Emotions are important messengers about our relationships and wellbeing.
If your work as a helping professional involves improving your clients’ emotional literacy, then you should consider supplementing your skills with emotionally focused therapy (EFT) training.
Training in EFT will refine your existing skills to help you clarify your clients’ emotional experience and improve their emotional literacy and overall wellbeing, whether you work with individuals, couples, or families.
In this article, we will share emotionally focused therapy training options, explain how to become an EFT practitioner, and outline the in-person and online certification options. We also provide helpful resources for coaches, counselors, and therapists who are interested in integrating this approach into their existing practice.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will enhance your ability to understand and work with your emotions and give you the tools to foster the emotional intelligence of your clients, students, or employees.
Emotionally focused therapy and emotion-focused therapy (EFT) refer to a family of humanistic psychotherapy interventions rooted in the neuroscience of attachment and focus on the emotional content of experience (Greenberg, 2017).
In this article, we will refer to all types of EFT training programs, whether “emotionally focused therapy” or “emotion-focused therapy.” This distinction in terms came about when Les Greenberg (2017) decided to apply EFT to his work with individuals rather than couples, and his use of American rather than British English. EFT is the generic acronym used to refer to work with all client groups.
Training to become an EFT practitioner is open to licensed mental health professionals who are committed to a person-centered or humanistic approach and have an interest in enhancing their existing toolkit.
EFT is based on the neuroscience of attachment, has a strong scientific evidence base (Wiebe & Johnson, 2017), and has demonstrable benefits in the long term.
The Research on Emotionally Focused Therapy - Psychwire
This video explains more about EFT research.
EFT training takes place in a series of stages delivered in modules over several days or for a certain number of hours. Typically, training begins with a four-day foundation course called an “externship” and is followed by core skills training.
Emotionally Focused Therapy Beginning Training
Additional EFT training comprises advanced modules focused on working with specific client groups more in depth. We explain this in more detail in the next section.
Training in Emotionally Focused Therapy
Most certified training programs are aimed at working with couples, although EFT is also used to work with individuals and families.
Each training program begins with the foundations mentioned above before proceeding to more advanced options, often aimed at specific client groups or problematic attachment patterns.
There are specific training programs that apply EFT to individuals to support them with emotional regulation — a common issue in a range of conditions, including addiction, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder (Greenberg, 2015).
Emotionally Focused Therapy for Individuals - Psychwire
One founder of EFT, Dr. Sue Johnson, explains how EFT can be used to work with individuals.
EFT practitioners also use chair work with individuals. For example, an individual may struggle with uncomfortable emotions about another person in their lives who it’s not appropriate to invite into therapy, such as a close working colleague, family member, or friend.
What is chair work in Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)?
Chair work is a psychodrama technique to help clients process “unfinished business.” See this concise explanation of how it’s used in EFT.
EFT can be a helpful intervention for individuals to become more aware of their emotions, accepting and using them as powerful guides to creating and setting healthy boundaries, communicating their needs to others, and improving the quality of their relationships overall (Greenberg, 2015).
Emotionally focused therapy for couples is an intervention designed to help those in committed partnerships repair various types of relationship injuries such as dissatisfaction, alienation, defensiveness, and infidelity (Johnson, 2020).
Emotionally focused therapy for families draws on systemic and experiential techniques designed to repair problematic attachment patterns between family members.
Training focuses on changing dynamics in families during times of disconnection, conflict, and transition, such as when children navigate adolescence and need to develop a more autonomous sense of identity (Johnson & Brubacher, 2016). This can lead to behavior patterns in developing children that leave parents struggling and bewildered.
Emotionally Focused Therapy for Families - Psychwire
EFT helps families accept changing dynamics and repair attachment patterns, leading to a greater sense of emotional security and healthier family bonding.
Dr. Sue Johnson explains further in this brief video.
In summary, emotionally focused therapy training provides an extended toolkit for licensed mental health professionals working with individuals, couples, and families. Different routes through advanced EFT training emphasize how to work with specific client groups.
The emotionally focused therapy training programs listed below require in-person attendance and have been grouped together by country. Some organizations offer both in-person and online training. Those that do so are also mentioned in our online training section.
We have only listed one training provider for Australian mental health professionals; however, there are other workshops and programs offered in Australia through ICEEFT, which are listed under the international providers, so check there as well.
Brisbane Centre for EFT (BCEFT)
Situated in Brisbane, Australia, BCEFT offers core EFT certification training including externships and core skill training as well as core skills for working with individuals.
They also offer a range of masterclasses aimed at specific client groups for certified EFT practitioners, including diversity workshops on “Queering EFT” and “Polyamory in Practice.”
The Vancouver Centre for Emotionally Focused Therapy Training
The Vancouver Centre for Emotionally Focused Therapy Training offers the standard externship and core skill training routes to certification for licensed mental health professionals, as well as advanced training focused on specific client groups, including individuals, couples, groups, and the LGBTQ community.
Qualified mental health professionals residing in the United Kingdom can train for full EFT certification with the following organizations.
The British Emotionally Focused Therapy Centre (BEFT)
The BEFT offers the standard externship and core skill training required for EFT certification.
It also offers a summer school option and a range of specialist trainings for working with specific client groups, including LGBTQ clients, and a special interest group for working with neurodiversity.
The Salomons Institute, Canterbury Christ Church University, England
The Salomons Institute for Applied Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University offers level-one and level-two EFT training on campus, plus a range of advanced workshops focused on specific client groups.
It is the only campus-based EFT training in England.
The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, offers campus-based level-one EFT training to practicing therapists and counselors who must have a postgraduate diploma or master’s degree to be eligible to apply.
This course provides the first step toward EFT certification and is endorsed by the International Society for Emotion-Focused Therapy.
Level-two training is offered live online via Zoom and comprises three modules:
Module A: Advanced Empathic Attunement & Relational Work
Module B: EFT Fundamentals
Module C: Advanced Methods in EFT
Both levels one and two are needed to complete foundational EFT training before moving into supervised practice and certification.
These two providers offer a range of EFT training programs and workshops internationally. Different eligibility criteria apply depending on the country’s specific professional regulations. Please check these carefully before applying.
AcRE EFT – UK, US, and Poland
AcRE EFT provides EFT training programs including the foundational externship and four levels of core skill training.
They also provide specialist LGBTQ EFT training both in the United Kingdom and Poland, which is endorsed by the International Centre of Excellence in EFT and supported by the British EFT Centre.
International Centre for Excellence in EFT (ICEEFT) – Worldwide
International Centre for Excellence in EFT offers a range of training options worldwide in countries as diverse as Uganda, Hong Kong, Argentina, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Norway, Brazil, and Sweden, as well as many others.
They offer the standard EFT certification training: externships, core skills, and supervision, as well as specialist classes aimed at specific client groups or attachment problems.
This section outlines the highest-quality online emotionally focused therapy training programs available. However, it’s important to investigate which components of these programs are offered asynchronously and which are offered live (synchronously) to be sure you can accommodate the required time zone.
The courses on offer are constantly updated, so be sure to check the mode of online delivery carefully.
1. Psychwire with Dr. Sue Johnson
Dr. Sue Johnson is one of the founding developers of EFT and, together with other EFT expert trainers, offers the gold standard online EFT certification program at Psychwire.
The course provides 16 continued professional development hours to qualified mental health professionals and is offered over several intakes annually. Delivery includes video lessons, debriefed therapy sessions, and an interactive forum that is fully supported by accredited EFT trainers.
While this course does not provide full EFT certification, it does offer a thorough theoretical grounding in how to apply the principles of EFT to your existing practice.
IEFT is an Australian training program that offers a graduate certificate and graduate diploma in EFT, both of which are delivered purely online. You must have an existing counseling or psychotherapy practice to complete the supervised practice component.
The certificate takes three semesters, and the diploma, six semesters. IEFT offers three entry pathways, making it more flexible than many other options that stipulate that only licensed mental health professionals can apply.
Classes are delivered synchronously (live) for two hours a week, and students are required to engage with other online learning materials for one to two hours a week as well as complete assignments and practical assessments.
In addition to these purely online training programs, the following training providers also offer online alternatives to some components of their campus-based training.
AcRE EFT Training runs an online, live EFT externship in collaboration with the Polish EFT Association PSEFT, which can be attended by English and Polish speakers alike. Specialist EFT training for working with LGBTQ couples is also available online. Other online workshops may also be offered from time to time.
BCEFT in Brisbane, Australia, offers a range of online EFT training workshops and supervision groups, including core skills and advanced trainings on working with specific client populations.
The British Emotionally Focused Therapy Centre has previously offered online training in core skills and working with specific client groups. Check the BEFT website for further information.
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These 17 Emotional Intelligence Exercises [PDF] will help others strengthen their relationships, lower stress, and enhance their wellbeing through improved EQ.
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A Take-Home Message
Emotions provide us all with powerful messages about our internal worlds, our relationships, and our wider social environment. For most of us, emotions are the most direct way we have to assess our wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.
When we avoid the healthy expression of our emotions, our relationships suffer, and conflicts can simmer, explode, and even destroy the connections we human beings need with others to flourish and thrive.
EFT is a short-term, practical, and evidence-based intervention that aims to improve clients’ emotional awareness, expression, and self-regulation. The results are a more authentic sense of self and improved relationships. The demand for trained EFT professionals continues to grow, given the demonstrable benefits offered.
We hope you found these emotionally focused therapy training options useful. If you know of any other training providers not mentioned here, please mention them in the comments.
Greenberg, L. S. (2015). Emotion-focused therapy: Coaching clients to work through their feelings (2nd ed.). American Psychological Association.
Greenberg, L. S. (2017). Emotion-focused therapy (Revised ed.). American Psychological Association.
Johnson, S. M. (2020). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy: Creating connection (3rd ed.). Routledge.
Johnson, S., & Brubacher, L. (2016). Emotionally focused couple therapy: Empiricism and art. In T. Sexton & J. Lebow (Eds.). Handbook of family therapy (2nd ed., pp. 326–348). Routledge.
Wiebe, S.A., & Johnson, S. M. (2017). Creating relationships that foster resilience in emotionally focused therapy. Current Opinion in Psychology, 13, 65–69.
About the author
Jo Nash, Ph.D., is a writer, editor, and writing coach. Jo obtained her Ph.D. in Psychotherapy Studies from the University of Sheffield, where she was a Lecturer in Mental Health at the Faculty of Medicine for over a decade.
Today, Jo combines her passion for language with mindfulness skills when coaching writers to help them cultivate flow and optimize productivity. She is the creator of the ‘focused flow’ approach to writing coaching.