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Thrive Counseling Center
Therapy for Individuals, Couples & Family

Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) vs. Gottman-Informed Couples Therapy

November 9, 2021
Posted By: Thrive Counseling Center
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Couples therapy is no easy task, but it's more common than many people may think. According to the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, couples counseling has been highly successful for about 70 percent of couples. 

Every relationship is unique, and there is no one way to approach couples therapy. The approach and methods used are dependent upon a specific couple's needs, goals, communication style, and individual concerns, traits, behaviors, and strengths. 

At Thrive Counseling Center, we strive to help couples nurture healthy, communicative, and meaningful relationships. Our therapists are highly trained and experienced in relationship, sex, and family therapy, and our team looks forward to helping you and your partner thrive. 

Would you like to schedule a consultation with us? If so, please contact our therapy practice by calling (206) 567-7267. You are also welcome to text us at (206) 659-1153 or schedule your appointment online.  

To learn more about different approaches to couples counseling in Federal Way, please continue reading. 

Different Approaches to Couples Therapy 

There are many different approaches to couples therapy, and we would like to discuss two methods: Gottman-Informed Couples Therapy and Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT).

Each of these methods approaches couples therapy differently but aims for a similar goal in helping partners cultivate healthier communication. Again, with couples therapy––and any other type of therapy––each individual and couple differs. One approach may not be as beneficial as another, or there may be a combination of techniques explored by the couple and their therapist. 

Anytime you consider therapy, it's essential to understand this is an ongoing process––a continuous journey, like traveling a winding road through hills and across rivers––that requires mutual trust, responsibility, and honesty. 

As the age-old adage suggests, "Focus on the journey, not the destination." Each person involved in therapy must be willing to do their part, whatever that may be, to get the most out of their journey. As therapists, we want to help you and your partner live life to your fullest potential. 

Gottman-Informed Couples Therapy

Gottman-Informed Couples Therapy is a method used to thoroughly assess a couple's relationship and integrate research-based interventions using the Sound Relationship House Theory.

According to the Gottman Institute, the goals of Gottman-Informed Couples Therapy are to:

  • Disarm conflicting verbal communication
  • Increase respect, affection, and intimacy
  • Remove obstacles that create stagnant feelings
  • Create an enhanced sense of understanding and empathy 

With this approach, the therapist typically asks each partner questions and performs an assessment to inform the therapeutic framework and intervention. 

The Sound Relationship House Theory 

This concept is explored in Drs. John and Julie Gottman's New York Times bestseller "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work." In this book, he discusses and details the foundations of a secure partnership using the working metaphor of a house. The house's walls and levels (or floors) must be sturdy and balanced, or the foundation will crumble.  

Together, you and your partner build what Drs. John and Julie Gottman call a "Love Map" to better understand your partner's inner world. From there, you and your partner build upon each "floor" of your relationship's "house" to create a livable, safe, and nourishing space for you and your partner. 

How Gottman-Informed Couples Therapy Works 

The framework refers to the couple's frequency and duration of their therapy sessions, which the therapist and the couple determine. Therapeutic interventions are designed to guide couples and provide them with the tools to strengthen their relationship in three main areas: friendship, conflict management, and the creation of shared meaning. 

With Gottman-Informed Couples Therapy, couples learn to repair past hurts and replace negative conflict patterns with positive interactions. Couples can better understand how to increase their intimacy and closeness to improve their friendship and deepen their emotional connection. As a result, couples work to create changes in their relationship to develop, reach, and maintain shared goals throughout their life. 

Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy

Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) was developed in the 1980s by Dr. Sue Johnson and Dr. Les Greenberg. According to the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, EFT is anchored in attachment theory––a short-term approach to couples therapy, typically ranging from eight to 20 sessions. This approach promotes better emotional functioning by providing a language for healthy dependency between partners. 

The Three Stages of EFT

The EFT approach consists of nine steps within three main stages. These stages guide the therapist and help track a couple's progress and momentum. 

The three stages of EFT include:

#1 De-Escalation

In this stage, the couple and therapist identify negative interaction patterns and emotions to reframe these issues. This process aids couples in seeing how fears and insecurities impact their relationship so they can shift their focus toward empathy, emotional availability, and strengthening their bond. 

#2 Restructuring

This stage helps partners share their emotions, practice compassion and acceptance, and create a secure emotional bond with one another. 

#3 Consolidation

The therapist and couple develop new communication strategies and skills for healthy interaction. By replacing negative patterns with positive cycles, they can reinforce and create lasting change in the relationship. 

With EFT, couples look at key moves and moments that define their relationship. The main goal of EFT is to expand and reorganize the couple's emotional responses by noting negative interaction patterns that can lead to disconnection and insecure attachment. 

Ultimately, EFT helps couples formulate and express new emotional experiences, transforming the nature of their interaction, attachment needs, and emotions. 

Ready to Learn More About Couples Therapy in Federal Way, WA?

Unsure if couples counseling is right for you? Please contact us today to learn more about your options and how we can help. Thrive Counseling in Federal Way offers couples therapy for those who strive for a more nurturing and meaningful relationship. 

We look forward to helping you and your partner thrive!

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We are happy to welcome our patients back to our Federal Way office for in-person counseling sessions. Please call us at 206-567-7267, text us at 206-659-1153, or email us to set up an appointment. You don't have to go through this time alone.