Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 17.
Have you ever felt like your EFT sessions ended a bit abruptly simply because you ran out of time? There are two main gentle ways to end an EFT session and they are called “Sneaking Away” and “The Safe Container Technique”. Today I’ll be talking about “The Safe Container Technique”.
“The Safe Container Technique” is best used when the overall unpleasant emotional intensity at the end of the session is higher than a 3 and/or your client’s nervous system is dysregulated and in “survival mode”.
Basically, what you want to do when using the “Safe Container Technique” to end the session is:
- Acknowledge that there were some things that came up during the session that weren’t fully processed that day (you only mention this once while tapping on the side of the hand).
- Acknowledge that all of that is now going to be placed in a safe container of your client’s choosing.
- Mention that it feels safe and ok to leave it there for as long as they need, so as to end the session now and maybe continue at a later time.
- Optionally: you can set the intention that without the need for your client’s conscious awareness, it’s going to continue to be processed and healed in the background.
So this is how it might sound like:
- Tapping on the side of the hand: “Even though there were things that came up today that weren’t fully processed, I am now placing all of them in this big metal container, that has a gold lock, and it’s located in a far away castle in Europe, and it feels ok to leave it there for now, for as long as I need. And I’m setting the intention that without the need for my conscious awareness it’s going to continue to be processed and healed in the background”.
- Top of the head: And it’s ok to leave it there for as long as I need.
- Beginning of the eyebrow: In this big metal container that has a gold lock.
- Side of the eye: And it’s located in a far away castle in Europe.
- Under the eye: And I’m setting the intention that without the need for my conscious awareness it’s going to continue to be processed and healed in the background.
- Under the nose: And I feel ok ending the session now.
- Chin: It’s ok to leave this big metal container in that far away castle in Europe for as long as I need.
- Collarbone: I can retrieve it anytime I want in the future, if ever.
- Under the arm: And I feel ok ending the session now.
As usual, ask your clients if the words you are using resonate for them. And remember that your client is the one who comes up with a safe container of their choosing and where they want that container to be safely located. I like to say something like: “Some people prefer the container to be really far away, such as all the way over there on the Moon, or in another continent, whereas others choose a closer location such as their closet or backyard, and it’s ok either way, as long as it feels safe and ok for you”.
Now, you may notice this technique has the same name as one of the Gentle Techniques I discussed in Part 9 of this series. What’s the difference then? When you use the Safe Container Technique as a gentle processing technique (as in Part 9 of this series) you are only placing one specific event or memory inside and you are doing multiple rounds of tapping, modifying the words you use according to how your client imagines the container and its location after each round. Whereas when you use it as a way to end the session, you are placing inside everything that came up during the session and is still unresolved, and you only tap one round so as to contain it. You are containing, not processing.
In addition to that, here’s an important tip: You can also use the Safe Container Technique as described in this article to contain something that came up at the beginning or middle of the session that for whatever reason your client doesn’t want to work on and/or you don’t feel it’s appropriate to do so at the moment (maybe because it’s only the first session with the client, and you’d rather work only on recent or future events, because that tends to be safer and trauma-informed). Now, regardless of what moment of the session you use this, I would recommend that you first try to make sure your client’s nervous system is in a more regulated state.
What do I mean by this? Especially considering that at the beginning of this article I wrote that this technique “is best used when the overall unpleasant emotional intensity at the end of the session is higher than a 3 and/or your client’s nervous system is dysregulated”. Well, if your client is feeling distressed, I would first do a few rounds of silent or Orienting EFT (see part 10 of this series) so that they can feel relatively calm again, and only then would I proceed to do the Safe Container Technique. Otherwise, it’s probably not going to work very well. And the client might even feel that you are asking them to stuff down their emotions.
This is also because we always want to end the session, as much as possible, with our client’s nervous system being in that relatively calm, relaxed and regulated state (also known as the “ventral vagal state of the nervous system”, in polyvagal theory). You might also find that after using the Safe Container Technique your client still looks like their nervous system is a bit dysregulated. In this case, you could either do a few more rounds of Orienting EFT and/or tapping while asking them to think of something that makes them feel good or relaxed nowadays (this is known as “resourcing”). Or you can even ask them if they’d like to imagine placing the container they chose inside another even safer container.
So, in a nutshell, “The Safe Container Technique” is a gentle way to end the session when you notice that the overall emotional intensity at the moment is higher than a 3 and/or your client doesn’t seem to be feeling very grounded and calm. In this case I would first do a few rounds of Orienting EFT so as to help their nervous system become a bit more regulated, and then I would ask them if they’d like to come up with a Safe Container in their imagination to place everything that came up today that might still have some unpleasant emotional intensity. I would then ask them to describe the container and where they’d like it to be located, and tap a round describing it while stating that it feels ok to leave it there for as long as they need.
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 negative emotional reactions.
And, I’d love to know: do you tend to use “The Safe Container Technique” at the end of your EFT sessions? I’d love to know in the comments below. And remember you can click on my profile and then “follow” if you’d like to be notified every time I post a new article.