By Steven Gottlieb
In this article, I will share an EFT success story I’ve been telling for years because it exemplifies the remarkable healing that can occur when we employ intuitive tools to help find and resolve root-level energetic blocks using good EFT practice. To help the reader who may be new to energy healing and the concepts of mind-body healing in general I have expanded the article to include some background commentary and additional information.
An interesting dilemma that energy psychology practitioners face is that we never know whether a client’s important personal problem will resolve in a relatively short period of time, sometimes even in a single session. Many people seem to be saying that it is unrealistic to suggest this possibility to clients because most people’s problems stem from complex issues that would be best addressed over a series of sessions. The trend in energy psychology practice seems to be moving toward a coaching format that allows for extended visits that will ultimately benefit the client as well as the practitioner, rather than insisting on producing single session results every time.
While developing a long-term healing relationship may seem like a more practical method to facilitate gradual healing of broad-based life issues, or even a single complex one, we cannot ignore the inherent capability that EFT has to produce remarkable results, sometimes on the spot!
I told the following story a few years ago during a meeting of holistic healing professionals. Our host was a medical doctor who was trained by natural medicine icon Andrew Weil, MD, and had previously served as head of the integrative medicine department at a nearby hospital facility. After hearing this story, my doctor friend said to me that if he had heard this story even just a few years ago, he would have said, “That’s bull*&#t,” but now he knows better! While many doctors and others may still hold similar opinions about success stories like these, people experienced in EFT know the healing that can happen when we trust the process of following clues and tapping on specific significant issues. The difficulty arises when clues and significant issues are not so obvious or forthcoming as they might be in many of our usual sessions.
Before Judy came for her EFT session, we had only briefly spoken to set the appointment. At the beginning of our session, I asked how I might help her. She told me she wanted to try EFT because she didn’t know what else to do. She’d had a persistent pain in her right hip for a couple of months and her doctors had not found anything to suggest why this was. It was a real problem for her because, aside from the pain, she was a yoga practitioner and has not been able to practice or teach yoga. She heard that EFT could help with pain. Nothing else she had tried had worked.
Thinking first that this might be a physical symptom of an injury that the doctors could not specify, I asked if she recalled injuring herself somehow and whether she tried other alternative treatments like physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture. She had no recollection of any injury and had tried some of those treatments and they hadn’t helped.
I assured Judy that we could try and see if EFT would provide some relief for her. I then asked if there had been anything going on in her life that this pain might be a reflection of. “What do you mean?” she asked. I explained that if EFT reduced the pain and restored function, then that would suggest that the pain was primarily energetic in nature, not physiological. If so, it was possible that something might have caused an energy block that was manifesting in this pain. Then I asked her again if having this hip pain might be a representation of anything specific in her life. She just reminded me that it mostly prevented her from doing yoga practice, which was very important to her and then she showed me how she was not able to do any poses that involved hip-flexing motions.
I explained further that with EFT we want to consider what kind of emotions might be involved that she could sense strongly enough for us to try tapping on those first. “Besides the obvious concerns about your hip pain and yoga practice,” I continued, “is there anything emotionally specific coming up for you as I ask these questions?” “No, nothing”, said Judy. “Can’t we just focus on the pain?”
I assured Judy that we could just try EFT on the pain itself and that often works. I also suggested that if no one found anything physical/medical and she still had the pain after those other treatments, then perhaps there was something else going on that we would want to uncover and clear with EFT before addressing the physical symptoms directly. Even if we were to have some success focusing on the pain itself, we might neglect the underlying reason for it. From a mind-body healing perspective, our work would not be complete. When I asked Judy to consider again what possible underlying psychological or emotional cause there could be for this problem, she told me again in no uncertain terms that she had no idea and then added, “That’s what I was hoping you might help me with.” (A reasonable request, as that is what my marketing materials suggest I can do.)
As we had not yet identified something specific to tap on, and not being content to approach the issue from simply the symptomatic level, I took what she just told me as de facto permission to use all my tools and skills. I began my usual process for intuiting what to do at this point. This is typically a straightforward process of tuning in with intention and listening deeply for intuitive guidance. In this case, I used a combination of intuitive guessing, muscle testing, and logical deduction. This yielded a very direct result.
I “asked” if we could determine what the underlying problem might be using this process. I got a yes. I asked if we had permission to proceed in this way. I got a yes. I asked “Is this from a physical trauma?” I got a no. “Is this related to an emotional trauma?” Yes. “Was a particular person involved?” Yes. “Did it involve a romantic relationship?” No. “Was it a family member? Yes. “A sibling?” No. “A parent?” Yes. “Mother?” No. “Father?” Yes!
To explain, when I say “I asked,” I’m referring to a silent intention to get information from “the field” with accuracy and permission for the highest and best good. Using logical deduction means I was following a question tree based on common sense reasoning and looking for yes or no answers. This sequence was going on in my head as I proxy muscle tested and would have been accomplished in less time than I expect it would take for most readers to follow along and imagine doing it.
After the initial questioning, I muscle tested again and silently asked in my mind with firm intention: “There is an issue related to her relationship with her father that is connected to this pain?” I again get a solid yes! Because I have so much confidence in the accuracy and validity of this process, I felt I could safely inquire along these lines to see if it uncovered something specific to work on.
(Author’s note: The reader should know that I have always strived to act ethically and in a manner best representing professional EFT practice. Since this session with Judy, however, I have learned the practicalities of using a more formal approach to informed consent before and during my client sessions to avoid difficult mental and emotional client responses that might hamper rapport, trust, understanding, the need to ensure no further harm, and to get agreements to proceed with unusual methods. The situation that ensued was a potential example of some of this that I had to work deftly through in the middle of the session.)
I asked Judy, “Would you mind telling me about your relationship with your father?” Judy was taken aback by the question. She said, “Why are you asking about my father? I thought we were going to work on my hip pain. I’m not interested in discussing my father.” I assured her that we were going to work on her hip pain and then asked whether she had any reason to feel disturbed by me asking about her father. “It’s just that I want to work on my hip pain, so why would you ask about my father?” So I explained again about the idea of how unresolved psychological/emotional issues might cause a pain like this, and since we had nothing to go on except the pain itself, I had used my intuitive skills to check in with her higher knowing about it and I got that I should ask her about her relationship with her father. I told her how Intuition often helps uncover what we really need to work on and that is why I am taking this approach; my practice combines intuition with EFT.
“I have not spoken with my father in 20 years” she admitted. “Bingo!” I thought to myself. “Now we know where to start.” Aloud, I asked, “Is it possible this may be the reason for your mysterious hip pain–unresolved issues with your father?” Judy told me flat out that this was not possible because she had worked intensively on this for years and she was quite sure she had put all that behind her. I supported her notion that all the work she’d already done was quite valid. Then I explained that even though we might think we are done and completely over something, deep issues like this can encode energetic imprints that can affect us in various ways until we completely clear them. “Judy can you honestly say that your issues with your father have been completely resolved?” She said yes. I silently asked for a reading from my proxy muscle test and it told me no. (That is, I detected a disturbance in her energy system from asking the question that may have been a form of psychological reversal–her subconscious in disagreement with her conscious mind.)
I explained to Judy about how muscle testing is like biofeedback from our subconscious and she agreed to let me demonstrate how her arm held strong when she said, “My name is Judy” and went weak when we tested “My name is Sue.” Her nervous system registered a disturbance because saying “My name is Sue” was not true, even though she had no conscious sense of being disturbed by saying it. Then I asked her to hold her arm strong again and affirm, “I am completely over any issues I have with my father.” Her arm went weak.
I immediately let her know that just because we got a weak response didn’t mean that all the work she had done so far to help heal her hurt around her father had not been effective or that she didn’t honestly believe this was true. It just meant that there were still some energies that needed to be cleared from her subconscious and we might be able to do this in a relatively short period of time, especially because she had already done the bulk of the conscious work. I was doing my best to acknowledge and support what she must have been through and what her beliefs about this were. Hoping she was following along, despite the growing frustration I was sensing from her, I gently asked, “Would it be okay to try tapping on whatever little disturbance might be left that is causing your arm to go weak?”
Judy agreed but didn’t seem convinced. I cautiously preframed the work I was about to suggest. I thanked her for her patience and reiterated that since intuition pointed us in this direction, it would be the best place to begin our EFT tapping, just clearing out anything from the past that might be involved before we tried tapping on the hip issue itself. I made sure she understood that we didn’t need to go back and dig into anything specific about the issue unless something came up for her and she wanted to. I wanted to empower her sense of control over the session and assured her that she was right to expect that she already did whatever was necessary to put her father issues behind her, and that this hip pain might be the last vestige of an energetic block that needed clearing. I explained the basic recipe and we began tapping:
Even though I have not spoken with my father for 20 years…
Even though I have done all this work and I am done with it…
Even though I’m not happy about still having to deal with this…
Even though this is not what I expected to be doing here today…
Even though I have this hip problem…
Even though I haven’t been able to practice my yoga…
Even though there seems to be no other explanation for this hip problem…
Doctors can’t find any problem…
Physical therapy isn’t helping…
Relief from acupuncture didn’t last…
Massage isn’t helping…
This problem in my hip…
This unresolved father problem in my hip…
And so on.
When I thought we might have tapped enough (note there was no evident SUD, so we didn’t even bother to try for one; we had the muscle test response) I silently proxy muscle tested again to see if we cleared what needed to be cleared and got a yes. I suggested that now we test again and see what happened when she repeated the affirmation “I am completely over any issues I have with my father.” This time her arm was very strong. I could not budge it!
“That’s great, Judy–exactly what we wanted to accomplish!” I exclaimed. I thanked her for her indulgence and reaffirmed how important it was to trust the process. I suggested that now we might work on her hip issue directly. Before we did, I had her check in to see exactly where she sensed her limits of motion were and give a number from 1 to 10 for the amount of pain she felt at those places.
Judy started to move and then attempted a bit of a hip flex posture (a lunge). She said it actually felt much better now. “Really?” I exclaimed. “It’s not completely better, is it?” Judy said it wasn’t completely better but mostly, so I asked if she would like to try more tapping to see if we might get even more relief. “That’s possible?” she asked. I told her it might be and we should try and see what happened.
We tapped for about another 15 minutes using the basic Chasing the Pain technique, following wherever the pain symptoms moved to and tapping until there were no more restrictions anywhere. Judy showed me how she was easily able to do full lunge poses again as if the hip issue had never been there!
Judy left my office fully able to do her yoga practice pain free, and as far as I know that was the end of her problem. We never discussed anything else about her father.
Thoughts on Intuition
It appeared that we were able to completely solve a problem of serious concern for Judy in the space of my usual 90-minute session. Once we found something specific to clear, which in this case involved intuitive guesswork and muscle testing to determine a clue about the core issue, the rest of the tapping process was straightforward. From my perspective and experience, had we just gone straight to the specific nature of the hip pain itself we may not have ended up with such a complete resolution and the issue about her father would most likely not have come up.
If there is a lesson in this story for new practitioners, I would say it would be to not assume that a pain is just a pain. It might be that the Chasing the Pain technique works just fine by itself. I have used it tons of times on all sorts of pains with good success. But it is always worth considering what the metaphor of the pain might be. Asking questions like “Who’s/what’s being a pain in your life right now?” is always a good conversation starter. Even when clients come up blank, we can ask them to guess or make something up, or have them imagine that their subconscious knows what the pain is about and begin tapping there:
Even though I haven’t a clue what this pain represents…
Even though I wouldn’t know where to begin guessing…
Even though it’s possible it might be something subconscious….
Even though my body might be talking to me and I don’t know why…
Even though it might be about something I don’t really want to look at…
EFT practitioners begin to get more skilled at intuitive guessing with experience, so get comfortable trusting your intuition. It may surprise you. I have complete trust in my intuitive skills now, although I also have utmost trust in my proxy muscle testing to confirm what my intuition kicks up. (I worked hard to develop these skills, so my trust is founded on experience.) Now when I broach an intuitive idea with clients, I am not concerned about being in left field or upsetting them. The worse that might happen is they say, “No, that doesn’t resonate,” and I say it was just a hunch. I find that one of the most powerful things we can do while we are coaching our clients through the sequence is to offer variations of Reminder Phrases based on our intuitive hunches. Very often clients will substitute a better version of our hunches, or nod their head in strong agreement. That is typically a sign of an impending breakthrough. When we allow ourselves to step out of the way and be really present with our clients, we may be surprised at how intuition shows up for good in our work.
The Mind-Body Healing Context for Judy’s Story
Here is some basic background information about mind-body healing, as it directly relates to Judy’s story. I also describe how I often work intuitively in conjunction with a simple form of muscle testing derived from applied kinesiology. I’ve been working this way for over 15 years and it has led to some fantastic and unexpected results.
Nearly every medical professional now accepts that stress in some form is considered to be the primary underlying cause of nearly all kinds of chronic dis-ease conditions. With EFT and similar methods, we work to resolve the disturbances in our energy system that is the result of such stresses or the cause of them, depending on how you look at it. In simple terms, we can say that whenever psychological/emotional trauma is internalized, it becomes encoded in our cellular memory as vibrational disturbances that can compromise the optimal functioning of our body’s innate ability to sustain optimum health–physical as well as mental and emotional. This is the basic premise of energy psychology. The role of an energy psychology coach is to help clients get in touch with these disturbances and then skillfully guide them through the release and repatterning process.
Determining the nature of our clients’ disturbances is hopefully a straightforward matter of discussion and common-sense reasoning, based on our observation of their visceral reactions to our careful questioning and listening. When a new client comes to me for a “straight EFT” session, I tend to stick to proven clinical approaches to uncovering core issues, looking carefully to find specific issues that bring up a high enough SUD rating to tap on. But what happens when a specific core issue doesn’t emerge, even after all usual techniques have been applied? As finding root causes of energetic disturbances can be elusive, I often fall back on my original training as an Intuitive Healer when needed. This typically includes using a combination of intuitive perception, muscle testing, and logical deduction. More often than not, this approach is a fast and effective way for me to get things moving in a session when I am otherwise at a loss.
A key thing to understand about mind-body healing is that our conscious mind may not recognize the details of events that may have caused stress disturbances to be stored as cellular memory. It may be something that was encoded at a very early age (preverbally), while still in the womb, or even passed to us genetically. It may also be that a client has dismissed something specific and significant–long since forgotten or cast aside as irrelevant. But the subconscious mind has complete access to all cellular memories, however they may have been encoded. The subconscious also knows whether something we specifically present to it is relevant to a particular disturbance. Knowing this, we can use muscle testing as a way of validating information from the subconscious regardless of what we think or remember.
Another thing to realize about mind-body healing is that the body is often a reflection of the mind, particularly when the mind has no way to process psychological/emotional “problems.” The body’s innate healing mechanisms often create physical symptoms that cannot escape our notice as a way of bringing these problems to the surface for us to address. Energy psychology pioneer Henry Grayson, PhD, describes this idea in his book Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind and suggests the first thing to do when we notice such a symptom is be curious about what our body wants to tell us. This same idea has come to light most notably through Dr. John Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain, in which he identifies a mind-body condition he calls Tension Mytosis Syndrome. He has found that most back pain is non-medical in nature, and that once a person acknowledges the stress and other psychological/emotional factors that need attention, the back pain may be alleviated without invasive procedures.
The information Dr. Sarno and Dr. Grayson present lead to conclusions so profound that it can challenge nearly anyone’s belief systems about the causes and nature of disease and pain, even where there are obvious physical impediments such as collapsed discs, pinched nerves, arthritis, and “conclusive” diagnostic findings. The research of Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer is also pointing to unresolved psychoemotional stress as the cause of serious illness in his work known as New Medicine (aka New German Medicine and Total Biologie). Dr. Hamer and his associates have methods that can locate specific areas in the brain responsible for creating specific forms of disease. A related group is advocating using EFT in their process of addressing the prolonged psychoemotional stress they claim to be the primary cause of much cancer in work they refer to as Psycho-Oncology.
Some consider this work controversial. In my opinion, the tipping point for consensus has not yet been reached as many people still have emotional attachments to the way they believe things are. The scientific evidence for the efficacy of mind-body healing has been pouring in for decades, however, and any interested party will have no problem tripping over piles of books and research papers by credible sources confirming the efficacy.
Mining Clues from the Subconscious
EFT has its underpinnings in applied kinesiology, which was developed by Dr. George Goodheart in the 1960s. Dr. Goodheart discovered that muscle testing could be used to gather important information from the body and developed applied kinesiology as a system to find and correct for physiological imbalances. Various muscle groups were mapped to corresponding energy pathways of the body, and when imbalances were identified (i.e., a muscle group tested weak where it would normally be strong), corresponding trigger points would be manipulated as a corrective procedure. Subsequent muscle testing confirmed the corrections. Many healing professionals, particularly chiropractors, were trained in these techniques.
Dr. John Diamond expanded on Dr. Goodheart’s work to create what became known as Behavioral Kinesiology in the 1970s. In his book Your Body Doesn’t Lie, Dr. Diamond describes how to muscle test to see how a person’s energy system responds to nearly any influencing factor, including one’s conscious and unconscious thoughts. A standardized method of pressing down on an extended arm became the norm for this type of test. If you want to find out whether something specific is creating a disruption in someone’s energy system, this is perhaps the most direct way of getting this information. The basis of these discoveries may be considered a forerunner to the field of epigenetics, which is now intertwined with our modern understanding of the biological healing actions of energy psychology.
When you are first exposed to the experience of being muscle tested, you may have the impression of being a victim of some sort of parlor trick, but this is not the case. Goodheart’s and Diamond’s work set the stage for the development of many energetic healing modalities and nutritional assessment techniques that are well established. When Dr. Roger Callahan developed TFT (Thought Field Therapy; the predecessor of EFT), muscle testing was used to determine the precise tapping sequence (known as an algorithm) to treat specific individual problems with extraordinary success rates. Gary Craig, who developed EFT, originally used muscle testing and taught it to his advanced EFT students. EFT’s Basic Recipe remains a reliable way to get good results most of the time without the added complexities of muscle testing. With Clinical EFT, we have a standardized method that meets the criteria of an evidence-based practice and can be easily replicated and taught.
In my early training as an intuitive energy healer, muscle testing was the primary tool for reliably confirming disturbances in the body’s energy field. The other tools were direct sensing either with one’s hands or intuitive senses, and also the use of pendulums. Being an engineer, I liked the immediate confirmation that muscle testing provided and I eventually developed the skill of proxy muscle testing using my own hands instead of the outstretched arm of a client. This provides a fast way to get important information without the clumsiness of muscle testing a client directly (who may or may not have an open mind about this) and also as a way of muscle testing my clients remotely, which I mostly do.
(Author’s note: While muscle testing has been clinically tested as consistent in double-blind studies, this is not to say that it can be used with 100% reliability in all settings. There may be times when a client appears untestable due to some form of neurological disorganization, often as the result of the phenomenon of psychological reversal or some other energetic influence. Surrogate muscle testing using a neutral third person may be useful in these circumstances. Proxy muscle testing often bypasses this problem, providing the proxy tester is able to receive clear information.)
What I came to understand about the process of energy testing is that it is subject to two important factors: intention and permission. When we use our intention ethically to obtain relevant information needed for the healing process in an appropriate way (i.e., for the highest and best good), we have permission (informed consent notwithstanding) to tap into something akin to a unified information field, where information about those previously mentioned subconscious cellular memories may be accessed. There are many ways to describe how this might be. Rupert Sheldrake refers to morphic fields and morphic resonance. Researcher Lynne McTaggart was one of the first authors to make these ideas known in her book The Field. Those who may have some knowledge of metaphysics and esoteric wisdom might refer to this as “reading the Akashic Records.” Roger Callahan suggested that when we tune into an emotional problem, we are activating its relative “thought field.”
Dawson Church, PhD, in his seminal book The Genie In Your Genes, cites numerous examples of scientific research validating the effects of human intentionality. One set of studies demonstrated how, with training, a person can affect the DNA of another and how the connections between the quantum (energetic) and physical realms can be influenced by human intentionality. The implications for healing and transformation are so revolutionary that Dr. Church suggests “you take a deep breath and read it again” to ponder them (pp.167—168)!
Such direct intentional actions were part of my energy healing repertoire prior to my focus on energy psychology practice and they remain a complement to it. Most if not all energy medicine modalities are based on the essential premise of Intentionality, and this holds especially true for muscle testing.
Nonetheless, when I describe muscle testing to most people, I simply explain that our body has its own built-in biofeedback mechanism and this is a way to access relevant information from our subconscious mind. When we frame our muscle test with the intention to honestly elicit either a yes/no, true/false, or no-disturbance/disturbance reaction, we nearly always get an immediate indication with a strong or weak arm response. This seems sufficient explanation for most, especially once I demonstrate it. When used with skill, good intention, and putting aside any personal agenda to get a particular response, we can use this remarkable tool ethically and responsibly as needed to assist us in our energy psychology work. Muscle testing is not necessary for effective EFT work, although when I do use it, remarkable things seem to come from it.
Steven Gottlieb is an Intuitive Energy Healer and has been combining Intuition, muscle testing, and EFT for more than 15 years in his energy medicine and energy psychology practice.