Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy: The Negative Cycle, Part II

In my last blog, I focused on the behavior and perception aspects of the negative cycle, as described in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT). This post will focus emotions and needs. My goal is that this provides some useful information or a jumping off point for exploring your own cycles. For many couples, working with a therapist is incredibly useful in the process of flushing out negative cycles and undergoing the changing necessary to develop a cycle that promotes closeness and connection. I also highly recommend the book Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson.

Again, each of these cycle components interact and influence with one another.

Secondary Emotions: These emotions are typically more accessible for most people. These feelings might seem “safer” to acknowledge or share, and are more reactive emotions. Secondary emotions are typically the emotions that are being expressed when a couple finds themselves in a negative cycle. Secondary emotions tend to drive partners away from one another, rather than fostering connection.

-       Anger

-       Frustration

-       Jealousy

-       Resentment

Primary Emotions: These emotions are more vulnerable and partners often have a harder time expressing them to one another. While primary emotions foster connection, many people have a deep fear that sharing these emotions will result in them being rejected by their partner. Examples of primary emotions include:

-       Sadness

-       Hurt

-       Fear

-       Shame

-       Abandonment

-       Desperation

Needs: These speak to the individual needs of each partner in the context of a relationship. These are foundational, yet can often go unspoken or unexpressed. In moments of distress or disconnection, partners may cease to experience these needs as being met.

-       I need to feel loved by my partner.

-       I need to be accepted by my partner.

-       I need to feel safe and secure with my partner.

To learn more or to book an appointment, contact me via telephone or email.

Brenna Burke, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Valencia, CA. She provides individual psychotherapy and couples counseling. Information provided through this website is for informational purposes only. It does not create a therapist-client relationship and does not replace clinical assessment or professional consultation.