Younger children often take very easily to EFT. Teenagers appear to be tired of feeling the pain and are willing to try most anything. Pre teens, especially those with abuse in their history – can be a different story! Hormones are beginning to rage; they don’t understand what is going on in their body. They are confused about many things. They are very concerned about being “cool” and not looking foolish. And, to make matters worse not really sure what exactly is “cool.” They are not as easily convinced to do or try or believe something. They have learned that a simple invitation to do something, go get an ice cream cone for instance, can turn into something else, something sometimes very ugly and painful. They are suspicious – with good reason! Rapport can be more complicated to develop a child this age, particularly with a traumatic history.
Rapport is an important concept for all clients. At times, rapport is fairly easy to establish, other times particularly with multiple traumatized clients, it can be a slow time consuming, and on going, task. Don’t rush it.
I was talking today with a therapist about using EFT with children and it reminded me of a story from my work at the residential treatment program. When I taught EFT to staff at the residential program at one of them tried to use it with a year 12 old boy brought to her by another therapist to “try EFT with him.” After going over the EFT handout with him they started tapping. The boy objected and said they were just trying to make him look silly and got up and left. At our residential program we generally got another chance with our rather captive audience. But, in private practice you may not get another chance. Three problems here: 1) the staff did not have personal background knowledge of the child’s history; 2) the staff did not have personal rapport or a clear picture of the child’s personality and how he currently viewed, or framed, his world; 3) The standard handout we gave the kids with the picture of the points drawn on a face was the only explanation about EFT.
Three keys to keep in mind no matter what the age of your client: 1) Take a good intake yourself, whether with a parent about a child, or an adult himself, to assess early childhood trauma. 2) Take the time to develop deep rapport with your client – of any age. Just because they come to you for help – and especially if they were brought to you by someone else – does not mean rapport comes quickly. Severely traumatic histories, particularly, make building rapport an on going process. Again, don’t rush it. 3) Pre-frame EFT, even with children. When you have some understanding of their background, their personality and their frame of the world you can decide which of the many ways to use to explain – bridge – EFT.
And, 4) (I know I said 3 tips but I like to add value :-) Going slow can be the fastest way to get there. Just because EFT can work quickly doesn’t mean we have to – or should. Each client’s journey is on a different time table.