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TANGO MOVE 3 - Choreographing Engaged Encounters


**All EFT interventions either lead up to the encounter or involve processing and consolidating after the encounter

  • Choreographed encounters (previously known as enactments) are the bread and butter of EFT

  • In Tango Move 3 clients are invited to share, directly with their partner, emotional realities that were assembled, distilled and deepened in Tango Move 2.

  • We are asking clients to reach for their partners in a new and/or vulnerable way

  • We are asking clients to take a risk (ranging from tiny to huge) with their hearts in this moment. If it does not feel like a risk, the message has probably not been deepened enough.

  • Sharing a new/assembled/vulnerable emotional reality promotes ownership for the person sharing and increases the likelihood that the message will be well-received by the listener

  • Significant change requires a new corrective emotional experience

  • In Tango Move 3 we choreograph engaged encounters to create new and corrective emotional experiences both within and between partners


SHAPE- the recipe for encounters

Simplify (Simplify emotional reality that we would like the partner to share)

Heighten (Heighten emotion using interventions such as RISSSC)

Anticipate (Help the sharer anticipate sharing)

Present disclosure (direct client to share)

Engage (engage, redirect, re-engage or slice thinner if necessary)

Encounters for different purposes:

  • Enacting present positions

  • Turning new emotional experience into new ways of interacting

  • Highlighting new or rarely occurring responses

  • Choreographing change events

*More information can be found on page 88 from Jim Furrow, Sue Johnson and colleagues’ “Becoming an Emotionally Focused Therapist - the workbook 2nd Edition”.


Picking up from the example from Tango move 2:

Therapist: Thomas matters so much and of course shutting down protects you from pain that comes up when he is upset with you. You say you worry you are not what he needs in those moments. That sounds very hard. I wonder if right here right now you could let yourself feel that worry…fear?.. just for a few moments? Make some room for those important feelings? (Simplify, Heighten)

Anthony: Ok…I don’t know what that really means but I can try.

Therapist: That’s so brave that you would be willing to try. Thomas must matter a lot to you. Can you pay attention to what happens in your body when that worry comes up that you are not what Thomas needs? (Heighten)

Anthony: I guess I feel a pit in my stomach.

Therapist: A pit in your stomach … can you feel that pit right now? (Heighten)

Anthony: Yes.. a bit.

Therapist: Can you breathe into it? Put your hand on your belly? (Heighten)

Anthony: (Places his hand on his belly, closes his eyes and takes a few breaths)

Therapist: Can you imagine turning to look at Thomas right now and telling him about this pit in your stomach that you feel right now? That it comes up when you fear you are not what he needs? How you shut down so you don’t have to feel that? (Anticipate)

Anthony: I can try…(looks at Thomas). When I feel like I am trying to meet your needs and you tell me what I am doing is not enough..when you are still unhappy, I feel a pit in my stomach.. but I usually shut down before I can really feel it (Present disclosure)

Therapist: Yes..a pit in your stomach. It comes up when you fear you are not what he needs. Can you tell him..I get worried..afraid? but all you see is my shutting down?” (Engage)

Anthony: It’s true..I guess I do worry…get scared I will never meet your needs and I do shut down. It helps me stay strong.

**Please note that this is not a transcript from a real session but was created based on clinical experience



Furrow, J. L., Johnson, S. M., Bradley, B. et al. (2022). Becoming an emotionally focused couples therapist (2nd ed.). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Johnson, S. M. (2020). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy: Creating connection (3rd ed.). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

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