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How to Find Meaning with the SUD Intensity Rating for EFT

by Marian Slaman, BA

Dear EFT Community,

Marian Slaman explains that the more aware we are of our pain and can describe the intensity of the issue, the better we are able to produce a more accurate SUD level to help heal with EFT.

– EFT Universe

Often when someone has pain on an issue, they may have a Subjective Units of Distress scale or a SUD Level of Intensity that is easy to note. However, if I want my clients to become more aware of the pain, and thus, more aware of the effects of tapping, I ask them to describe the pain in more detail.

I hope that by this process, they will become more cognizant of the issue. When they describe the intensity of their issues in several ways, they are better able to tune into core aspects of where the pain is coming from or being triggered by. This can resolve things that much faster.

I find this is particularly useful with children as they are very creative and are great at imagining things. Often, they can describe things on levels that adults cannot. I also like using this process with adults as it pulls them out of their logical mindset and into their creative/intuitive side. I find it helps people to tune in to the issue as they describe it on multiple levels.

This EFT variation is particularly useful for my son who finds the repetition of EFT “boring.” It also gives him a more active role as there is more to describe than just reporting in with a number.

I ask the person to describe the pain using all of their senses. Then I use any changes in the description to reinforce the shifts brought on by EFT.

For example:

  • If this pain had a color what color would it be?
  • What shape is it?
  • If it made a sound what would it sound like?
  • If it had something to say to you what would it want to tell you?
  • Is there a smell?
  • Is there a taste?
  • Does it have a Texture? (If I have not done this exercise with them and if I think they are struggling with it then I will lead them into it i.e. is it rough like sandpaper, or smooth like silk)


I do not do the questions in any particular order; I just do it based on what falls out of my mouth at the time. If I feel as if the person has adequately tuned into the issue and described it on more than one level, then I may not pursue a full description. The individual may not be able to describe the issue on all levels but I may probe a bit and then incorporate their description into the EFT.

For example:

  • My son was complaining of an upset stomach that was really bothering him, to the point of not being able to do his homework. I started tapping on him (head, EB,”CB, UA) while asking him to describe it to me.
  • I then asked him the above questions.
  • He described the pain in his stomach as being a purplish/red ball with spikes bouncing around in his stomach. Side note – I find this description more meaningful to me as the facilitator then a number.
  • In addition to tapping the set up phrase:
    “Even though I have this pain in my stomach, I deeply and completely accept myself.”


I added:

“Even though I have the spiked ball bouncing around in my stomach, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though it hurts to have this ball bouncing around in my stomach, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

I checked in with him, “What was happening with the ball now?” He said it had, “Slowed down,” and “was bouncing around less.” If he hadn’t noted a change in speed then I would look to see if it has changed color or some other characteristic.

Knowing that we were making some progress I continued and did not look for additional shifts in the characteristics. I like to keep my questions general (i.e. what is happening to the ball) so that it is open ended and he can describe it anyway he desires, knowing that he will likely note what has shifted (i.e. movement) as to what has stayed the same (i.e. spikes/color).

I then did another round:

“Even though I have this spiky ball bouncing around in my stomach I am a wonderful, super kid!”

I had him EXAGGERATE the set up phrase with emphasis to the point where he was ready to roll his eyes and give me one of those “Mom!” looks that 12-year-olds are expert at.

I continued tapping the basic recipe points and the topic of discussion quickly shifted to other things. He was in a jovial, joking mood so I knew that the intensity had dropped without needing to tap any further at that point. When I asked what was happening he described it as being less but that it was still there.

Given his jovial mood, I didn’t feel that tapping needed to continue, thus we were able to move on to other things for the evening (including homework).

At bedtime, 2-3 hours after the initial incident, I checked in with him and asked what had happened to the ball.

He described it as still being in his stomach but that the spikes had retreated into the center of the ball and that the ball had grown/expanded to have a fuzzy coating so although it was still moving he no longer felt the spikes digging into him.

I did not inquire if there was change in color, but given past experience it likely would have shifted several hues. For example one client’s issue had shifted from a purple to a light mauve to a white, while applying EFT.

Often I find that the image starts out with a negative connotation and then shifts to something more pleasant, such as a high pitched squeal may soften to a whistle, or a burnt smell may dissipate.