The Emotion Training Institute (ETI) offers training, guided practice, and consultation in the emotion focused approach. Central to the curriculum are courses in Emotion Focused Skills Training (for parents and individuals, and in schools), Emotion Focused Therapy for Eating Disorders, and Theory into Practice courses that facilitate mastery in the experiential tasks of EFT and EFST.

At ETI you will find:

  • Engaging training experience

  • Expert instruction

  • Clear demonstrations

  • Stepwise skill development

  • Interactive learning 

  • Emphasis on experiential practice

  • Drill-down discussions and explanations

  • Tools for evaluating your own work

  • Guidelines for continuing to develop outside of course time

  • Continuing Education resources

ETI is known for:

Fostering mastery in individuals, and capacity in professional communities, in understanding and utilizing the theory, and exceling at the practice, of the emotion focused approach

Providing a stepwise Training Wheels approach to achieving excellence in emotion focused experiential tasks, tools, and techniques 

Offering a “Mentorship/Apprenticeship” structure within the ETI training community, to encourage a high level of skill competence as well as a broad leadership among professionals in this field

Facilitating Personal Growth in addition to Professional Development and Practice Change in trainees and trainers, through a learning program that includes demanding levels of skill instruction, practice and evaluation, as well as reflection and discovery


Promoting and contributing to greater accessibility to Emotion Focused Therapy and Skills Training among struggling individuals and families in need


Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) is a richly elaborate, textured, and nuanced psychotherapy model developed by Dr. Leslie Greenberg. Overarching emphasis is on the quality of the therapeutic alliance, therapist empathic attunement, and deepening of the client’s experiencing of their painful emotions. EFT outlines a clearly articulated guidance system for therapists to support clients in approaching their most painful emotional experience, follow them to that experience, and guide them in how to transform even intransigently stale and stuck painful emotions from the past.

EFT promotes and supports the development of emotion self-efficacy, or mastery, in living productively with the array of human emotional experience. Based on a half-century of study, clinical practice, and research, EFT gives us the science of emotion to help clients move from a fear and avoidance of painful emotion to a competence in utilizing the inherent guidance system that our emotional experience provides us. Emotion Focused Therapy delineates the manner in which the therapist works empathically and systematically with emotion via four central orientation systems.

Emotion Focused Therapy delineates the manner in which the therapist works empathically and systematically with emotion via four central orientation systems.

  1. Assessment. We assess the quality and productivity of client’s emotion processing via the therapist’s empathic attunement to emotion data, knowledge about universal emotion, knowledge about client’s issues and ways of responding, and knowledge about their own emotion.
  2. Principles of Change. With three broad steps and within them, numerous micro steps, the therapist supports the client to: a. Get access to their emotions, increasing awareness of emotional experience and building competence to express their emotions. b. Modulate and understand their emotions. c. Transform painful emotions. Transformation occurs through two specific mechanisms guided and supported by the therapist and backed by the research on the nature of emotional change. We change emotion with emotion, and we change emotion through the corrective experience of the therapeutic relationship.
    “Changing emotion with emotion” is a hallmark of the approach and significantly informs the support of therapists’ learning. Developing skills and techniques occur in tandem with an even greater emphasis on the development of excellence in the therapist’s empathic attunement and capacity to facilitate a deepening of client emotional experience.
  3. Case Formulation. In EFT case formulation, the therapist works, again empathically and systematically, to develop a “pain compass” to follow the client to their core painful emotions and associated needs. The therapist then facilitates the process whereby the client moves towards a transformation from their initial presentation of undifferentiated distress toward an increased capacity for compassion in the place of self-criticism, and for healthy, protective boundaries in the face of painful experience.
  4. Problem Markers. In EFT, the therapist learns to identify and follow “markers” that indicate when the client is caught in a problematic emotion or process that needs addressing. The therapist learns to recognize these markers as cues to engage in certain therapy tasks. These include tasks to process and resolve inner splits or dilemmas such as self-criticism, or self-interruption where the client stops themselves from feeling. Markers also cue the therapist to initiate tasks to resolve unfinished business, when unresolved painful feelings regarding a significant other emerge.

In keeping with the clarity of the overall system for working with these four systems, therapists also learn to identify markers not only for when to initiate tasks, but also for which actions and steps to take within tasks for productive transformation of core pain. The system thus resembles an elaborate, but well-marked, series of trails. The therapist, as they develop, can thus learn to follow prompts which occur organically in the process, and which they learn to utilize in their decision of which task to do when, and how to navigate each task step by step.

Tasks include a variety of specific empathy tasks, methods to deepen and clarify emotional experience, and gestalt-inspired chair tasks. Significant emphasis is placed on developing and honing therapists’ capacity and excellence in using empathic attunement, and their abilities to work productively, specifically, and effectively with painful emotional experience as it emerges and fluctuates throughout the therapy. The clarity of the structure of EFT rests in part on the very specifically operationalized mechanism of change that this therapy utilizes. When the therapist can themselves learn the system sufficiently to grasp and articulate that mechanism of change, and to combine it with a deeply empathic presence, the methods, techniques, and skills of the approach become tools for change readily available to therapist and client.

Your Trainer - Dr. Joanne Dolhanty

Developer of Emotion Focused Therapy for Eating Disorders
Creator of Emotion Focused Skills Training

Dr. Joanne Dolhanty is best known for her pioneering work in two areas using Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT). She developed the application of EFT to individuals suffering from eating disorders, in collaboration with EFT founder, Dr. Leslie Greenberg. In consultation with Dr. Greenberg, she also pioneered the inclusion of parents of adult clients in their loved one’s individual Emotion Focused Therapy treatment, developing a central role for parents in their adult child’s recovery.

The latter led to Dr. Dolhanty’s creation of Emotion Focused Skills Training for Parents (EFST-P). From its inception as “Emotion Focused Mother-Daughter Dyad Therapy,” the model has evolved to the current EFST-P – a lifespan model for parents, caregivers, and families of a loved one of any age (child, adolescent, or adult “child”) suffering from a mental health or physical health disorder, or other difficulty such as a social or educational challenge.

Dr. Dolhanty’s approach to training and to supporting learning is also well-known, in helping clinicians acquire the skills, and especially overcome the impasses, to become competent in the use of emotion focused experiential tasks, including chair work.

She also offers consultation and learning-support in utilizing Emotion Focused Therapy tasks and techniques specifically in relation to the foundational goals of Motivational Interviewing, referred to as “Enhancing Motivational Enhancement with Emotion Focused Therapy.”

After completing her first Masters degree in Comparative Literature, Dr. Dolhanty came to the study of psychology with a driving interest in the factors that lead individuals to survive and thrive in the aftermath of adversity. This led to an interest in the mechanisms of change and of motivation to change. She earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada, where she also worked for 15 years at the Toronto General Hospital Eating Disorder Program.

The severe nature of eating disorders, the high levels of morbidity and chronicity, the extremely low motivation to change and apparent intransigence of the disorder in the face of attempts to increase motivation, increased Dr. Dolhanty’s interest and commitment to developing a treatment that would encompass and utilize intransigence rather than see it as an obstacle. Surely such determination could be channeled. This was when she sought out Dr. Greenberg and began her training with him, convinced that the eating disorders were based in emotional dysregulation and low emotion self-efficacy, and that EFT could provide hope where there was little. Having learned Motivational Interviewing basics as part of her eating disorders training, and with her discovery that what eating disorder clients reported most frequently as the factor thwarting their motivation to recover was their fear of emotion, she began to work with emotion and motivation together.

In Emotion Focused Therapy, Dr. Dolhanty found in particular that its client-centered foundation and philosophy, combined with the very specific mechanism of change, offers the possibility that the therapist can equip themselves competently to be able to offer guidance to another person in a change process that they can operationalize and articulate clearly. That has inspired a dedication not only to providing training and consultation in the emotion focused approach, but to operationalizing the training and learning process, and developing tools to support mastery in the methods, tasks and techniques of EFT and EFST-P.

Dr. Dolhanty has been offering clinical trainings for three decades, and trainings in the emotion focused approach for the past fifteen years. She has trained and provided consultation to professionals at the highest levels in Emotion Focused Therapy for Eating Disorders and in Emotion Focused Skills Training, in mental health organizations across Canada, in the U.S., and internationally.

Dr. Dolhanty is known for her lively, warm, and engaging teaching style. Training and consultation participants consistently report that she has the ability to render complex theory and concepts simple and accessible, and that she has an extraordinary talent for facilitating the process of converting theory into practice, to support excellence in the acquisition of EFT and EFST techniques. She makes trainees feel that they can begin to use the techniques quickly, while inspiring them to continue to strive towards the highest levels of competence, mastery, and excellence.


Breaking Down Barriers and Redefining Access: Emotion Focused Skills Training (EFST)

There is an Emotion Revolution afoot. Previously thought to be “too soft for science,” emotion is now itself becoming the new science. Emotion Focused Skills Training (EFST) brings the transformational methods and techniques of Emotion Focused Therapy out of the rarified confines of the therapy office and into the hands of everyday people. With families, for example, parents (even if their “child” is an adult) learn a simple set of tools that comprise an Emotion-Wise skill “NET” to Navigate Emotion, Enhance Motivation and Transform Relationships. EFST promotes a transformative relationship between mental health professionals and non-professionals, promoting access to and agency in healthy emotional functioning that bypasses traditional barriers to receiving professional mental health care. 

EFST emerges out of Dr. Joanne Dolhanty’s pioneering work empowering parents to adopt a significant role in the recovery of a loved one suffering from a mental health problem.

It addresses a need in the Emotion Focused World and in the world of individuals and groups looking to broaden, deepen, and at the same time simplify the application of emotion focused teaching and learning.

What is EFST?

Emotion Focused Skills Training is a training program with:

  1. A simple structure for learning and teaching emotion and emotion focused skills
  2. Broad applications including individuals, parents & families, schools & universities, and mental health programs & teams

EFST is built around the concept of an Emotion Focused Skill NET to structure the teaching and learning of emotion focused skills.

EFST focuses on Navigating Emotions, Enhancing Motivation, and Transforming Relationships.

The Emotion Focused Skill NET

Navigate Emotions – Enhance Motivation – Transform Relationships

  1. Navigate the world of emotions and develop self-efficacy in working with emotion
  2. Enhance motivation-to-change with emotion focused techniques
  3. Transform relationships with emotion-focused tasks.

Within each of these three domains, there is a very basic set of skills, as well as a virtual 'file drawer' of increasingly advanced levels of skills and skill acquisition guidance.


Emotion Focused Skills Training for Parents (EFST-P) is an innovative, ultra-simple and quickly effective parent and family support program that facilitates a transformational partnership between families and helping professionals.

EFST supports parents by empowering them as active, primary agents in guiding loved ones of any age through the behavioural, emotional and relational challenges their loved ones face when struggling with a mental health issue, a physical health issue, or any other special circumstances including social and educational challenges.

This is an emotion-processing, skills-based approach that gives parents and families simple, practical tools that they can implement immediately in their family.

In EFST, parents and families learn a simple set of tools. These include skills in how to navigate the confusing world of their loved one’s feelings, how to work with challenges in motivation, and how to restore their ability to create appropriate boundaries while also restoring positive, productive relationships with their children of any age, with their own parents, or with other family members.

This gives parents and families an Emotion-Wise Skill NET:

  • Navigate the confusing and often painful world of your loved one’s emotions
  • Enhance your motivation and capacity to support your loved one
  • Transform relationships with your children (whether child, teen, or adult child) and others

Research evidence from a large clinical trial demonstrates the effectiveness of EFST-P, showing that when clinicians have their backs, parents can adopt a significant role, leading to significant results, in their loved one’s mental health recovery.


Education professionals live on the front line with our kids' feelings. Emotion Focused Skills Training in Schools (EFST-S) is a unique and simple program to support them in their demanding jobs.

That support revolves around EFST’s innovative reconceptualization of boundaries, with the well-being of educators, as well as that of students, as the primary focus. This course offers a new tool to set, communicate, negotiate, and implement limits & rules, demands & expectations, and values & norms in school.

With a new set of emotion skills, it becomes possible to de-escalate emotional upheavals as they occur, prevent emotional meltdowns, and get motivation back on track.

EFST-S complements the programs, initiatives, and values that are already an essential part of your training and your school’s culture.

The Skill NET to Navigate the Challenges You Face with Student & Parent Emotions

Navigate Emotions – Enhance Motivation – Transform Relationships

  • Navigate the confusing and often painful world of emotions
  • Enhance motivation to resolve emotional and educational challenges
  • Transform relationships among teachers, school-personnel, students, and parents

In the classroom. In the halls. In the office. In the parent interview.