Emotion-focused therapy and the person-centred approach: past, present & future

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Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), also known as Process-Experiential (PE) psychotherapy, emerged out of the person-centred approach to psychotherapy in the late 1980’s, building on contemporary emotion theory and integrating elements of gestalt and existential therapies into its person-centred base. Over the past 20 years, PE-EFT has gone on to develop an impressive evidence base and to develop formulations for working with depression, relational difficulties in couples, post-trauma difficulties, social anxiety, and eating problems. In this presentation, I begin by discussing the origins of PE-EFT in the related concepts of process differentiation and process guiding and the early controversies and misunderstandings that surrounded PE-EFT’s so-called “directive” approach. Next, I describe PE-EFT’s current status and relationship to the rest of the person-centred approach, reviewing briefly its current theory and evidence base. I then offer some reflections on PE-EFT’s future directions and its evolving relationship to the person-centred approach, concluding with a summary of my understanding of what it means to be person-centred.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2011
EventCounselling Unit Twentieth Anniversity Conference - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 May 2011 → …


ConferenceCounselling Unit Twentieth Anniversity Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
Period20/05/11 → …



  • counselling
  • emotion-focused therapy
  • person-centred approach
  • psychotherapy
  • research

Cite this

Elliott, R. (2011). Emotion-focused therapy and the person-centred approach: past, present & future . Paper presented at Counselling Unit Twentieth Anniversity Conference, Glasgow, United Kingdom.