Getting Emotionally Fit with EFIT

Getting Emotionally Fit with EFIT

EFIT (Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy), is informed by 30 years of attachment science and was developed by Sue Johnson the founder of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. This model helps people learn how to navigate through their overwhelming vulnerability and get to the core of their emotional distress. Through the guidance of a therapist who has been trained to follow the steps of EFIT, the client learns new ways to achieve healing and growth.

Emotions are powerful and are often fueled by our thoughts which then lead to actions. These actions then effect both the individual and those that are in a relationship with them. Often, unknowingly or unintentionally these actions can interrupt the individual from achieving what they need the most, deep and meaningful connections that address their deepest emotional needs.


EFIT is designed to help individuals create a more secure connection with the self. This connection leads the individual to feel more alive, engaged and confident. Since depression often involves a negative view of self, riddled with shame, this model is an ideal fit. It is also commonly used to help clients with various anxieties or PTSD from trauma.


  1. This approach is emotion-focused and views understanding emotions and working through them as a key aspect of creating change.
  2. This approach is rooted in attachment theory. It views how people form attachments early in life that shape their emotional responses and relational dynamics. The attachment needs are hard wired as part of being human yet the responses and styles of attaching are dynamic and can be changed.
  3. This approach believes change is facilitated by the exploration and expression of emotions. Through the relationship with the therapist where there is safety, validation and empathy the client is able to understand better their underlying patterns both within themselves and between them and how they interact with others.
  4. This approach views universal core emotions like fear, joy, sadness, or anger as an essential part of being human and an important part of exploration to gain a deeper understanding of the client’s own emotional experience. Anger may contain other primary emotions such as hurt, shame or fear. The therapist assists the client in unpacking these emotions and bringing light to their attachment significance.
  5. This approach works with the client’s emotional schemas with the goal of recognizing and working with these schemas. Through the process of therapy, the individual learns to recognize their own schemas and then transform them to more adaptive and flexible ways of responding to the self and others. These new schemas allow the client to recognize their attachment needs and how to communicate these needs more effectively to others. The old blocks are replaced with new opportunities for attachment needs to be met which in turn decreases negative symptoms.
  6. Interventions are tailored to the client’s needs but may include emotion-focused techniques, mindfulness, experiential exercises, or guided imagery.
  7. EFIT is a distinct approach that integrates well with other modalities. The therapist may integrate Mindfulness approaches, elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or psychodynamic therapy.
  8. EFIT is considered an evidence-based practice that is supported by research. This research has shown positive outcomes for treating people with depression, anxiety, trauma and relational distress. Clients who participate in this approach report having improved emotion regulation, their overall well-being improves and their relationship with the self and others improves.
  9. EFIT was formalized with the publication of Sue Johnson’s book (2019), Attachment Theory in Practice: Emotionally Focused Therapy with Individuals. However, it is based in the same principles of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) which has been around since the 80’s and has a strong empirical base.
  10. Therapists who practice EFIT typically receive training and can be certified in using the approach. The certification process demonstrates that the therapist is proficient in the approach.


Initially the therapist will get to know you and assess your background, explore your resources, connections and relationships. Together you will review your current symptoms and identify your goals. After the initial few sessions and as you develop a level of trust and safety with your therapist, you will begin the work of exploring your traumas, anxieties or sources of your depression.

Within the safety of the therapy office, you will learn how to gradually touch the emotional distress, unpack and make sense of it, and then make new connections with how you normally respond and what your mind tells you to do or not to do in these situations. You may assess the impact this currently has in your life and then with the guidance of the therapist begin the process of trying new responses in relationship to the same vulnerable feelings. As you experience in the therapy room, new connections with your emotions and experiences you gain insights into what your primary attachment needs are and what has been blocking you from getting those needs met. After experiencing these corrective emotional experiences in the office, you will be able to then begin making changes in your relationships outside of therapy.

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