A: Now. You might remember a traumatic event like a car crash and recall that your SUD level was a 10 at the moment of impact. Perhaps that was seven years ago, and your SUD level when you now recall the event is a 5. Use your SUD level now, not your SUD level at the time of the event. The reason for this is that EFT works on your nervous system in present time. When you recall the crash and give it a SUD rating of 5, that indicates that the part of your neural network carrying the signals associated with the trauma is active. That’s the neural activity we target with EFT.
Some events may have been a 10 when they happened, but you’ve integrated them into your life story and they’re now 0, completely neutral. You’re at peace when you think of them, even though they were tragic at the time. Others may still be a 10 when you recall them decades later. Using your current SUD level allows you to focus on events that carry a lasting emotional charge.
This focus on the present level of distress, not the past level, also allows us to test the results we’re getting with EFT. If your SUD level around the accident goes down to a 1, you know you’ve discharged four fifths, or 80%, of the emotional intensity now associated with the accident. If instead you had tried to use your SUD level at the time of the accident, you’d then be comparing a SUD level in the distant past with one now, which would not give you an accurate barometer of progress.
–from The EFT Manual, by Dawson Church
A: You might have memories of events that were painful, but when you try and assign them a SUD score, your mind goes blank, or you don’t feel any strong feelings. There are several approaches you can use in such cases.
One is just to invent a SUD score. Perhaps a bully beat you up in second grade in school and you know it was a horrible experience, but you can’t figure out what your SUD number is. You can simply imagine a score, making it relative to other experiences in your life. If a happy memory is a 0 and the worst experience of your life is a 10, give the beating a number that seems logical even if you can’t come up with a SUD number based on your feelings.
Another is to tap without identifying a SUD score. You can formulate a Setup Statement and perform a whole round of EFT without any SUD rating at the beginning or end. Afterward, think of the problem and ask yourself, “Do I feel better now?” If you do, that’s an indication EFT has worked, even though you never assigned the problem a numerical score.
The SUD rating is a useful way to assess progress, but like any other part of the EFT routine, if it hangs you up, drop it and tap anyway. Don’t let the inability to come up with a SUD score serve as a block to starting a round of EFT.
–from The EFT Manual, by Dawson Church
A: Sometimes you’ll do EFT on a problem, but when you test your SUD levels before and after, they stay the same. You don’t feel your emotions or your body change.
That’s okay. There are many reasons why your SUD score might not change. You might need to tune in to the problem more strongly. Part of your psyche might be reluctant to confront the problem. Changes might be happening on a level too subtle for you to notice.
You might be dehydrated. Your mind might be convinced that EFT can’t work that fast, so it dismisses or minimizes real change. You might be tapping on an associated problem, skirting the real problem. You might be tapping on a surface issue, not yet having discovered a deeper issue that’s the real problem. Some issues, like compulsions and addictions, have many layers that can take a long time to reveal themselves. You might need the help of a practitioner or a workshop to address this particular issue. As you can see, there are a range of reasons why your SUD score might not go down.
If you finish a round of EFT and your SUD score hasn’t dropped at all, don’t be discouraged. Pick up the work later on, and you might find new insights and better progress. You might also discover that when you think about the problem a day or two later, your SUD score is now lower. EFT might have had a delayed effect. When your SUD doesn’t drop for a particular issue, don’t assume that EFT hasn’t worked or will never work. Sometimes it works in the background or has a delayed effect.
–from The EFT Manual, by Dawson Church
A: When SUD levels are low, you can ask yourself (or your client), “How do I (you) know that it’s not a 0?” Very often you (or your client) will realize that it really is a 0 after all. In this way, you don’t continue to work on an issue that isn’t there.
If you still identify a feeling in your body, it can often be quickly resolved by tapping on the physical symptoms of the feeling, such as “this anxious, butterflies feeling in my stomach.”
Adding the word “remaining” to your Reminder Phrase, as in “remaining anger,” “remaining sadness,” “remaining hurt,” can also help speed up the process.
The floor to ceiling eye roll is another excellent technique when the SUD level is low. Sneaking Away from the Problem and the 9 Gamut Procedure can also be used.
–Valerie Lis, Expert EFT Practitioner
A: There are many reasons why a SUD level might not drop to a zero, and this is not a problem with EFT.
One case is when you achieve slight progress. Perhaps your SUD rating goes from 9 to 7, or from 5 to 1, but won’t go down to 0, despite many rounds of EFT. Even a drop from 10 to 6 is a 40% drop, which represents enormous progress. Sometimes that’s enough.
If you’re working on a long-standing issue, it’s possible for your SUD level to drop to 0, but a drop even of 10% or 20% indicates a significant reduction in your degree of emotional suffering. That’s the goal of EFT. A reduction in suffering is good, even when we can’t completely eliminate that suffering.
Another reason your SUD level might not go to 0 is that EFT often has a delayed effect. You might have pain from a bone fracture, for instance, and tapping brings it from an 8 to a 3, but it won’t go down further, even after you’ve tapped several times. You might find it’s at 0 or 1 the day after.
Emotional problems often respond the same way. You might find that you’ve gone from an 8 to a 2 around some bad childhood event, but your intensity isn’t going lower. The next day, try thinking of the event again and assessing your SUD score. You’ll often find it’s now 0.
If you’re working with other people, ask them about their SUD levels frequently during a session. If their SUD levels don’t go to 0 for every issue, that’s okay. Some issues are easy and go to 0 after just one round of tapping. Others might drop gradually over time. Some might be very difficult and drop only slightly even after years of tapping. Whatever a client tells you, whatever your own body tells you, trust and accept it.
Another reason why a SUD level doesn’t go down to 0 is that it might take time for the reality of change to sink into our bodies and brains. I’ve often tapped with people and seen their pain or upset go away based on the expression on their faces or their body language. I witness clearly that they’re at or near 0. But then when I ask them for a SUD score, I can see the wheels turning in their heads. Their minds are saying, “Wait a moment! Where’s that pain? I can’t find it? Where did it go? It can’t really be gone.” They might get confused or panicked, as the mind searches for pain that’s no longer there. The mind is baffled by this sudden absence and can’t explain it. These individuals might give you a SUD above 0 simply because their minds can’t believe the pain could vanish so fast.
That’s okay. It can take us a while to adjust, especially if a longstanding problem simply vanishes. A big chunk of our inner story might be tied up with that problem, and its sudden absence produces a hole. It can take the mind a while to adjust to the absence of the problem. That’s a common reason why people report a high SUD even when it’s at 0.
If you believe that a client’s SUD is lower than the client’s last number, you can gently ask, “Are you sure it’s that number?” Sometimes, when you ask a second time, the client tunes in, and realizes the number has gone down further than first believed.
That might not happen, the SUD rating stays high, and that’s okay, too. In every case, you accept what your clients say and give them time to adjust. Love and patience provide fertile ground for healing, and a good practitioner accepts the pace of healing just the way it is.
– from The EFT Manual, by Dawson Church