What is Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT)?

Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT) is a present-day, experiential therapy that focuses on an individual’s emotions and attachment in order to relieve distress and improve well-being.

A core principle in EFIT is that secure emotional connections with others are the key to psychological health and wellbeing. EFIT recognizes the pain caused by ruptured relationships, insecure attachments, and difficulty forming intimate relationships. As a result, EFIT works with individuals to increase emotional awareness, explore attachment dynamics, promote emotional regulation and build a secure sense of self. Clients undergoing EFIT can learn to identify and address their vulnerabilities and needs, communicate their needs assertively, seek support from others when needed, and support important people in their lives.

How Does EFIT Help?

EFIT suggests that humans have an inherent capacity to develop a secure sense of self, which forms the foundation for building healthy and supportive relationships. This secure base fosters greater happiness and well-being. In individual contexts, EFIT emerges as a valuable tool for addressing various emotional challenges such as depression, anxiety, or coping with the aftermath of traumatic experiences. Through EFIT, individuals can effectively navigate their emotional landscapes and cultivate resilience. 

In EFIT, the change process unfolds across three stages: stabilization, restructuring of attachment, and consolidation (Johnson, 2019; Johnson & Campbell, 2022). Stabilization involves helping clients recognize patterns in their emotion regulation, deepening emotional experiences, and identifying core needs for safety and connection. The restructuring of attachment focuses on corrective emotional experiences to modify perceptions of self and others. Finally, consolidation solidifies the ability to navigate emotions effectively by reshaping internal working models of self and others. 

During these stages, EFIT employs the EFT tango to guide clients towards core emotions and corrective emotional experiences, enhancing their self-awareness and connection with others.


EFIT as a Trauma Therapy

EFIT is especially appropriate for trauma which has occurred in the context of a relationship. Empirical evidence supports several fundamental assumptions of EFIT’s approach to change. Firstly, it validates that deeper emotional experiences during therapy lead to more favorable outcomes. Secondly, it confirms that engaging with significant others aids in alleviating depression-related symptoms. Finally, it demonstrates that secure attachment and social support can mitigate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.

Secure emotional attachments to important individuals serve as a protective barrier against the adverse effects of insecure attachment patterns. Striving for a secure bond in therapy can potentially alleviate symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress. Moreover, a heightened sense of social support plays a pivotal role in preventing the onset of PTSD and ameliorating its impact when present. 

In trauma, individuals often experience overwhelming negative emotions, increased sensitivity to threat, and a tendency to numb or avoid these feelings. These factors can strain relationships, leading to increased isolation and distress. Attachment insecurities and disconnection exacerbate trauma symptoms, creating a cycle known as the “trauma trap”. However, when relationships are healed, they become a source of healing themselves. The intimate connection with a loved one can provide a natural and comforting environment for trauma recovery.


EFIT and Other EFT Therapy Models

The aim of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is to promote personal growth towards a positive self-identity and to cultivate open, responsive bonds with others. Through EFT, clients develop a secure inner connection where vulnerability is embraced, alongside fostering connections with others that enhance resilience and enable active engagement in life. 


EFT is a well-known therapy modality that has developed different models depending on who is participating in the clinical work.


EFIT is used with individuals to help develop a secure, healthy attachment with themselves. 


EFCT is used with couples to build secure, healthy attachments with each partner.


EFFT is used with families to build secure, healthy attachments with the members in the family system. 

All models of EFT focus on the development of corrective emotional experiences that reshape clients’ perceptions with both their inner selves and others. 

Starting EFIT

When meeting with an EFIT therapist, you can expect emotions and relationships (all kinds) to be front and center. 

One of the most important relationships is the one between you and your therapist. This is because EFIT invites us to co-create new experiences of emotion together, live in the therapy room. 

An EFIT therapist will have questions about what your earliest relationships looked like and the way that different emotions were expressed, modeled and responded to throughout your life. 

EFIT is a highly collaborative and experiential approach to therapy.

“Emotion is the music of the dance.”

Sue Johnson

Begin Therapy in the Nashville area

If you live in the Nashville area and are ready to explore therapy options for healing trauma, we are here to help. To begin individual counseling, follow these three steps:

1. Contact our counseling office or call 615-235-3508 to schedule a free 30 minute consultation

2. Begin therapy and move forward with your life!

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Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see if therapy with Willow Counseling is right for you.

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Begin individual therapy at Willow Counseling. Schedule an appointment to meet with one of our compassionate counselors.

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Ready to stop walking this road alone? Explore our Group Therapy options to connect with others in your healing journey.

Other therapeutic services offered at Willow Counseling

Willow Counseling offers a variety of therapeutic services to help you on your road to healing & better mental health. Some of our other counseling services include counseling for trauma and EMDR therapy, therapy for compassion fatigue, and group counseling services for anxiety and compassion fatigue.  If you are ready to find healing and live in the Nashville area, our therapists are here to help!