Humanistic-experiential psychotherapy in practice: emotion-focused therapy

Robert Elliott, Leslie S. Greenberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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In this chapter, we provide an overview of emotion-focused therapy (EFT), a contemporary humanistic psychotherapy that integrates person-centered, gestalt, and existential approaches. After sketching its history and main theoretical concepts, we outline a set of emotion change principles. These guide an emotional deepening process in which therapists help clients move from undifferentiated distress to secondary reactive emotions to primary maladaptive emotions to core pain and thence to primary adaptive emotions and emotional transformation. To do this, the therapist responds to key markers offered by clients, proposing appropriate therapeutic tasks such as unfolding problematic reaction points or two-chair work for internal conflicts. In addition, we briefly summarize the relevant outcome data, review the EFT case formulation process, lay out treatment principles, consider its application to diverse client populations, and provide a brief case example.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComprehensive Textbook of Psychotherapy
Subtitle of host publicationTheory and practice
EditorsAndrés J. Consoli, Larry E. Beutler, Bruce Bongar
Place of PublicationNew York, NY.
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780199358014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • humanistic-experiential psychotherapy
  • emotion-focused therapy
  • emotion
  • therapeutic tasks
  • social anxiety


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