top of page

Emotion Focused Therapy

Leslie Greenberg

Emotion-Focused Therapy has been developed over the last 35 years by Dr Leslie Greenberg of York University in Toronto and his collaborators. The approach integrates person-centred, gestalt and existential therapies together with contemporary emotion theory.


The basic tenet of emotion-focused therapy is that our experience of our emotions is key to how we perceive ourselves and the world, and that, as a result, we live in a constant process of trying to make sense of our emotions. Accordingly, this approach assumes that healthy adaptation to life’s challenges involves the effective integration of reason with emotion.


Dr Greenberg and others have carried out a number of studies that provide empirical support for his view that the best way to achieve enduring changes in thoughts, behaviours and interpersonal interactions is by changing unhelpful emotions with alternative more helpful emotions.

When Stephen works from an emotion-focused perspective he seeks to help his clients:


  • become aware of, express and regulate their emotions;


  • reflect on their emotions to make sense of them; and


  • transform their unhelpful emotions both by accessing alternate emotions and by having corrective emotional experiences.  


Key elements of the emotion-focused approach include maintaining a genuine, empathic and respectful counselling relationship, eliciting and identifying unhelpful emotions, accessing more helpful underlying emotions and dealing with unfinished business, most often with parents, through the use of imaginal techniques.

bottom of page