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Frequently Asked Questions

Can EFT cause a client to "feel worse?"

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Can EFT cause a client to "feel worse"?

Note: This question is best answered by examining an actual case. Accordingly, I submit the following case that appeared on our EFT email support list.

Hi Everyone,

Glenn Turner writes of a case where a client appears to make quality progress but, later on, reports "feeling worse." This doesn't happen very often but, when it does, it is often misunderstood. It appears to be a problem whereas, in reality, it offers an opportunity for client and healing practitioner alike. Read on.

Hugs, Gary

P.S. While this "feeling worse" discussion centers around emotional issues, the same concepts apply for physical discomforts as well.

Hi Gary,

Just had an experience with an old time family friend that I would appreciate some feedback on. This person came to me last week suffering from extreme anxiety about many things too numerous for him to even begin with.

GC RESPONSE: There's your first clue as to why your friend eventually "felt worse." He came to you with "extreme anxiety about many things too numerous for him to even begin with." He walks in your door with a whole forest full of negative trees. Typically these trees have serious roots and many, many specific fears and traumas and guilts behind them. You are not likely to resolve them all in one session. It is quite probable, however, that you will resolve some surface problems thereby allowing more important issues to bubble up to the top.

GLENN CONTINUES: I did some very general tappings, one in particular for "this heavy, heavy weight" and he left feeling very much better. Ate that night for the first time in a while. Was eating, but not very much due to anxiety and associated gut feelings. He thought it was a miracle and frankly so did I.

GC RESPONSE: This often happens with generalized anxiety. A few rounds of EFT and the immediate issues subside. It often seems like a miracle. Someone comes in quite upset and, in short order, they are calm and go about their business. If the upset reappears (very likely with generalized anxiety) it's not because EFT "didn't work" or was responsible for them "feeling worse." Rather, it's because EFT removed some surface issues thereby allowing the more foundational issues to come out from hiding. The real villain (which was always there) is now front and center. This is NOT A PROBLEM. It's an OPPORTUNITY!!! Finally, the real issue is showing up and begging for EFT. At this point it is easy to back off and misinterpret what's going on. A seasoned EFT'er, however, will do a little "yippee" inside because the "big one" is now out in the open.

GLENN CONTINUES: However, several days later he calls me very agitated and needs to see me again. I see him, and he seemed to be much worse. And the tapping seemed to make him worse. I am speculating but what I feel was that he was suppressing the very real (highly likely) event that would see him lose everything in financial terms that he had worked so hard for. And I don't think he saw that as a reality until some of his other trees were lopped. He was very upset when this hit him and I tapped for it for quite a while.

GC RESPONSE: Since you were speculating, we don't really know where his thoughts were going. However, your thought that he didn't see the larger issue until other trees were lopped is very consistent with this kind of case. The "truth" remains hidden under all forms of protective issues and various rationalizations. By EFT'ing these covering issues we can finally deal with a core issue that has been negatively affecting his life. Your example doesn't bring up just what this issue is, but a little artistry and some detective work ought to expose it pretty quickly.

I'm reminded of a client who came to me a few years ago upset about an argument he had just had with his girl friend. It was a simple argument, the anger for which was typically resolvable with one or two rounds of EFT. However, the client's immediate anger didn't budge and he reported "feeling worse." Why? Because we eventually discovered that he was tuning in to times when his mother belittled him through yelling. The real issue was his mother, not his girl friend. The argument with the girl friend simply triggered the real issue and he "felt worse" until we resolved the mother issue (a several session effort, by the way, because there were many aspects).

GLENN CONTINUES: I left it, with him feeling still upset but with him half smiling saying maybe its all for the best.

GC RESPONSE: Perhaps you exposed a core issue here and resolved it. You won't know, of course, until you see the client again and assess his anxiety. If he does come back reporting anxiety the chances are very high that he will NOT point to issues you have already tapped for as the cause. He will bring up new issues (aspects). This is very typical of cases like this and, of course, glowing evidence that EFT is working nicely. Often, however, the client will not recognize their progress if they still feel anxious. To them, the problem is anxiety and not the individual parts of it. I suggest that practitioners make it a routine with these types of issues to consistently remind the client of the long string of resolved events that have occurred along the way to taking care of the anxiety. This helps immeasurably with client cooperation.

GLENN CONTINUES: Took me a while to get here but my question is, for anxiety about things in the future that are potentially life changing "ending" and that are almost certain to happen, is it better to "keep the lid on" these problems rather than have them run smack bang into something that they are not prepared for (and quite frankly that I was not prepared for). Part of me feels that it's better to know what you're up against and tackle those feelings that arise from this awareness. Another part, after this episode, is now wondering. Sorry for rambling, but as always any help would be very gratefully received.

GC RESPONSE: I suppose there are some situations where we should "leave well enough alone" and let the clients bury their heads in the sand and not face the truth. I will leave that judgment to the individuals involved. However, I haven't run into any situations where I'm willing to back off or look the other way.

As stated before, I see this type of case as a major opportunity (1) for clients to finally rid themselves of major limits and (2) for practitioners to expand their skills and go where they haven't gone before. The truth is the truth. It will have its effect whether we want it to or not. Night time comes even if we don't want it to. So does the rain, wind, death and taxes. These are all forms of reality--the truth, if you will. Trying to postpone them or ignore them will not change them.

GLENN CONTINUES: Hope you are well.

Glenn Turner


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