Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 37.
Last week I talked about a useful mindset to have when doing EFT by yourself: to have the intention to simply notice and allow whatever feelings and emotions arise, rather than trying to “quickly tap them away”. Because if you do the latter, you tend to run into the phenomenon that “what you resist, persists”.
Now, the thing is, when working as an EFT practitioner, you’ll probably notice that for most clients this mindset of “just noticing and allowing my emotions and feelings” doesn’t come very naturally to them. This is probably, at least in part, because we live in a culture that encourages us to only have “positive” and “pleasant” emotions and feelings, and discourages us from acknowledging and expressing our “negative” or unpleasant emotions.
So, the main idea of this article is that, since many of our clients might tend to have that mindset of wanting to quickly fix the issue or make it go away, it’s us as practitioners that can then hold that other mindset of “noticing what comes up, allowing it to be and getting curious about it”. I believe this is the meaning of the phrase “holding space”.
If, on the other hand, we have the agenda as practitioners to quickly fix the issue and make it go away, it can get in the way of the tapping process. Now, don’t get me wrong, of course we have the intention of wanting our clients to do well and be happy and suffer as little as possible. But what we don’t want to do, at any point during our sessions, is to somehow convey to them that what they are feeling is wrong, or that they shouldn’t feel what they are feeling. For example, indirectly conveying a feeling of: “How come you are still feeling this way after having tapped on this already? You shouldn’t be feeling like this.”
Instead, we want to, as much as possible, honor and welcome their feelings and emotions, so that all parts of our clients can feel safe bringing them forward to be processed and explored.
This is why, I believe, placing too much of an emphasis on SUDs numbers (subjective units of distress, in other words, the 0-10 scale that can be used to measure how intensely someone is feeling an emotion) can sometimes be counterproductive. If we are overly concerned with the idea that “a client’s SUD numbers about their unpleasant emotions should always be diminishing, or else it means that we are doing something wrong” it can trigger both our and their nervous system into “survival mode”, which in turn can make it even harder for those unpleasant emotions to finally shift and flow.
If instead we can get curious and accept whatever thoughts, feelings and emotions come up for our clients (of course while keeping the necessary precautions to always keep our clients safe), this can help bring in some “ventral vagal energy”. The “ventral vagal state” of our nervous system is a state in which we can feel safe and connected, and which allows us to help co-regulate the nervous system of those we interact with.
Now, of course, we are human as well. There might be a part of us that would like to really impress our clients, and have them think highly of us and/or EFT, and maybe get testimonials and referrals, etcetera. However, I believe that, while we can acknowledge this part of us that has this desire, we don’t have to act from it. Otherwise, we’ll end up putting a lot of pressure on both ourselves and our clients (and why would we want them to feel pressured rather than safe, accepted and not judged?), which will tend to get in the way of the EFT process.
Therefore, the more accepting we can be of our client’s different parts, emotions, feelings, etcetera, the more we can be present with them. Whereas, on the contrary, the more we have an agenda or a preconceived idea of how our sessions should go (even if that’s supposedly with our client’s best interest at heart), the more likely we’ll make them and ourselves feel unnecessarily uncomfortable and unsafe.
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: What are some useful and not so useful mindsets you’ve found when tapping with clients? Do you have any questions or comments about what I wrote? Is there any particular topic you’d like me to write about? I’d love to know in the comments below.