Legacy Program Summary

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IMPORTANT LEGACY NOTICE: Legacy Programs have not been reviewed by the current National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). The programs in this database were reviewed only under the previous National Registry of Effective Prevention Programs system. This section is intended to be used for historical reference only. If you would like more information about a program listed here, please contact the program developer directly. The program developer of each Legacy Program listed here agreed to post program information on this site.

Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples

Brief Program Description

EFT for Couples is a program designed to encourage people to identify and discuss their emotions and feelings in an effort to improve marital satisfaction. In EFT, cycles of interaction are identified and tracked while the experience of each partner is identified for each step of the cycle. The therapist reframes the problem and helps each partner accept his or her own emotional response as well as that of his or her partner. Through this process, partners begin to make new requests of each other and to generate new solutions to their presenting problem, which results in the old cycle being disrupted and a new, more adaptive cycle initiated.

Program Strategies

EFT is a nine-step process whereby a trained therapist helps the couples to:

  1. Delineate conflict issues in the struggle between them
  2. Identify the negative interaction style
  3. Access feelings underlying interactional positions
  4. Reframe the problems in terms of underlying feelings
  5. Promote identification with disowned needs and aspects of self
  6. Promote self-acceptance in each partner
  7. Facilitate the expression of needs and wants to restructure the interaction based on new understandings
  8. Establish the emergence of new solutions
  9. Consolidate the new positions.

Suitable Settings

Suitable for implementation in an outpatient mental health services clinic.

Implementation Timeline

EFT is delivered in eight 50-minute weekly sessions. Therapists are required to attend 12 hours of training, using the EFT treatment manual as a required resource.


The program has been tested with married couples experiencing problems in their marriages. Couples in the EFT group had significantly higher levels of marital satisfaction after 8 weeks of therapy compared with couples in the wait-list control group.

Contact Information

For indepth information on this program, please use the contact listed below.

Program Developer

Wayne H. Denton, MD., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
Family Studies Center
5323 Harry Hines Boulevard
Dallas, TX 75390-9121
Phone: (214) 648-6945
Email: wayne.denton@utsouthwestern.edu
Website: http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/familystudiescenter

In October 2004, this program wasdesignated as a Promising Program underSAMHSA's previous National Registry of Effective Prevention Programs system.