About EFT

EFT is a short-term (8-20 sessions depending on the level of distress), structured therapy. Research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery in 10-12 sessions and 90% show significant improvement. It is a present-focused, non-blaming, humanistic, and client-centered model. It is currently the best delineated and most empirically validated couples therapy of the past 25 years.

The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy provides opportunities to mental health professionals to learn Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). Our clinical trainings are recognized by the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, directed by Susan Johnson, Ed.D. and can be applied toward becoming a Certified EFT Therapist. 

We are committed to fostering the development of a community of EFT-trained couple and family therapists in the region to:

  • Fill the community's need for competent EFT therapists.
  • Promote the learning and practice of EFT.
  • Encourage certification in EFT.


In a meta-analysis an effect size of 1.3 was found. This implies that approximately 90% of treated couples rated themselves better than controls. In this meta-analysis (Johnson et al 1999), 70-73% of couples recovered from distress at follow-up (trend: improvement continues after therapy).

In a two year follow-up on very stressed couples in relationship distress, depression and parental distress results were stable.

EFT appears to positively impact depression, intimacy, and trust. In a comparative study (Johnson & Greenberg, 1985), EFT performed significantly better than controls and a behavorial skill training intervention. EFT couples improved problem solving skills even though this was not the focus of therapy.

In a recent study, EFT successfully helped couples resolve attachment injuries and create forgiveness.

EFT studies have been rigorous with implementation checks used. There have been very few drop-outs.

Family Therapy Research Results

Research in emotionally focused family therapy found the following results in a sample group of distressed adolescents (Psychotherapy, 1998, 35, 238-247). EFT significantly reduced:

  • Bulimic symptoms, including the frequency and severity of purging or vomiting. It also showed a reduction in the drive for thinness.
  • Depression, obsessive compulsive symptoms, and internal hostility.

    Predictors of Success in EFT for couples

  • Therapeutic Alliance – especially task aspects of engagement are key.
  • The amount of distress at the beginning of treatment only predicted a very low percentage (4%) of the variance in distress at follow up. This is an unusual result in psychotherapy research.
  • EFT worked well for men over 35, described as "inexpressive" by their spouse.
  • Best predictor was females' faith that her partner still "cared" for her.

Change and Process Studies

  • Successful couples show more affiliative responses and deeper experiencing levels in key sessions.
  • Pivotal events such as "softenings" occur in successful therapy. The therapist facilitates these events by interventions such as evocative questioning.
  • Attachment injuries can be successfully resolved in a structured process.


Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples was developed 25 years ago by Sue Johnson, Ed.D and Leslie Greenberg, PhD. This short term (8-20 sessions) experiential and systemic couples therapy is now one of the most researched, delineated and empirically-validated approaches in the field of couples therapy. It has demonstrated powerful clinically significant effects with various populations (Johnson, 2003, JMFT 29, 365-385 and see: empirical support for EFT). EFT presents a comprehensive theory of adult love and attachment and a process for healing distressed relationships. It recognizes that relationship distress results from a perceived threat to basic adult needs for safety, security and closeness in intimate relationships. This experiential/systemic therapy focuses on helping each partner reprocess the emotional experience underlying the rigid negative interactional patterns that keep them stuck. Through a series of well-defined stages the therapist takes the couple from conflict deadlock to creating new bonding interactions. To learn more about this approach you are encouraged to read The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection, by Sue Johnson and Becoming an Emotionally Focused Therapist: The Workbook, by Johnson, Tilley, et al., 2006, (See our Books section) and to visit the main EFT web site in Canada at

Spotlight on one of our Trainers, George Faller, LMFT

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