Emotion-focused therapy is an evidence-based treatment for clients who may be struggling with processing their feelings. This approach helps clients interpret problematic reactions to difficult life events and work through troubling emotions such as anger and anxiety. The therapeutic goal is to help clients learn how to process their emotions more effectively.
In this video, Dr. Robert Elliott introduces systematic evocative unfolding, a technique designed to reprocess a puzzling reaction to a situation in a person's life. The technique involves client and therapist together trying to re-experience the situation as a shared narrative, in order to help the client understand their reaction.
In this session, Dr. Elliott helps a woman better understand her detachment from her emotions, focusing on her lack of grief about her mother's death.
Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) is an evidence-based, humanistic-experiential psychotherapy developed in the 1980s by Les Greenberg, Laura Rice, and Robert Elliott. In addition to seeing emotion as key to human function, dysfunction, and change, it offers a framework of key therapeutic tasks for helping clients resolve different kinds of emotion processing difficulties via a process of emotional deepening.
Some of these tasks are well-known: Empty Chair Work for Unresolved Relational Issues and Two Chair Work for different kinds of internal conflict, such as self-criticism or self-interruption; and Focusing for Unclear Feelings.
In addition, there is another set of important EFT tasks that are very important but not so well known, many of which involve helping clients to reprocess difficulty life experiences: One of the most important of these reprocessing tasks is Systematic Evocative Unfolding for Problematic Reaction Points, developed by Laura Rice. In this task the therapist helps the client to vividly narrate, re-experience or re-enact a puzzling personal reaction in the session.
In this video Robert Elliott demonstrates the use of this important but neglected EFT task, which is particularly useful for working with clients with anxiety, anger or other interpersonal difficulties.
About the Author
Robert Elliott, PhD, received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and taught clinical psychology at the University of Toledo (Ohio) for nearly 30 years; during that time, in collaboration with Leslie Greenberg and Laura Rice, he developed Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT).
He is currently Professor of Counselling in the School of Psychological Sciences and Health at the University of Strathclyde, in Scotland, where he directs its research clinic and primarily teaches counseling research and EFT. His central interest is the change process in humanistic-experiential psychotherapies.
He is co-author of Facilitating Emotional Change (1993), Learning Process-Experiential Psychotherapy (2004), Research Methods in Clinical Psychology (3rd ed., 2015), and Developing and Enhancing Research Capacity in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2010), as well as more than 150 journal articles and book chapters.
He is past president of the Society for Psychotherapy Research, and previously co-edited the journals Psychotherapy Research, and Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies.
He is a fellow in APA divisions 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology), 29 (Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy), and 32 (Society for Humanistic Psychology).
In 2009, he received the Distinguished Research Career Award of APA Division 29 (Society for Psychotherapy Research), and the Carl Rogers Award from APA Division 32 (Society for Humanistic Psychology).