Plenary sessions

Learning to work with difficult couples
Sue Johnson

Deciphering the language of love is now possible with the recent scientific insights. Attachment science is helping couples master communication and connection, and getting through conflict. Many couples struggle when partners distance themselves emotionally from each other. Emotionally focused therapy helps people bridge these gaps and communicate their needs and feelings. EFT gives people the skills to sculpt and keep love, even if partners are very different. Safe connection and a secure base is key to overcome these differences. The science of attachment gives us a guide to relationship repair and stability.


Processes of change and stability in early adolescent attachment development: Implications for clinical practice.
Guy Bosmans

For long, attachment theory has struggled with its metaphorical conceptual framework, which had an impact on clinicians views and understanding of the role and development of attachment across the life span. Several myths regarding the meaning and the development of attachment affected clinicians thinking about attachment-related processes in mental health. For example, one important presumption is that individual differences in attachment remain stable over time beyond infancy. However, longitudinal research largely fails to support this claim. This has clinically relevant implications, because it suggests that attachment development is continuously subject to change throughout the lifespan. Consequently, a better understanding mechanisms of attachment change and stability could inform and improve strategies to repair attachment ruptures. The current presentation will demonstrate that understanding attachment development requires understanding how children across learning experiences gradually develop a cognitive script about care by attachment figures and how this development is continuously affected by changes in the caregiving context and general developmental challenges. Implications of these insights for interventions focusing on restoring attachment bonds will be discussed.


Using Attachment and Relational Perspectives to Understand Adaptation and Resilience among Immigrant and Refugee Youth
Jeffry Simpson

Migration is a critical issue for child and youth development in the 21st century. Recently, we (Juang et al., in press) have expand on García Coll et al.’s (1996) integrative model of minority child development by drawing on principles from attachment theory and interpersonal relationships research to offer new insights into how youth manage and respond to migration experiences. Immigrant and refugee youth should experience better outcomes to the extent that they: (1) maintain strong relationships with caregivers and peers that provide a sense of closeness, safety, and confidence during the process of adjusting to this life transition, and (2) find ways to establish a sense of connection and belonging to the new people, places, communities, and social networks within which they now live. Strong bonds to people and connection to places (both familiar and new) can counter the social stratification consequences to minority youth development articulated in García Coll et al.’s integrative model. The need for new and better strategies that promote the positive development of immigrant and refugee youth within their families, schools, work places, and communities is crucial, not only for individuals and families, but for society as a whole.


Holding multiple truths to create secure attachment in families
George Faller

When families arrive in the therapy room, they present with a variety of dysfunctional interactional patterns that have evolved over time and have become entrenched. These patterns began as strategies to protecteach member from the pain of unmet attachment needs and represent their version of the truth. By zeroing in on the underlying attachment needs, Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) offers a powerful, step-by-step process for transformational change. Learn how to help family members work through relational distress and past injuries to create new relational patterns for achieving deeper bonds and greater felt security. Whether you work with individuals, couples, or families, this training will show you how to create enactments in the
consulting room that will deepen the impact of your work and help you hold multiple truths.


Parallel Session


EFT interventies toegepast binnen mediation 1: 'Inleiding'
Annelies Verhoeff, Annebeth Post Uiterweer en Pieter Dingemanse

Subtitel: hoe investeer je als scheidende ouders in het welzijn van je kind?

Scheidende ouders vinden het vaak lastig om negatieve communicatiepatronen te vermijden door oude pijn uit de relatie. De manier waarop de scheiding verloopt heeft vaak impact op het welzijn van kinderen. EFT interventies zijn een toevoeging binnen mediation. In deze inleiding gaan we dieper in op het toepassen van verschillende EFT-interventies in de context van mediation. Aan de hand van theorie, voorbeelden en filmmateriaal bespreken we de achtergrond en rationale van EFT en hoe deze toegepast kan worden binnen de mediation. We bespreken hoe mediatiors en EFT-therapeuten elkaar kunnen versterken.

Deze inleiding is speciaal voor mediators en mensen die geïnteresseerd zijn in EFT-toepassingen bij mediation. Samen met deel 2 ‘praktische oefening’ in de workshop vormt het een geheel.



Fighting for a safer connection
Lieven Migerode and Jef Slootmaeckers

Research shows that intimate partner violence is rather frequent, even more so in couples seeking couples (67%). However, the subject of violence often remains hidden for the therapist. The underlying strong, heavy negative interaction patterns form a challenge in working with these couples. Sometimes the violence between the partners is subject of the therapeutic process. In that case it is remarkable that these couples mostly want us therapists, to work towards a safer relationship where they can stay together and where the violence stops. How can this be approached when violence is often seen as a contraindication for couple’s therapy and EFT? Based on new scientific knowledge about intimated partner violence and their experience, Lieven and Jef worked together to come to a better understanding of this difficult relational drama.

In this workshop we outline a theoretical roadmap how we can understand intimated partner violence from a attachment focused point of view. And how we can use EFT in helping these couples to fight for a better connection. We outline some specific interventions to use and discuses several important topics as assessment, de-escalations and the attachment meanings of violence.


Between addiction and connection
Dimitrij Samoilow

Addictive processesses are highly distructive to couples relationships. The pull of the addiction is strong, and can be seen as a competing attachment, tempting the partner away, creating disconnection and seperation distress. While addictions traditionally have been seen as a contraindication to couples therapy, EFT seems to work well in many cases where one partner struggles with an addiction.

In this workshop participants will learn about the attachment threat that addiction poses, how to weave the addictive process into the couples cycle, and how the pull of attachment can function as a powerful ally in the treatment of addiction.

A video of a session with a gay couple struggling with alcohol dependency will illustrate some of the principles covered in the workshop.


Identifying and working through parental blocks to attuned responsives
George Faller

Parents have good reasons to miss their child's attachment needs; they may be overwhelmed with their own relationship distress, or they have a negative view of themselves, or a negative view of the child or maybe they are struggling with contextual issues such as poverty, trauma or loss.  Regardless if it's shame, fear, anger or mistrust, learn how to catch the parental block live in the room and seize the opportunity to experientially work through the parental blocks, unleashing the power of the care giving system to create safety and security. 


'Mijn kind luistert nooit naar mij. Ik voel me zo falen als ouder!"
Hoe aansluiten bij ouders met behulp van hechtingsgerichte gezinstherapie (AFFT)
Elien Oostendorp and Lenny Rodenburg

In deze workshop gaan we aan de slag met het hechtingsgerichte gezinstherapiemodel volgens Dan Hughes, de AFFT of DDP. Elementen hieruit helpen om de blik van ouders te verleggen van het gedragsprobleem van hun kind naar hun eigen reactiepatroon. Hoe kun je als therapeut beter aansluiten en erkenning geven aan hun ontregeling.  Dit maakt dat ze toegankelijker worden voor hun eigen pijn en die van hun kind. De ervaring leert dat kennis van AFFT niet alleen verzachting kan geven in de ouder-kind relatie maar ook heel ondersteunend is in de EFT behandeling met paren. In deze workshop gaan we praktisch oefenen met elementen uit de AFFT methodiek. Dan Hughes zegt altijd: "You have to like the parents”. Hoe doe je dat als een ouder jouw allergie raakt of zo afwijzend over hun kind praat dat je dit nauwelijks kunt verdragen of serieus nemen.


Reactive couples: a thin line to walk on
Jeroen Bakker and Karin Wagenaar

Couples with multiple trauma history and longstanding personality problems have a hard time keeping their relationship stable. On the one hand they long for close connection and on the other hand, closeness is dangerous. This ambivalence puts pressure on the couple's relationship and on the therapeutic working alliance. EFT works for this group, but needs some adjustments and we should be aware of the pace. Unfolding the complex emotions and the underlying fears and needs to be done with patience and compassion. In this workshop we will take you into this process of slowly unfolding fears and how to help clients regulate their own emotions. We will also focus on the process of the therapist how to regulate his own emotions and stay connected to the couple and to himself.


Handling affairs with EFT
Petra Deij

In the practice of a couples therapist, we find many affairs. The outcome might be the direct cause for the couple to contact us, or the therapist find it coming up as ’just another problem’, and not very seldom it seems to be an unhealed attachment injury.  The affair might have been a one night stand, it might have been a longlasting affair. It can have many colours, many forms, many appearances. It can be recent or from a long time ago. However, it causes a lot of harsh stress most relations, and therefore an equally lot of thick, sticky difficulties to pass in therapy. As therapist, we can find ourselves overwhelmed by the intensity of the pain, the way how partners get stuck in their efforts to solve their problems and how reluctant and strong the cycle seems to be. Of course, AIRM is of great help here, but how and when do we fit that in? And is it enough, or does it need some extension?

In this workshop we will :

  • have an overview of some topics that need to be named;
  • look at the greater context: children, famiy, friends, community;
  • the crossover between crisis management and process work;
  • look at ourselves in relation to affairs: raw spots, attitudes, experiences.


Transcultural system therapy and EFT
Forugh Karimi en Erie Hilliger

In this current time spirit many families are confronted with war and had to flee their country. These huge life-events have impact on family life and relationships. How do people survive this? How can the EFT body of thought help people from a different cultural background to reconnect with themselves, their families and the ones they had to leave behind. This workshop discusses the consequences of violence of war and flight, the loss of homeland and family links. In addition will be practiced on the basis of a case.

Forugh Karimi is psychiatrist and system therapist (NVRG). She worked earlier with senior citizens at GGZ Oost-Brabant. Since 2014 she is employed as psychiatrist with Idiomes, GGZE. In addition she has her own private practice in ‘s-Hertogenbosch as psychiatrist, system therapist, EFT-couple therapist and educator therapist for students psychiatry. Her focus areas within the psychiatric work field are transcultural psychiatry, complex trauma and personality disorders.

Erie Hilliger is system therapist, sexologist and supervisor NVRG. She started her carrier as social worker in 1981. She has worked as system therapist with Centre 45, eating disorder clinic Rintveld, Psychotrauma Centre South Holland and since July 2017 with GGZ Momentum. In addition she works in private practice EFT-south as EFT couple therapist, sexologist and supervisor system therapy. Her focus areas are transcultural problems, complex trauma, eating disorders and sexual problems.


EFT interventies toegepast binnen mediation 2: 'Praktische oefening'
Annelies Verhoeff, Annebeth Post Uiterweer en Pieter Dingemanse

Subtitel: Omgaan met ‘lastige ouders’, ze brengen bij het welzijn van hun kind.

In deze workshop gaan we dieper in op het toepassen van EFT-technieken in de context van mediation. Aan de hand van filmmateriaal, casuïstiek en rollenspel willen we deze technieken gaan oefenen om (ex) partners te helpen samen ouders te worden van hun kind. We bespreken hoe deze interventies mediation kunnen verreiken in de omgang met soms lastige ex-partners.

Deze workshop is speciaal voor mediators en mensen die geïnteresseerd zijn in EFT-toepassingen bij mediation. Samen met deel 1 ‘inleiding’ vormt het een geheel.