By Dr Jennifer Wilson



Positive, supportive relationships can help us withstand many of the expected or
unexpected challenges life might throw at us. At times of stress, knowing there is
at least one special other to turn to, who we can trust to hear and respond to us,
strengthens our capacity to cope. Conversely, when that need for support at a
critical time is not met, we can feel profoundly hurt by those we rely on for care
and comfort. At these times, instead of pulling together to face life’s difficulties,
partners can become disconnected and even hostile with each other.


This is where a trained couples therapist can help. As health professionals, you are
likely to be caring for patients who are going through just the kinds of difficult
life events that can place strain on relationships. Here are a few tips on how you
can encourage your patients to seek help for their relationship.


At Benchmark Psychology, we have psychologists trained in Emotionally
Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples. According to recent studies, 90% of couples
who see a well-trained Emotionally Focused Therapist experience improvement,
and 70% report full repair of their relationship. Unfortunately, many couples are
reluctant to seek therapy because of a range of fears and misconceptions, and
couples therapy is often seen as a last resort before breaking up.
Here are some common concerns couples have about therapy –


1. The therapist will take sides.
We are trained to recognise and understand how both partners
contribute to their pattern of disconnection and distress, and to assist
partners to understand the painful emotions that underlie their partners’
attempts to reach them.


2. The therapist will tell us we should break up.
The decision about whether to continue in a relationship always belongs
to the couple. The role of an EFT therapist is to help couples understand
how their relationship has gone wrong, and to guide them, for as long as
they are willing to try, in how to repair it.


3. We are too far gone; the situation is hopeless.
Even longstanding problems can be resolved or improved with EFT. The
intensity of distress does not indicate the relationship cannot be


4. Talking about our problems will make things worse.
Many couples have experienced that their own attempts to talk about
their problems have made things worse, so this concern is
understandable! However, an EFT Therapist is trained to create a safe
space where problems can be discussed productively. In many cases, the
therapist will be able to help partners see each other’s struggles in new
ways that open the door to healing and reconciliation.



5. Couples therapy is a waste of time and does not work.
EFT has years of research demonstrating its effectiveness in helping
couples improve their relationships, and follow-up studies show these
improvements are long lasting. EFT is one of a handful of couple therapies
designated as empirically supported by the American Psychological
Association (APA).


6. We (or he or she) need individual therapy first.
A growing body of evidence suggests that successful couple therapy can
reduce an individual’s symptoms of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic
stress and other psychological disorders. At the very least, a stronger,
more supportive relationship will reduce the suffering both partners
experience when one is struggling with a psychological disorder. Couple
therapy may not be the only treatment needed when a partner has
significant psychological symptoms can help partners to join hands in
working together on the challenges they are facing individually.



Adapted from Ruth Jampol, PhD, Licensed Psychologist Certified EFT Therapist, 
Supervisor-in-Training Board of Directors, Philadelphia Center for EFT