Top 5 Tips for Counselling Couples – using Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and Attachment theory


Top 5 Tips for Counselling Couples – using Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and Attachment theory
Janine Murray, Lead Trainer for Marriage Cares Diploma in Relationship Counselling, shares relationship counselling skills and insights she has learnt and now teaches other counsellors – keys that can literally change a couple’s world:
The EFT model helps counsellors to view couple’s as caught up in patterns of behaviour rather than ‘at war’ with one another (which it can sometimes seem like!). Our counsellors see clients who are highly distressed, hurting and defending themselves to their partner who they see as ‘the enemy’ and we help them to start seeing things from a different perspective. My top five tips to helping walk couples through relationship issues would be:

  • Help the couple identify these patterns of behaviour and gently guide them in making sense of why they do what they do.
  • View conflicts through an ‘attachment lens’ – this helps counsellors to see the couples relational ‘’battles’’ as struggles for connection. The therapist’s role is to observe, reflect and help clients make sense of emotions, perception and behaviours through this need for connection and to start to communicate that need to one another.
  • Create a safe place for couples to reach for connection with each other and to try out new patterns of interaction that bring connection and closeness. Once you have helped clients identify their patterns and understand their behaviours, guide them to access and accept their vulnerable feelings around one another.
  • Bring your own humanity into the therapy: acknowledge and encourage the very human need to be connected in a safe and secure bond with a significant other. Marriage Care counsellors help clients build a bond that supports them through their challenges by giving place and value to the need for connection as well as the tools to help develop those bonds.
  • Help clients to explore their individual fears and vulnerabilities and share these with their partner – by doing this, trust is rebuilt and each one learns that their partner is emotionally accessible, responsive and engaged. In this way the relationship is re-defined as the safe haven and secure base from where the couple can make their way in the world.

Research studies have found that EFT is an extremely effective model with 70-75% of couples successfully moving from distress to recovery, and approximately 90% showing significant improvements.
Marriage Care is running its Diploma in Relationship Counselling over four weekends – starting September 2020. The Diploma is informed by Emotionally Focused Therapy and Attachment Theory and will equip counsellors with all the knowledge and practical experience they need, including a 70 hour placement, to help couples in distress.