Home 2018-08-03T09:26:45-04:00

Emotion-Focused Family Therapy

Influenced by the theory and science of interpersonal neurobiology, the essence of Emotion-Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) is to support caregivers to increase their role in their loved one’s recovery from mental health issues. In fact, the EFFT clinician believes that it is most therapeutically worthwhile to empower parents to help their children, regardless of age, given that they are “wired” together. Thus, their main responsibility is to support parents to become an active agent of healing. They do so by supporting parents and alternate caregivers to increase their involvement in: (1) interrupting symptoms and supporting health-focused behaviors, (2) helping their child to process overt and underlying emotions that may be fuelling problematic thoughts and symptoms, and (3) leading the repair of relational injuries if applicable. Click here for more information on the model.

Throughout treatment, the EFFT clinician also seeks to transform “emotion blocks” in caregivers who struggle to implement interventions.  Recent EFFT research has revealed that these caregivers are not unable or unmotivated to act as positive agents of change; rather, they are blocked by emotion, and in particular fear and self-blame. As such, the treating clinician employs specific EFFT techniques to attend to and process these emotion blocks in order to increase caregiver self-efficacy and recovery-focused support, and in a way that is respectful and compassionate. Such emotional blocks are also identified and processed in clinicians as they implement these interventions.

EFFT is a lifespan approach that can be delivered with entire families, parent-child dyads, and with parents only. In fact, one of the key strengths of the EFFT approach lies in the fact that clinicians can support caregivers to take on these roles regardless of their loved one’s age or involvement in formal treatment themselves, creating hope for those families whose child refuses service. EFFT can be integrated into existing treatment models and at various levels of care to empower both families and clinician teams.

EFFT was initially developed for caregivers of loved ones with eating disorders. Its application has since been extended for those struggling to support a loved one with a wide range of behavioral and emotional challenges. Variations of the model have also been developed for school and healthcare settings. Are you a clinician or therapist interested in the approach? Click here to receive Dr. Adele Lafrance’s monthly EFFT newsletter.


Emotion is an elevator and the door to reason is on the main floor. Emotion coaching is a great tool to help bring your loved one to the main floor.

Dr. Adele Lafrance

Kids don’t need perfect families to thrive.

Mental Health Foundations

Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.


When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.

Dale Carnegie