PULLING ON THE HEART STRINGS: AN EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED APPROACH TO FAMILY LIFE CYCLE TRANSITIONS

Authors

  • Mary E. Dankoski

    1. Indiana University
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      Mary E. Dankoski, MS, is a Visiting Clinical Lecturer, Indiana University-Methodist Family Practice Residency, Department of Family Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, In 46202 and is a doctoral candidate, Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Purdue University.


  • I gratefully acknowledge the editorial contributions of Susan M. Johnson, EdD, Joseph L. Wetchler, PhD, and Fred P. Piercy, PhD.

Abstract

Transitions through the family life cycle can be stressful because they challenge attachment bonds between family members. Open communication and the processing of primary attachment emotions are crucial when family systems change. When family members are insecurely attached, such open communication is difficult, and people tend to get stuck in absorbing states of secondary defensive affect. Emotionally facused therapy (EFT) can be particularly helpful by encouraging family members to express primary emotions. This expression than fosters renegotiation of bonds and the clarification of attachment needs and concerns. Case examples illustrate how EFT can be applied to each family life cycle stage.

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