Emotional Pathways Towards Connection: Mapping Key Emotion Sequences of Withdrawers and Pursuers During EFT Change Events

Publication Date



The heart of change in Emotionally Focused Therapy involves engaging in emotions that redefine the self and promote new relational responses (Johnson, 2004). Past change process research studies demonstrated how partners stuck in rigid pursue-withdraw interactions made key emotional shifts that represent concrete changes in emotional experience and define each partner’s interactional position. However, the specific emotions and order of their engagement have not been identified for these transformational moments that lead to restoring attachment bonds. To better understand the emotional process in change, this study was designed to chart the emotions of partners using the CAMS (Pascual-Leone & Greenberg, 2005) to provide therapists with an emotional map for facilitating change. A sequential analysis was conducted to identify any prototypical emotion sequences. A Chi-square analysis was used to examine emotional differences between withdrawing and pursuing partners. Results revealed primary emotions as a key player in change. Withdrawers were more likely to demonstrate grief and hurt, whereas pursuers showed more anger. The emotion sequences identified revealed different focus on emotions between partners. Clinical implications include considering the differences between emotional expansion and transformation in relationship change.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Furrow, James L.

Document Type





Emotion processing, Corrective emotional experience, Emotionally focused therapy, Change process


Clinical Psychology | Counseling Psychology


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