Our psychotherapist Lee Beaton delves into Emotional Focused Therapy for Individuals (EFiT), and explores how this innovative modality supports the processing of trauma by cultivating secure attachment in a therapeutic relationship.


Now that Christmas and the New Year are behind us, it’s time to focus on what another year holds. The holidays can sometimes bring up some unexpected surprises, reveal old wounds or even make new ones. Time spent with family can be both joyous and challenging. I hope you managed to navigate your time with, or without, family in a way that was mindful of your own needs, and with a compassionate eye for the needs of those around you.

One thing I reflected on over the holidays was how much value I find in the work I do. Having time away from clients to wind down is important, but that distance also gives me an insight into how privileged I am to work with and receive the trust of the wonderful people who come to see me for support and to work through limiting beliefs and feelings. These limitations are something we all share in the human experience and are the cause of most of our suffering.

The good news is that when we can examine these beliefs with kindness, space and support we can come to accept where we are right now! We then come to know a more integrated and resourceful sense of who we are in the world. In the words of Emily Nagoski (an author whose books I love to read for inspiration), “At the heart of mindfulness lies a deep paradox. We facilitate change, by not trying to change”

One way that I help clients to sit in this difficult area is through an exciting new modality EFiT (Emotional Focused Therapy for Individuals). EFiT has been shown to expertly tackle issues, particularly trauma, through its unique lens of tuning in, by creating a vivid felt sense and painting a picture of the client’s inner world.

In the words of the developer of EFiT, Sue Johnson, “EFiT privileges emotion as a primary organiser of inner experience and interpersonal interactions. Emotion is the music that colours our world. It literally moves and motivates us. New emotional experiences open the door to new ways to see self and other and new ways to engage with self and other. Our Truth does not impact us unless it is felt, experienced, – unless it registers on a visceral level and resonates as our own reality” All of these moves in the dance start to create a felt sense of secure attachment.

Two of the distinctive features of EFiT are its commitment to understanding your world deeply and the exploration of attachment and relationship history. Therapists, acting as empathetic explorers, dive into the multi-faceted realms of identity, environmental factors, and lived experiences.

We look at pivotal moments that shaped your self-perception and understanding and examine the coherence of your internal narrative, and then together seek to unravel the intricate threads of your emotional tapestry.

This includes weaving together current relationship resources and challenges with narratives from the past to challenge potential intergenerational impacts, creating a roadmap for any necessary therapeutic intervention.

As the grandfather of psychotherapy, John Bowlby, said, “clinical conditions are best understood as disordered versions of what is otherwise a healthy response.”

In other words, it is important to remember that what may now be seen as problematic behaviours, or beliefs, started out as a way for us to cope in the best way we could, which is something we can celebrate about ourselves.

In order to work with this, we work together to find inner strengths or resources which we know are the best protective factor. My job is to nudge you back to an inherent sense of inner wisdom in your body that has been blocked or covered up by the trials of life, and reconnect you to a sense of self with competence and self-worth.

This therapeutic alliance is about creating a new experience of safety, with a keen eye on contextual factors which may create an opportunity for rupture and repair, one of the essential ingredients for any healthy relationship.

Together, a therapist and their client embark on the journey of discovering the innate resilience that allows you to explore painful material. This journey fosters a space for growth and healing.

Healing Trauma with EFIT

Understanding trauma through an attachment perspective, EFIT therapists guide clients to feel what was once intolerable in the presence of a trusted other. The goal is a ‘corrective emotional experience’ or ‘identity epiphany’ that reshapes the client’s narrative and emotional responses. EFiT introduces the therapist as a ‘temporary attachment figure,’ establishing a secure base characterised by Accessibility, Responsiveness, and Engagement (A.R.E.) which is the safe space we need to heal and grow.

The good news that EFiT brings to the table is that no matter where you start, everyone is capable of reaching secure attachment. EFIT’s dynamic and compassionate approach, enables you to dance through the complexities of trauma towards healing from a newly found place of safe and secure attachment.

The Transformative Potential of Journaling: A Practical Exercise

Journaling has been proven to help us get distance from the internal chatter that we may have around a concerning issue, problem, or belief. It holds a transformative potential to enhance self-awareness, alleviate stress, and guide personal growth. In this spirit, consider writing in a journal daily, perhaps the first or last thing you do in your day, to help pave the way for inspiration or a good night’s sleep. It is great to commit to doing this for a set period, perhaps once a day over a week, and see if you notice the difference.

You can just write your thoughts or use prompts on which to reflect. Here are a couple therapeutic questions you may like to consider as a prompt in a journaling exercise.

  1. Understanding Your Inner World: Reflect on how you construct your inner/emotional world. How does that impact your relationships with others in your life?
  2. How Do You React in Times of Need? Do you reach out openly and directly during times of need? Or do you tend to lash out or shut down? How does that impact the way others respond? (or don’t respond)?

If you are interested in exploring how EFiT can help shed light on your own dance with trauma, or would like to explore challenges in your relationship call Lee on 0491638124 or email at lee@leembeaton.com to arrange an appointment.

Lee Beaton is a Gestalt Psychotherapist specialising in healing relationships. Her style is person-centred, warm, effective, and compassionate, enabling Lee to help clients to experience somatic and deep relational healing. She believes how you handle emotions, influenced by the many aspects of your life’s circumstances, is what makes the difference.  She understands that ALL relationships are challenging. With help, though, they can be a pathway to forming secure, loving bonds that nurture a healthy vulnerability leading to greater intimacy with self and others.