Begin Your Healing Today

(949) 933-6103

Deborah Phillips, MA, LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist - LMFT52563

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"The most empowering relationships are those in which each partner lifts the other to a higher possession of their own being"

~ Teilhard de Chardin ~

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The core of my practice is the promotion of secure, resilient individuals and successful relationships between partners


To accomplish this I primarily utilize Emotionally Focused Therapy, a modality based on a structured approach to couples therapy formulated in the 1980's, by Dr. Sue Johnson and developed alongside the science on adult attachment and bonding to expand our understanding about what is happening in couple relationships.

Strengths of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

  • EFT is based on clear, explicit ideas of marital distress and adult love. These ideas are supported by scientific research on the nature of marital distress and adult attachment.
  • EFT is collaborative and respectful of clients.
  • Strategies and interventions for change are specific to problems.
  • Key moves and moments in the change process have been mapped into nine steps and three stages of change.
  • EFT has been validated by over 20 years of research. There is also research on the change processes and predictors of success.
  • 70-73% of couples recover after a course of EFT and 90% report significant improvement.
  • Couples continue to improve after completing EFT treatment and are unlikely to relapse.

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What to Expect in Emotionally Focused Couples' Therapy Sessions

At our first meeting we’ll have a brief discussion of your main concerns and to make sure my approach is right for you. We’ll also talk about the details of scheduling, fees and any other questions you have about the process. I’ll begin by meeting with you as a couple. Here are some of the questions and tasks that will likely come up in the first meeting.

  • How do you see your relationship?
  • How do you deal with conflict and what do your arguments look like?
  • Are you able to be affectionate and emotionally supportive of each other?
  • If things are especially tense now, when were they easier?
  • What do you still like about your relationship?

    Following the first session, I’ll meet with each of you alone in order to get to know you as an individual. This gives me a chance to ask you about past relationships and to hear about the family you grew up in. This is also when we’ll talk about any behavioral concerns you have about yourself or your partner, such as a mood disorder or drinking too much. My expectation is that you’ll talk about your individual session with your partner, but that’s your choice. I don’t want to be the keeper of secrets that interfere with therapy.

  • Identify the negative cycle and the emotions and concerns that help fuel it
  • Promote emotional engagement as you clarify your needs in the relationship
  • Build on the strengths of your renewed connection as you find new solutions to old concerns