Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 23.
In today’s article I want to share some of the explanations I like to give to my clients about what it’s like to work with me using EFT. Maybe you’ll find them useful:
What is it that EFT does?
- EFT works primarily on our unpleasant emotional and physiological reactions to thoughts, memories and situations. In other words, it’s kind of like saying: “When I think about… I can’t help but feel…” or “When… happens, I can’t help but feel…”. For example, “When I think about this memory of when I was a teenager, I can’t help but feel really sad”, “Whenever someone looks at me funny, I can’t help but feel this anxiety and this tightness in my throat”, or “When I think about my upcoming presentation at work, I have this dread feeling in my chest”. EFT can help us diminish and release these unpleasant feelings and reactions.
- Therefore, EFT can help us release our “triggers” (our automatic unpleasant emotional reactions), one by one. With time, we tend to find ourselves less triggered in general, and therefore our nervous system doesn’t spend so much time in “survival mode”. Instead, it can spend more time in a safe, calm and regulated state.
- Thanks to that, the stories we tell ourselves change, and the limiting beliefs we might have about ourselves and the world (such as “I’m not good enough” or “it’s impossible to be happy in this world”) can also change and become more realistic and empowering.
EFT works best when we focus on “specific events”
- EFT works best when we focus on something specific, so as not to “bite more than it can chew”. One way to do this is to come up with “specific events”, (memories from our past or imagined scenarios that might take place in the future). Other times we might tap on a specific mental image or an emotionally charged phrase.
- So I might ask you questions to find out what to focus on for the next tapping round, and what feeling, emotion or sensation comes up for you now when thinking about that.
Don’t worry if you don’t know
- If I ever ask you a question and the answer doesn’t come easily for you, don’t worry about it. You can just say “I don’t know”, and that’s totally ok. We can always work with whatever level of awareness is available to us. For example, sometimes it might be difficult to come up with a “specific event”. Other times it might be difficult for you to know what it is that you are feeling in response to a certain thought/image/memory. Don’t worry about it. We can still work with whatever information is consciously available to you at any given moment.
- We don’t need to go “hunting for memories”. Usually a lot of progress can be made just focusing on recent memories and future made up scenarios. Sometimes, during or after a round of tapping, you may notice that a memory comes up. There’s a reason why this happens, even if there’s no apparent connection to the issue we are working on. This thought or memory is usually the next layer of the onion that we can focus on with EFT.
You decide whether you want us to tap on something or not
- Anytime something comes up for you during or after a round of tapping, it’s always your choice whether you’d like us to tap on that or not. If something comes up for you that feels very emotionally intense, or it’s something that makes you feel ashamed or embarrassed, or you simply don’t want to think or talk about it, we have a few options.
- One option is to simply put it aside and continue focusing on whatever we were focusing on before. Sometimes we can also do a round of tapping imagining that we are placing it in a safe container of your choosing, so that we can leave it there for as long as you need.
- Another option, if you want us to work on it, is to do so in a safe and gentle way using EFT’s Gentle Techniques. There are even ways that we can work on something without you having to disclose any details or information that you don’t want to disclose.
- So, if something comes up and you don’t want us to work on it, or you don’t want to talk about it out loud, you can simply let me know. We can then either do some “sneaking up” (as in, tapping while saying: “Even though I feel too embarrassed to talk about this out loud…”), we can use the “Silent Movie Technique”, or we can decide not to tap on it at all. Or maybe we leave it for another session.
- We can always work with whatever is coming up for you in the present moment. Maybe it’s the thought that “tapping won’t work for me”. We can tap on that if you want to (we can treat that thought, and how it makes you feel, as yet another layer of the onion).
- After each round, I might ask you to think again about what we just tapped on and notice what is coming up for you now. You may find that your mind is focusing on the same aspect we were tapping on before, or maybe it’s now focusing on a different aspect (the next layer of the onion). Either way, it’s ok.
- Ultimately, I want to make the process as easy, comfortable and pressure-free as possible. I believe that the tool (EFT) has to be adapted to the client, not the other way around.
If you have any of the following concerns, don’t worry
- Some people are concerned about being judged by the practitioner. They might think that: “With everything that’s going on in the world and all the traumas taking place, by comparison my issues seem too shallow”. I can assure you I don’t think that way, and I will never judge you. I believe we feel what we feel and we are always doing the best we can, according to our circumstances, states of mind, beliefs, etcetera.
- Some people are concerned they won’t be “a good enough client” or that they will “screw up somehow”. Let me assure you there’s no way you can screw it up. We can adapt the way we apply EFT to your unique needs, preferences and style of processing.
- Some people might be concerned that “they are taking too long to shift/release” whatever they are tapping on with me. Again, there are no expectations or pressure on my end. Yes, EFT sometimes can be fast, but we can’t control how fast our nervous system and subconscious mind will process or release what needs to be processed or released. All we can do is attune to them so that we can meet all parts of you where they are.
- I know that me saying all this doesn’t necessarily remove these worries from your mind, but for whatever is worth, I promise you that there’s no judgment on my end. I’m here to hold space for you to work on whatever you want to work on, no matter how big or small, at whatever pace you need.
The Generalization Effect
- There are issues that have many aspects that need to be tapped on. However, we don’t necessarily have to tap on each and every single one of them, because in EFT there’s a process known as “The Generalization Effect”. What this process does is that by clearing enough aspects, that clearing effect generalizes into other “untapped” aspects as well. But we can never know in advance how many aspects we’ll need to address with EFT before this Generalization Effect kicks in.
You get to choose what we tap on next, unless you don’t want to, and either way it’s ok
- I’m here to guide you through the process, while also giving you as much choice and control throughout it as you want. Sometimes I might present you with a few options as to what to do next. If you don’t want to have to choose, and you’d prefer me to choose instead, that’s totally ok as well. All I ask is that you let me know if you want me to change anything about my approach, so that I can keep tailoring it to best suit your needs.
- EFT works best when we use your own words and when we tap on whatever is going on for you at any given moment. You are always welcome to interrupt me to let me know that something else has come up, or that you’d prefer us to use a different phrase. “Actually, we can leave this phrase out”, or “Actually, could we also include this phrase?”. These comments are totally welcome on my end.
What if the emotional intensity becomes too high?
- Sometimes, when we start tapping on something, you might notice that the emotional intensity seems to increase at first. This is because tapping not only allows us to diminish and release unpleasant emotional intensity, but it can also “tune you in”. Don’t worry if this happens, it’s normal, and usually as we continue tapping that increased intensity then tends to subside.
- If at any point I notice that the emotional intensity might be getting too high or uncomfortable for you, I will ask you to just tap without words (words at this point are unnecessary because you are already “tuned in”). And/or I might ask you to tap while focusing on pleasant or neutral sights, sounds and sensations in the environment around you. Usually after a few rounds the emotional intensity will tend to subside.
- We don’t need to face anything that might be too intense head on. There are ways to apply EFT in a more indirect, gentle and comfortable way.
- As I said above, my goal is to make the EFT process as easy, comfortable and pressure-free as possible for you.
That’s it for today. I hope this was helpful for 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.