Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Clarifying the Negative Cycle in Emotionally Focused Therapy

  • Lorrie BrubacherEmail author
  • Sue M. Johnson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_901


The model of emotionally focused therapy can be seen to draw on two overall basic techniques: (1) Clarifying the negative cycle is necessary for the first change event of de-escalation, and (2) deepening emotional experience – especially of attachment fears and longings – is needed for the two transformative change events of the second stage of EFT. Clarifying the negative cycle involves assembling the process of emotion as it is triggered between two partners caught in negative cycles of separation distress (Johnson 2004; Johnson and Brubacher 2016). It is a collaborative process of clarifying what each partner does that unwittingly pulls the other partner into the cycle and identifying each partner’s unacknowledged attachment emotions that are pulling him/her repeatedly into this reactive pattern.

Theoretical Framework

Clarifying the negative cycle, a process used in the first stage of emotionally focused therapy (EFT), is based on the view that it is neither lack of...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North CarolinaGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The University of OttawaOttawaCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kelley Quirk
    • 1
  • Adam R. Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA