Problem Area: Depression
Treatment: Emotion Focused Therapy for Depression
2015 EST Status: Treatment pending re-evaluation
Very strong: High-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms and functional outcomes at post-treatment and follow-up; little risk of harm; requires reasonable amount of resources; effective in non-research settings
Strong: Moderate- to high-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms OR functional outcomes; not a high risk of harm; reasonable use of resources
Weak: Low or very low-quality evidence that treatment produces clinically meaningful effects on symptoms or functional outcomes; Gains from the treatment may not warrant resources involved
Insufficient Evidence: No meta-analytic study could be identified
Insufficient Evidence: Existing meta-analyses are not of sufficient quality
Treatment pending re-evaluation
1998 EST Status: Modest Research Support
Strong: Support from two well-designed studies conducted by independent investigators.
Modest: Support from one well-designed study or several adequately designed studies.
Controversial: Conflicting results, or claims regarding mechanisms are unsupported.
Strength of Research Support
- Basic premise: Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) for depression builds on Greenberg’s (2004) more general process-experiential approach that was designed to help patients identify, utilize, and process emotions. Depression is thought to involve inhibited processing of emotions and experiences, and the therapist provides a safe and soothing environment to reduce the anxiety and avoidance associated with difficult emotions.
- Essence of therapy: Emotion-focused therapy includes three specific phases: Emotion Awareness, Emotion Regulation, and Emotion Utilization or Transformation. Patients learn to increase awareness of their emotions, deepen their emotional experiences, understand unhealthy emotional responses so that they can be regulated or used to generate more adaptive emotion alternatives, and to use healthy emotions to guide action.
- Length: This therapy typically includes 16 to 20 sessions.
Editors: Michael Bricker, Ph.D.; Lilia Berkovich, Ph.D.; Rachel Hershenberg, Ph.D.
Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice
Treatment Manuals Training Resources Measures, Handouts and Worksheets Self-help Books Smartphone Apps Video Demonstrations Video Descriptions Clinical Trials Meta-Analyses and Systematic Reviews Other Treatment Resources
Treatment Manuals / Outlines
Books Available for Purchase Through External Sites
- Emotion-Focused Therapy (Greenberg)
Training Materials and Workshops
- Emotion Focused Therapy Clinic at York University
- International Society for Emotion Focused Therapy (isEFT)
Videos Available for Purchase Through External Sites
- Emotion-Focused Therapy for Depression (Greenberg)
- Emotion-Focused Therapy Over Time (Greenberg)
- Process Experiential Psychotherapy: An Emotion-Focused Approach (Greenberg)
- “That chair work thing was great”: a pilot study of group-based emotion-focused therapy for anxiety and depression (Robinson, McCague, & Whissell, 2014)
- Maintenance of gains following experiential therapies for depression (Ellison, Greenberg, Goldman, & Angus, 2009)
- The effects of adding emotion-focused interventions to the therapeutic relationship in the treatment of depression (Goldman, Greenberg, & Angus, 2006)
- Comparing the effectiveness of process-experiential with cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy in the treatment of depression (Watson, Gordon, Stermac, Kalogerakos, & Steckley, 2003)
- Experiential therapy of depression: Differential effects of client-centered relationship conditions and process experiential interventions (Greenberg & Watson, 1998)
Other Treatment Resources
- Case Studies in Emotion-Focused Treatment of Depression: A Comparison of Good and Poor Outcome (Watson, Goldman, & Greenberg)
- Immersion and distancing during assimilation of problematic experiences in a good-outcome case of emotion-focused therapy (Barbosa et al., 2016)
- Setbacks in the process of assimilation of problematic experiences in cases of emotion-focused therapy of depression (Mendes et al., 2016)
- Assessing client self-narrative change in emotion-focused therapy of depression: An intensive single case analysis (Angus & Kagan, 2013)
- Single-case investigation of an emotion-focused therapy group for anxiety and depression (Robinson, McCague, & Whissell, 2012)