There is a clear process to follow when using EFT, no matter the client or the situation. What varies is the application and modification of that process with each individual client.
Particularly new practitioners are tempted to just start tapping with everyone. However, if you’ve watched many of Gary’s videos of working with a client you’ll notice he didn’t immediately start tapping. What Gary did was to establish rapport, to calm and connect with the client as he was clarifying with the client what he or she wanted to address. He was constantly calibrating and assessing the responses from the person in front of him.
As we clarify the issue to work on we sometimes forget that
the entire session is about calibrating, calming and connecting. The entire session is about addressing any level of intensity immediately with the appropriate approach.
Let’s briefly go over the process and then give an example:
1. Calibrate, calm and connect with your client.
From the first moment of contact you are constantly assessing and calibrating, watching closely for any physical signs of an emotional reaction from the client. You use this information to decide at what pace you will guide the client through the issue. You do this even when you share explanations of how you work or preframe EFT and how the process may be different from what they may have experienced.
Most of you are familiar with how useful Constricted Breathing is to calm the body. Tapping using no words at all or tap using generic and global statements such as “this intensity” or tapping simply for the current body sensations are other useful ways to gradually work into the more intense issues.
Testing the effectiveness of the tapping is important no matter the topic or event you are addressing with the tapping round or the technique you use.
Testing is useful: to make sure you are on the right “road,” to help the client see his own progress, and to assist the client to stay in the here and now. For the client to assess his intensity he has to totally come back to the present.
2. Pick the issue to address
Now you’ve addressed any anxiety, discomfort, intensity they may feel about being there and about any discomfort about discussing their issues.
This is “usually” the time to get into questions such as, “What brings you here today? What is on your mind? What happened that made you decide to make this appointment now?” to help the client clarify the most important issue for them.
Using Narrowing Questions such as, “What about that is the biggest challenge for you? or, “Can you give me an example of when ‘that’ is a problem?” help narrow down to a specific. Still calibrating, you are watching and checking for intensity. If they become intense stop and go back to #1.
As you are gaining information about the issue you are helping the client to find a specific event. Sometimes this is easily done. Sometimes not so much. Sometimes simply tapping for the body sensations and asking “What comes up now?” brings up an issue. Sometimes the client is so “all over the place” that it’s necessary to interrupt the client, summarize what he said and ask some variation of, “What would be the most important place to start?” Sometimes you just start tapping with whatever words they give you.
At other times, the client has his event clear and starts telling the story. Stop them to ask for a title to their story, what is the intensity and how long the event was. If the event is 6 or above, start by tapping for just the title of the story. This is another way to gradually get into the event with less intensity. If the event lasted more than 3 minutes ask them to pick just one part of the story.
The more intensity, the more history of multiple traumas or childhood abuse the more cautious it’s necessary to be. The less intensity and/or the less abuse history the more you can go directly into the issue. In all cases, you are keeping the person in present time.
It is really not what happened “back then” that is upsetting them – that’s over. It is their thoughts and memory and emotions about it now that is the problem. There is increasing research about memory: that we are pulling up not the original memory but we reorganize the memory each time we pull it up – it’s never exactly the same memory. The present is all we have it’s all there is. Even with any sort of parts work, like inner child, or Internal Family Systems or Matrix Reimprinting etc. you are dealing with the “part” that is affecting us now; That inner child that is still with us today.
Never ask the client to “go back.” You are dealing with how that past affects them now. You’re are not going back to the past; you are bringing a memory of the past into the present.
Notice that says “a” memory, not “the” memory!
If the incident brings up high intensity the Tearless Trauma Technique, i.e. just guessing at the intensity without going into the event) can be used to distance the client from their issue.
I often use a variation on Tearless Trauma by asking the client to put his or her issue in any sort of container and to put it far away from themselves. I then ask the client to describe his or her container and we tap for the description of the container. [The boys at the residential treatment program were fond of submarines!]
When the intensity of the container is down to 0-2 I ask if OK to open that container just a bit. We tap then on the whatever their description and reaction is down to 0 and open the container as much as the client is comfortable doing. We tap on the container and their feelings about what’s in it until they feel comfortable to open it entirely. Only then does the client begin to “Tell the Story.”
You can then use the Movie Technique, (i.e. running the event quickly and silently in their head like a movie on a screen.) Explain to the client that everything that happens to us is like a movie with a beginning, middle and end, with characters and location and a plot. That some details are more important than others and that EFT works to neutralize the emotional impact and meaning of those details.
Then before they tell the story in detail, have them tell you of a time in which they feel safe and comfortable.
Tell the Story instruction is to begin at a time that felt safe before the event happened, as the first step.
In some cases, you may need work with them to remember or imagine a place in which they can go to feel safe. With clients with a history of repetitive trauma, I always teach the concept of a “safe place” early in our sessions. “Think about a time when you felt safe and comfortable” is a request designed to remind of a time in which the client felt safe and secure.
If the client cannot think of any such time, spend some time creating an imaginary safe place. It can be a useful strategy to use if telling the story becomes too intense. The “safe place” concept has been a part of traditional therapeutic techniques and is especially useful in severe trauma. This makes sure they person stays in the here and now and is very effective to keep the client comfortably moving through an upsetting event, prevent high intensity, flashbacks, or abreactions.
TO BE CONTINUED – Having a clear “process” in mind gives you a default answer of what to do when you are not at all sure what to do! Next I’ll finish the EFT 1 2 3 process and give you a client example of how this process works with a client example.
Would love to hear your comments and thoughts about your process in using EFT.
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LEVEL 3 CLASS IN ATLANTA – AUGUST 19 -21, 2016. If you want to learn more about applying the EFT process to a variety of challenging clients and situations consider attending the upcoming Level 3 advanced EFT training in Atlanta. http://fromthedeskofannadams.com/2016-atlanta-eft-level-3/ August 19, 20, 21, 2016