Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 87–93 | Cite as

Emotion-Focused Therapy: A Synopsis

  • Leslie GreenbergEmail author
Original Paper


The basic principles of an emotion-focused approach to therapy (EFT) are presented. In this view, emotion is seen as foundational in the construction of the self and is a key determinant of self-organization. As well as simply having emotion, people also live in a constant process of making sense of their emotions. Personal meaning emerges by the self-organization and explication of one’s own emotional experience, and optimal adaptation involves an integration of reason and emotion. In EFT, distinctions between different types of emotion (i.e., primary versus secondary, adaptive versus maladaptive) provide therapists with a map for differential intervention. Therapists are viewed as emotion coaches who help people become aware of, accept, and make sense of their emotional experience. Four major empirically supported principles of emotion awareness, emotion regulation, emotion transformation and reflection on emotion guide emotion coaching and serve as the goals of treatment. A case example illustrates how the principles of EFT helped a young woman to overcome her core maladaptive fears and mobilize her ability to protect herself.


Emotion Awareness Regulation Transformation Meaning 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.228 Behavioural Science Building York UniversityTorontoCanada

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