Answer 1 by Certified EFT Practitioner and Trainer Jan Watkins: Yes, when you clear the physical and emotional charges related to an experience, you will have a perspective switch, a cognitive shift, that updates your beliefs and reorganizes your library of experiences. The emotional reaction to the specific tapping target does not return. You might experience something that looks and feels similar to the target, or a slightly different aspect of the initial problem. Problems have multiple layers. We don’t experience our emotional lives for the first time each day. Instead, we have a rich history of events and layers of memories filed away.
We come to today’s experience with that historical reference and we interpret our world from our own unique perspective. Sometimes, you can pull a weed out of a garden and there are multiple pathways under the ground and the roots are deep. Other times, you can pull a tiny little weed and you pull the whole root system out intact.
It’s the same thing with tapping. You don’t always know what’s underneath. A “simple” tapping session for toe pain can become a “one-minute wonder” and clear the pain instantly, or it can unearth difficult memories from the past that need to be addressed. It just means we have more work to do. So if you get toe pain relief and then it returns or gets worse, it just means that you didn’t tap on all of the related aspects. It does not mean that the results do not last.
Example: I recently worked with a client who wanted to tap about a book that had been disturbing in childhood. When he thought of the book, it always left him feeling sad and uneasy. This seemed straightforward enough, right? Wrong. The scenario in the book that revolved around a helpless animal being mistreated tied in to several major themes in the client’s life. These included someone in need not receiving help, betrayal, confusion, inability to deal with dangerous predators, and more. It took several sessions to work through all the issues that were tied in to the reactivity to this childhood book. The root system of this book was very widespread. If we had simply tapped on the plot in the book and some but not all of the underlying issues presented, the book charge would lessen and temporarily seem to be cleared, but eventually, the person would realize that the book still had a haunting aura about it. Once we cleared the many issues around this book, the client was able to think about the book as a work of fiction without any emotional reactivity. He still does not care for the book, but the emotional and physical sensations no longer occur when he thinks of the book. This result has and will continue to last. The sadness and uneasiness will not “come back.” All the root systems of that “weed” were pulled and that particular weed will not grow back!
If something seems to “come back,” you need to consider other options, such as: some of the tapping was incomplete, the possibility of resistance to clearing out the issue, or the existence of additional aspects.
Answer 2 from The EFT Manual, by Dawson Church: Generally, yes. In all the studies that have included a follow-up assessment, the effects of EFT last over time (Feinstein, 2012a). That’s true whether the problem was posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, depression, or anxiety. Once people reduced their psychological trauma with EFT, they tended to remain at that reduced level. In our Healthcare Workers study, my colleagues and I compared those who did more EFT with those who did less (Church & Brooks, 2010). We found that those who did more EFT after their initial one-day workshop had a better long-term result than those who did less.
While you might get immediate relief from EFT, you’re strongly encouraged to continue using it long-term. Sometimes our immediate problem goes away after we tap and we then don’t do any more tapping. Although that positive experience is a good thing in and of itself, it’s better to regard it as a pointer toward the direction we should take for the rest of our lives. We can work on many more issues and release stress whenever and wherever it affects us.
It’s interesting to note how some clients stop tapping once their immediate problem is solved. In the Healthcare Workers study, about a third of participants didn’t use EFT again after the workshop. Another third used it a few times over the next six months. Only a few became regular tappers.
To me this represents a missed opportunity. Why release only a small portion of your suffering and live with the rest? Yet you’ll find many clients are quite content with having the immediate problem solved and don’t continue to use EFT. You might want them to heal further, but it’s up to them to make that choice. You can certainly encourage people to clear more of their emotional distress after their first positive experiences, but many won’t respond. As practitioners, we love and validate people where they are and know that when the time comes for the next step on their healing journey, help will be available to them.