We can work with whatever level of awareness is available to us

Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 4.

Have you or your client ever struggled to know what to answer during a session? Don’t worry about it. We work with whatever level of awareness is available to us.

We always hear that EFT works best when we are as specific as possible, and that’s true. However, we don’t want to do that at the expense of feeling like we are forcing ourselves or our clients to come up with those specific details, because we want our sessions to flow.

Let’s say I’m working with a client, and we’ve come up with a “specific event” (be it a memory or a negative scenario they imagine might take place in the future). And when I ask them “what feeling or emotion comes up when you think about it?” I notice they are struggling to respond. They might say “it’s so hard to describe, it’s like this “ugh!” in my chest but I can’t put it into words”.

What I do in that case is I reassure them that they don’t need to worry about describing it to me. What matters is that they are tuning into it. We work with whatever level of awareness is available to us at any given moment. So, why not call it “this ‘ugh!’ feeling in my chest”? 

Then, the setup phrase on the side of the hand might be: “Even though when I think about this memory of… (fill in the blanks), I feel this ‘ugh!’ feeling in my chest, I accept myself and how I’m feeling right now”. And the reminder phrase on the other points could be “this ‘ugh!’ feeling in my chest”.

Ultimately, as I described in my previous article, EFT requires us to be “tuned in” so that the energetic pathways and neural pathways connected to our issue can be activated while we tap to release our unpleasant and/or unhelpful reactions to that issue.

So, if instead of just going with “this ‘ugh!’ feeling in my chest” we force ourselves to come up with fancier words, we risk going too much into our heads, intellectualizing what we feel, and away from actually being tuned in.

The same applies when the practitioner asks you to rate the intensity level on a 0-10 scale. Don’t worry too much about whether it’s a 5 or a 6. Ultimately, all we want to know is if there’s still a negative emotional charge connected to the event, and what aspect of it it’s connected to. Because if there is, that just means there’s more tapping to be done.

Yes, SUD (subjective units of distress) levels are great for measuring progress, but if you get too hung up on having to be precise about them, you are no longer tuned in to whatever issue you wanted to work on. I’m guilty of having done this many times in the past, when tapping on my own issues with the help of another practitioner, and for a long time it prevented me from getting better results.

Another example: when a practitioner asks you “and where in your body do you feel that emotion?”, if the answer flows easily to you, that’s great. And if it doesn’t, again, don’t worry about it. We work with whatever level of awareness is available to us.

In my case, for example, when I’m the client, I’ve noticed I can usually come up with a “specific event” quite easily, and I can also easily detect what aspect of it I’m focusing on (such as “the look on her face when she said that”). However, I can’t always figure out what specific emotion I’m feeling in response to that, or how to describe the sensation of it in my body. 

Trying too hard to determine all of that tends to backfire, because it disconnects me from my body and it prevents me from activating those energetic and neural pathways connected to the problem that need to be activated for tapping to work. 

So, to wrap up, ask yourself or your client the usual questions to come up with a specific event, and what aspect of it you are focusing on, what emotion comes up when thinking about it, how strong is it in a 0-10 scale, where in your body do you feel it, etcetera. If the answer to these questions comes easily by just thinking about them, great. If not, don’t force it. We can just work with whatever level of awareness is available to us.

The advantage of this approach, when working with clients, is that it makes it easier to maintain rapport and connection with them, and prevents them from feeling like they are “a bad client” because they can’t put their feelings or sensations into words or answer any other of our questions. We never want our clients to feel like they are being “bad clients”.

I hope this post 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 change their emotional reactions and also to help them overcome their fear of rejection.

And, I’d love to know: have you ever worked with this mindset of “we work with whatever level of awareness is available to us”? Do you have any other tips or questions around this? Please share in the comments below.

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