Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy (ECCT)

Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy (ECCT) is a type of counseling. It is a form of psychotherapy created by Hedy Schleifer to assist couples in improving their emotional connection, communication, and overall relationship satisfaction. Building a sacred and safe environment for partners to engage in-depth with one another is a key component of ECCT. It fosters vulnerability between people and encourages active listening and empathy. The methodology also emphasizes the idea of the "imago," which contends that people are drawn to partners who share characteristics with their early caregivers. ECCT aims to transform relationships by promoting deeper interactions, embracing differences, and developing significant rituals of connection. In its entirety, ECCT seeks to promote significant development and intimacy in romantic relationships.

Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy (ECCT)


Hedy Schleifer, a well-known therapist and educator, created Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy (ECCT). Schleifer developed this ground-breaking method of couples therapy in the latter half of the 20th century by drawing on a wide range of therapeutic traditions, such as psychodrama, Gestalt therapy, humanistic psychology, and attachment theory. She emphasized the crucial importance of strong emotional connections within relationships as a result of her extensive experience working with couples. The success of ECCT in promoting close relationships, enhancing communication, and promoting partners' transformational growth has been acknowledged. Couples therapy has been impacted by ECCT over the years because it provides a unique and effective method for enhancing the caliber of close relationships.

Focus theme / core-concept

The main concepts of Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy (ECCT) revolve around helping couples form powerful emotional bonds and transformative interactions.

Work with Imago and Mirror.

The space between.

Conversation versus monologue.

The relational environment.

Acknowledging diversity.

The Strength of Presence.

The System of the Relationship.

Rituals for Connecting.


Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy (ECCT) offers a range of benefits for couples seeking to

1. Enhance their relationships.

2. Deepened Emotional Connection.

3. Improved Communication Skills.

4. Conflict Resolution.

5. Enhanced Intimacy and Trust.


The two main goals of encounter-centered couples therapy (ECCT) are to create a sacred, safe space for transformative encounters and to strengthen the emotional bonds between partners.

Encouraging Transformation and Growth: It entails fostering an atmosphere that promotes growth on an individual basis and constructive change, both of which are ultimately beneficial to the relationship's general well-being.

Increasing Intimacy and Trust: A solid and healthy relationship between partners intimacy and trust. Fostering an atmosphere of safety and vulnerability, open communication, and eventually increasing the degree of emotional intimacy and closeness.

Bringing About Long-Lasting Changes: bringing about meaningful, long-lasting, and sustainable changes in the partnership. It entails proactively striving for constructive changes in behavior, communication styles, and general dynamics while making sure that these advancements are advantageous to both parties in the long run.

Honoring Disparities: To foster an atmosphere of acceptance and respect for one another, it is essential to acknowledge and value the distinctive traits, viewpoints, and strengths that each partner brings to the partnership.

Creating Connection Rituals: Creating routines or rituals that support and strengthen the emotional connection. These rituals can take the form of shared activities, symbolic actions, or consistent behaviors that help to fortify the relationship between partners and give them a sense of security and intimacy.


Through the application of various techniques in encounter-centered couples therapy (ECCT), couples can enhance their relationship and strengthen their emotional bond.

1. Imago Dialogue

2. Mirroring

3. Validation

4. Empathetic Listening

5. Creating a Sacred Space

6. The Imago

7. Rituals of Connection

8. Encounter

9. Role Reversal

10. Body Awareness and Touch

11. Gestalt Techniques

12. Boundaries and Differentiation

13. Creative Expression