Current Sexual Health Reports

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 65–71 | Cite as

Addressing Issues of Sexuality in Couples Therapy: Emotionally Focused Therapy Meets Sex Therapy

  • Susan M. Johnson
  • Zoya Simakhodskaya
  • Michael Moran
Clinical Therapeutics (B McCarthy and RT Segraves, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Clinical Therapeutics


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this article is to describe the use of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with couples presenting with sexual concerns and how to integrate sex therapy interventions with EFT.

Recent Findings

Sexual issues always present in the relational context and typically have a significant impact on intimate relationships. Literature on attachment theory and sexuality indicates that in long-term committed relationships, attachment and sexual behavioral motivational systems overlap with attachment systems playing a significant role in creating security and safety for optimal sexuality. Research on effectiveness of medical sex interventions reflects the importance of integrating psychological approaches, as well as working systemically with clients and their intimate partners. EFT can be used successfully to improve sexual satisfaction of distressed couples, as well as to improve effectiveness of sex therapy interventions.


EFT with its emphasis on distilling emotional experience and guiding couples to create a more secure bond offers a model for addressing many sexual concerns and a more successful implementation of sex therapy interventions. This article explores the Emotionally Focused approach to dealing with sexual problems and the implications of this attachment-oriented perspective for our understanding of sexuality and the treatment of sexual issues. Recent research on psychological interventions for sexual dysfunctions is reviewed. Principles of addressing sexual concerns in EFT, as well as ways to integrate behavioral sex therapy interventions, are described and examples given.


Emotionally focused therapy Sexuality Couples therapy Sex therapy Attachment theory 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Susan M. Johnson, Zoya Simakhodskaya, and Michael Moran declare no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan M. Johnson
    • 1
  • Zoya Simakhodskaya
    • 2
  • Michael Moran
    • 3
  1. 1.International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused TherapyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.New York University School of Medicine, New York Center for Emotionally Focused TherapyNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.New York Center for Emotionally Focused TherapyNew YorkUSA

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