524 – Addiction Treatment and Couples Therapy

Using Emotionally Focused Therapy to Strengthen Sobriety
Michael Barnett

Even the most talented couples therapists are often unprepared to handle the explosive impasses and icy freeze-outs that present themselves when toxic addictive processes permeate already unstable relationships. The traditional “sledgehammer” approach of harsh, shame-based confrontation only tends to fuel the problem. And behavioral and insight-oriented interventions rarely get to the heart of the pain and shame at the root of addictive processes. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), however, leverages an innate pull toward connection and belonging that motivates people to reach for their partner to regulate emotional pain, rather than reaching for substances. In this workshop, you’ll discover how to:

  • Use micro-tracking to identify and make explicit the rigid negative attachment-based patterns that perpetuate relational distress in addictive relationships
  • Systematically engage emotion to create bonding moments that support the addict in reaching out to their partner rather than their substance/behavior of choice
  • Apply powerful attachment-based interventions as an effective alternative to the familiar modes of confronting denial that often fail and trigger relapse


Michael Barnett, MA, EdS, LPC, is the founder and director of the Atlanta Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy. He’s an ICEEFT Certified Trainer and implements cutting-edge attachment-informed approaches to treat addiction.

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