Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) is an evidence-based therapy that helps people change long-standing negative patterns of thinking and feeling. The basic premise to EFT is that most of the time when we react to something or someone, we are not actually experiencing the right emotion (known as primary emotion). Rather, we are experiencing reactions (known as secondary emotion) to the primary emotion.
For example, it is common to feel angry when you’ve been hurt or treated unfairly. The primary emotion is probably sadness or shame, but anger is less vulnerable and therefore easier to feel and express. The problem is that when the primary emotions keep getting buried they can manifest as other problems, like anxiety or depression, or irritabilty. Many other struggles we face can be similar to this example.
EFT helps people recognize and act upon their primary emotion in a productive way rather than being reactive with secondary emotions. When this happens, people usually feel a lot better.