“I don’t know how to describe what I’m feeling right now”

Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 14.

Have you ever had a client tell you: “I don’t know how to describe what I’m feeling right now” during an EFT session? 

We know that one of the ingredients of Basic EFT is naming the emotion/feeling we are feeling now in response to whatever specific event we are focusing on, and also the body location of that feeling/emotion, if any. However, sometimes clients struggle with naming their feelings or emotions.

And the good news is: that’s ok. They don’t need to be able to name it for EFT to work. What I tend to respond to them when that happens is: “Don’t worry about being able to name it or describe it to me, we can just use whatever words are coming up for you, even if they aren’t very specific or detailed. The important thing is that you tune in to how it feels inside while we are tapping on it”. 

There’s no need to struggle with EFT. It’s perfectly ok to use words such as “this intensity in my stomach”, or even just “this intensity”, or “this ‘ugh!’ feeling” if that’s what’s coming up for them. Sometimes as practitioners we might ask some clarifying questions to see if there’s any additional information available to the client’s conscious mind, but if there isn’t, that’s totally ok. As I said in a previous article, we can work with whatever level of awareness is available to us.

With Basic EFT, we want to be as specific as possible, but not to the point that it stresses our client out trying to come up with those detailed words or descriptions. Otherwise, they might just go into their head and away from their “feeling space”, which is where those energetic and neural pathways connected to the issue they are wanting to work on can be activated for the tapping to work.

Also, our “survival brain”, of which the amygdala is a part of, is non-verbal, so sometimes just saying “this ‘ugh!’ feeling” connects more to it than trying to intellectually decide which “emotional category” (such as anger, shame, sadness, etcetera) is the most appropriate. We always want to pay attention to the words that spontaneously come out of our clients’ mouths.

One of my goals as an EFT practitioner is to make the EFT process as easy, comfortable and pressure-free as possible. I don’t want my clients to feel put on the spot or like they are not being “a good client” because they are struggling to describe how they feel. That’s why I want us to follow the path of least resistance and only use the information that’s readily available to us, as opposed to trying to force it out of their body and subconscious mind. Besides, what usually happens is that once they start tapping, they get a clearer sense of what they are feeling anyway. 

So, to recap, when you are doing Basic EFT with a client and you ask them: “As you think about this memory, what feeling, sensation or emotion is coming up for you now?”, and they respond with something like: “I don’t know, I feel like this heaviness in my belly, but I don’t know how to describe it to you”, that’s ok. You can just tap on: “Even though, when I think about this memory, I feel this heaviness in my belly, and I accept that’s what I’m feeling right now”. 

That’s it for today. I hope this article was helpful to you. My name is Bruno Sade, and I’m a certified EFT practitioner with a mental health background as a clinical psychologist licensed in Argentina. I use EFT as a tool to help people (who speak English or Spanish) change their emotional reactions.

And, I’d love to know: does this point of view make sense to you? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

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