By Carol Odsess, EFT TRN-1-2
While we often experience complete resolution of an issue or disturbing past experience quite rapidly with EFT, other times we have insufficient time in the appointment to conclude the work, or starting to address one trauma opens a “pandora’s box” of issues.
Here are suggestions to use when an EFT tapping session is incomplete and the client is still feeling some emotional disturbance or uncomfortable body sensations.
As a psychologist who has utilized EMDR since 1992, I incorporate many EMDR ideas in my EFT work and that is where many of these ideas originated. I recommend leaving 15 minutes for closure for incomplete sessions, particularly if you know that your client is someone who gets dysregulated.
1. Ask what was learned or different and tap it in
These are my favorite questions to ask when a session is incomplete, if for example, the disturbance rating has gone from a SUD Level of Intensity of 8 out of 10 to a 3. Tapping in the answers enhances and reinforces what was learned.
– “What has been most useful in this session so far?”
– “What have you learned or realized that was helpful today?”
– “How did it get from an 8 to a 3?” (These questions are commonly used in EMDR.)
Tap in the answers. For example, people will typically say, “I realized even though I have x problem, it doesn’t mean I am weak.” or “I was just a child, I have more compassion for my young self.”
2. Lightstream Technique with EFT*
This technique is used in EMDR as a grounding technique to reduce negative affect, pain or unpleasant body sensations. It is a soothing technique to use for an incomplete session and it can also be used on its own for a minor stress, worry or disturbing body sensation. I have developed this protocol that incorporates the EFT tapping points with the lightstream technique. Adding tapping seems to enhance the relaxation effect of the protocol. This can also be used with groups.
If the client reports unpleasant body sensations or tension, ask:
Close your eyes and go inside. Scan your whole body now and notice any unpleasant body sensations or tension. Rate the SUD Level of discomfort from 0 -10 with 10 being the greatest discomfort.
– “If it had a shape, what shape would it be?”
– “If it had a size, what size would it be?”
– “If it had a color, what color would it be?”
– “If it had a texture, what texture would it be?”
Optional: “If it had a temperature, what temperature would it be? Hot or cold?”
Optional: “If it had a sound, what sound would it make? High or low pitch?”
Ask: What color do you associate with healing or what color does your body need today to heal? Optional: You can have the client decide whether this healing light is warm or cool.
KC point: Even though I feel this discomfort, I deeply and completely accept myself.
KC: Even though I have this unpleasant sensation, I deeply and completely accept myself and I’m ready to bring relaxation to this sensation.
KC: Even though I have this discomfort, I choose to release this discomfort now.
Using one statement per point on the 8 remaining face and body points:
EB: A healing[color] light is entering through the top of my head.
SE: It’s flowing through my head, neck and shoulders.
UE: The healing light is flowing into my chest, down my arms and out my fingertips.
UN: The soothing [color] light is flowing through my torso, down my legs and out through my feet.
CH: The [color] light is pouring healing energy through my entire body.
CB: The healing [color] light is streaming through my body and out my fingertips and feet.
UA: I feel the healing [color] light loosening the tight areas and releasing the discomfort.
TH (Top of Head): I choose to tell myself what I most need to hear right now.
Have the client take a deep breath and just notice what comes up. Tune in to the body part or body sensation again and re-rate discomfort level on a sclae of 0 -10. Can repeat or modify as needed.
*The Lightstream technique is fully described in EMDR: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures by Francine Shapiro and EMDR Scripted Protocols by Marilyn Luber. It is reportedly based on an ancient yoga exercise.
3. Making an imaginary container
If a client feels overwhelmed with difficult material that has come up during the appointment, you can have them imagine a container that is big enough and strong enough to hold all their disturbing material, and has a lid. Have the client imagine that all their disturbing thoughts, feelings and memories are a mist that flows into the container. Tell them not to think about each individual issue but to let it all flow into the container.
You can repeat the instruction to let everything disturbing flow into the container in a soothing voice as needed until most of the disturbing material is in the container. This technique usually feels enormously helpful to clients.
Clients can be given the option of imagining leaving the container in your office and even imagine adding to it during the week if disturbing things come up.
Remember to only work within the scope of your training, experience and licensure. If your client’s issues are outside the scope of your qualifications, please refer the client to an appropriate professional or get appropriate consultation.