STEP 3: The Challenges of Accessing Emotions When the Withdrawer and the Pursuer are Highly Cognitive

  • 23 Sep 2017
  • 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley 2407 Dana Street Berkeley, CA 94704
  • 0


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STEP 3: The Challenges of Accessing Emotions When the Withdrawer and the Pursuer are Highly Cognitive

Presented by:
Sam Jinich, Ph.D., Certified EFT Trainer

Last Fall, Sam Jinich, PhD presented Step 2: Tracking the Reactive Cycle.  This Fall, Sam will give a presentation about Step 3 and will focus his talk on the challenges of working with highly cognitive couples. 

Accessing and deepening primary, softer and vulnerable emotions that are hidden, unspoken or unknown and often masked by reactive and protective secondary emotions can be one of the most satisfying skills of being an EFT Therapist. It is not uncommon for EFT therapists to crave having a "Hollywood Moment" when they facilitate an emotionally moving enactment, when a formerly withdrawn partner turns to their partner and shares with them about their pain, sadness and fear and when a harsh critical partner begins to risk and softly speaks about his/her loneliness and their longing for closeness. 

Learning how to evoke, expand and distill emotions to facilitate their disclosure is both a challenge and also the most satisfying aspect of being a couples therapist. There is nothing like facilitating and witnessing a heartfelt bonding moment in action. 

As EFT Therapists we seek to sharpen our skills as emotional explorers and attachment detectives seeking to discover and enable the sharing of vulnerable emotions, attachment fears and longings. That is what we do and what we constantly strive to improve.  It is natural to feel proud of ourselves when we look like a "real EFT therapist" and to feel badly about ourselves as therapists when we can't seem to get any traction nor be able to find our way beneath reactive and avoidant emotions, rational explanations, evasions and demands. The trick is trusting the EFT model and trusting your stamina and remembering: “whatever you do…don’t pull up the EFT anchor and sail away to old familiar waters.” 

In this presentation, we will review step 3 of EFT and focus specifically on the challenges of accessing emotions when both the pursuer and the withdrawer are highly cognitive, rigid and more oriented towards rational explanations, specificity, data, facts, truth, justice and fairness. It is more difficult for EFT therapists to intervene effectively if one or both members of the couple have a very constricted and rigid way of processing his/her experience and of interacting with the other. As EFT therapists, we seek to expand awareness and experience. However, there are some individuals with very rigidly held views of self and other, as well as very limited ways of regulating affect, for whom the expansion of such views and ways of processing are too high a price to pay for modifying their relationship. In attachment terms, it is more difficult to intervene when working models are impermeable or unresponsive to new experience (Johnson, S. 1996).

By using attunement skills, relentless empathy and exploratory skills, over time we can help develop the necessary entry points to begin to access the softer more vulnerable material that we want to explore, deepen, distill and disclose. 

Come watch the Live EFT session that Sam did at the SFCEFT March 2017 Externship. Sam will discuss the many challenges he faced during the 90 minute session with a highly cognitive couple. Patiently discovering emotions rather than conjecturing them or guessing them in Stage 1 will be an important area for us to consider. Participants will have opportunities to discuss the many challenges and frustrations that are often experienced in stage 1 of EFT as we guide and try to shepherd our clients towards a safe exploration and disclosure of emotions. Participants will also have opportunities to practice EFT skills that will be demonstrated in the video presentation. The 90 Minute session will be edited to 60 minutes. The remaining time will be discussion and hands-on practice. 

Come see Sam sweat this one out. Together lets consider what worked and what other strategies might have been tried.

Participants will have opportunities to: 

1) track and make sense of a couple’s cycle, 

2) use Evocative Reflections and Evocative Inquiry to access underlying emotions 

3) use Attachment Reframed Validations and RISSSC in order to develop entry points for accessing underlying primary emotions

We will offer time for Q & A followed by an opportunity to practice EFT interventions and skills.


Upon completion of this workshop, participants should be able to:

1. Understand how a lack of open communication, particularly around attachment issues and emotional vulnerabilities, constricts the couple’s interactions and ability to experience and process affect.

2. Practice ways of intervening when one or both partners have constricted and rigid (impermeable) ways of processing his or her experience and of interacting with each other.

3. Discuss and practice the judicious use of empathic conjecture in Stage 1 of EFT, in particular when attempts at accessing primary emotions are defended against or overtly blocked and emotions denied.

4. Recognize and practice clinical interventions and skills used in step 3 of EFT such as validation, evocative reflections and questions, heightening, empathic conjecture, ongoing tracking and reflecting patterns of interaction and reframing the problem in terms of contexts, cycles and unmet attachment needs.


Sam Jinich, PhD is a Certified Emotionally Focused Trainer, Supervisor and Therapist. He is the Director of the San Francisco Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy (SFCEFT) and the Instituto de Terapia Focalizada en las Emociones (ITFE). 

Sam has a private practice in San Francisco. He co-facilitates the Hold Me Tight Workshop for Couples with Michelle Gannon, PhD in San Francisco, Tiburon, Esalen Institute and 1440 Multiversity. The SF Center for EFT offers Introductions to EFT, the EFT Externship, EFT Core Skills, EFT Core Skills Refresher as well as trainings on forgiveness and attunement. The SF center is actively planning and developing other special topic trainings that will be offered to the EFT community. For more information, please visit  

Sam is bilingual in Spanish and is leading EFT Externships and Core Skills in Spanish in Costa Rica, Argentina, Mexico City, Merida, Guatemala, Spain and in 2018 he will offer the first EFT Externship in Panama. To contact Sam, email him at


10:00 AM - Networking and Professional Socialization (not included in CE credits)

10:30 AM - NCCEFT Announcements (not included in CE credits)

10:50 AM - Training begins

11:50 AM - 10-minute break (not included in CE credits)

12:00 PM - Training reconvenes

1:00 PM   - Training adjourns


This training is appropriate for mental health practitioners who work with couples using Emotionally Focused Therapy.


This presentation is appropriate for mental health professionals who work with couples using Emotionally Focused Therapy.  Level is introductory to intermediate.


This training is free to members, who will receive Continuing Education (CE) credit at no charge.  This training is available to non-members for $10, and CE credit is available for an additional $25.  Payment may be made by cash or check made out to NCCEFT.  As payment is collected at the door, no refunds or cancellations are available.

This course meets the qualifications for 2 hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences;

Psychologists:  The Northern California Community for Emotionally Focused Therapy (NCCEFT) is approved by the CPA OPD to sponsor continuing professional education for psychologists in California. NCCEFT maintains responsibility for this program and its content. (Provider # NOR055)

NCCEFT is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.  NCCEFT maintains responsibility for this program/course and its content. Provider # 93337

Those who attend this workshop in full, complete the course evaluation and sign in/out will receive CE credits. A certificate of completion will be provided at the end of the workshop. Please note that credit will only be granted to those who attend the entire workshop.  Those arriving more than 15 minutes after the start time or leaving before the workshop is completed will not receive CE credit.


NCCEFT meets all applicable local, state and federal standards, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42, U.S.C. 12101-12213 (2008)). We hold events only at professional venues that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42, U.S.C. 12101-12213 (2008)

ADA NEEDS: We will be happy to accommodate your ADA needs; please contact us at  at least two weeks prior to the seminar date.


The Northern California Community for Emotionally Focused Therapy (NCCEFT) is fully committed to conducting all activities in strict conformance with the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists. NCCEFT will comply with all legal and ethical responsibilities to be non-discriminatory in promotional activities, program content and in the treatment of program participants.  The monitoring and assessment of compliance with these standards will be the responsibility of the CPA PAS CE Program Director in consultation with the Board of Directors (Steering Committee).

While NCCEFT works to assure fair treatment for all participants and attempts to anticipate problems, there will be occasional issues which will require intervention and/or action on the part of NCCEFT. This procedural description serves as a guideline for handling such complaints.

When a participant, either orally or in written format, files a grievance and expects action on the complaint, the following actions will be taken:

1. If the complaint concerns a speaker, the content presented by the speaker, or the style of presentation, the individual filing the complaint will be asked to put his/her comments in written format. The CE Program Director will then pass on the comments to the speaker, assuring the confidentiality of the aggrieved individual.

2. If the complaint concerns a workshop offering, its content, level of presentation, or the facilities in which the workshop was offered, the CE Program Director will mediate and will be the final arbitrator. If the participant requests action during a workshop or conference, the CE Program Director or his/her representative will:

a. attempt to rectify the situation, and/or

b. provide a credit for a subsequent presentation, in the event of a program having an attendance fee or

c. provide a partial or full refund of the registration fee, in the event of a program having an attendance fee.

Actions 2b and 2c will require a written note, documenting the grievance, for record keeping purposes. The note need not be signed by the aggrieved individual.

3. If the grievance concerns the business practices of the NCCEFT CE program in a specific regard, the CE Program Director or Administrator will attempt to arbitrate.


In the event that a program presentation has an attendance fee, CANCELLATIONS are subject to a $50.00 processing fee and must be received 14 days prior to be eligible for a refund.

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In association with the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy

NCCEFT is a professional association of therapists practicing Emotionally Focused Therapy in Northern California. Serving communities of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, San Jose, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, and beyond; we have members throughout California and throughout the United States.
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