Expanding And Heightening Emotion



Why is the manner (RISSSC) in which the therapist conducts interventions particularly important in Step 5?

What are the emotions that usually emerge and deepen in Step 5?

Step 5 can be described as: (check the two correct answers)


  1. “What do you want to do when your wife gets ‘difficult,’ as you see it? What do you
    want to do when you feel uncertain as you seem to do right now?” (focus on action
    tendency) “Some part of you feels ‘fond’ and ‘civil,’ but some part of you says what?
    Better to stay away, keep your distance?”
  2. “Could you help me? The word ‘freedom’ seems a little abstract. What would that
    feel like? Free from what?”
  3. “The word ‘detached’ hits me. You seem to have become less and less detached over
    our sessions. You came in speaking of leaving the relationship. What does detached
    sound like? Is it like ‘I have given up. Maybe it’s safer to shut down and not want
    anything.’ Or is it like ‘She is too much for me. I can’t make it with her, I am too hurt
    and afraid’? Not sure.” (focus on reappraisal, meaning).
  4. “It is so hard for you, Louis, to feel sure of yourself, not to begin to be worried about
    meeting her demands when, even if things have improved, there are moments when
    your partner seems ‘difficult.’” (could also ask him to tell her this).
  5. “Could you help me, Louis? I am remembering you talking briefly about a sense of
    failure in our last sessions. Is the ‘uncertainty’ about that? Is it like ‘I will never make
    it with her, never pass her tests. It’s hopeless, might as well give up.’ Is it like that?”

A very intellectual and withdrawn partner, Louis, who had asked for a divorce but has touched and named a sense of helplessness and failure in Step 3 and has, in Step 4, agreed that now he and his wife are friends. He adds that they are not close, and now begins in a calm distant manner:

“We have been together for so long. But things have eroded over the years. I am fond of
her. I am perhaps uncertain of my commitment, so I cannot really talk about the future
with any clarity. We have civil conversations now, but then there are moments when she
seems difficult, so I am unsure as to my way here.” (He rubs his hand furiously against
his leg for a moment.) “I have spoken before about always having to meet her demands
and being tested. I feel quite detached. I’d feel more freedom perhaps if I did leave.”
Check the responses an EFT therapist might make to help this man begin the process of becoming more engaged with his emotional experience and distill the key parts of it. Check
the responses that help to make his experience more concrete, specific, immediate, and
tangible. If you wish you can also name the interventions that you check as appropriate