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Emotion-focused therapy and the person-centred approach : past, present & future

Elliott, Robert (2011) Emotion-focused therapy and the person-centred approach : past, present & future. In: Counselling Unit Twentieth Anniversity Conference, 2011-05-20.

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Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), also known as Process-Experiential (PE) psychotherapy, emerged out of the person-centred approach to psychotherapy in the late 1980’s, building on contemporary emotion theory and integrating elements of gestalt and existential therapies into its person-centred base. Over the past 20 years, PE-EFT has gone on to develop an impressive evidence base and to develop formulations for working with depression, relational difficulties in couples, post-trauma difficulties, social anxiety, and eating problems. In this presentation, I begin by discussing the origins of PE-EFT in the related concepts of process differentiation and process guiding and the early controversies and misunderstandings that surrounded PE-EFT’s so-called “directive” approach. Next, I describe PE-EFT’s current status and relationship to the rest of the person-centred approach, reviewing briefly its current theory and evidence base. I then offer some reflections on PE-EFT’s future directions and its evolving relationship to the person-centred approach, concluding with a summary of my understanding of what it means to be person-centred.