As with most things, the best place to start is the beginning! Let's discuss how to make your EFT couple sessions more efficient by asking the right questions right from the start. Have you ever found yourself in a session in which you have finally started getting somewhere only to realize your session is almost over? I have! Many times. This can be stressful for obvious reasons. The key to having efficient sessions is focusing on process rather than content right from the start of your session.
Content refers to stories of things that have happened and often involve a lot of extraneous detail. Process refers to the client’s here-and-now internal experience related to what happened or to what is happening.
In EFT couple therapy we want to access our client’s internal experience beginning from the start of sessions. We can do this by asking process-focused questions such as:
How is space between the two of you today?
What is the temperature like between you two?
What is the vibe/music like between the two of you in this moment?
How is your connection/bond feeling right now?
How do you feel on the inside as we sit here together right now?
By asking questions that focus on the client’s present moment experience of their relationship, you can get right to the heart of the matter (attachment!) and avoid getting bogged down by content.
Another great way to begin sessions with a focus on process is to bring your couples attention to the key elements of the previous session. Rather than starting your session with a general question such as, "how was your week?", ask your clients if it is ok to jump right back into the important work they did last session. If they agree, summarize the key elements of last week’s session (aka the moves of the EFT tango), and start your session there. Here is an example:
"Last week, Olivia, you bravely shared that underneath your anger and blaming is the fear that Joana will leave you. Joana, you remained present and empathetic and also indicated that a small part of you felt angry in response to what Olivia shared. I wonder if it would be ok to begin today's session here?"
Beginning sessions by referencing previous work also keeps a sense of continuity between sessions and helps couples integrate what they accomplished in the previous session. Most importantly, you are showing your couples that you, as therapist, have a map and you know how use it to guide them to safety!
With highly-escalated couples, beginning sessions with this level of direction may not always be possible, especially when a couple has been waiting all week to discuss an argument. If there’s an emotionally charged event they want to talk about, for example a fight that just happened, it’s important to give them a safe space to feel heard and considered. Once the couple feels responded to, and their nervous systems have calmed, they might be more open to following your lead. E.g.:
“Marc, it makes sense that when Vanessa got angry with you for coming home late from work, you got upset and wanted to defend yourself. Last session you mentioned that it hurts to be seen as the bad guy and you want to defend your position to show her you aren’t so bad. I wonder if this is what is coming up right now?”.
If we listen and validate while keeping our focus on our EFT map, we can have efficient sessions even when couples come into session escalated.
What are some helpful ways you like to start your sessions? We would love to hear from you in the comments section below ☺