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Q: What if my SUD level doesn’t go down to Zero?

A: There are many reasons why a SUD level might not drop to a zero, and this is not a problem with EFT.

One case is when you achieve slight progress. Perhaps your SUD rating goes from 9 to 7, or from 5 to 1, but won’t go down to 0, despite many rounds of EFT. Even a drop from 10 to 6 is a 40% drop, which represents enormous progress. Sometimes that’s enough.

If you’re working on a long-standing issue, it’s possible for your SUD level to drop to 0, but a drop even of 10% or 20% indicates a significant reduction in your degree of emotional suffering. That’s the goal of EFT. A reduction in suffering is good, even when we can’t completely eliminate that suffering.

Another reason your SUD level might not go to 0 is that EFT often has a delayed effect. You might have pain from a bone fracture, for instance, and tapping brings it from an 8 to a 3, but it won’t go down further, even after you’ve tapped several times. You might find it’s at 0 or 1 the day after.

Emotional problems often respond the same way. You might find that you’ve gone from an 8 to a 2 around some bad childhood event, but your intensity isn’t going lower. The next day, try thinking of the event again and assessing your SUD score. You’ll often find it’s now 0.

If you’re working with other people, ask them about their SUD levels frequently during a session. If their SUD levels don’t go to 0 for every issue, that’s okay. Some issues are easy and go to 0 after just one round of tapping. Others might drop gradually over time. Some might be very difficult and drop only slightly even after years of tapping. Whatever a client tells you, whatever your own body tells you, trust and accept it.

Another reason why a SUD level doesn’t go down to 0 is that it might take time for the reality of change to sink into our bodies and brains. I’ve often tapped with people and seen their pain or upset go away based on the expression on their faces or their body language. I witness clearly that they’re at or near 0. But then when I ask them for a SUD score, I can see the wheels turning in their heads. Their minds are saying, “Wait a moment! Where’s that pain? I can’t find it? Where did it go? It can’t really be gone.” They might get confused or panicked, as the mind searches for pain that’s no longer there. The mind is baffled by this sudden absence and can’t explain it. These individuals might give you a SUD above 0 simply because their minds can’t believe the pain could vanish so fast.

That’s okay. It can take us a while to adjust, especially if a longstanding problem simply vanishes. A big chunk of our inner story might be tied up with that problem, and its sudden absence produces a hole. It can take the mind a while to adjust to the absence of the problem. That’s a common reason why people report a high SUD even when it’s at 0.

If you believe that a client’s SUD is lower than the client’s last number, you can gently ask, “Are you sure it’s that number?” Sometimes, when you ask a second time, the client tunes in, and realizes the number has gone down further than first believed.

That might not happen, the SUD rating stays high, and that’s okay, too. In every case, you accept what your clients say and give them time to adjust. Love and patience provide fertile ground for healing, and a good practitioner accepts the pace of healing just the way it is.

– from The EFT Manual, by Dawson Church


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