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Meet the South Africa EFT Trainer

Elmien Lesch

Elmien Lesch

Elmien Lesch is a clinical psychologist and an associate professor in the Psychology Department at Stellenbosch University, and a certified EFT therapist, supervisor and trainer. She has a long-standing interest in couple and family therapy and have worked with many couples and families for over more than 30 years within a systemic and experiential therapeutic framework.

I have been involved in the training of Clinical Psychology students in couple and family therapy over many years. In 2002, I came across Susan Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy Model and immediately felt drawn to it as it resonated with my own ideas and style of working. Furthermore,  the model provides a clear and accessible theoretical framework and map to guide learning and implementation of the model. Since my first exposure to the model, I have immersed myself in learning it, and I have been certified as an EFT Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer. Training and supervising mental health professionals and trainees in this model bring me much joy.  I find that the EFT principles resonate with many students and practitioners on a personal and professional level. 

A crucial part of my work as an academic, is to generate new knowledge through research. I am interested in forms of, and processes in, close/intimate relationships (including romantic, family and friendship relationships) in different communities in South Africa with the view to develop community-appropriate relationship interventions. (See publications list below for examples of recent studies.) I would like to conduct or be involved with EFT effectiveness studies in various South African communities. I hope that by making EFT training available and assisting South African relationship practitioners to become EFT therapists that we will develop a team of competent and enthusiastic EFT therapists that will participate in such an endeavour. It would be great if more couple therapists want to do further formal studies (e.g., a PhD in Psychology) to contribute to our understanding of couple therapy practice in South Africa and on the African continent, and specifically the practice of EFT.   If you are interested, contact me.

We have started an initiative to reach out to practitioners on the rest of the African continent with a view to provide training to interested professionals and to create an African network of EFT practitioners that could work together to explore the effectiveness of this model for people living on the African continent. So, if you have come across this website and do couple and family work on the African continent, please make contact with us.

Selected Publications:

  1. Lesch, E. & Engelbrecht, S-K. (2011). Relationship Satisfaction and Gender Differences in a South African Farm-worker Community. South African Review of Sociology, 42: 1, 58—77
  2. Lesch, E. & Furphy, C. (2013). South African adolescents’ constructions of intimacy in romantic relationships. Journal of Adolescent Research, 28(6), 619-641. doi: 10.1177/0743558413480835.
  3. Lesch, E., Deist, M., Booysen, L., & Edwards, C. (2013). South African social workers’ knowledge of attachment theory and their perceptions of attachment relationships in foster care supervision. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(7), 1101-1109. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth. 2013.04.025
  4. Lesch, E. & De Jager, N. (2014). Positive and negative qualities of South African adolescents’ parent and peer relationships. Journal of Child & Adolescent Mental Health, 25(2), 1-14. doi: 10.2989/17280583.2013.825620
  5. Lesch, E. & Scheffler, F. (2015) “I want a better life for her”: Father-adolescent daughter relationships in a minority, low-income South African community. Marriage and Family Review, 51(5), 441-465.
  6. Lesch, E. & Kelapile, C. (2016). “In my dreams she finds me… and she wants me just the way I am”: Unmarried fathers’ experiences of fatherhood. Men & Masculinities, 1-22. doi: 0.1177/1097184X15601476
  7. Lesch, E. & Scheffler, F. (2016). Fathers, adolescent daughters and gender in a low-income South African community. Journal of Gender Studies25(5), 540-556. doi: 10.1080/ 09589236.2015.1051521.
  8. Lesch, E. & Adams, A. R. (2016). Sexual intimacy constructions of heterosexual couples living in a low-income, “Coloured”, farm worker community in South Africa. Journal of Sex Research, 53(9), 1082-1095. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1144170
  9. Lesch, E. & Adams, A. R. (2016). Couples living with and around alcohol abuse: A study of a farmworker community in the Cape Winelands, South Africa. Social Science & Medicine, 156, 167-174. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.03.030
  10. Lesch, E. & Scheffler, F. (2016). The importance of father-daughter research in South Africa. In M. Makiwane, M. Nduna & N.E. Khalema (Eds), Children in South African Families: Lives and Times. Johannesburg: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  11. Lesch, E., Casper, R., & Van der Watt. (2016). Romantic relationships and loneliness in a group of South African postgraduate students. South African Review of Sociology, 47(4), 22-39.
  12. Lesch, E., Brits, S., & Naidoo, N. T. (in press). “Walking on eggshells”: Experiences of same-sex student couples on a South African university campus. South African Journal of Higher Education, 31(4)
  13. Lesch, E., Brits, S., & Naidoo, N. T. (2017). “Walking on eggshells”: Experiences of same-sex student couples on a South African university campus. South African Journal of Higher Education, 31(4), 127‒149, doi: 10.20853/31-4-893.
  14.  Lesch, E., De Bruin, K., & Anderson, C. (2018). A pilot implementation of the Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy group psycho-education programme in a South African setting. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 1-25. 10.1080/ 15332691. 2017.1417940
  15. Lesch, E. & van der Watt, A. S. J. (2018). Living single: A phenomenological study of a group of South African single women. Feminism & Psychology, 28 (3), 390-408. 0959353517731435
  16. Lesch, E., & Parker, M. (2019). “We are Equal”! Gender Constructions in a Group of Middle-Class South African Muslim Couples. Gender Issues, 36(1), 23-45.
  17. Lesch, E., Briedenhann, C., & Du Toit, M. (2019). The maintenance of gender inequality in South
    African tertiary educated heterosexual couples. Journal of Family Studies, 1-16. doi: 10.1080/
  18. Attridge, N., & Lesch, E. (2020, online). Inconceivable: South African Lesbians Talking About Being Voluntary Childfree. Sex Roles, 83(9), 636-655.
  19. Van der Watt, A.S.J., Spies, G., Roos, A., Lesch, E., & Seedat, S. (2021). Functional neuroimaging of adult-to-adult romantic attachment separation, rejection, and loss: A systematic review. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, online, 1-12.
  20. Asiimwe, R., Lesch, E., Karume, M., & Blow, A. J (2021). Expanding our International Reach: Trends in the Development of Systemic Family Therapy Training and Implementation in Africa. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy.
  21. Van der Watt, A.S.J., Roos, A., Du Plessis, S., Bui, E., Lesch, E., & Seedat, S. (2021). Reframing romantic relationship breakups in emerging adults: A narrative review of attachment, neural circuitry, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy.
  22. le Roux, M., & Lesch, E. (2022). Exploring the caring of fathers in low-income, rural communities in South Africa. Journal of Family Studies, 1-24.
  23. Peterson, J.M. & Lesch, E. (2022). “A child needs both a mother and a father”: The parenting constructions of a new generation of tertiary-educated South African prospective parents.). Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 52(4), 715-742. Impact factor: 0.309
  24. Lesch, E., & Grötzinger, E. (2022). The father experiences and challenges of Namibian and South African offshore working men. WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation, 71(3), 585-599. 10.3233/WOR-205124 Impact factor: 1.132
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