The Experience of Learning Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy


  • Jonathan G. Sandberg, PhD, Brigham Young University; Andrea Knestel, PhD, Brigham Young University.

  • Both authors have an equal authorship. Special thanks to Lori Schade, M.S. and Carly Larsen, M.S. for their assistance with the analysis of the data.

Address correspondence to Jonathan G. Sandberg, 266 TLRB, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602; E-mail:


This study examined the process of learning Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) as reported by 122 EFT therapists and therapists-in-training. Participants completed an online questionnaire assessing their experiences of learning EFT, with particular emphasis on EFT theory, alliance, interventions, perceived impact on clients, and impact on self. Findings suggest that therapists are drawn to the attachment-based model of EFT, appreciate the EFT framework and structure, that clients endorse the usefulness of the model and that learning the model has contributed to personal healing and improved relationships for the trainees. Results also show that the transition to EFT from another model can be taxing and requires time, support, and additional supervision/training to increase comfort level and competency with EFT. Nevertheless, results also highlight that learning EFT can be a rewarding and worthwhile endeavor.