Emotionally focused couples therapy (EFT) is an emotional approach used to help couples address problems within their relationships. Clinicians who deliver this type of therapy undergo intense training to be able to effectively use all of the components of the treatment in a productive way that maximizes treatment outcome. EFT training strives to increase a therapist’s ability to process emotions and identify and address attachment styles, and it enhances self-compassion. However, most clinicians report that their own personal development has not been addressed in previous EFT training sessions or through supervision. Because a clinician’s emotional intelligence and relationship skills are critical factors that directly influence treatment, Michelle Montagno, Ph.D., of the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California, conducted a study that evaluated the knowledge and competence levels of clinicians following a 4-day intensive EFT training session. The skills and growth achieved in EFT training can enhance a clinician’s curiosity and acceptance and increase his or her motivation to explore issues that are pertinent to clients.
Montagno and colleagues sought to determine the short-term and long-term advances in emotional awareness, competency, and knowledge in 29 clinicians who attended the EFT workshop. Using questionnaires, the team inquired about the clinicians’ personal development, relationships, and overall understanding of EFT immediately after the training and again several months later. In general, the majority of the clinicians reported that they felt nearly three times more competent and knowledgeable at the conclusion of the workshop than they did prior. Additionally, the levels of competence were maintained at follow-up, even though knowledge levels dropped slightly. Montagno believes this suggests that the delivery of the training, specifically the hands-on, interactive approach, provides more significant gains in learning and long-term results than merely learning the method through literature. The clinicians in the study also reported personal growth as a result of the EFT training. The researchers point out that factors that could influence outcome, such as education, age, and gender, did not. This is important because many professionals believe that women are instinctively better able to deliver an emotion-based therapy than men are. The researchers added, “Thus, learning EFT may not only improve one’s clinical skills but it may also actually improve the life of the therapist.”
Montagno, M., Svatovic, M., Levenson, H. Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Training in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Professional and Personal Aspects. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 37.4 (2011): 380-92. Print.
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