Case Example—EFFT and Treating an Externalizing Disorder
In emotionally focused family therapy (EFFT), the therapist recognizes the key to working with “acting-out” adolescents is helping them find the developmental balance of establishing autonomy while maintaining a sense of relatedness with their parents. The overarching goal of EFFT is to invite parents and children to explore real-time blocks by engaging and sharing attachment-related emotions as they work through these blocks to recover the inherent resources found in their loving responses. Research suggests that as children, diagnosed with an externalized disorder, transition toward adulthood the resources required to help those increases exponentially. Externalizing disorders in childhood, also referred to as disruptive behavior disorders, are maladaptive behaviors directed toward others or one’s environment that also negatively impact the offender’s own wellbeing. For children diagnosed with a disruptive behavior disorder and the families raising them the trajectory toward wellbeing is trending in the wrong direction.