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Phase 2 of Emotion Focused Therapy

Emotion Foucsed Therapy Phase 2

Phase 2: Change Events

Step 5 Promote Identification of Disowned Needs
Step 6 Promote Partner Acceptance
Step 7 Facilitate Expression of Needs and Wants

Phase 2 of emotion focused therapy really involves creating corrective emotional experiences. Teaching the partner to use “I” statements to identify their needs for themselves, priming the mate to accept and maybe meet these needs, and coaching them both on how to effectively compromise on this is the process here. So, rather than the partner berating the mate for being so cold, the partner acknowledges their loneliness and need for companionship, and asks the mate for help in this. This is also consistent with Gottman’s ideas of having “the conversation they never had” and finding the “dreams within conflicts” that make a seemingly minor problem a battle of epic proportions.

Use techniques like:

  • Tracking (is this what it’s like at home? What’s missing?).
  • Reframing and restructuring to clarify and expand experiences.
  • Helping the partner to understand and express their emotions, and helping the mate hear that and realize the partner is not the mean monster, icicle, or emotional cripple they’ve been seeing. This is called a softening; 5 mark a really good therapy process, but a failure to get any predicts a failed therapy.

Part of Step 7 is where the therapist the mate to express they want to be close to the partner, but the partner does things to push them away (like speaks contemptuously). The mate needs this to decrease before they can provide support to the partner. Have the attacker share their fears, rather than try to drag the distancer back. Affirm for them how hard it is to do this, how risky it feels, and make sure the partner integrates this, and the mate realizes how hard it is for the partner. Johnson gives examples of asking a wife to tell her husband how scared she is. She says she can’t. Johnson responds, “Can you tell him that you simply can’t talk to him about this, that it is so painful to talk about you just can’t do it yet.” The act of telling the mate these primary emotions is displaying vulnerability; even the act of telling the mate they aren’t strong enough yet to do it still displays vulnerability. It is also a successive approximation to confiding in the mate.

This process is in many ways like SFT. In SFT, we hope to expand your awareness of the problem, change the way you talk about it, and thus change the underlying way you experience the problem. In EFT, we hope to expand your awareness of your inner emotional processes, change the ways you feel about problems, and thus change the way you experience the world. Both should open up new solutions.

Feminists offer that men may have been trained to assert their needs clearly and strongly, but to expect nurturing or soothing responses from women without any awareness of the cost for the women. Getting the woman to explain what’s going on for her and the costs may be eye opening for both. Remember the case we had in the gender issues chapter of the husband who gave his wife whatever she needed, and expected she would be able to set up a dinner to entertain a client? He couldn’t understand her anger, and she felt she wasn’t entitled to it. He later realized his control of money was based on his fear that she would either use him or leave him, and she was afraid to express her emotions for fear that he could replace her easily. Sometimes these gender issues can be explored by asking what they learned from their parents, and what they want to do or teach their own children that is different. For more information, visit our Phase 3 of EFT page.