Travis Atkinson

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy for Dummies: Released Today!

We are excited to announce the publication today, July 29, 2013 of "Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy for Dummies" by Brent Bradley and James Furrow, a nice supplement to "Hold Me Tight," the book by the creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy, Sue Johnson. You can purchase your copy in paperback now by clicking on the book below (directing you to the Barnes and Noble website), on, or your favorite local bookstore. (It is not yet available for download on Kindle or iBooks) 

Overview from Barnes and Noble Description of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy for Dummies:

You may purchase Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy for Dummies at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your favorite local bookstore.

You may purchase Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy for Dummies at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your favorite local bookstore.

A practical, down-to-earth guide to using the world's most successful approach to couples therapy

One of the most successful therapeutic approaches to healing dysfunctional relationships, emotionally focused couples therapy provides clients with powerful insights into how and why they may be suppressing their emotions and teaches them practical ways to deal with those feelings more constructively for improved relationships. Unlike cognitive-behavioural therapy, which provides effective short-term coping skills, emotionally focused therapy often is prescribed as a second-stage treatment for couples with lingering emotional difficulties. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy For Dummies introduces readers to this ground-breaking therapy, offering simple, proven strategies and tools for dealing with problems with bonding, attachment and emotions, the universal cornerstones of healthy relationships.

  • An indispensable resource for readers who would like to manage their relationship problems independently through home study
  • Delivers powerful techniques for dealing with unpleasant emotions, rather than repressing them and for responding constructively to complex relationship issues
  • The perfect introduction to EFT basics for therapists considering expanding their practices to include emotionally focused therapy methods
  • Packed with fascinating and instructive case studies and examples of EFT in action, from the authors' case files
  • Provides valuable guidance on finding, selecting and working with the right EFT certified therapist

From the Back Cover of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy for Dummies on

Learn to:

  • Grasp the basics of emotionally focused therapy (EFT)
  • Work more effectively with the emotions essential to lasting love
  • Mend complex issues in your relationship

A down-to-earth guide to one of the world's leading approaches to couple therapy!

Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) helps you find deeper satisfaction and more effective ways to connect with your partner at a profound emotional level by teaching you powerful ways to transform negative patterns and to build a stronger bond. Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy For Dummies will introduce you to this ground-breaking therapy, which has been consistently proven to be one of the most successful therapies for couples wanting to improve their relationships and resolve chronic couple distress and dissatisfaction. Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy For Dummies is your one-stop resource to this increasingly popular approach to healing relationships.

  • Start with the basics of EFT — understand the power of emotion in your relationship, and identify the three levels of emotional experience
  • Delve into the intricacies of your relationship — find the common patterns of couple conflict and the roles you play within them
  • Develop a solution together — become familiar with how to find intimacy in your relationship in new ways
  • Identify when you may need couple therapy — know which questions to ask therapists before you make an appointment

Open the book and find:

  • The fundamentals of emotionally focused couple therapy
  • Exercises to try at home with your partner
  • Ways to stay away from negative patterns and roles
  • The three fighting styles, and how to work through them
  • Tips on dealing with infidelity
  • How to find an EFT therapist that's right for you
  • Ten myths about sex

About the Author

Brent Bradley, PhD, is Associate Professor of Family Therapy at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and president of The Couple Zone ( Dr. Bradley is a certified emotionally focused couple therapist, supervisor, and trainer. James Furrow, PhD, is Professor of Marital and Family Therapy at the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. Dr. Furrow is executive director of the Los Angeles Center for EFT and a certified emotionally focused couple therapist, supervisor, and trainer.

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    Am I Too Needy? The Anxious Partner in a Marriage or Relationship


    Does your husband, wife, or partner accuse you of being “needy” in your marriage or love relationship? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by anxiety or anger when your partner or spouse doesn’t respond to you the way you’d like, or isn’t available? Are you sometimes confused by wanting to be closer with your partner or spouse, and then end up shutting him or her out by attacking him or her, or intensely withdrawing from him or her? In your past romantic relationships, when you found someone who was actually available for closeness and connection, did you get bored by him or her, and eventually end the relationship? If you relate to some of these experiences, you most likely experience what we call an anxious-preoccupied style of connecting and relating in your marriage or love relationship.

    A style of connecting and relating is not a personality trait, but a learned response to your environment, usually from a very young age, that continues or is amplified in your adult marriage or love relationship. For instance, you may seek closeness with your spouse or partner, but avoid getting too close to him or her at the same time out of fear of being hurt again. Most likely, you have a history of experiences with failed relationships with a lot of hurt and anger that you experience when your partner feels detached, ambivalent, or dismissive of you. If you actually meet someone who you find is available for closeness and connection, you’re likely to find that person boring, and end the relationship.

    When anxiety and instability are at the core of your intimate relationships, you most likely reach out to connect with your spouse or partner when you are reunited at the end of the day, and then suddenly get very anxious and freeze up or retreat at the slightest hint of insecurity or danger. How does your partner experience you in moments like this? He or she most likely sees you as distancing yourself from him or her, even though you’re insisting on being closer, and protesting the distance at the same time. When your partner tries to repair moments when you feel disconnected, he or she is most likely anticipating being imminently rejected by you, and he or she may become inpatient and withdraw from you first. 

    If you have commonalities with an anxious-preoccuped style of connecting, as a child you most likely you were "fussy" and grabbed onto your caregiver as tightly as you could. The clingy and often loud responses of the child would be perfectly reasonable because you need attention and consistent care from your caregiver, usually a parent. Your mother or father most likely had patterns of being preoccupied themselves with their own lives, sometimes available and sometimes not; or perhaps your caregiver was intrusive, not respecting appropriate boundaries but being your "best friend" or literally intruding on your space so that you had no room to be your own self. In your adult relationship, the anxiety can lead to intense "fussiness" as a default pattern to protest your perceived disconnection from your partner or spouse. Instead of inviting him or her to be closer, the fussy behaviors end up distancing him or her more.  

    When you were physically separated from your parent as a child, you'd most likely cry a lot and and show a lot of distress to your caregiver, even to the point of being inconsolable. Because you didn't know when or if your caregiver would return when she or he withdrew or went away, you most likely would feel over-stimulated as a child and go through "primal panic" that would feel like a threat to your survival. When your parent or caregiver returned to you, most likely you would behave in a way that shows resistance, not being easily consoled or comforted by her or him. This resistance could help protect you from feeling hurt when your mother or caregiver would ignore you or withdraw. This resistance can then frustrate your parent, and he or she is not able to stay present with you, making you feel even more alone.

    In your adult relationships, you may respond with anger when your partner tries to connect with you, especially when you reunite with each other, like when your partner returns from being away on a business trip. Most likely you express this negativity through literally pushing him or her away through expressing anger, or through emotionally withdrawing from your partner. Your reaction makes sense because it is a way to protect yourself from your anticipated feelings of rejection from your partner, even though this ends up almost always backfiring and making you feel even more alone.

    You may also have feelings of guilt about perceiving that you are a burden on your partner, so you may defend against feeling disappointed by sabotaging positive experiences.

    When you have an anxious-preoccupied way of connecting, you tend to be self-absorbed and unavailable to your partner or spouse. The preoccupation can focus on yourself, your family, your work, or your love relationship, and you take on an angry, irritable tone. You demand that your partner regulate you without regulating your partner, putting a great deal of pressure on him or her that leads to more distance and more anger. The result is that you feel helpless and your sense of powerlessness leads to more anxiety, anger, and blame. You and your partner may start to believe that the other chooses not to be close.

    How Can You Shift From Anxious-Preoccupied to Secure in Your Connection?

    A main goal is to understand the wounds or injuries that have occurred in your life that lead to behaviors that end up pushing your partner away. As a couple, you can both work to understand and have compassion on the anxious-preoccupied partner’s history and the pain this emotional state brings up inside. You can’t heal your injuries alone, and need your partner’s help to feel safe and secure in your relationship.

    In the face of anxiety, your challenge is to override your urges to push your partner away, and instead reach out to him or her, expressing your fears and asking for reassurance in a way that invites your partner to help you. Instead of your partner expecting you to attack him or her, or never be satisfied, you expose your partner to experiences when all he or she needs to do is stay emotionally available with you when you’re in pain. The more you reach out and invite your partner to be with you, the more confidence your partner will have that he or she can feel safe with you, and want to be closer.

    Share Your Experiences in Your Marriage or Love Relationship

    Do you relate to feeling too "needy?" Does your partner or spouse think you're too sensitive? Share your experiences, and if anything has helped calm some of your fears. You may also sign-up for our eTips Newsletter to get the latest information on how to improve your relationship.

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    Does Couples Counseling Work? A Key Tool


    A key tool to help couples counseling work actually lies in how both a partner or spouse in a marriage or relationship tell the stories of who they are and what they've experienced in their lives. How do you understand what happens to you in your own life? Most likely, you tell stories to give meaning to the experiences that you have. When you’re sharing stories with your partner or spouse in your marriage or relationship, you can create a bond that both connects and builds a sense of belonging between the two of you. We don’t all tell stories in the same way, of course, and interestingly, how we tell our stories affects our ability to manage our emotions and to understand ourselves and our partner or spouse in our marriage or relationship. 

    To identify the differences in how you tell your story in your marriage or relationship, you may want to look back at the key people in your life that helped you create the script of how you tell your story about your past, and about your life now. For instance, what do you remember about your childhood experiences, whether positive or negative? How do you describe those experiences now? Who is the person in your life who influenced you most as a child, especially before the age of 10?  That person, usually a mother or father, was your primary caregiver, and most likely helped to shape how you tell your story now: the story of your past, your present life, and the life you anticipate in the future. How you tell your story now defines how you see yourself, whether that is accurate or not.

    What is that voice inside your head? One way to describe the voice is to call it your personal narrator, the voice that gives meaning to your experiences. When you use your personal narrator, you’re trying to make sense of your life, the experiences you have, related to how you define yourself, relationships, and the world. Your personal narrator does not always tell an accurate story of the events you've experienced: details may be foggy, and the meaning may be wrong. For instance, you may think that something was wrong with you because your mother was so busy focusing on her own career that she seldom spent time with you trying to understand you and to be there for you as an emotional support. An accurate narrator would be able to give meaning to the lack of caring and support by understanding the difficulties your mother had in your life, not because of you, but because of her own challenges. You deserved to have a caring and nurturing mother, and you deserve care and love in your life now.  If you work to deepen and clarify how you understand yourself, the key people in your life, and significant experiences you've had, your personal stories can expand and become much more meaningful. Instead of dwelling on your past, you can actually free yourself from experiences that may often feel like they imprison you, even if they occurred 2 or 3 decades ago.


    Picture yourselfback in your childhood, before the age of 10, and think of an image when one of your key caregivers was telling you a story during and after a significant event. If the caregiver you are picturing had a secure connection to you, he or she helped you to connect both the details of the experience, the emotions you felt, and the meaning of the situation related to how you define yourself, relationships with others, and the world. The caregiver helps you develop meaning in your life. A key finding in research is that it is not what actually happened in your history that affects you nearly as much as how you give meaning to what happened in your life. Your narrator truly shapes how you see yourself, and how you relate to others in the world, including your partner or spouse in your marriage or relationship.

    What are the best ways to make a marriage or relationship work?

    In your early childhood, your brain is developing at its fastest pace, especially between 1 and 7 years of age, during puberty, and between 15 and 17 years of age. A foundation is laid by your caregivers to influence how you regulate your feelings and how you give meaning to your life. At the Loving at Your Best Plan, we refer to a healthy foundation from a caregiver as having three key actions, the 3-R’s: regulate, reflect, and respond. If you had a secure caregiver, he or she helped you to manage your emotional reactions by regulating yourself to calm and soothe yourself from the inside, and then helped you reflect on your experience to help you understand it. Reflecting is the term we use for  “making sense” of the event or experience. 

    With a secure and healthy caregiver growing up as a child, you develop and grow until you're eventually able to manage your own feelings and reflect on the events in your life through your own voice, without the assistance of your caregiver. The caregiver "models" healthy patterns of adaption and flexibility the become ingrained in you. Ideally, all of us would have grown up with a secure caregiver providing these key lessons and experiences to us.

    However, if your caregiver didn’t help you manage your feelings, or help you reflect on events in your life in an accurate way, most likely you experienced what children in an insecure connection feel--shame about the experienceinstead of understanding the context and the meaning of the situation and the key characters in the story.

    Usually, when a caregiver retells a story to a child, she or he helps the child understand the experiences and helps the child feel comforted through empathic responses. Telling a story involves the narration of a series of events and experiences of characters in those events, just like a narrator retells a story in a novel. The narrator helps the reader understand the events and the experiences of key characters.

    As adults, we usually tell our story with words. As a child, if your caregivers helped you understand what was happening to you in upsetting situations accurately, you were most likely able to calm down relatively quickly. You’d understand what happened to you, and you’d more likely be able to predict what may happen to you in the future.

    Perhaps you have experiences as a child that you couldn’t understand or give meaning to. Without a caregiver providing a healthy narrative voice, it’s unlikely you could manage what you were feeling, or accurately understand what you were going through. As a child develops, he or she forms the capacity to create a personal narrative based on the voice of the key caregivers in childhood. In the end, how you as a child told your story reflects how you came to understand your world, and how you learned to manage your feelings. 

    How to save a marriage or relationship, even if it is failing

    The way you tell your life stories reveals the way you have come to understand the events of your life, in the past as well as the present. Even if you're struggling with what you think is a failing marriage or relationship, if you focus on how you can make the failing marriage or relationship better instead of whether or not you should stay in the relationship, you're much more likely to succeed in making improvements. How you tell the story of this process can have a significant impact.

    As yourself the following questions about your current life, and see how your answers may influence how you see things in your marriage or relationship now: 

    ·      Do you describe your experiences from a distance, or do you emotionally relive your experiences as you retell your story? 

    ·      Do certain issues trigger intense feelings in you that stem from unresolved events or themes, even though they may have happened long ago? 

    ·      Do you remember many details about your early life? 

    ·      What feelings come up when you tell the story of your early experiences?

    How would you answer the questions? How do you feel as you’re answering them? What do your answers mean to you? 

    Your life story can give you clues about how your present world is shaped by your past. How you tell your story and how you emphasize different aspects can reveal the way you have come to understand your world, meaning your self-esteem, relationships, and the world as a whole.

    Read more in Daniel Siegel'sexcellent book, Parenting from the Inside Out. Need more help? Call or fill out our contact form, and we'll help you get started today at the Loving at Your Best Plan. You may also visit our sister site for gay couples therapy. Share this page with a friend or family member by clicking the icons below. Let us know what you think as well by clicking the "comment" button. Read reviews of our therapists from unbiased, anonymous clients by clicking "Reviews."

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    Have You Checked In With Your Partner or Spouse Today?

    Do you and your partner or spouse find it easy to talk to each other, even about the smallest things in your lives? If so, you’re most likely in a healthy place in your marriage or relationship. If not, this can be a warning sign that you may be disconnected from each other, a danger sign that can lead to separation or divorce, without making a change in your relationship. Especially in today’s world of constant distractions, it is easy for all of us to focus on the inbox of our emails instead of stopping to take the time to connect with our partner or spouse, even in small ways.

    A simple example of how you want things to could be that when you ask your partner or spouse if you need more soap for the bathroom, she or he responds by saying, “I’m not sure, but I’ll grab some anyway.” This is a moment when your partner anticipates your needs, reinforcing your belief that he or she is there for you. This may seem like a small, unimportant moment, though the reality is, this can be a sign of a relationship thriving, or of a relationship in serious distress.

    Even a Text Can Make a Difference

    If you know your spouse or partner has a stressful day coming up at work, do you pause and take a moment during the day to either text him or her, or better yet leave a voicemail to let him or her know that you’re thinking of him or her, and expressing words of support? If you do this, you are choosing to support your marriage or relationship in a way that strengthens your emotional connection.

    When you try to engage with your partner every day, even in small ways, you’ll keep your marriage or relationship strong, and be more likely to weather storms between the two of you. When you’re not engaging in these small moments, most likely it is either because you’re simply not thinking about it, getting distracted by something, or because your partner or spouse has hurt you, and you’re distancing yourself from him or her to not get hurt more.

    Do You Have a Relationship Injury that Needs to Be Healed?


    Part of the work we do with marriage and couples counseling and therapy in NYC at the Loving at Your Best Plan is to help couples who have experienced significant loss or betrayal with each other work through these injuries and help them heal the wounds. Engaging in emotionally focused therapy with a schema therapy foundation, we help identify the sensitivities in relationships and give couples a way to feel safe with each other again, rebuilding trust in the marriage or relationship. When these injuries heal, couples find it much easier to engage in these small moments with each other that help you know that you’re not alone in the world—that your partner or spouse has your back.

    4 Steps to Help Your Marriage or Relationship

    1. Every day, create moments with your partner or spouse to engage with him or her, even in small ways
    2. Know the signs of a healthy relationship: happy couples notice almost all of the positive things their partner or spouse does for them, while unhappy couples underestimate their partner’s thoughtfulness by 50%, according to John Gottman, PhD of the Gottman Institute, the creator of Gottman Method Couples Therapy.
    3. Tell your partner or spouse at least 5 things you would like to have in your relationship to feel closer to him or her
    4. Help each other to meet each other’s requests

    Share Your Experiences

    Have you found that it is hard to engage with your partner or spouse in small ways? Do you know what is getting in your way? Have you been able to work through this challenge, and improve your emotional connection? Share your experiences in the comment section. 

    If you know a friend or family member who may find this blog interesting, please share this with him or her.

    3 Ways to Be a Master in Your Marriage or Relationship

    Are You a Master in Your Marriage or Relationship?


    Is it easy for you and your spouse or partner to talk to each other, even about what may seem like simple things? If it is, chances are, your marriage or relationship is in a good place, and your connection is strong. If this is not the case, these little moments of silence, like a couple sitting together at a restaurant and starring at their food, may be signs of some stress or tension in your marriage or relationship. If these signs aren't addressed, the result may grow into a snowball effect that ends up tearing many couples apart.

    Every day, you and your partner or spouse make efforts to connect with each other, what John Gottman, the creator of Gottman Method Couples Therapy and the author of the newly released "What Makes Love Last" describes as “bids” for connection. Gottman and his colleagues viewed thousands of couples to see what the masters of relationships, couples who stay together and genuinely love being together, were doing to maintain the strength of their relationships. He also recognized the patterns of couples who ended up in disaster, breaking up or staying together miserably. 

    How Can You Help Save Your Relationship?

    If you and your spouse or partner are aware of these “bids” for connection, and purposefully respond in a way that both recognizes and accepts each others’ efforts, you’ll likely thrive in your relationship together. Three steps we address in the Loving at Your Best Plan of marriage and couples counseling and therapy in NYC are:

    1. Be aware of making “bids” yourself, and when your partner or spouse is doing the same
    2. Recognize what you need, and invite your partner or spouse to tell you what he or she needs
    3. After you share what you really want with each other, commit to making these dreams realities


    Share Your Experiences

    What do you enjoy doing most with your partner or spouse in your relationship? Are there challenges you face where what you both want seems to be at odds? Share your experiences with us, and share this post to friends or family who you think may find the information helpful.