By Patricia Carrington, PhD
Seeing a person’s intensity (SUD) level go up rather than down when they do EFT is a familiar occurrence to all of us who practice this method with clients.
Although this response is relatively rare, it does occur and when it does it is an important sign. What it tells us is that an issue is surfacing as a result of the person relaxing their guard during EFT and that they are now experiencing deeper, more hidden emotions.
In this sense, it can be a good sign, but one must be experienced with EFT to take advantage of it.
The reason for this kind of paradoxical reaction—the opposite of what you might expect—is that EFT is such a powerful technique that sometimes matters can get worse before they get better because the process itself releases underlying feelings that you might have hidden even from yourself.
We often find that underneath a somatic (bodily) symptom, for example, there is a strong emotion that is expressing itself through that symptom because for some reason that emotion cannot be dealt with openly.
One of the emotions that frequently expresses itself indirectly in this manner is anger, probably because anger must be avoided under many circumstances in our society.
Let's suppose a person is angry at their boss at work. In this event, if this person were to try to help themselves through doing EFT, this might lead to difficulties despite the best of intentions.
When the tapping had relaxed them to the point where the core issue that underlies their somatic distress was uncovered—in this case it would be their anger at their boss—the person would still have to control any expression of the anger to avoid having the boss fire him or her and so they might back away from doing any further EFT.
This is an important reason why, when the intensity level goes up instead of down with EFT, an objective person such as a therapist or counselor familiar with EFT can be very helpful.
An experienced EFT practitioner may be able to help such a person address their dilemma by directing EFT at this very issue—the anger or other emotion that feels threatening to them.
For example, an objective third person might suggest to the angry person described above that they use a Setup such as:
"Even though I'm furious...[keeping the cause of the anger purposely vague because the person may not know themselves just who or what they are angry at], I choose to accept this annoying situation and forgive myself for being angry as I deeply and completely accept myself."
This person could then tap on “this annoying situation” for several rounds, which might be enormously relieving to them, particularly if they were encouraged to say these words very loudly or to shout "this annoying situation!”
When this person is ready to make a positive Choice, their setup statement might go something like:
"Even though I'm furious about this, I choose to understand and accept my anger.”
This statement can activate constructive forces in the person’s subconscious mind, so that they may come to understand their anger and deal with it much more constructively.
Clearly, this is a subtle matter. However, in the absence of an EFT practitioner to help you, I suggest that you first forgive yourself thoroughly for being angry, accept yourself unconditionally with your anger, and then create an EFT statement that allows you to express your anger in a manner that will be constructive for all concerned.
Such a statement will direct your subconscious to utilize the energy of anger (or any other emotion that you’ve been avoiding) without creating negative repercussions.
In short, when your Intensity level goes up instead of down when using EFT, you may well be getting to an important core issue and it is time to really dig in and use the knowledge that it can bring you.
Obviously, however, you shouldn’t continue tapping indefinitely if your intensity level continues to rise. This may mean that you have come near the "nerve of a tooth," so to speak, and that it might be wise to back away from this particular issue until you seek professional help—or else turn to working on an easier, less emotionally loaded issue for the time being.
Neutralizing an easier issue first may allow you to return to a more loaded one with greater success.