Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

Living Edition
| Editors: Jay Lebow, Anthony Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy and Trauma

  • Kathryn Rheem
  • T. Leanne Campbell
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_898-1

Name of Strategy or Intervention

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy and Trauma

Synonym List


Emotional dysregulation, including numbing, is a primary hallmark of trauma and PTSD. Since emotions are the messenger of love, emotional dysregulation – especially the very understandable but problematic coping strategy of numbing – is particularly damaging in couple and family relationships. Emotionally focused couple therapy (EFT) (Johnson 2004) is particularly relevant in the conjoint treatment of trauma since it is based on adult attachment theory (Bowlby 1969) and prioritizes the processing of emotions so that each partner can send a clear emotional signal, a requirement to strengthen and repair their bond and heal trauma.

Theoretical Framework

EFT, an empirically validated approach, combines an experiential, intrapsychic focus with a systemic emphasis on cyclical interactional responses and patterns (Johnson 2004; see other chapters on EFT in...

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  1. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  2. Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  3. Johnson, S. M. (2002). Emotionally focused couple therapy with trauma survivors: Strengthening attachment bonds. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  4. Johnson, S. M. (2004). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy: Creating connection (2nd ed.). New York: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Johnson, S. M., & Faller, G. (2011). Dancing with the dragon of trauma: EFT with couples who stand in harm’s way. In J. L. Furrow, S. M. Johnson, & B. Bradley (Eds.), The emotionally focused casebook: New directions in treating couples (pp. 165–192). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn Rheem
    • 1
  • T. Leanne Campbell
    • 2
  1. 1.Washington Baltimore Center for EFTFalls ChurchUSA
  2. 2.Vancouver Island Center for EFTNanaimoCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kelley Quirk
    • 1
  • Adam Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.Colorado State University, Department of Human Development and Family StudiesFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA