My Preferred Marital and Couple Therapeutic Approaches

Of the various marriage and couple therapies and models I have studied, I gravitate to the behavioral and emotion-centered approaches namely: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT).

In terms of the behavioral approaches, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and its “spin-offs” provide a wealth of applicability and contextual viability. In addition, I am attracted to this approach as a practitioner due to its high level of empirical validation. According to Besharat (2003) behavioral therapist focus more directly on behavioral alterations primarily in couples that are moderately distressed. Arguably one of today’s most used is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).

In my practice, I cater to both believers and non-believers. I rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit through prayer to be led as to how best to adapt and integrate both CBT and EFT. One such integration in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). According to Seligman and Reichenberg (2014) MBCT places focus on achieving client cognitive change while incorporating mindfulness meditation practice and claims to be more effective than the use of antidepressant medication. From a Christian perspective, the concept of mindfulness and how varying therapists may interpret the nuance is left to individual interpretation. According to Tan (2011) mindfulness constitutes “focusing attention on one’s immediate experience in the present moment, with acceptance or open, curious, and receptive orientation, and not with a judgmental or evaluative attitude” (p. 231). This is the approach I have chosen to adapt which encourages clients to recall “here and now” experiences.

According to Lee, Spengler, Mitchell, Spengler, and Spiker, (2017), “EFT is an empirically validated approach to treating couple distress and has received substantial attention within the literature” (p. 205).

I also find EFT particularly effective because of how it integrates and creates viable interventions from the family perspective.

According to Walker, Johnson, Manion, and Cloutier (1996), EFT appears particularly appropriate for couples with chronically ill children because of the communication and intimacy challenges it presents. As such, “EFT focuses on repairing attachment bonds, and adults, like children, have an increased need for attachment during times of stress” (p. 1029). In addition, the robustness and efficacy of EFT in reducing marital distress may possibly rank high on the agenda for future research given the empirical evidence that continues to be accumulated among the distressed couple population (Lee et al., 2017).


Besharat, M. A. (2003). What are the main difference between behavioral and systems therapy with couples? A critical account. Journal of Contemporary Psychology, 33(2), 109-127. Retrieved from

Lee, N. A., Spengler, P. M., Mitchell, A. M., Spengler, E. S., & Spiker, D. A. (2017). Facilitating withdrawer re-engagement in emotionally focused couple therapy: A modified task analysis. Couple and Family

Psychology, Research and Practice, 6(3), 205-225. Retrieved from

Seligman, L., & Reichenberg, L. (2014). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, 4 th Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Tan, S. Y. (2011). Counseling and psychotherapy: A Christian perspective.

Walker, J. G., Johnson, S., Manion, I., Cloutier, P. (1996). Emotionally focused marital intervention for couples with chronically ill children.

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64(5), 1029-1036. Retrieved from