The Basic Recipe (Chapter from The EFT Manual, 3rd Edition)
Over the past decade, EFT has been the focus of a great deal of research. This has resulted in more than 20 clinical trials, in which EFT has been demonstrated to reduce a wide variety of symptoms. These include pain, skin rashes, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, and post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most of these studies have used the standardized form of EFT found in The EFT Manual. In this chapter, my goal is to show you how to unlock EFT’s healing benefits from whatever physical or psychological problems you’re facing. I have a passionate interest in relieving human suffering. When you study EFT, you quickly realize how much suffering can be alleviated with the help of this extraordinary healing tool. I’d like to place the full power of that tool in your hands, so that you can live the happiest, healthiest, and most abundant life possible.
If you go on YouTube or do a Google search, you will find thousands of websites and videos about EFT. The quality of the EFT information you’ll find through these sources varies widely, however. Certified practitioners trained in EFT provide a small portion of the information. Most of it consists of personal testimonials by untrained enthusiasts. It’s great that EFT works to some degree for virtually anyone. To get the most out of EFT and unlock its full potential, however, it’s essential that you learn the form of EFT that’s been proven in so many clinical trials. We call this Clinical EFT.
Every year in EFT Universe workshops, we get many people who tell us variations of the same story: “I saw a video on YouTube, tapped along, and got amazing results the first few times. Then it seemed to stop working.” The reason for this is that a superficial application of EFT can indeed work wonders. To unleash the full power of EFT, however, requires learning the standardized form we call Clinical EFT, which has been validated, over and over again, by high-quality research, and is taught systematically, step by step, by top experts, in EFT workshops.
Why is EFT able to affect so many problems, both psychological and physical? The reason for its effectiveness is that it reduces stress, and stress is a component of many problems. In EFT research on pain, for instance, we find that pain decreases by an average of 68 percent with EFT. That’s a two-thirds drop, and seems very impressive. Now ask yourself, if EFT can produce a two-thirds drop in pain, why can’t it produce a 100 percent drop? I pondered this question myself, and I asked many therapists and doctors for their theories as to why this might be so.
The consensus is that the two-thirds of pain reduced by EFT is due largely to emotional causes, while the remaining one-third of the pain has a physical derivation. A man I’ll call “John” volunteered for a demonstration at an EFT introductory evening at which I presented. He was on crutches, and told us he had a broken leg as a result of a car accident. On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain, and 10 being maximum pain, he rated his pain as an 8. The accident had occurred two weeks earlier. My logical scientific brain didn’t think EFT would work for John, because his pain was purely physical. I tapped with him anyway. At the end of our session, which lasted less than 15 minutes, his pain was down to a 2. I hadn’t tapped on the actual pain with John at all, but rather on all the emotional components of the auto accident.
There were many such components. His wife had urged him to drive to an event, but he didn’t want to go. He had resentment toward his wife. That’s emotional. He was angry at the driver of the other car. That’s emotional. He was mad at himself for abandoning his own needs by driving to an event he didn’t want to attend. That’s emotional. He was upset that now, as an adult, he was reenacting the abandonment he experienced by his mother when he was a child. That’s emotional. He was still hurt by an incident that occurred when he was five years old, when his mother was supposed to pick him up from a friend’s birthday party and forgot because she was socializing with her friends and drinking. That’s emotional.
Do you see the pattern here? We’re working on a host of problems that are emotional, yet interwoven with the pain. The physical pain is overlaid with a matrix of emotional issues, like self-neglect, abandonment, anger, and frustration, which are part of the entire fabric of John’s life.
The story has a happy ending. After we’d tapped on each of these emotional components of John’s pain, the physical pain in his broken leg went down to a 2. That pain rating revealed the extent of the physical component of John’s problem. It was a 2. The other 6 points were emotional.
The same is true for the person who’s afraid of public speaking, who has a spider phobia, who’s suffering from a physical ailment, who’s feeling trapped in his job, who’s unhappy with her husband, who’s in conflict with those around him. All of these problems have a large component of unfinished emotional business from the past. When you neutralize the underlying emotional issues with EFT, what remains is the real problem, which is often far smaller than you imagine.
“Don’t medicalize emotional problems. And don’t emotionalize medical problems?
Though I present at few conferences nowadays because of other demands on my time, I used to present at about thirty medical and psychological conferences each year, speaking about research and teaching EFT. I presented to thousands of medical professionals during that period. One of my favorite sayings was “Don’t medicalize emotional problems. And don’t emotionalize medical problems.” When I would say this to a roomful of physicians, they would nod their heads in unison. The medical profession as a whole is very aware of the emotional component of disease.
If you have a real medical problem, you need good medical care. No ifs, ands, or buts. If you have an emotional problem, you need EFT. Most problems are a mixture of both. That’s why I urge you to work on the emotional component with EFT and other safe and noninvasive behavioral methods, and to get the best possible medical care for the physical component of your problem. Talk to your doctor about this; virtually every physician will be supportive of you bolstering your medical treatment with emotional catharsis.
When you feel better emotionally, a host of positive changes also occur in your energy system. When you feel worse, your energy system follows. Several researchers have hooked people up to electroencephalographs (EEGs), and taken EEG readings of the electrical energy in their brains before and after EFT. These studies show that when subjects are asked to recall a traumatic event, their patterns of brain-wave activity change. The brain-wave frequencies associated with stress, and activation of the fight-or-flight response, dominate their EEG readings. After successful treatment, the brain waves shown on their EEG readings are those that characterize relaxation.
Other research has shown similar results from acupuncture. The theory behind acupuncture is that our body’s energy flows in twelve channels called meridians. When that energy is blocked, physical or psychological distress occurs. The use of acupuncture needles, or acupressure with the fingertips, is believed to release those energy blocks. EFT has you tap with your fingertips on the end points of those meridians; that’s why it’s sometimes called “emotional acupuncture.” When your energy is balanced and flowing, whether it’s the brain-wave energy picked up by the EEG or the meridian energy described in acupuncture, you feel better. That’s another reason why EFT works well for many different kinds of problem.
EFT is rooted in sound science, and this chapter is devoted to showing you how to do Clinical EFT yourself. It will introduce you to the basic concepts that amplify the power of EFT, and steer you clear of the most common pitfalls that prevent people from making progress with EFT. The basics of EFT are easy to use and quick to learn. We call this EFT’s “Basic Recipe.” The second half of this chapter shows you how to apply the Basic Recipe for maximum effect. It introduces you to all of the concepts key to Clinical EFT.
EFT doesn’t just hope to be effective. We test our results constantly, to determine if the course we’re taking is truly making us feel better. The basic scale we use for testing was developed by a famous psychiatrist called Joseph Wolpe in the 1950s, and measures our degree of discomfort on a scale of 0 through 10. Zero indicates no discomfort, and 10 is the maximum possible distress. This scale works equally well for psychological problems such as anxiety and physical problems such as pain.
SUD scale (intensity meter)
Dr. Wolpe called this rating SUD or Subjective Units of Discomfort. It’s also sometimes called Subjective Units of Distress. You feel your problem, and give it a number on the SUD scale. It’s vital to rate your SUD level as it is right now, not imagine what it might have been at the time in the past when the traumatic event occurred. If you can’t quickly identify a number, just take your best guess, and go from there.
I recommend you write down your initial SUD number. It’s also worth noting where in your body the information on your SUD level is coming from. If you’re working on a physical pain such as a headache, where in your head is the ache centered? If you’re working on a traumatic emotional event, perhaps a car accident, where in your body is your reference point for your emotional distress? Do you feel it in your belly, your heart, your forehead? Write down the location on which your SUD is based.
A variation of the numeric scale is a visual scale. For example, if you’re working with a child who does not yet know how to count, you can ask the child to spread his or her hands apart to indicate how big the problem is. Wide-open arms means big, and hands close together means small.
Whatever means you use to test, each round of EFT tapping usually begins with this type of assessment of the size of the problem. This allows us to determine whether or not our approach is working. After we’ve tested and written down our SUD level and body location, we move on to EFTs Basic Recipe. It has this name to indicate that EFT consists of certain ingredients, and if you want to be successful, you need to include them, just the way you need to include all the ingredients in a recipe for chocolate chip cookies if you want your end product to be tasty.
Many years ago I published a book by Wally Amos. Wally is better known as “Famous Amos” for his brand of chocolate chip cookies. One day I asked Wally, “Where did you get your recipe?” I thought he was going to tell me how he’d experimented with hundreds of variations to find the best possible combination of ingredients. I imagined Wally like Thomas Edison in his laboratory, obsessively combining pinches of this and smidgeons of that, year after year, in order to perfect the flavor of his cookies, the way Edison tried thousands of combinations before discovering the incandescent light bulb.
Wally’s offhand response was, “I used the recipe on the back of a pack of Toll House chocolate chips.” Toll House is one of the most popular brands, selling millions of packages each year, and the simple recipe is available to everyone. I was astonished, and laughed at how different the reality was from my imaginary picture of Wally as Edison. Yet the message is simple: Don’t reinvent the wheel. If it works, it works. Toll House is so popular because their recipe works. Clinical EFT produces such good results because the Basic Recipe works. While a master chef might be experienced enough to produce exquisite variations, a beginner can bake excellent cookies, and get consistently great results, just by following the basic recipe. This chapter is designed to provide you with that simple yet reliable level of knowledge.
EFTs Basic Recipe omits a procedure that was part of the earliest forms of EFT, called the 9 Gamut Procedure. Though the 9 Gamut Procedure has great value for certain conditions, it isn’t always necessary, so we leave it out. The version of EFT that includes it is called the Full Basic Recipe (see Appendix A of The EFT Manual).
The Setup Statement
The Setup Statement systematically “sets up” the problem you want to work on. Think about arranging dominoes in a line in the game of creating a chain reaction. Before you start the game, you set them up. The object of the game is to knock them down, just the way EFT expects to knock down your SUD level, but to start with, you set up the pieces of the problem.
The Setup Statement has its roots in two schools of psychology. One is called cognitive therapy, and the other is called exposure therapy. Cognitive therapy considers the large realm of your cognitions’ your thoughts, beliefs, ways of relating to others, and the mental frames through which you perceive the world and your experiences.
Exposure therapy is a successful branch of psychotherapy that vividly exposes you to your negative experiences. Rather than avoiding them, you’re confronted by them, with the goal of breaking your conditioned fear response to the event.
We won’t go deeper into these two forms of therapy now, but you’ll later see how EFT’s Setup Statement draws from cognitive and exposure approaches to form a powerful combination with acupressure or tapping.
The term Psychological Reversal is taken from energy therapies. It refers to the concept that when your energies are blocked or reversed, you develop symptoms. If you put the batteries into a flashlight backward, with the positive end where the negative should be, the light won’t shine. The human body also has a polarity (see illustration). A reversal of normal polarity will block the flow of energy through the body. In acupuncture, the goal of treatment is to remove obstructions, and to allow the free flow of energy through the twelve meridians. If reversal occurs, it impedes the healing process.
The human body’s electrical polarity (adapted from
ACEP Certification Program Manual, 2006).
The way Psychological Reversal shows up in EFT and other energy therapies is as a failure to make progress in resolving the problem. It’s especially prevalent in chronic diseases, addictions, and conditions that resist healing. If you run into a person who’s desperate to recover, yet who has had no success even with a wide variety of different therapies, the chances are good that you’re dealing with Psychological Reversal. One of the first steps of EFTs Basic Recipe is to correct for Psychological Reversal. It only takes a few seconds, so we include this step whether or not Psychological Reversal is present.
EFTs Setup includes stating an affirmation with those elements drawn from cognitive and exposure therapies, while at the same time correcting for Psychological Reversal.
The exposure part of the Setup Statement involves remembering the problem. You expose your mind repeatedly to the memory of the trauma. This is the opposite of what we normally do; we usually want an emotional trauma to fade away. We might engage in behaviors like dissociation or avoidance so that we don’t have to deal with unpleasant memories.
As you gain confidence with EFT, you’ll find yourself becoming fearless when it comes to exposure. You’ll discover you don’t have to remain afraid of old traumatic memories; you have a tool that allows you to reduce their emotional intensity in minutes or even seconds. The usual pattern of running away from a problem is reversed. You feel confident running toward it, knowing that you’ll quickly feel better.
The EFT Setup Statement is this: Even though I have (name of problem), I deeply and completely accept myself.
You insert the name of the problem in the exposure half of the Setup Statement. Examples might be:
Even though I had that dreadful car crash, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I have this migraine headache, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I have this fear of heights, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I have this pain in my knees, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I had my buddy die in my arms in Iraq, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I have this huge craving for whiskey, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I have this fear of spiders, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I have this urge to eat another cookie, I deeply and completely accept myself.
The list of variations is infinite. You can use this Setup Statement for anything that bothers you.
While exposure is represented by the first half of the Setup Statement, before the comma, cognitive work is done by the second half of the statement, the part that deals with self-acceptance. EFT doesn’t try to induce you to positive thinking. You don’t tell yourself that things will get better, or that you’ll improve. You simply express the intention of accepting yourself just the way you are. You accept reality. Gestalt therapist Byron Katie wrote a book entitled Loving What Is, and that’s exactly what EFT recommends you do.
The Serenity Prayer uses the same formula of acceptance, with the words, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” With EFT you don’t try and think positively. You don’t try and change your attitude or circumstances; you simply affirm that you accept them. This cognitive frame of accepting what is opens the path to change in a profound way. It’s also quite difficult to do this in our culture, which bombards us with positive thinking. Positive thinking actually gets in the way of healing in many cases, while acceptance provides us with a reality-based starting point congruent with our experience. The great twentieth-century therapist Carl Rogers, who introduced client-centered therapy, said that the paradox of transformation is that change begins by accepting conditions exactly the way they are.
I recommend that you use the Setup Statement in exactly this way at first, but as you gain confidence, you can experiment with different variations. The only requirement is that you include both a self-acceptance statement and exposure to the problem. For instance, you can invert the two halves of the formula, and put cognitive self-acceptance first, followed by exposure. Here are some examples:
I accept myself fully and completely, even with this miserable headache.
I deeply love myself, even though I have nightmares from that terrible car crash.
I hold myself in high esteem, even though I feel such pain from my divorce.
When you’re doing EFT with children, you don’t need an elaborate Setup Statement. You can have children use very simple self-acceptance phrases, like “I’m okay” or “I’m a great kid.” Such a Setup Statement might look like this:
Even though Johnny hit me, I’m okay.
The teacher was mean to me, but I’m still an amazing kid.
You’ll be surprised how quickly children respond to EFT. Their SUD levels usually drop so fast that adults have a difficult time accepting the shift. Although we haven’t yet done the research to discover why children are so receptive to change, my hypothesis is that their behaviors haven’t yet been cemented by years of conditioning. They’ve not yet woven a thick neural grid in their brains through repetitive thinking and behavior, so they can let go of negative emotions fast.
What do you do if your problem is self-acceptance itself? What if you believe you’re unacceptable? What if you have low self-esteem, and the words “I deeply and completely accept myself” sound like a lie?
What EFT suggests you do in such a case is say the words anyway, even if you don’t believe them. They will usually have some effect, even if at first you have difficulty with them. As you correct for Psychological Reversal in the way I will show you here, you will soon find yourself shifting from unbelief to belief that you are acceptable. You can say the affirmation aloud or silently. It carries more emotional energy if it is said emphatically or loudly, and imagined vividly.
While energy therapies use the term “psychological reversal” to indicate energy blocks to healing, there’s an equivalent term drawn from psychology. That term is “secondary gain.” It refers to the benefits of being sick. “Why would anyone want to be sick?” you might wonder. There are actually many reasons for keeping a mental or physical problem firmly in place.
Consider the case of a veteran with PTSD. He’s suffering from flashbacks of scenes from Afghanistan where he witnessed death and suffering. He has nightmares, and never sleeps through the night. He’s so disturbed that he cannot hold down a job or keep a relationship intact for long. Why would such a person not want to get better, considering the damage PTSD is doing to his life?
The reason might be that he’s getting a disability check each month as a result of his condition. His income is dependent on having PTSD, and if he recovers, his main source of livelihood might disappear with it.
Another reason might be that he was deeply wounded by a divorce many years ago. He lost his house and children in the process. He’s fearful of getting into another romantic relationship that is likely to end badly. PTSD gives him a reason to not try.
These are obvious examples of secondary gain. When we work with participants in EFT workshops, we uncover a wide variety of subtle reasons that stand in the way of healing. One woman had been trying to lose weight for five years and had failed at every diet she tried. Her secondary gain turned out to be freedom from unwanted attention by men.
Another woman, this time with fibromyalgia, discovered that her secret benefit from the disease was that she didn’t have to visit relatives she didn’t like. She had a ready excuse for avoiding social obligations. She also got sympathetic attention from her husband and children for her suffering. If she gave up her painful disease, she might lose a degree of affection from her family and have to resume seeing the relatives she detested.
Just like Psychological Reversal, secondary gain prevents us from making progress on our healing journey. Correcting for these hidden obstacles to success is one of the first elements in EFTs Basic Recipe.
How EFT Corrects for Psychological Reversal
The first tapping point we use in the EFT routine is called the Karate Chop point, because it’s located on the fleshy outer portion of the hand, the part used in karate to deliver a blow. EFT has you tap the Karate Chop point with the tips of the other four fingers of the opposite hand.
The Karate Chop (KC) Point
Repeat your affirmation emphatically three times while tapping your Karate Chop point. You’ve now corrected for psychological reversal, and set up your energy system for the next part of EFTs Basic Recipe, the Sequence.
You now tap on meridian end points in sequence. Tap firmly, but not harshly, with the tips of your first two fingers, about seven times on each point. The exact number is not important; it can be a few more or less than seven. You can tap on either the right or left side of your body, with either your dominant or nondominant hand.
First tap on the meridian endpoints found on the face. These are: (1) at the start of the eyebrow, where it joins the bridge of the nose; (2) on the outside edge of the eye socket; (3) on the bony ridge of the eye socket under the pupil; (4) under the nose; and (5) between the lower lip and the chin.
EB, SE, UE, UN and Ch Points
These are the EB. SE. IE. UN, and Ch Points
Then tap (6) on one of the collarbone points (see illustration). To locate this point, place a finger in the notch between your collarbones. Move your finger down about an inch and you’ll feel a hollow in your breastbone. Now move it to the side about an inch and you’ll find a deep hollow below your collarbone. You’ve now located the collarbone acupressure point.
The Collarbone (CB) Points
The Collarbone (CB) Points
About four inches below the armpit (for women, this is where a bra strap crosses), you’ll find (7) the under the arm point.
Under the Arm (UA) Points
The Reminder Phrase
Earlier, I emphasized the importance of exposure. Exposure therapy has been the subject of much research, which has shown that prolonged exposure to a problem, when coupled with techniques to calm the body, effectively treats traumatic stress. EFT incorporates exposure in the form of a Reminder Phrase. This is a brief phrase that keeps the problem at the front of your mind while you tap on the acupressure points. It keeps your energy system focused on the specific issue you’re working on, rather than jumping to other thoughts and feelings. The aim of the Reminder Phrase is to bring the problem vividly into your experience, even though the emotionally triggering situation might not be present now.
For instance, if you have test anxiety, you use the Reminder Phrase to keep you focused on the fear, even though you aren’t actually taking a test right now. That gives EFT an opportunity to shift the pattern in the absence of the real problem. You can also use EFT during an actual situation, such as when you’re taking an actual test, but most of the time you’re working on troublesome memories. The Reminder Phrase keeps you targeted on the problem. An example of a Reminder Phrase for test anxiety might be “That test” or “The test I have to take tomorrow” or “That test I failed.” Other examples of Reminder Phrases are:
Dad hit me
Friend doesn’t respect me
Sister told me I was fat
This knee pain
Tap each point while repeating your Reminder Phrase. Then tune in to the problem again, and get a second SUD rating. The chances are good that your SUD score will now be much lower than it was before. These instructions might seem complicated the first time you read them, but you’ll soon find you’re able to complete a round of EFT tapping from memory in one to two minutes.
Let’s now summarize the steps of EFTs Basic Recipe.
1. Assess your SUD level.
2. Insert the name of your problem into the Setup Statement: “Even though I have (this problem), I deeply and completely accept myself.”
3. Tap continuously on the Karate Chop point while repeating the Setup Statement three times.
4. While repeating the Reminder Phrase, tap about seven times on the other seven points.
5. Test your results with a second SUD rating.
Isn’t that simple? You now have a tool that, in just a minute or two, can effectively neutralize the emotional sting of old memories, as well as help you get through bad current situations. After a few rounds of tapping, you’ll find you’ve effortlessly memorized the Basic Recipe, and you’ll find yourself using it often in your daily life.
If Your SUD Level Doesn’t Come Down to 0
Sometimes a single round of tapping brings your SUD score to 0. Sometimes it only brings it down slightly. Your migraine might have been an 8, and after a round of EFT it’s a 4. In these cases, we do EFT again. You can adjust your affirmation to acknowledge that a portion of the problem sill remains, for example, “Even though I still have some of this migraine, I deeply and completely accept myself.” Hear are some further examples:
Even though I still feel some anger toward my friend for putting me down, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I still have a little twinge of that knee pain, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though the beesting still smarts slightly, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I’m still harboring some resentment toward my boss, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I’m still somewhat frustrated with my daughter for breaking her agreement, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I’m still upset when I think of being shipped to Iraq, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Adjust the Reminder Phrase accordingly, as in “some anger still” or “remaining frustration” or “bit of pain” or “somewhat upset.”
EFT for You and Others
You can do EFT on yourself, as you’ve experienced during these practice rounds. You can also tap on others. Many therapists, life coaches, and other practitioners offer EFT professionally to clients. Personally I’m far more inclined to have clients tap on themselves during EFT sessions, even during the course of a therapy or coaching session. While the coach can tap on the client, having the client tap on themselves, along with some guidance by the coach, puts the power squarely in the hands of the client. The client is empowered by discovering that they are able to reduce their own emotional distress, and leaves the coaches office with a self-help tool at their fingertips any time they need it. In some jurisdictions, it is illegal or unethical for therapists to touch clients at all, and EFT when done only by the client is still effective in these cases.
The Importance of Targeting Specific Events
During EFT workshops, I sometimes write on the board:
The Three Most Important Things About EFT
Then, under that, I write:
It’s my way of driving home the point that a focus on specific events is critical to success in EFT. In order to release old patterns of emotion and behavior, it’s vital to identify and correct the specific events that gave rise to those problems. When you hear people say, “I tried EFT and it didn’t work,” the chances are good that they were tapping on generalities, instead of specifics.
An example of a generality is “self-esteem” or “impression” or “performance problems.” These aren’t specific events. Beneath these generalities is a collection of specific events. The person with low self-esteem might have been coloring a picture at the age of four when her mother walked in and criticized her for drawing outside the lines. She might have had another experience of a schoolteacher scolding her for playing with her hair during class in second grade, and a third experience of her first boyfriend deciding to ask another girl to the school dance. Together, those specific events contribute to the global pattern of low self-esteem. The way EFT works is that when the emotional trauma of those individual events is resolved, the whole pattern of low self-esteem can shift. If you tap on the big pattern, and omit the specific events, you’re likely to have limited success.
When you think about how a big pattern like low self-esteem is established, this makes sense. It’s built up out of many single events. Collectively, they form the whole pattern. The big pattern doesn’t spring to life fully formed; it’s built up gradually out of many similar experiences. The memories engraved in your brain are of individual events; one disappointing or traumatic memory at a time is encoded in your memory bank. When enough similar memories have accumulated, their commonalities combine to create a common theme like “poor self-esteem.” Yet the theme originated as a series of specific events, and that’s where EFT can be effectively applied.
You don’t have to use EFT on every single event that contributed to the global theme. Usually, once a few of the most disturbing memories have lost their emotional impact, the whole pattern disappears. Memories that are similar lose their impact once the most vivid memories have been neutralized with EFT.
Tapping on global issues is the single most common mistake newcomers make with EFT. Using lists of tapping phrases from a website or a book, or tapping on generalities, is far less effective than tuning into the events that contributed to your global problem, and tapping on them. If you hear someone say, “EFT doesn’t work,” the chances are good they’ve been tapping globally rather than identifying specific events. Don’t make this elementary mistake. List the events, one after the other, that stand out most vividly in your mind when you think about the global problem. Tap on each of them, and you’ll usually find the global problem diminishing of its own accord. This is called the “generalization effect,” and it’s one of the key concepts in EFT.
Tapping on Aspects
EFT breaks traumatic events and other problems into smaller pieces called aspects. The reason for this is that the highest emotional charge is typically found in one small chunk of the event, rather than the entirety of the event. You might need to identify several different aspects, and tap on each of them, before the intensity of the whole event is reduced to a 0.
Here’s an example of tapping on aspects, drawn from experience at an EFT workshop I taught. A woman in her late thirties volunteered as a subject. She’d had neck pain and limited range of motion since an automobile accident six years before. She could turn her head to the right most of the way but had only a few degrees of movement to the left. The accident had been a minor one, and why she still suffered six years later was something of a mystery to her.
I asked her to feel where in her body she felt the most intensity when recalling the accident, and she said it was in her upper chest. I then asked her about the first time she’d ever felt that way, and she said it was when she’d been involved in another auto accident at the age of eight. Her sister had been driving the car. We worked on each aspect of the early accident. The two girls had hit another car head on at low speed while driving around a bend on a country road. One emotionally triggering aspect was the moment she realized that a collision was unavoidable, and we tapped till that lost its force. We tapped on the sound of the crash, another aspect. She had been taken to a neighbor’s house, bleeding from a cut on her head, and we tapped on that. We tapped on aspect after aspect. Still, her pain level didn’t go down much, and her range of motion didn’t improve.
Then she gasped and said, “I just remembered. My sister was only fifteen years old. She was underage. That day, I dared her to drive the family car, and we totaled it.” Her guilt turned out to be the aspect that held the most emotional charge, and after we tapped on that, her pain disappeared, and she regained full range of motion in her neck. If we’d tapped on the later accident, or failed to uncover all the aspects, we might have thought, “EFT doesn’t work.”
Aspects can be pains, physical sensations, emotions, images, sounds, tastes, odors, fragments of an event, or beliefs. Make sure you dig deep for all the emotional charge held in each aspect of an event before you move on to the next one. One way of doing this is to check each sensory channel, and ask, “What did you hear/see/taste/touch/smell?” For one person, the burned-rubber smell of skidding tires might be the most terrifying aspect of a car accident. For another, it might be the smell of blood. Yet another person might remember most vividly the sound of the crash or the screams. For another person, the maximum emotional charge might be held in the feeling of terror at the moment of realization that the crash is inevitable. The pain itself might be an aspect. Guilt, or any other emotion, can be an aspect. For traumatic events, it’s necessary to tap on each aspect.
Thorough exploration of all the aspects will usually yield a complete neutralization of the memory. If there’s still some emotional charge left, the chances are good that you’ve missed an aspect, so go back and find out what shards of trauma might still be stuck in place.
Finding Core Issues
One of my favorite sayings during EFT workshops is “The problem is never the problem.” What I mean by this is that the problem we complain about today usually bothers us only because it resembles an earlier problem. For example, if your spouse being late disturbs you, you may discover by digging deep with EFT that the real reason this behavior triggers you is that your mother didn’t meet your needs in early childhood. Your spouse’s behavior in the present day resembles, to your brain, the neglect you experienced in early childhood, so you react accordingly. You put a lot of energy into trying to change your spouse when the present-day person is not the source of the problem.
On the EFT Universe website, we have published hundreds of stories in which someone was no longer triggered by a present problem after the emotional charge was removed from a similar childhood event. Nothing changed in the present day, yet the very problem that so vexed a person before now carries zero emotional charge. That’s the magic that happens once we neutralize core issues with EFT. Rather than being content with using EFT on surface problems, it’s worth developing the skills to find and resolve the core issues that are at the root of the problem.
Here are some questions you might ask in order to identify core issues:
” Does the problem that’s bothering you remind you of any events in your childhood? “Tune into your body and feel your feelings. Then travel back in time to the first time in your life you ever felt that same sensation.
” What’s the worst similar experience you ever had?”
” If you were writing your autobiography, what chapter would you prefer to delete, as though it had never happened to you?”
If you can’t remember a specific childhood event, simply make up a fictional event in your mind. This kind of guessing usually turns out to be right on target. You’re assembling the imagined event out of components of real events, and the imaginary event usually leads back to actual events you can tap on. Even if it doesn’t, and you tap on the fictional event, you will usually experience an obvious release of tension.
The Generalization Effect
The generalization effect is a phenomenon you’ll notice as you make progress with EFT. As you resolve the emotional sting of specific events, other events with a similar emotional signature also decrease in intensity. I once worked with a man at an EFT workshop whose father had beaten him many times during his childhood. His SUD level on the beatings was a 10. I asked him to recall the worst beating he’d ever suffered. He told me that when he was eight years old, his father had hit him so hard he had broken the boy’s jaw. We tapped together on that terrible beating, and after working on all the aspects, his SUD dropped to a 0. I asked him for a SUD score on all the beatings, and his face softened. He said, “My dad got beat by his dad much worse than he beat me. My dad actually did a pretty good job considering how badly he was raised.” My client’s SUD level on all the beatings dropped considerably after we reduced the intensity of this one beating. That’s an example of EFT’s generalization effect. When you knock down an important domino, all the other dominos can fall.
This is very reassuring to clients who suffered from many instances of childhood abuse, the way my client at that workshop had suffered. You don’t need to work through every single horrible incident. Often, simply collapsing the emotional intensity behind one incident is sufficient to collapse the intensity around similar incidents.
The reason our brains work this way is because of a group of neurons in the emotional center of the brain, the limbic system, called the hippocampus. The hippocampus has the job of comparing one event to the other. Suppose that, as a five-year-old child in Catholic school, you get beaten by a nun. Forty years later, you can’t figure out why you feel uneasy around women wearing outfits that are black and white. The reason for your adult aversion to a black-and-white combination is that the hippocampus associates the colors of the nun’s habit with the pain of the beating.
This was a brilliant evolutionary innovation for your ancestors. Perhaps these early humans were attacked by a tiger hiding in the long grass. The tiger’s stripes mimicked the patterns of the grass yet there was something different there. Learning to spot a pattern, judge the differences, and react with fear saved your alert ancestors. They gave birth to their children, who also learned, just a little bit better, how to respond to threats. After thousands of generations, you have a hippocampus at the center of your brain that is genetically engineered to evaluate every message flooding in from your senses, and pick out those associated with the possibility of danger. You see the woman wearing the black-and-white cocktail dress at a party, your hippocampus associates these colors with the nun who beat you, and you have an emotional response.
Yet the opposite is also true. Assume for a moment you’re a man who is very shy when confronted with women at cocktail parties. He feels a rush of fear whenever he thinks about talking to an attractive woman dressed in black. He works with an EFT coach on his memories of getting beaten by the nun in Catholic school, and suddenly he finds himself able to talk easily to women at parties. Once the man’s hippocampus breaks the connection between beatings and a black dress, it knows, for future reference, that the two phenomena are no longer connected.
This is the explanation the latest brain science gives us for the generalization effect. It’s been noted in EFT for many years, and it’s very comforting for those who’ve suffered many adverse experiences. You may need to tap on some of them, but you won’t have to tap on all of them before the whole group is neutralized. Sometimes, like my client who was beaten repeatedly as a child, if you tap on a big one, the generalization effect reduces the emotional intensity of all similar experiences.
The Movie Technique and Tell the Story Technique
When you take an EFT workshop, the first key technique you learn is the Movie Technique. Why do we place such emphasis on the Movie Technique? The reason for this is that it combines many of the methods that are key to success with EFT.
The first thing the Movie Technique does is focus you on being specific. EFT is great at eliminating the emotional intensity you feel, as long as it’s used on an actual concrete event (“John yelled at me in the meeting”), rather than a general statement (“My procrastination”).
The Movie Technique has you identify a particular incident that has a big emotional charge for you, and systematically reduce that charge to 0. You picture the event in your mind’s eye just as though it were a movie, and run through the movie scene by scene.
Whenever you reach a part of the movie that carries a big emotional charge, you stop and perform the EFT sequence. In this way, you reduce the intensity of each of the bad parts of the movie. EFT’s related technique, Tell the Story, is done out loud, while the Movie Technique is typically done silently. You can use the Movie Technique with a client without them ever disclosing what the event was.
Try this with one of your own traumatic life events right now. Think of the event as though it were a scary movie. Make sure it’s an event that lasts just a few minutes; if your movie lasts several hours or days, you’ve probably picked a general pattern. Try again, selecting a different event, till you have a movie that’s just a few minutes long.
One example is a man whose general issue is “Distrust of Strangers.” We trace it to a particular childhood incident that occurred when the man, whom we’ll call John, was seven years old. His parents moved to a new town, and John found himself walking to a new school through a rough neighborhood. He encountered a group of bullies at school but always managed to avoid them. One day, walking back from school, he saw the bullies walking toward him. He crossed the street, hoping to avoid their attention. He wasn’t successful, and he saw them point at him, then change course to intercept him. He knew he was due for a beating. They taunted him and shoved him, and he fell into the gutter. His mouth hit the pavement, and he chipped a tooth. Other kids gathered round and laughed at him, and the bullies moved off. He picked himself up and walked the rest of the way home.
If you were to apply EFT to John’s general pattern, “Distrust of Strangers,” you’d be tapping generally and ineffectually. When instead you focus on the specific event, you’re honing in on the life events that gave rise to the general pattern. A collection of events like John’s beating can combine to create the general pattern.
Now give your movie a title. John might call his movie “The Bullies.”
Start thinking about the movie at a point before the traumatic part began. For John, that would be when he was walking home from school, unaware of the events in store for him.
Now run your movie through your mind till the end. The end of the movie is usually a place where the bad events come to an end. For John, this might be when he picked himself up off the ground, and resumed his walk home.
Now let’s add EFT to your movie. Here’s the way you do this:
1. Think of the title of your movie. Rate your degree of your emotional distress around just the title, not the movie itself. For instance, on the distress scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is no distress and 10 represents maximum distress, you might be an 8 when you think of the title “The Meeting.” Write down your movie title, and your number.
2. Work the movie title into an EFT Setup Statement. It might sound something like this: “Even though [Insert Your Movie Title Here], I deeply and completely accept myself.” Then tap on the EFT acupressure points, while repeating the Setup Statement three times. Your distress level will typically go down. You may have to do EFT several times on the title for it to reach a low number like 0 or 1 or 2.
3. Once the title reaches a low number, think of the “neutral point” before the bad events in the movie began to take place. For John, the neutral point was when he was walking home from school, before the bullies saw him. Once you’ve identified the neutral point of your own movie, start running the movie through your mind, until you reach a point where the emotional intensity rises. In John’s case, the first emotionally intense point was when he saw the bullies.
4. Stop at this point, and assess your intensity number. It might have risen from a 1 to a 7, for instance. Then perform a round of EFT on that first emotional crescendo. For John, it might be, “Even though I saw the bullies turn toward me, I deeply and completely accept myself.” Use the same kind of statement for your own problem: “Even though [first emotional crescendo], I deeply and completely accept myself.” Keep tapping till your number drops to 0 or near 0, perhaps a 1 or 2.
5. Now rewind your mental movie to the neutral point, and start running it in your mind again. Stop at the first emotional crescendo. If you sail right through the first one you tapped on, you know you’ve really and truly resolved that aspect of the memory with EFT. Go on to the next crescendo. For John, this might have been when they shoved him into the gutter. When you’e found your second emotional crescendo, then repeat the process. Assess your intensity number, do EFT, and keep tapping till your number is low. Even if your number is only a 3 or 4, stop and do EFT again. Don’t push through low-intensity emotional crescendos; since you have the gift of freedom at your fingertips, use it on each part of the movie.
6. Rewind to the neutral point again, and repeat the process.
7. When you can replay the whole movie in your mind, from the neutral point, to the end of the movie when your feelings are neutral again, you’ll know you’ve resolved the whole event. You’ll have dealt with all the aspects of the traumatic incident.
8. To truly test yourself, run through the movie, but exaggerate each sensory channel. Imagine the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and other aspects of the movie as vividly as you possible can. If you’ve been running the movie silently in your mind, speak it out loud. When you cannot possibly make yourself upset, you’re sure to have resolved the lingering emotional impact of the event. The effect is usually permanent.
When you work through enough individual movies in this way, the whole general pattern often vanishes. Perhaps John had forty events that contributed to his distrust of strangers. He might need to do the Movie Technique on all forty, but experience with EFT suggests that when you resolve just a few key events, perhaps five or ten of them, the rest fade in intensity, and the general pattern itself is neutralized.
The Tell the Story Technique is similar to the Movie Technique; usually the Movie Technique is performed silently while Tell the Story is out loud. One great benefit of the Movie Technique done silently is that the client does not have to disclose the nature of the problem. An event might be too triggering, or too embarrassing, or too emotionally overwhelming, to be spoken out loud. That’s no problem with the Movie Technique, which allows EFT to work its magic without the necessity of disclosure on the part of the client. The privacy offered by the Movie Technique makes it very useful for clients who would rather not talk openly about troubling events.
Here’s a way to demonstrate how EFT can affect you physically. You can try this yourself right now. It’s also often practiced as an onstage demonstration at EFT workshops. You simply take three deep breaths, stretching your lungs as far as they can expand. On the third breath, rate the extent of the expansion of your lungs on a 0 to 10 scale, with 0 being as constricted as possible, and 10 being as expanded as possible. Now perform several rounds of EFT using Setup Statements such as:
Even though my breathing is constricted…
Even though my lungs will only expand to an 8…
Even though I have this physical problem that prevents me breathing deeply…
Now take another deep breath and rate your level of expansion. Usually there’s substantial improvement. Now focus on any emotional contributors to constricted breathing. Use questions like:
What life events can I associate with breathing problems?
Are there places in my life where I feel restricted?
If I simply guess at an emotional reason for my constricted breathing, what might it be?
Now tap on any issues surfaced by these questions. After your intensity is reduced, take another deep breath and rate how far your lungs are now expanding. Even if you were a 10 earlier, you might now find you’re an 11 or 14.
The Personal Peace Procedure
The Personal Peace Procedure consists of listing every specific troublesome event in your life and systematically using EFT to tap away the emotional impact of these events. With due diligence, you knock over every negative domino on your emotional playing board and, in so doing, remove significant sources of both emotional and physical ailments. You experience personal peace, which improves your work and home relationships, your health, and every other area of your life.
Tapping on large numbers of events one by one might seem like a daunting task, but we’ll show you in the next few paragraphs how you can accomplish it quickly and efficiently. Because of EFT?s generalization effect, where tapping on one issue reduces the intensity of similar issues, you’ll typically find the process going much faster than you imagined.
Removing the emotional charge from your specific events results in less and less internal conflict. Less internal conflict results, in turn, in greater personal peace and less suffering on all levels, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. For many people, the Personal Peace Procedure has led to the complete cessation of lifelong issues that other methods did not resolve. You’ll find stories on the EFT Universe website written by people who describe relief from physical maladies like headaches, breathing difficulties, and digestive disorders. You’ll read other stories of people who used EFT to help them deal with the stress associated with AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. Unresolved anger, traumas, guilt, or grief contributes to physical illness, and cannot be medicated away. EFT addresses these emotional contributors to physical disease.
Here’s how to do the Personal Peace Procedure:
1. List every specific troublesome event in your life that you can remember. Write them down in a Personal Peace Procedure journal. “Troublesome” means it caused you some form of discomfort. If you listed fewer than fifty events, try harder to remember more. Many people find hundreds. Some bad events you recall may not seem to cause you any current discomfort. List them anyway. The fact that they came to mind suggests they may need resolution. As you list them, give each specific event a title, like it’s a short movie, such as: Mom slapped me that time in the car; I stole my brother’s baseball cap; I slipped and fell in front of everybody at the ice skating rink; My third grade class ridiculed me when I gave that speech; Dad locked me in the toolshed overnight; Mrs. Simmons told me I was dumb.
2. When your list is finished, choose the biggest dominoes on your board, that is, the events that have the most emotional charge for you. Apply EFT to them, one at a time, until the SUD level for each event is 0. You might find yourself laughing about an event that used to bring you to tears; you might find a memory fading. Pay attention to any aspects that arise and treat them as separate dominoes, by tapping for each aspect separately. Make sure you tap on each event until it is resolved. If you find yourself unable to rate the intensity of a bad event on the 0-10 scale, you might be dissociating, or repressing a memory. One solution to this problem is to tap ten rounds of EFT on every aspect of the event you are able to recall. You might then find the event emerging into clearer focus but without the same high degree of emotional charge.
3. After you have removed the biggest dominoes, pick the next biggest, and work on down the line.
4. If you can, clear at least one of your specific events, preferably three, daily for three months. By taking only minutes per day, in three months you will have cleared 90 to 270 specific events. You will likely discover that your body feels better, that your threshold for getting upset is much lower, your relationships have improved, and many of your old issues have disappeared. If you revisit specific events you wrote down in your Personal Peace Procedure journal, you will likely discover that the former intensity has evaporated. Pay attention to improvements in your blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory capacity. EFT often produces subtle but measurable changes in your health, and you may miss them if you aren’t looking for them.
5. After knocking down all your dominoes, you may feel so much better that you’re tempted to alter the dosages of medications your doctor has prescribed. Never make any such changes without consulting with your physician. Your doctor is your partner in your healing journey. Tell your doctor you’re working on your emotional issues with EFT, since most health-care professionals are acutely aware of the contribution that stress makes to disease.
The Personal Peace Procedure does not take the place of EFT training, nor does it take the place of assistance from a qualified EFT practitioner. It is an excellent supplement to EFT workshops and help from EFT practitioners. EFT’s full range of resources is designed to work effectively together for the best healing results.
Is It Working Yet?
Sometimes EFT’s benefits are blindingly obvious. In the introductory video on the home page of the EFT Universe website, you see a TV reporter with a lifelong fear of spiders receiving a tapping session. Afterward, in a dramatic turnaround, she’s able to stroke a giant hairy tarantula spider she’s holding in the palm of her hand.
Other times, EFTs effects are subtler and you have to pay close attention to spot them. A friend of mine who has had a lifelong fear of driving in high-speed traffic remarked to me recently that her old fear is completely gone. Over the past year, each time she felt anxious about driving, she pulled her car to the side of the road and tapped. It took many trips and much tapping, but subtle changes gradually took effect. Thanks to EFT she has emotional freedom and drives without fear. She also has another great benefit, in the form of a closer bond to her daughter and baby granddaughter. They live two hours drive away and, previously, her dread of traffic kept her from visiting them. Now she’s able to make the drive with joyful anticipation of playing with her granddaughter.
If you seem not to be making progress on a particular problem despite using EFT, look for other positive changes that might be happening in your life. Stress affects every system in the body, and once you relieve it with EFT, you might find improvements in unexpected areas. For instance, when stressed, the capillaries in your digestive system constrict, impeding digestion. Many people with digestive problems report improvement after EFT. Stress also redistributes biological resources away from your reproductive system. You’ll find many stories on EFT Universe of people whose sex lives improved dramatically as a by-product of healing emotional issues. Stress affects your muscular and circulatory systems; many people report that muscular aches and pains disappear after EFT, and their blood circulation improves. Just as stress is pervasive, relaxation is pervasive, and when we release our emotional bonds with EFT, the relaxing effects are felt all over the body. So perhaps your sore knee has only improved slightly, but you’re sleeping better, having fewer respiratory problems, and getting along better with your coworkers.
Saying the Right Words
A common misconception is that you have to say just the right words while tapping in order for EFT to be effective. The truth is that focusing on the problem is more important than the exact words you’re using. It’s the exposure to the troubling issue that directs healing energy to the right place; the words are just a guide.
Many practitioners write down tapping scripts with lists of affirmations you can use. These can be useful. However, your own words are usually able to capture the full intensity of your emotions in a way that is not possible using other people’s words. The way you form language is associated with the configuration of the neural network in your brain. You want the neural pathways along which stress signals travel to be very active while you tap. Using your own words is more likely to awaken that neural pathway fully than using even the most eloquent words suggested by someone else. By all means use tapping scripts if they’re available, to nudge you in the right direction. At the same time, utilize the power of prolonged exposure by focusing your mind completely on your own experience. Your mind and body have a healing wisdom that usually directs healing power toward the place where it is most urgently required.
The Next Steps on Your EFT Journey
Now that youv’e entered the world of EFT, you’ll find it to be a rich and supportive place. On the EFT Universe website, you’ll find stories written by thousands of people, from all over the world, describing success with an enormous variety of problems. Locate success stories on your particular problem by using the site’s drop-down menu, which lists issues alphabetically: Addictions, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, and so on. Read these stories for insights on how to apply EFT to your particular case. They’ll inspire you in your quest for full healing.
Our certified practitioners are a wonderful resource. They’ve gone through rigorous training in Clinical EFT and have honed their skills with many clients. Many of them work via telephone or videoconferencing, so if you don’t find the perfect practitioner in your geographic area, you can still get expert help with remote sessions. While EFT is primarily a self-help tool and you can get great results alone, you’ll find the insight that comes from an outside observer can often alert you to behavior patterns and solutions you can’t find by yourself.
Take an EFT workshop. EFT Universe offers more than a hundred workshops each year, all over the world, and you’re likely to find a Level 1 and 2 workshop close to you. You’ll make friends, see expert demonstrations, and learn EFT systematically. Each workshop contains eight learning modules, and each module builds on the one before. Fifteen years? experience in training thousands of people in EFT has shown us exactly how people learn EFT competently and quickly, and provided the background knowledge to design these trainings. Read the many testimonials on the website to see how deeply transformational the EFT workshops are.
The EFT Universe newsletter is the medium that keeps the whole EFT world connected. Read the stories published there weekly to stay inspired and to learn about new uses for EFT. Write your own experiences and submit them to the newsletter. Post comments on the EFT Universe Facebook page, and comment in the blogs.
If you’d like to help others access the benefits you have gained from EFT, you might consider volunteering your services. There are dozens of ways to support EFT’s growth and progress. You can join a tapping circle, or start one yourself. You can donate to EFT research and humanitarian efforts. You can offer tapping sessions to people who are suffering through one of EFT’s humanitarian projects, like those that have reached thousands in Haiti, Rwanda, and elsewhere. You can let your friends know about EFT.
EFT has reached millions of people worldwide with its healing magic but is still in its infancy. By practicing this work, you’re joining a healing revolution that has the potential to radically reduce human suffering. Imagine if the benefits you’ve already experienced could be shared by every child, every sick person, every anxious or stressed person in the world. The trajectory of human history would be very different. I’m committed to helping create this shift however I can, and I invite you to join me and all the other people of goodwill in making this vision of a transformed future a reality.