy

  • Motivated to resolve their needs and gain personal growth

  • Having the ability to make changes and solve problems

  • Desiring self-actualization

  • A whole person rather than a random set of problems or symptoms

Most couples appreciate this positive, respectful atmosphere in EFT sessions. Perhaps that’s why very few people drop out of Emotionally Focused Therapy once they begin.

Concentrating on the Present Moment

Another aspect of EFT that is unlike many other types of therapy is that it makes full use of the present moment. Rather than dwelling on the past, the therapist helps you understand and deal with the emotions that you are experiencing during the sessions. By concentrating on the present, you have more power to resolve issues rather than just blaming each other.

How Effective Is EFT?

How well does Emotionally Focused Therapy work? It got the name of evidence-based therapy for a very good reason. Several studies have proven its value in helping couples form stronger, more secure bonds. For example, a study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy concluded that after going through, on average, 21 EFT sessions, couples saw positive changes.

What’s more, these improvements lasted for the duration of the 24-month study. Because they were less avoidant to their attachment with each other, they were much more satisfied with their relationship after EFT.

In another study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Sciences, scientists studied Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Their conclusion was that when couples were taught how to manage emotions, it improved the couples’ functioning as a family. Not only these, but many other studies have shown time and time again that EFT is effective in bringing positive results for couples.

Why Does Emotionally Focused Therapy Work So Well?

It’s hard to say exactly why EFT works as well as it does. There are likely many factors that contribute to its effectiveness. As already mentioned, very few people quit this therapy early. Also, by giving respect and empathy to each person and encouraging them to give it to each other, the therapist sets the stage for a positive experience.

Another issue is the chance to express emotions in a safe and supportive environment. By expressing emotions, you can maintain your memories while decreasing the impact of the experience. EFT not only allows for expression, but it also heightens it and gives you opportunities to create new responses to it. The entire process brings healing and gives couples guidance toward a new path.

How to Seek Emotionally Focused Therapy for Your Relationship

If you and your partner are dealing with distressing conflicts, consider seeking Emotionally Focused Therapy. At The Lukin Center, we have many therapists who specialize in EFT for couples. We believe that Emotionally Focused Therapy is the most effective type of therapy to improve marriages and other partner relationships.

The Lukin Center for Psychotherapy offers face-to-face psychotherapy at all of our six New Jersey offices. We also provide alternatives, such as teletherapy and hybrid solutions with both online and in-person therapy. In addition to our therapy services, we also offer abundant resources for people wishing to explore mental health and relationship issues further. Our goal is to help you along a better path to life satisfaction and improved mental health.




Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist psychologist and founder of Lukin Center for Psychotherapy in Ridgewood, Hoboken, Montclair, Jersey City, Englewood and Westfield. He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.


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