Emotionally focused therapy is designed to be short-term in structure. Developed principally by Dr. Susan Johnson, the main target of this type of therapy is couples and is focused on expressing emotions. The primary goal of emotionally focused therapy is to create a safe and long-lasting bond between romantic partners and family members while expanding and restructuring significant emotional responses. Partakers in emotionally focused therapy are emboldened to express their thoughts and emotions in a safe environment without fear of judgment. In this paper, we will discuss a therapy session between Sue Johnson and a couple, Leslie and Scott.
Nonverbal and Verbal Skills
The counselor, Sue Johnson, alerted the clients to her engagement in the therapy session by her verbal and nonverbal cues. She held eye contact with both clients, depending on who she was speaking to. They eye contact demonstrated to the clients that she respected and was sincere about the process they were involved in. It also showed the clients that she was interested in the conversation. If Sue had looked down or away while the clients were speaking or she was speaking to them, it could have been misinterpreted negatively by the clients. Sue also demonstrated engagement by passively leaning towards the clients. She nodded her head at appropriate moments and engaged in reflexive facial expressions. Mirroring a client’s facial expressions outwardly shows them that the counselor is closely paying attention and hearing what they are saying. These expressions could exhibit a wide array of emotions such as sadness, anger, happiness, contempt, or fear. Sue kept the tone of her voice even and soothing in nature, allowing the clients to feel relaxed and comfortable talking with her. On a number of occasions throughout the session, Sue would nod and respond with, “Uh hmm.” This also let the clients know that she was actively listening and engaged in the conversation.
For the majority of the session, the clients’ posture remained the same; both sat upright with both feet on the floor. At one point in the session, Sue asks the wife, Leslie, how she felt about a particular situation in which her husband, Scott, was angry and Leslie responded that his anger at times made her feel unsafe. Upon hearing this revelation, Scott inhaled deeply indicating some level of discomfort. Scott could also be seen crossing his arms during periods of conversation about his anger turning him into a “monster”. Leslie could be seen crossing her arms and staring at the floor while discussing the same subject matter.
Open- and Closed-Ended Questions
Sue asked the couple a plethora of questions pertaining to their therapeutic goal. In some instances, if she asked an open-ended question and received a one or two word answer, she would silently pause and the client would continue. Sue would end a large number of her statements asking the question, “Right?” which only requires a one...