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Articles & Ideas


Easy and Effective EFT for Newcomers

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Hi Everyone,

In this 2 part series, Barbara Smith from New Zealand helps newcomers move along their path to EFT mastery.

Hugs, Gary

Part 1: When EFT doesn't work at home
Part 2: Helpful Hints for New Clients

By Barbara Smith, EFT Master

Part 1: When EFT doesn't work at home

Have you ever thought “I tried that EFT and it didn’t work”  or “How is it that I am tapping all this time and  getting so nowhere?”    If you have temporarily faltered in your EFT journey, these tips are for you.

EFT Tips For BEGINNERS, To help you over the hurdles

1.   The One Minute Wonder
2.   When EFT hasn’t worked YET
3.   Do EFT for EFT
4.   The ‘felt’ experience
5.   EFT will never work for me
6.   The words you were using
7.   Too much, too fast
8.   The EFT Sceptics’ Society
9    Testing, Testing, Testing
10.  Back to Basics.


1.  The One Minute Wonder

Sometimes, when we first learn EFT, we are fortunate enough to experience or watch one of those amazing demonstrations that result in profound, and seemingly instant, change.    We sometimes refer to this as a One Minute Wonder.   This is so exciting and satisfying.   It seemed so easy, and so effective.   No wonder people talk about EFT as the best thing since sliced bread.    This kind of transforming success can build our expectation that every session will be like that.   When we try it out at home on our own problem, and the problem does not instantly resolve, we get disappointed.   We may  wonder if there is something the matter with us, and sometimes we lose heart and give up. 

The one-minute wonder that you are experiencing in the demonstration does happen quite often, but. not all the time.    Trainers who work with groups are usually very experienced, and able to employ a range of sophisticated EFT techniques.  Good trainers will make intuitive judgements about which issue to address, the language to use, and the best technique for the situation.  You as a Newbie are still learning the basics.   Keep tapping until the process becomes second nature, and you will be surprised at how successful you will be.  

2.  When EFT hasn’t worked YET

It would be easy to head this paragraph “EFT doesn’t work for me”. This is what the disappointed client would tell me, but when I reframe it as ‘EFT hasn’t worked YET’ I shift our focus away from failure and we can hold the “yet” as a positive intention.

The metaphor that guides me here and the one I use most frequently is the principle of dripping water on a stone. It might take a while for us to see the effect, but every time EFT ‘doesn’t work’ we learn another lesson about ourselves, and about what works and what doesn’t work for each situation.

3.  Do EFT for EFT

When someone tells me that they didn’t use EFT at home, we might discuss the reasons, and the client may promise to “try harder”    I suggest that tapping now would be useful, and we will do EFT for EFT.  The tapping routine would go something like this:

Even though
    … this tapping stuff isn’t working, I fully and completely accept myself

… I forget to do EFT when it would be really useful  

… I have messed it up …

… I give up on the EFT before I’m fully over the problem

When we have lowered our discomfort, frustration or anxiety about the EFT not working, we will be free to address the next layer of presenting issues.

We may even find some specific event about our own beliefs about success, and if so we would tap for those.    This meta-level of tapping can be very useful.

4.  The felt experience

One of the ways we know that EFT is really working for us is through “felt” experience.   Most adults do not notice the changes in skin temperature, the constant shifts of muscle tension, and the tightness or lack of muscle tone at any moment.   When the EFT seems not to be working, you have forgotten to notice what is happening in your body,

It is very useful to stop and notice exactly what has changed.  Has the tension gone out of your chest, are your shoulders tense or relaxed, or has the mental picture changed? Does your body feel lighter, your breath easier?  Has the thought changed?  Teach yourself to notice these changes in all your senses.    Later, you can refer back to the specific experience to find what you might be overlooking, or to recapture the feeling of success that you have previously discovered.

5. EFT will never work for me

There are some situations where beginners can give up or feel hopeless. There are many reasons that may stop you from reaching instant success.  One reason for this is what, in EFT theory, we know as psychological reversals.    When we first learn EFT we begin to work on ourselves using the basic skills.   We don’t have enough experience and confidence to treat some deeper issues.  This is the time when you can work one-to-one, or in a group, with an experienced EFT practitioner who is familiar with the more sophisticated applications of EFT, and who will help you to recognise and address core experiences and hidden beliefs that may block you from change.   

6. What were the words you were using?

When people tell me that the EFT didn’t work, I will ask for specific information about the issue, any aspects, and the phrases the client was saying.   This is the way to get specific about what happened, or where the protocol might be improved.   Write down the issue, the reminder phrase you are using, and the intensity level of distress in relation to this issue.    This is especially important if you are working on your own.  Note every change in aspect, and/or intensity after each round.   In this way, you will be able to look back and remind yourself of your progress and previous successes.   If you are working with someone else, this record will also ensure you can quickly identify any issues that may have been overlooked. 

7. Too much, too fast?

Because EFT is not working at home does not mean that EFT will not work.   It just means it has not worked - yet.  Sometime the reason is that we have tried to address one of our truly big issues with a distress level that is overwhelming.

We learn in the basic EFT protocol that when we are teaching EFT to choose issues with an intensity of no more than a 5 or 6.    Of course, we don’t always know what is going to happen next, and it is easy to escalate to a 10 in an instant.   Try some practise sessions on less intense issues, or a less arousing aspect of your problem before going back to the BIG ONE.

8.  The EFT Sceptics’ Society

Most of us have had years of experience of using the thinking-talking-trying harder process of therapeutic change,  and in the beginning we may find ourselves drifting back to a talk model, because we find it very difficult to believe that something as strange as EFT will really work.

Those of us who are health professionals know that many of our colleagues are still sceptical about EFT.   I remember that it took me some time before I routinely used EFT on myself.  I chose a few colleagues to share what I was learning, and gradually became more confident about presenting EFT to others.  Now I use it on everything, and cannot imagine how I ever lived without EFT.

Find a friend, colleague or professional who knows and uses EFT.  If you don’t know any EFT person near you, arrange some telephone coaching, subscribe to an EFT newsletter and read accounts from others about their success with EFT.  You can keep up to date with innovations through internet newsletters.    Many contact addresses are available through Support may be the very thing that makes the difference.

Once you have achieved a high rate of success with EFT in your own life, other people’s scepticism really does not matter.    You can change your response to others with a little tapping:  Even though I really hate the way she rolls her eyes when I mention EFT. 

9. Testing, testing, testing

Are you testing at home?   What are you testing?  

 In my practise this is the thing that new clients find the most difficult to do consistently at home.   Is it possible that you wandered off target, and moved from experiencing fear at a 9, to anger at a 9?    Or perhaps you stayed on the same aspect of feeling, but failed to note and record the level of distress.    

Before you think EFT is not working for you, do ensure that you write down aspects and distress level for every round.    Some issues do take several rounds before they completely clear.    I suggest to my clients that if they think there is no change, they should be prepared to do up to five rounds at any one level of intensity before they move to a new aspect or topic.   There is a high possibility that if you carefully record your intensity rate and are clear about the aspect you will find yourself making progress.

10.  Back to Basics. With ‘The EFT Course’

The EFT Course is presented in Gary Craig’s original DVD sets.  EFT is copyrighted, and remains the definitive source of EFT theory and practice. Over the course of time, experienced therapists have been integrating EFT with many other psychological and physiological forms of healing, whilst others have been creating variations that we sometimes call “cousins”.   If EFT is not working for you, check that you are following all of the EFT Basics in your sessions at home.

Then, in the words of Family therapist, Virginia Satir, 

Try it on everything, and swallow only what fits. 

Barbara Smith, EFT Master 

Part 2: Helpful Hints for New Clients

In my private practice, I occasionally have new clients come to me and say that they don’t want to do ‘that EFT stuff’.    They tried it and it “didn’t work.” 

This provides me with an immediate challenge.    EFT is the cornerstone of my work.   I want to know exactly what goes wrong for this group of people who say in their very first session with me,  “How is it that I am tapping all the time and  getting so nowhere?” or  “I don’t want to do that EFT:  it didn’t work for me” 

I invite them to tell me more.   In some instances they report that they learned EFT from a friend, or they did a little piece of tapping in the context of another health discipline.   Some people have downloaded the EFT Manual but have never experienced a live session.   In other examples, there has been some kind of therapist-client mismatch.  

Most of these people either have not been introduced to Gary’s Basic recipe, or became so excited with their first success that they did not really get a hold of the basics; hence could not repeat the process successfully at home.   

What all these people have in common is the belief that EFT does not work for them, and that they have not fully experienced the stunning effectiveness of the EFT Basic recipe.  Here are ten ways to ensure your clients continue their progress at home.  

 1.   EFT is amazing but takes some time to learn. 

 2   Keep it simple at first

 3  Try EFT on everything

 4   Write it down

 5   Anecdotes will inspire

 6   Metaphors for reinforcement

 7   Staying Under-whelmed

 8   Prescribe a possible problem

 9  Avoid burnout on re-entry

 10 Arm your Newbies with basic information


1. EFT is amazing.  It takes time to learn and it gets better with practise

At the first session, I set up a simple Basic Recipe homework protocol “so that you get the whole process on automatic pilot, and then it will be available whenever you need it”

This sets a homework precedent, where you, as practitioner, are not responsible for all the progress.   By suggesting homework you will build an expectation that people will keep working at it, and that the basic protocol will become easy with practise.   In the following session ask about the homework.  Consider what else they could do at home, and demonstrate in the session.

2.  Keep it Simple at First

There are many new and exciting enhancements to the basic EFT protocol.   When clients experience a lot of variations of statement and tapping points in the first session or workshop, they often make a significant shift at the time, but may not be clear as to how to proceed at home.   It is well worth going back to basics to consolidate the foundation EFT process.    You can also reinforce the basics by offering a simple ‘basic recipe’ handout for people to follow in their home practise sessions. 

3.   Try EFT on Everything

  • When people who already use EFT tell me about some life problem or frustration, I invariably ask them how they have used EFT on it. 
  • I keep reminding clients to try EFT on whatever they are telling me..
  • I use anecdotes and stories of EFT succeeding as a result of persistence.
  • I reframe ‘failures’ with “so it hasn’t worked yet
  • I assume a client will have tried EFT on their new issue.   ‘So how did you get on with EFT?’ is a lot more potent than ‘did you try EFT?’

4 Write it down

In one-on-one sessions with beginners, I like to write down at least one complete sequence of successful EFT for the client to take home.   I use two sheets of paper with traditional carbon paper, so there is a copy for my file and a take home copy for the client.   Most clients really like this, and they invariably bring this back to the following session to discuss what worked.

5.  Anecdotes will inspire

I use anecdotes about other people’s difficulties, and eventual success when getting started with EFT.  I am careful to change enough details to ensure privacy is maintained.  The caveat here is that some people can wonder when they hear stories, whether you might share their story and they might be recognised:  I usually tell my clients that the details have been changed.   

6.  Metaphors for reinforcement

  • When you buy a car, you need to check the oil, fuel, tyres and water if you are going to have a smooth ride.  You need to learn to drive safely as well.  You can drive around in a dirty car, but the experience is pleasanter, more efficient and safer if the car is cleaned and serviced regularly.
  • Every day we spend time washing, cleaning teeth, choosing clothes that will be right for the weather, exercising and making diet choices.  We all know what happens if we ignore these vital routines.     
  • Now ask “how much time do you think it would it be appropriate for you to invest, each day, in ongoing maintenance of your mind and soul?

7.  Staying Under-whelmed

Some people who have unresolved emotional issues have previously experienced overwhelm or meltdown at home, are afraid to use more EFT because it may open up too many issues.    When a problem is too distressing to think about, we become used to pushing upsetting thoughts or memories away.  The idea of addressing such problems directly with EFT may feel overwhelming. Always trust the client, and ensure safety.   If you are a new practitioner, you need to stay under-whelmed, too.   Use EFT for yourself, and seek professional supervision with an experienced colleague. 

If you have previous therapy experience, it is helpful to suggest that people gain confidence by addressing the BIG ONES in the session and practice with smaller issues at home.   One very gentle approach here is to start with the emotional response. 

even though this problem feels too big to handle (or) I might get overwhelmed if I let myself think about it (or client’s words)…I accept myself anyway. 

Once clients have the experience of safely releasing some of their distress, they are more likely to feel safe enough to continue the process in the session, and eventually at home.  

8  Prescribe possible problems

As other people’s disbelief or scepticism can discourage new clients, I suggest they don’t try to explain what they are doing until they feel confident.  I ask if them to remember their own early doubts, and to allow for the fact that some people will think it is really weird.  I also give out a one page simple handout that will help them explain the process to their significant others.

9  Avoid burnout on re-entry

EFT is so exciting!    People often go home from their first workshop filled with enthusiasm, and ready to change the world.    If the EFT doesn’t seem to work as well at home, they can sometimes lose heart.  I find it helpful to tell my clients that they may experience temporary setbacks at the beginning while they are still learning.   I reframe such reactions as “tripping over an issue that is deeper than expected”.  Perhaps it is a signal to go back to the basics, or just to do more tapping.

10 Arm your new ‘converts’  with basic information. 

Some Newbie’s are so enthusiastic they want everyone else to know, too, and they may lose heart when some friend, family member or health practitioner treats EFT with suspicion or derision.  I usually encourage people to remember their own first doubts at doing something so different.  Most people will remember themselves or someone else who thought that EFT was too strange or weird to be taken seriously.   I suggest they get comfortable working on themselves before sharing with others.    

As well as a Basic Recipe hand-out to help people stay on track at home, I offer a simple written description in everyday language that will help new clients explain the EFT process to their significant others.  

Barbara Smith


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.