I frequently use EFT for my patients with great results.
Eric Robins, MD
Co-author of Your Hands Can Heal you.
The EFT Tearless Trauma Technique
A Relatively Painless Way To Approach Intense Issues
Note: Since first introducing this technique to the public, it has been used with great success by many. However, the term "Tearless" does not mean that no one ever has tears or discomfort. Indeed, some people respond with tears or other forms of distress at the mere mention of their issue. Thus, please interpret The Tearless Trauma Technique as a method where distress can usually be minimized or eliminated.
A relatively painless therapy session
The Tearless Trauma Technique was first developed in a group setting with impressive results and, although it continues to be effective for groups, it is presented here as another alternative for minimizing pain in individual sessions.
I generally use this when a client has an event to address that they know will be big on the intensity scale. It combines a semi-global approach with some dissociation to allow you to “sneak up” on the event without diving headlong into something that may be traumatic. With this semi-global approach, I can usually provide enough relief to follow it with the Tell the Story Technique or Movie Technique for more complete results. It is even possible that this tool may release all the intensity on the event. Even so, I often follow up with some form of testing to make sure.
Here are the steps
1. Ask your clients to identify a specific traumatic event from their past. The instructions for choosing an event are the same as that of Tell the Story and Movie Techniques. In addition, ask that it be at least 5 years ago to minimize any complications from the dynamics of a current event.
An example might be, "the time my father punched me when I was 12." By contrast, the phrase "my father abused me" would be too broad because, chances are, the abuse took place over many, many incidents. Please note that you may need to instruct your clients to stay on their original issue because many of them will shift to other issues as they bring the original one down.
2. Next, ask your clients to take a GUESS as to the intensity they MIGHT feel if they were to imagine the event. Delivering the instructions for this step are important because the better they are followed, the more you can minimize the emotional pain.
You might tell them,
“In a minute I will ask you take a GUESS about how high you THINK the intensity MIGHT be IF you were to vividly imagine the event … don’t do it now, wait until I ask. Now when you GUESS, I really want a GUESS. I don’t want you to go through the movie in order to be 'accurate'. The guess is all we need for now. So now I will ask you, without going through the movie, to take a GUESS as to what the intensity MIGHT be on a 0-10 scale.”
Despite your instructions, clients will often close their eyes or go inward in an effort to be accurate regarding their GUESS. In this case, feel free to stop their process and check to see if they are indeed accessing the event. If so, clarify the instructions for them again.
This GUESS is a surprisingly useful estimate. In my experience, it is almost always close to the true number ... and ... it serves to minimize emotional pain. By making a GUESS about what intensity they might feel, you are dissociating your clients from the event and addressing it “from afar” which significantly reduces the possibility of extreme emotional pain.
Once you get a 0-10 guess for their intensity rating, record it and move forward.
3. Have your clients develop a phrase or movie title to use for the EFT process and then proceed with a global round of tapping. “Even though I have this _________ movie…”
Tip: When a client gives you a title for their movie it will usually describe the most intense part of the event. We are trying to stay away from the big intensity here, so think twice before using a movie title that will take them straight into the pain. To be safe, use “Even though I have this movie, I deeply and completely accept myself” until the guess comes down and then try using the actual title.
4. After this round, ask them to GUESS again and compare that guess to the original one. Typically, it will be a noticeably smaller number, and by now they should be better at just giving a guess.
5. Perform more rounds of EFT and keep checking in with new intensity guesses.
The setup language in these rounds should still be global, but can be similar to the following:
“Even though I’m guessing this movie will upset me…”
“Even though I might have to imagine this movie…”
“Even though I’m not thrilled about going through this event…”
In my experience, a total of 3 or 4 rounds will bring just about everyone down to GUESSES of 0 to 3.
6. Once your clients are down to an acceptably low GUESS of 3 or below, then ask them to actually imagine the incident and see how accurate the GUESS was. Notice that this is the first time you are asking them to do this. All previous times have been relatively painless GUESSES.
7. If the GUESS was not so accurate and the actual intensity goes back above a 3, then continue with global rounds on the outskirts of the event until that actual intensity on the event as a whole is a 3 or below.
8. Continue with either the Tell the Story Technique or the Movie Technique, depending on your situation. Once you bring the intensity down to zero, finish it up with Vivid Visualization and/or other appropriate methods of testing to be sure you have addressed all aspects of the event.
The following video is a basic demonstration of the Tearless Trauma Technique.
Obviously, the Tearless Trauma Technique is most useful when dealing with severely traumatic events like sexual abuse, physical abuse, war memories, etc. However, there are plenty of other events with high intensity, so you may choose to use this technique regularly.
As you might guess by now, the global nature of this approach makes it potentially less thorough than the other tools. The details are not only hidden from you, but typically, they are hidden from the client as well, so it is even more of a challenge to identify new aspects (or other events) as they appear. For that reason, always be sure that you test your results. Further, always be aware that when you are dealing with an event this intense, your testing methods should be on the conservative side until you are confident that all aspects have been addressed.
By adding the Tearless Trauma Technique to your repertoire, you can start addressing yet another class of Specific Events and expand your EFT horizons.
In this article you learned The Tearless Trauma Technique which will allow you to minimize emotional pain before addressing a Specific Event.
- We keep the client detached from the highly intense event in two ways. First we instruct them not to go through the details of the event, but consider it from a distance. Second we ask them to GUESS about their intensity rather than giving a more complete answer.
- Choose Setup and Reminder language that will keep the client’s focus on the outskirts of the event rather than the painful details within.
- Tap with this detached approach until the client’s GUESS is at a 3 or below.
- When the GUESS is at a three or below, instruct the client to tune into the details of the event to see how accurate the GUESS was. If the intensity goes higher than the 3, continue with additional global rounds, staying on the outskirts of the event until actual intensity is 3 or below.
- Once the actual intensity report on the event as a whole is below a 3, then continue through the details of the event with Movie Technique or Tell the Story Technique.
- Remember that whenever the client keeps the details of an event to themselves, Aspects could be missed, and that is certainly a challenge with Tearless Trauma Technique.
- As always, follow up with additional testing methods to find any remaining Aspects.
© Gary and Tina Craig
All Rights Reserved