The Main Modality I use for Couples Therapy (EFT) and a bit about Systemic Constellations

Personalized Care and Guidance

I implement effective methods tocreate meaningful connection and understanding in families and couples.   I provide clients in the greater Johannesburg area, and beyond via Online therapy, a wide range of mental health services, with a specific focus on couples. Therapy is a slice of cake, and Emotionally Focused Couples/Individual/Family Therapy focuses on the negative patterns, to bring understanding and change through  corrective experiences in therapy which can be taken into the lived experience.

EFT is a 3 stage, 9 step process.

I may also incorporate structural constellations and other modalities, including Encounter centred couples transformation, Interactional couples therapy, the Gottmans work and others in my work with clients.

Emotionally Focused Therapy

This is a structured approach to couples' therapy developed by Drs. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg in the 1980s. It has since then been expanded to individual and family therapy as well.  It is grounded in research while focusing on negative communication patterns and love as an attachment bond.

Attachment Theory 

"Attachment" between people typically provides a safe haven: a retreat from the world and a way to obtain comfort, security and a buffer against stress. Attachment also offers a secure base, allowing you to feel safe while you explore the world and learn new information. Its formation begins in childhood with a primary caretaker, such as a parent.

Those early, established patterns carry through to adulthood. An "unavailable caretaker" creates distress in a baby akin to an "unavailable partner" creating distress in an adult. Attachment theory provides the emotionally-focused therapist with a "road map" to the drama of distress, emotions, and needs between partners. 

Grounded in Science 

According to the website dedicated to EFT, a substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of this treatment exists.3 It is now considered one of the most (if not the most) empirically validated forms of couples therapy.

Research studies have found that 70-75% of couples undergoing EFT successfully move from distress to recovery, and approximately 90% show significant improvements. This recovery is also quite stable and lasting, with little evidence of relapse back into distress.

EFT is being used with many different kinds of couples in private practice, university training centers, and hospital clinics. It is also quite useful with various cultural groups throughout the world. The distressed couples who may benefit from EFT include those where one or both partners suffer from depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorders, and chronic illness, among other disorders. EFT has proven to be a powerful approach for couples dealing with infidelity or other more traumatic incidents, both current and past.

Neuroscience also intersects attachment theory and EFT. More recently produced MRI studies demonstrate the significance of secure attachment.

Our attachments are potent, and our brains code them as “safety.”

According to an article on EFT in Social Work Today, any perceived distance or separation in our close relationships is interpreted as danger.

Losing the connection to a loved one threatens our sense of security. "Primal fear" ensues and sets off an alarm in part of our brain called the amygdala, also known as the fear center.

Once the amygdala is activated, it triggers our fight-or-flight response. When incoming information is familiar, the amygdala is calm. However, as soon as the amygdala encounters threatening or unfamiliar information, it increases the brain’s anxiety level and focuses the mind’s attention on the immediate situation. People go into a self-preservation mode, often doing what they did to "survive" or cope in childhood. This is the reason we are triggered as adults in our romantic relationships, in the same repeating (and unhealthy) patterns from our formative years. EFT can help to unwind these automatic, counter-productive reactions.

Fostering Healthy Dependency 

EFT provides a language for healthy dependency between partners and looks at key moves and moments that define an adult love relationship. The primary goal of the model is to expand and re-organize the emotional responses of the couple.

New sequences of bonding interactions occur and replace old, negative patterns such as “pursue-withdraw” or “criticize-defend.” These new, positive cycles then become self-reinforcing and create permanent change. The relationship becomes a haven and a healing environment for both partners.

Systemic Constellations

Traditionally, Family Constellation is a powerful method to help you recognise difficult entanglements,  in your family of origin, in your present family or relationship as well as in your business/organisation. Solution-oriented interventions bring understanding, which is followed by a deep relaxation that allows love to flow again between members of the family system/around the issue.

Systemic Family Therapy was first developed by the German therapist, Bert Hellinger. In this therapeutic approach, we consider the individual as part of a greater whole – a family system/a group – rather than as a separate entity. Ones individual behaviour, feelings and attitudes, have to be understood in the context of this larger group. As in any other system, unspoken laws operating  guide behaviour that we, as family members, are largely unaware of. Suffering usually arises in a family member when one or more members of the system unconsciously violate these archaic laws. They do this unknowingly, not out of rebelliousness as one might expect, but out of love – a ‘blind’ love.

A similar understanding is applied to the current issue/relationship/decision/organisation/business issues. We use a system of representation and tap into the knowing field to explore the issues an entanglements. 

I use Constellation work in this way as well as using elements of it as issues, decisions, and blocks surface in therapy.

I am a trained facilitator.

Some Applications:

  • family conflicts

  • business development

  • organisational conflicts

  • parenting concerns

  • couple dis-entangalments

  • decisions

  • opening to the new

  • sibling conflicts

  • feelings of un-ease

  I love combining Brainspotting with Consrtellation work with individuals. 

Many couples find constellation work really important in creating understanding and clearing entanglements to allow the love to flow.