Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 20.
Let’s say that you are working with a client and you believe it would be appropriate to end the session with the Safe Container Technique, to contain whatever came up during the session that wasn’t fully resolved, but for whatever reason they don’t want to use it. Maybe they believe it won’t work, or they believe it would be like “stuffing down” or repressing their emotions and memories, etcetera.
That’s ok. Regardless of whether you use the Safe Container or not, the important thing to remember is that you want to make sure (to the best of your ability) that when the session ends the client’s nervous system is in a regulated state and they are feeling relatively calm and grounded in the present moment.
So one way to do that would be to do a few rounds of Orienting Tapping (as described in Part 10 of these series). This is where they tap while focusing on positive or neutral stimuli around them that send “cues of safety” to their nervous system, therefore helping it move out of survival mode (dysregulation) and into the “ventral vagal state” (feeling calm and safe).
In other words, by doing that, you are gently helping them move their attention away from whatever distressing issue you were focusing on during the session, to something else that feels more pleasant or neutral, such as any pleasant or neutral sights, sounds or sensations they can notice right now in the present moment. We could say we are using EFT to help them “orient to the here and now”.
Or you can even have them tap while thinking about one or more activities that make them feel good or relaxed nowadays (this is something that you can ask them beforehand and make a note of, since it’s always useful to know what are some of the “resources” that help your client’s nervous system become regulated).
Another alternative would be to do a few rounds of “positive tapping”. You can ask your client what phrases/statements they’d like to use, since it’s best to use their own words, and then you tap on those. A few examples of some of the phrases that my clients have asked me to use are: “I choose to know that today I’m safe”; “I choose to know that I’m surrounded by loving friends and family”; “I choose to remember that I’m stronger than I think”.
Notice these are like affirmations, but you add “I choose to know” or “I choose to remember” at the beginning as a way to make them feel more congruent or true.
Of course, we spend most of the session tapping and focusing on “the negative” (as in clinical EFT) or, in other words, the unpleasant negative emotional reactions they’d like to diminish or release, but we might end the session tapping on the positive.
The way I see it, when we tap using “positive phrases” we aren’t “reprogramming the subconscious mind”, “reinforcing the positive” or anything like that. We are simply using phrases chosen by our client that feel good to them when saying them, and that help send “cues of safety” to their nervous system. Which, in turn, helps them feel a bit more calm and grounded at the end of the session.
I still believe that the main “processing work” we do in a session is when we tap while focusing on thoughts, sensations or events that trigger an unpleasant emotional reaction. But there’s nothing wrong with meeting our clients where they are if they want to end the session tapping with positive phrases.
And, finally, there are some clients (myself included, when I’m being the client) that tend to be completely ok with ending the session without using Sneaking Away, The Safe Container Technique or any of the other alternatives described above. They simply don’t feel necessary. So what I tend to do sometimes is ask my clients: “How would you like us to end the session?”.
Again, the priority is to make sure that by the end of the session the client’s nervous system is in a regulated state.
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: Have you ever tried any of these ways to end a session? Do you have any questions or comments about the tips I shared? 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.