Experiences of Learning Emotion-Focused Therapy: A Qualitative Interview Study

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Training in Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) is a multifaceted learning process that many trainees find to be challenging. In order to develop a fuller understanding of the process of learning EFT, we carried out a qualitative interview study focused on practicing psychotherapists who had completed at least the four-day level one EFT training. Transcripts of twelve semi-structured interviews focused on facilitative factors and challenges in learning EFT were analysed using the descriptive-interpretive method (Elliott & Timulak, 2005) to identify the main learning experiences and themes. Revealing a continuum driven by therapist motivation, our results depict learning EFT as a synthesis of personal and professional growth. The experiential activity of engaging with the many aspects of EFT training promotes a learning process that spans five broad domains of Personal Motivation for Learning & Development, Experiences of Formal EFT Training, Informal Learning Activities, and Learning & Development via both Supervision and Professional Practice. Grounded in the search for meaningful and fruitful practice, and generating a deep and sustained commitment, EFT training is an immersive process fuelled by experiencing the effectiveness of the approach. This study maps the complexity of the modality, its learning pathways and the overall experience of EFT in action. In addition, we summarize steps that can be taken to enhance formal EFT training. Whilst participants highlighted its emotionally demanding complexity, dedication and enthusiasm for this model of therapy remained unabated due to ‘in practice’ observable effects and enhanced understanding of the therapeutic process. Keywords: emotion-focused therapy; training; qualitative research; therapist development  
Period30 Aug 2019
Event titleInternational Society for Emotion Focused Therapy Conference 2019: Emotion-Focused Therapy: The Growth Edge
Event typeConference
LocationGlasgow, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational