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Couples Therapy - Summary of Outcomes

19255952-thumbnailIn a meta-analysis an effect size of 1.3 was found. This implies that approximately 90% of treated couples rated themselves better than controls. In this meta-analysis (Johnson et al 1999), 70-73% of couples recovered from distress at follow-up (trend: improvement continues after therapy).

In a two year follow-up on very stressed couples in relationship distress, depression and parental distress results were stable.

EFT appears to positively impact depression, intimacy, and trust. In a comparative study (Johnson & Greenberg 1985) EFT performed significantly better than controls and a behavioral skill training intervention. EFT couples improved problem solving skills even though this was not the focus of therapy.

In a more recent study, EFT successfully helped couples resolve attachment injuries and create forgiveness.

EFT studies have been rigorous with implementation checks used. There have been very few drop-outs.

 

Family Therapy Research Results

Research in emotionally focused family therapy found the following results in a sample group of distressed adolescents. EFT significantly reduced:

  • Bulimic symptoms, including the frequency and severity of purging or vomiting. It also showed a reduction in the drive for thinness.
  • Depression, obsessive compulsive symptoms, and internal hostility. Psychotherapy, 1998, 35, 238-247

Predictors of Success in EFT for couples

  • Therapeutic Alliance – especially task aspects of engagement are key.
  • The amount of distress at the beginning of treatment only predicted a very low percentage (4%) of the variance in distress at follow up. This is an unusual result in psychotherapy research.
  • EFT worked well for men over 35, described as "inexpressive" by their spouse.
  • Best predictor was females' faith that her partner still "cared" for her.

Change and Process Studies


  • Successful couples show more affiliative responses and deeper experiencing levels in key sessions.
  • Pivotal events such as "softenings" occur in successful therapy. The therapist facilitates these events by interventions such as evocative questioning.
  • Attachment injuries can be successfully resolved in a structured process.