EFST-P Core Program

Access to this course content is available for 365 days.

Parents and Mental Health Professionals

Level: Core Program

This course covers the basics of Dr Joanne Dolhanty’s Emotion Focused Skills Training for Parents. Learn this simple basic program, guiding parents to navigate their own and their child’s emotions, enhance their own and their child’s motivation for change, and transform problematic relationships in their family.


Emotion Focused Skills Training for Parents is an evidence-based intervention, with research results showing that even the core basic program is sufficient for significant change to occur. 

In a large randomized clinical trial, parents attended this program while their child struggling with the mental health problem did not. Children were assessed before and after the parents received the intervention and again at follow up. Children made significant change although only their parents attended, and at 12-month follow-up, the children no longer required mental health intervention.


EFST-P Core Program


This course will be relevant to mental health professionals who already work with, or who wish to include parents, caregivers and/or families in their work with adult, adolescent or child clients.  


This is the first course in EFST-P training for professionals to experience how the core program is delivered to parents.


This course will be relevant to parents who have a loved one of any age (young child, adolescent or adult child) suffering from a mental health or physical health problem, or other problems such as social or educational struggles.


Mental health professionals may recommend this course to parents as an introduction or supplement to their ongoing work together.

Parents who register for this course are strongly encouraged to be followed by a clinician.



Founder & Lead Instructor Joanne Dolhanty

Dr. Joanne Dolhanty, PhD, C. Psych, is a clinical psychologist and the developer of Emotion Focused Skills Training (EFST). In collaboration with Dr. Leslie Greenberg, she also developed the application of Emotion Focused Therapy to Eating Disorders. She provides a lively and warm training atmosphere which facilitates personal growth as well as learning. She is known for turning complex change concepts into usable tools. Dr. Dolhanty teaches and trains individuals, parents, professionals and organizations across Canada and internationally.


EFST-P emerged out of Dr Joanne Dolhanty’s pioneering work including parents in the treatment of individual adults suffering from severe eating disorders. It has since evolved into becoming a lifespan model to work with parents who have a loved one of any age suffering from a mental health or physical health problem, or other problems such as social or educational struggles.

Professionals have implemented EFST-P, in person and online, in a variety of health care and mental health care settings, including large hospitals, small and large community organizations, and private practice. Professions of those utilizing the model include psychotherapists, social workers, child and youth workers, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, and others in the helping professions.


For Parents & Professionals

  • Learn the content of the Core EFST program for parents
  • Start to learn the basics of the model of change in EFST-P
  • Start to build your “emotion self-efficacy”
  • Understand your competing motivation not to change 
  • Enhance your intrinsic motivation to change 
  • Reduce your self-blame
  • Begin to learn to attend to “emotion data” in others (including your child)
  • Learn the research-backed ingredients of effective apology
  • Begin to learn a new conceptualization of boundaries
  • Work on embracing radical responsibility in place of self-blame


Additional Goals and Learning Objectives for Professionals 

Professionals will complete this course as the first step in learning how to facilitate EFST programming with parents. In addition to the above goals and objectives, they will observe and experience:

  • The core program as delivered to parents
  • The style of presenting this material to parents
  • How we work to make parents feel validated in order to reduce their self-blame
  • How we validate the competing motivation not to change 
  • How we work to enhance intrinsic motivation for change rather than urge towards change
  • How we embody the EFST-P stance: We share emotion skills, not parenting expertise

Course Access Duration

  • 365 days 
Watch Intro Video

Watch Video


Unit 1 – Introduction to EFST-P

  • How motivated are you?
  • The unique qualities and challenges of parent motivation
  • Enhancing intrinsic motivation vs urging to change
  • Self-Assessment
  • Rationale for affording parents a central role in their loved one’s recovery
  • Core principles regarding parents that underlie EFST-P
  • Overview of the three modules of the core NET structure of EFST-P
  • The bridge metaphor for change
  • The role of “emotion self-efficacy” in motivation


Unit 2 – Navigate Emotion

  • Emotions 101
  • Why Emotion?
  • Learn about emotion
  • Universality of emotion
  • Emotion Basics Simplified
  • Work with emotion
  • Tool: Validation – Beginner 
  • Impact of invalidating emotion


Unit 3 – Enhance Motivation

  • The difficulty of validating
  • Hijacked
  • Feeling Traps
  • Magnets & Triggers
  • Advanced Validation
  • Competing Motivations
  • Tool: Conversation between the self and the self
  • Motivation and awareness


Unit 4 – About Boundaries

  • The old way of thinking about boundaries
  • Rationale for new conceptualization of boundaries
  • The new way of thinking about boundaries
  • Incoming and outgoing boundaries
  • Emotion-motivation influencing boundaries


Unit 5 – Boundaries without Judgment

  • Tool: Boundary PECCS
  • Assess and Address
  • Flex Your PECCS
  • Confounding boundaries and judgment
  • Tool: Apology


Unit 6 – Integrate

  • Impact of Apology – Delivering
  • More conversation between the self and the self
  • From self-blame to radical responsibility
  • Review