Understanding the Concept of Emotion Focused Therapy
3 mins read

Understanding the Concept of Emotion Focused Therapy

Emotion-focused therapy aims to teach people to regulate their emotions healthily and create positive relationship narratives. This approach to counseling is particularly effective in treating depression and anxiety.

Emotion-focused therapists help clients access primary adaptive emotional responses to experiences, such as empowering anger at violation or interpersonally open sadness at a loss. This helps transform maladaptive emotions and change psycho-affective motor patterns.

Emotional Awareness

Emotional awareness is the ability to recognize and interpret the mainly non-verbal cues that others use to communicate their emotions. It is a key component of what is known as emotional intelligence and helps people be successful in relationships. Emotion focused therapy Ottawa focuses on understanding and connecting to emotions to create a healthier emotional life. It is a short-term treatment approach that typically lasts 8-20 sessions. Emotion-focused therapists help clients find ways to comfort themselves and connect more effectively.

The first step in emotion-focused therapy is identifying and understanding the negative emotions causing problems. Clients learn to allow themselves to feel their feelings and determine where the negativity came from in their past experiences. The therapist will then coach the client on expressing their emotions healthily. 

Accessing New Emotion

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) is a psychotherapy based on humanistic principles and research. It aims to increase emotional awareness and help people better understand their feelings. 

This is achieved using various techniques, including evocative questions and chair work. Clients are encouraged to express their emotions, no matter how difficult. This can help them build trust and create a more harmonious relationship. It can also help reduce negative emotions, such as depression. Emotion-focused therapists also encourage their clients to explore their less-than-healthy relationship patterns. These can include anger and alienation.

Transforming Maladaptive Emotion

Emotion-focused therapy is based on the neo-humanistic theory that emotions are essential for enduring change in people’s lives. It focuses on people’s emotional expression, which provides information about their goals and needs. Using experiential techniques like systematic evocative unfolding and chair work, clients learn to express emotions that are causing problems.

Emotion-focused therapists use techniques to help their clients gain a deeper awareness of the feelings they are experiencing, so they can transform maladaptive emotions into positive emotions. For example, a client’s hopelessness can be transformed into empowerment, sadness into love, and fear into confidence. Different types of emotional responses require different kinds of intervention by the therapist. This is why distinctions between primary adaptive and maladaptive emotions are important. It helps therapists identify problem emotions more accurately and intervene effectively. Distinguishing between different types of emotional processing also helps therapists create emotion-based case conceptualizations and interventions.

Reducing Secondary Emotion

Emotion-focused therapy empowers patients to overcome the maladaptive emotional responses that cause depression and anxiety. The therapy helps them face situations that formerly triggered distress and learn to cope without being overwhelmed by fear, anger, or sadness. Unlike cognitive behavioral therapy, emotion-focused therapy emphasizes the importance of emotions as a basis for changing beliefs and behaviors. EFT helps couples to develop new ways of thinking and to change negative beliefs about themselves and the world. A structured approach enables people to reclaim their feelings and find new meaning.

Unlike catharsis, completion and letting go, and exposure and extinction, emotion-focused therapy believes that primary maladaptive emotions such as core shame and basic insecurity are best changed by activating incompatible adaptive experiences in therapy sessions rather than simply feeling or attenuating them. 

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