Norm Shealy, Md, PhD, endorses EFT

By removing emotional trauma, EFT helps heal physical symptoms too.

Norm Shealy, MD

Author of Soul Medicine.

EFT Reframing - Another Way to See Things Through Tapping

Important Note:  This article on Reframing is not to be confused with the previous article on Using Positive Language With EFT.   Reframes offer "another way to look at the issue(s)" and thus add a healthy perspective that is generated from within the client.  Positive language, on the other hand, tends to be artificially imposed from without and often dilutes the EFT goal of truly eliminating negatives.  Reframes are a part of Official EFT and they are expanded upon below.  Using Positive Language in your Setup phrases is a clear variation and is not taught or supported in this Tutorial.

What is a Reframe?

Reframes are a creative refinement to the EFT Setup language that encourage cognitive shifts. When applied skillfully, Reframes add a new dimension to the standard EFT process by either presenting the problem from a different angle, or introducing a higher level of understanding to the situation.  This is especially so if you blend them with the Customized Setup Phrases you learned previously.

Reframes have been used for decades by some therapists but their results have been hit or miss.  The clients will often nod their heads positively to the new perspective and may say something like, "That's a good thought.  I'll think about it."  To me, this is an "academic" reframe because it doesn't really "land" within the clients.  They don't get a true "Aha" and thus "own" it.  With EFT, however, appropriate reframes land with real impact a lot more often. There is no way to know the exact reason for this but the difference is quite clear once you gain experience.

Below is my video discussion on this topic in front of a large workshop audience.

 

REFRAMING DISCUSSION - WATCH VIDEO

 

Now here are 4 vignettes that provide a broad look at how Reframes are delivered.  They serve as helpful backgrounds to what you will learn in this article.

 

REFRAMING EXAMPLES - WATCH VIDEO

 

As we have discussed, the transition from one perspective on an issue to another is called a cognitive shift, and is the ultimate goal in therapy. With standard EFT, those shifts can happen automatically, but adding Reframes to the process can produce them more quickly and more completely by redefining the memories for your client, and adding new Writing to their Walls.

As soon as you...

  • have solid experience with the basic EFT procedure
  • are comfortable with extended setup phrases
  • can consistently collapse Tabletops, and
  • can erase the Writing on your clients’ Walls with standard EFT alone

...you are ready to learn Reframes.

For anyone who has not yet seen an EFT-style Reframe, they are generally used at the end of the Setup phrase instead of “I deeply and completely accept myself.” The examples below illustrate Setup phrases that begin by acknowledging the problem, and end with a Reframe that presents a new perspective.

  • Even though Mom said I couldn’t go to the party, and I didn’t understand why, she may have been trying to protect me…
  • Even though my husband said that horribly critical thing to me, it may be my reaction to his words that bothers me…
  • Even though I felt rejected by what Joey did at school, I might be able to see the humor in it…

In general, Reframes will use language that you suggest, rather than something the client has already said. The goal is to trigger an “aha” moment for them as they recognize a healthier understanding of the event.

Reframing is based on the concept that your original perception of an event serves as a frame. As it is with a piece of art, if you change the frame, the same picture can take on a whole new look. EFT is capable of changing the quality of a memory all on its own, but Reframing the new picture can provide the perfect finishing touch.

Let’s say you have a picture in your mind of a scene on the playground, and at the time, you reacted with anger. As you carry that picture with you, the anger serves as a frame. In an EFT session, we take that picture off the wall, address a few aspects, and eventually the anger frame no longer matches the picture. You might consider a forgiveness frame, or a “so what” frame, or a “that must have been pretty funny to everyone else” frame, but just as the anger frame highlighted the darker parts of that memory, a good Reframe will bring out the lighter, more cheerful colors.

Getting Started

Once again, Reframes are generally used in a Setup phrase, but now that we have some variations that extend Setup language to the sequence points as well, Reframes can be used at any point. However, the easiest way to use Reframes, especially when you’re just learning, is to put them in at the end of the Setup, so here are some guidelines to get you started.

  • Identify and address a Specific Event related to the issue using standard EFT tools until the intensity is below a 3.
  • Use either the standard format or the extended format to construct an “even though” phrase (or phrases) that focus on the problem.
  • You can be creative with that language to describe as much about the problem as possible.
  • Include some version of “I deeply and completely accept myself” in that language.
  • Then add a new phrase starting with “even though I have this __________, …” and end with your reframe. (see examples below)

You can use some simple, common reframes like these for practice:

Even though I felt belittled by my Aunt Freida…

  • I might be able to forgive her someday
  • Perhaps I can understand why she did that
  • Maybe she was just doing her best at the time
  • Possibly I was doing the best I could at the time
  • Maybe I could let it go

As you may notice, all of the above Reframe options will take the client’s perspective in a new direction. In the space where the “belittled” feeling used to be, you are adding forgiveness or understanding as a new dimension to the experience. If your client accepts the new direction, it will be Written on their Walls and the results will be more solid.

You may also notice that Reframes are generally not used until the self-acceptance goal of the Setup has been accomplished in advance with other phrases.

Delivering Reframes

As a general rule, Reframes should be used towards the end of a session, after you have reduced the intensity of a Specific Event. Your client will be more receptive to the new Writing after the old Writing has been cleared away. As you develop more skill, you can add them in at any point in the session. However, please note the following:

  • Reframes do not replace the goal of the Setup phrase which is to acknowledge the problem and accept oneself in spite of it.
  • Reframes should never be considered a substitute for uncovering Specific Events.  

During your work on Specific Events, you might use, “I deeply and completely accept myself” (or some version thereof) a few dozen times, and that should satisfy the self-acceptance goal of the Setup.

Did it LAND?

Before we move on, the degree to which your language “lands” with your client is an extremely important element of Reframing. Although we have mentioned this term before, we will cover it here in more detail to be sure you understand its meaning.

When your Reframe, or other EFT language, “lands” with your client, that means it resonates with them on some level. They agree with it, it describes their experience accurately in their opinion, or it reveals a perception that they may not have recognized until you mentioned it.

There are several ways for your client to express their resonance or agreement with your language. Often they will laugh, nod their head, say “yup” or “that’s it.”  Also, their eyes can show surprise or they may cry if you triggered a new aspect. You can always ask them for feedback if you aren’t sure by saying something like “how’d I do?” or “does that fit?”

On the other hand, their resistance to your language can be shown in several ways as well. They might shake their head, hesitate, stop to correct your phrase, say “hmmm” or “no, that’s not it”. They will often be polite with negative feedback, so make it clear to them before the session that they are welcome to correct anything you say. Then pay very close attention to their signs and adjust as necessary.

Bold vs. Conservative

Reframes can range from bold to conservative, depending on how much of a perception shift they are suggesting. For instance, “I forgive my father completely” is a strong declaration, and may be asking a bit too much from someone who has been angry for a long time. On the other hand, “I might be able to forgive him someday” is a much more gentle suggestion. It asks for a smaller shift in perception, and is much easier for your client to accept.  

Here are some more examples with the bold version followed by a more conservative version.

  • I forgive the man who raped me vs. He was struggling with his own issues and maybe I was just in his way.
  • I’m sure my mother meant well vs. She might have been trying to help me.
  • He was acting in my best interest vs. He was probably doing the best he could at the time.

A good reframe is one that will land easily with your clients AND help them make a shift in perception about the event in question. However, if your reframes are too bold, and they don't land easily with your clients you may be adding more energy disruptions to the pile. Your clients' frame of mind will determine how bold or conservative you can be with your reframes. In general, they will be more resistant to reframes in the beginning of a session, and more open to them at the end.

For example, if you are working with a client who has felt abandoned by her mother for 20 years, she will probably cling to her original perception pretty tightly at the beginning of the session. By contrast, at the end of a session, once you have released significant intensity on several aspects, your client will be much more open to new perspectives, and you can try some bolder suggestions.

The Conservative Approach

The safest way to apply reframes is to be conservative. If a gentle reframe takes hold, then try to shift a little further with the next one and see how far you get. You can also incorporate suggestive words rather then absolutes. For example, if you use a reframe like “I forgive him now,” that would have to be 100% true for it to land well with your client. However, if you say something like “I might be able to forgive him now” your client can move in the direction of forgiveness without having to make a firm decision. Consider the following suggestive words when constructing your reframes for a higher success rate.

  • May
  • Might
  • Could
  • Probably
  • Someday
  • Consider
  • Possibility

Oops!

Even if you are being conservative, you will eventually blurt out a Reframe that doesn’t land. In that case, you can add “sorta’”, “but not today”, or something similar to immediately shift the Reframe to something closer to the truth for your client. For example, at the end of your Setup you say “I am ready to forgive him now,” your client cringes with disagreement, so you add “sorta’” with a smile, they will repeat the word and their resistance to your Reframe will usually subside.

Don't Impose Reframes, Offer Them

Watch out for the fine line involved here.  It is tempting to impose our version of the "right" reframe but if we do, that can come across as manipulation and thus create client resistance.  Obviously, the Reframe comes from your assessment of the situation but your language must "offer" it rather than impose it.    You might wish to re-visit the video above and watch how the reframes are offered with humor, logic and the like.  It is very soft and is always done so that the client can object or correct.  This is part of the art of reframing.

Minimizing Pain

Reframes can be used with a more global approach to minimize emotional pain. Just as you might “take the edge off” of an issue with a round or two of global tapping, you can also add reframes to those rounds to start preparing your client for a new perspective. We call that “Reframing the Tabletop” and there are examples of that in the Borrowing Benefits (Easy EFT) videos.

Reframe Themes

 Reframing is an NLP skill that I learned in the 1980's. You will see in the Art of Delivery videos that I have a lot of fun with it. My reframes are based on the Writing on your Walls concept and I have developed a variety of themes that provide insight into this train of thought. In general, you can use at least one of these themes in every session, so feel free to experiment with all of them. There are examples of these themes in the Borrowing Benefits video set that are contained within the Art of Delivery videos.

Eroding the "true" authority -

When we allow someone to Write on our Walls, we have already granted them some degree of authority on whatever subject they “wrote” about. Although we hold those writings as “Truth”, the sources aren’t always the experts we thought them to be. If you can help your client recognize that their authorities weren’t really that qualified, important shifts can happen.

Even though I have this ____________  (emotion, reaction, etc.)…

  • I’m a prisoner to the words of a 16 year old boy
  • I’ve been taking financial advice from people who lack financial success
  • I accepted judgment from someone who isn’t perfect himself

Forgiveness -

Another powerful reframe angle is to forgive whoever was involved in the Specific Events that have shaped someone’s life.  In reality, we are all doing the best we can, and although many actions can feel like a personal attack, they are often intended in your best interest. Parents are a perfect example, and often don’t deliver their love in a way we want or need it.

Further, anyone who has committed violence or some other inexcusable behavior was probably operating in a survival mode of some kind, and victims are usually just in their way. For example, although it is difficult to forgive sexual assault, it is helpful to recognize that anyone who chooses to do something like that is definitely not well, and their choices rarely have anything to do with that victim in particular.

Even though I have this ____________  (emotion, reaction, etc.)…

  • I realize he was doing his best at the time, given his own history, his own traumas and his own belief systems.
  • She has her own problems to deal with and I was just in the way.
  • Whatever she did says more about her than me.
  • I understand that he’s human, and may not always make the best choices.
  • I can’t forgive what he did, but I may be able to understand it.

Often, forgiving oneself is the missing link to emotional freedom on any event, so you can also use this theme in that way.

Even though I have this ____________  (emotion, reaction, etc.)…

  • I’m only human and I’m bound to make some mistakes
  • My judgment wasn’t perfect and neither is anyone else’s
  • I just didn’t know any better
  • I was just a kid
  • I was trying to be a good parent or person
  • I forgive myself for being 5 and reacting the only way I knew how
  • I was doing my best at the time, given my own history, my own traumas and my own belief systems

Personal responsibility -

Helping your client see that their reaction to any situation is a choice they make rather than a constant they must endure will encourage a new level of personal power.

Even though I have this ____________  (emotion, reaction, etc.)…

  • It’s an inside job
  • It was just my perception
  • I’m paying the price
  • Carrying it around may not be worth it anymore

Connecting the Memories -

If you are working on a more current Specific Event and suspect that an earlier event may have had more impact, you can use reframes to help your client make those connections, and allow you to deepen your work with them.

Even though I have this ____________  (emotion, reaction, etc.)…

  • Maybe it reminded me of someone else
  • Maybe this is similar to something in my past

If you have already uncovered an earlier event and your client isn’t aware of the connection between that and the issue they brought to you, you can also use this theme to make those connections. This will certainly encourage a cognitive shift as they recognize their own patterns.

Even though I have this ____________  (emotion, reaction, etc.)…

  • I’m still choosing abandonment today
  • My current relationship is suffering as a result
  • Here we go again

Reducing it to the Ridiculous -

Although each client’s issues will seem monumental to them, they are often much less significant when compared to a bigger picture. The bigger you can make that picture, the smaller, and more ridiculous, their issue will seem.  

Even though I have this ____________  (emotion, reaction, etc.)…

  • It was that way before I got here, it will be that way long after I’m gone
  • In 20 years nobody will even remember it. They may not even remember it now.
  • Everyone has these issues
  • I’m not the only one
  • Can’t name a single person who pleases everyone
  • I haven’t seen her in years, and she doesn’t even know I’m angry

Writing on the Walls Comedy -

You can see a lot of comedy reframes in the Art of Delivery videos. There you will see me poking good natured fun at how people have put their perceptions together.  Often our strongly held beliefs don't really make logical sense.  For instance, the limiting belief that "Rich people are greedy" falls apart when seen in the humorous frame that poor people are greedy too ... and so are athletes, architects, children, politicians and everyone else.  If you can widen your perspective, and start observing how people construct their beliefs, it is definitely humorous and you can draw on that perspective with each of your clients.

Exposing the Writing on their Walls -

Simply allowing your client the freedom to admit their feelings or beliefs can help them release it on their own. The goal of this angle is to expose the Writing on the Walls so the client can see their own process laid out for them on the table. As it turns out, once the Writing on someone’s Walls has been exposed to the light of day, the client will usually see the humor on their own, or at least why it doesn’t work. This theme is related to the comedy theme but is presented without the humor.

After addressing a Specific Event, and you notice that your client has a stubborn belief that won’t allow the intensity to come down, try some of these…

  • Even though I feel better about this one incident, I’m still supposed to please everyone.
  • Even though I can stop grieving, it’s still important for me to feel guilty.
  • Even though I can let go of this one incident, I still need my anger because it makes me feel ________ (important? smart? powerful?)
  • Even though I don’t make as much money as I want, I’m more comfortable with poverty.
  • Even though I feel so limited by what my father said, I feel safe in my little prison.

Other comments

The real test for your Reframes is whether or not they land, so keep developing your skills with communication and body language. Once again, Reframes are not intended as a substitute for detective work or addressing Specific Events. They should be used as a complement to the Official EFT skills you already know, so your session should still focus on Specific Events and their aspects, rather than a constant stream of Reframes.

On another note, when you have gotten to a point in your session when your client is open to Reframes, they have dropped their defenses and have opened up significantly. This is a vulnerable, very sensitive space that you need to treat carefully.  Rapport is a fragile asset that you can lose in an instant if you step out of bounds with your client, especially when they are in a vulnerable state. Remember, they are not accustomed to being without their defenses, and you don’t want to give them any reason to put them back up.

 

© Gary and Tina Craig
All Rights Reserved