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Dr. Carol Look discusses the importance of testing in EFT

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Intro comments: Testing is an integral part of the EFT process, and is too often overlooked and underused by EFT practitioners.  What I have written started as a simple article about testing, but has mushroomed into a 3 part series – a clear indication of how important testing is for EFT treatment.  In this series of articles, I will discuss (1) why testing is important, (2) how to test effectively, and (3) what to do with the feedback from testing…

By Dr. Carol Look, EFT Master

Part 1 of 3: Why testing is important (plus a look at building bridges)

Part 2 of 3: How to Test Effectively

Part 3 of 3: What to do with the feedback

Part 1 of 3: Why testing is important (plus a look at building bridges)

Testing is not only important, it is critical for effective EFT sessions and long term success with your clients.  When Gary Craig talks about “testing” he means using simple and reliable techniques to measure if your EFT rounds produced the desired results or not.  You are basically testing what Gary refers to as the television ZZZZZT metaphor as described in The EFT Manual and The Basic Course

The televeision ZZZZZT metaphor refers to the level of  physical and emotional discord that occurs in your system when you tune in to the problem…not unlike what would happen to a television if you put a screwdriver into the back of its wiring!  When a client presents you with an issue of anxiety, rated on the 0-10 point SUDs scale at an 8, testing allows you to know where the client falls on the scale at the end of your session!  Gary Craig recommends “…Do this when you believe the client has collapsed the issue…you are searching for other aspects...”


This brings up the importance of the 0-10 point “SUDs” (Subjective Units of Distress) scale.  There are plenty of ways to get the client to evaluate his or her distress, but to keep it simple, we all use the 0-10 point SUDs scale.  The person evaluates his or her anxiety on this scale before treatment, and we recommend that the client return to the original memory and reevaluate the level of anxiety on this same scale at the end of a few rounds.

When I use EFT with kids age 8 and under, I don’t use the SUDs scale, but rather have them hold their hands apart just a little bit or a lot, to measure the level of their hurt or upset.

There are still others who claim they are “not good” at registering the numbers of the SUDs scale.  In these rare cases with adults, I have them use the “low---medium---high” measurement.



If you want to know how your client feels and whether the EFT was targeted properly, you will start doing more testing!  I have supervised many beginning practitioners who are too afraid to test, fearing their client might not have gotten the desired results.  They quickly show the client out the door, crossing their fingers and holding their breath, hoping the treatment worked and will stick.

Skepticism abounds in this field, so it is important to have this concrete measure (the SUDs scale) that the client uses before and after treatment. Oftentimes a client won’t be “bothered” anymore by the issue, but will discount the dramatic drop in emotional distress after using EFT.  They don’t intendto discount the results, they just aren’t aware of or as conscious of the problem anymore.  For many, noticing the “absence” of something is harder to assess.  When you have a headache coming on, you can’t ignore it --- the pain captures your attention.  When it starts to go away, you are often less aware until you suddenly think, “Hey, my headache’s gone!”  Someone plagued by anxiety is conscious of it 24 hours a day, but often sails through the day without registering the difference after treatment has been successful.


Hopefully, you have done a more than adequate job Building Bridges for your clients.  If so, they will be more interested in EFT, why it is working, how it is working, and why you are so interested in testing them to check your results.

When Gary Craig talks about Building Bridges he reminds us that there is often too large a leap between how EFT looks and sounds and a client’s belief system.  Clients and friends aren’t accustomed to tapping on their face or body, and unless they have visited an acupuncturist, they haven’t a clue what “accessing the meridian system” means.  This is critical because, without adequate bridge building, many people simply won’t be interested in this incredible technique, despite the claims you make about the effectiveness of EFT.  It won’t make sense in their “world.” 

Gary suggests saying something like, "EFT is an emotional version of acupuncture except that we don't use needles.  Instead, we stimulate certain release points by tapping on them with our fingertips." Gary’s advice to the practitioner is:  This is particularly good for those having favorable experiences with acupuncture.  It plugs right into their receptive beliefs

Gary also urges us to use the “authority and appeal” of Albert Einstein: "This process should not be considered unusual because Albert Einstein, through his famous discoveries, told us in the 1920's that everything is composed of energy.  Unfortunately, western healing sciences have ignored this obvious avenue ... at least until now.  EFT is a pioneer in this "new" field and you are on the ground floor of a new Healing High Rise."  

Another simple way to build a bridge is to ask your clients or workshop participants if they have had any positive experiences with EFT, other energy therapy modalities, or acupuncture.  At a recent community business meeting I attended, a man said, “Oh sure, I heard of that, and watched a demonstration once years ago…”  Now I had his attention as it wasn’t so foreign to him.  Another said, “A neighbor was talking about how he got over his problem, but it sounded so strange to me…” Now I could connect with his skepticism, how strange EFT looks, and move into other examples of success.

One of my favorite ways to build a bridge for my clients when their eyes glaze over about this topic is to tell them how wildly skeptical I was when I first heard of and was trained in EFT.  I always tell them that I am a conservatively trained social worker (and not prone to take up each new fad that comes around) but knew something different was happening with EFT that I couldn’t deny.  I tell them about some of my early success stories (in spite of my skepticism) and how I handle clients’ skepticism in my office today, 10 years later.  I also let them know that I had to learn how to build bridges myself… 

Building Bridgessimply means helping your client to make emotional and intellectual connections from something they are familiar with already, to this unusual looking/sounding new therapy, EFT.   Another bridge statement might sound this way: EFT is like visualization, although we add the tapping on the meridians and repeat a reminder phrase.”  This allows you to enter the client’s world, build rapport and have common ground for this crazy new treatment.



Most of you have heard or read about Gary’s wonderful metaphor, “the writings on our walls.”  What he means by this is that each of us has a whole set of beliefs, “shoulds” and assumptions about how the world works based on the beliefs and shoulds and assumptions of our parents, coaches, teachers, and other figures.  His primary points are as follows: (1) We all have writings on our walls, (2) We are all largely governed by these writings, and (3) We can neutralize them through EFT.  Competent testing will help you help your clients who are being blocked by writings on their walls. 

If you have a client who believes that anxiety is hereditary and can’t be alleviated without medication (based on what her parents have said about this topic) then you will need to test your results to validate the treatment and help her reorganize her beliefs.  If you have another client who is convinced that it takes a lifetime of traditional therapy to cure a basic phobia, then you will want to test her phobia of elevators or open spaces to show her how EFT works rapidly and thoroughly IF you get to the core issues.

PART 2 of this series will be “How to Test Effectively” and PART 3 will be “What to Do With the Feedback from Testing.” 

Stay tuned,

Carol Look

Part 2 of 3: How to Test Effectively


There are many ways to test your results with the client during EFT sessions.  Below are the most efficient ones used by practitioners:

Remember, you have hopefully asked the client to scale his or her anxiety on the 0-10 point SUDs scale before treatment.

(1)  Revisit SUDs Scale: Most people do this as part of their testing.  Let’s say the person’s anxiety was at an “8” before the tapping…now that you have completed a few rounds of EFT, ask the client to revisit their SUDs number on the 0-10 point scale again. “When you think about that business meeting again, how high is your anxiety now?”  “Where are you now when you think about the confrontation?” “How high is your anxiety now when you imagine that event?” Make sure they have returned to the ORIGINAL scene that caused them to give you an “8” in the first place.  This is where so many people fail to follow up accurately with testing.

(2)  “In Vivo” Testing: You are testing in real life (“in vivo”) and this is the best test available.  If your client had a phobia of heights, and your office is on a high floor in your building, this is a perfect test.  Go ahead and lead your client over to the window (if you see them becoming too uncomfortable, start tapping immediately…) and see how close they can get to it before the anxiety starts rising again.  Of course, there are many presenting problems that you will be unable to test “in vivo” (snake phobias come to mind…) but if you can lead your client to the actual situation, it’s a perfect test.  (See Gary’s videos 6 Days at the VA where he tests the man with the height phobia on top of the VA building.)

With smoking cessation of course, you are able to conduct an excellent test.  Have the client smell the unlit cigarette, take a dry drag, and see how high the craving is NOW, before the tapping, and then repeat this test after tapping on the original craving.  With smoking, it’s important to remember that most smokers crave cigarettes several times a day (after coffee, in the car, on the telephone, etc) so unfortunately, you won’t be able to test these different times of day in your office. 

A few years ago, I did something very unconventional.  A businessman contacted me because he wanted to quit chewing tobacco.  His appointment was early in the morning.  His worst cravings however, came at night when he drank beer.  I suddenly remembered that there was beer in the kitchen of my office left over from a guest who had stayed overnight a few months earlier.  I brought it out, and had him hold it in his hands and just pretend he was opening it.  This got his craving to shoot up again, and we had another aspect for tapping and a real test.  Sure enough, despite the “unreal” aspects of this situation (a cold beer early in the morning) his SUDs went down when he thought of chewing and drinking.

With food cravings, again, you have a ready made test if you ask your client to bring in their favorite or most “troublesome” food they can’t resist.  Have them retest repeatedly by smelling the chocolate or chips until they have no desire for them.  Again, because you have a prescribed time for the appointment, you won’t be able to test their after-dinner cravings if their appointment is in the morning.  But have them imagine those times and tap…

(3)  Reenact the Scene: This is, of course, just an exaggerated version of #1, but it is much more effective.  I have been told by many therapists that they don’t want their clients to vividly reenact the scenes in case EFT didn’t work and they might become upset all over again.  But isn’t that why they came to your office?  To release the upset?  Ask the client to vividly imagine the scene that made them upset when you first took the SUDs rating.  Ask them to exaggerate the senses. Tell them to visualize it in complete detail, including smells, colors, feelings, sounds, anything that was important or that stood out.  Ask them to try and feel upset.

For example, when working with people who have had car accidents, have them hear the screeching breaks and see the bright lights etc…If  the SUDs has not gone down, you need to work on more aspects of this issue.

(4)  Ask Pointed Questions: Gary tells us to “Ask pointed questions designed to make the client’s emotional knees buckle.”  Suppose the client tells you they feel disloyal telling you a family secret, or that they have always felt they deserved childhood abuse.  Here is an opportunity to test by “accusing” the client of what they feel guilty about.  No, this is not mean or hostile, this is “testing” your EFT work. 

Let’s say your client felt disloyal at a “7” for telling the family secret to their therapist.  After the tapping, you might say to your client, “You really shouldn’t have told me that…” or if they feel guilty or deserving of the abuse: “But it was your fault, wasn’t it?” and see what reaction you get.  Most likely, you will see evidence of an instant cognitive shift, and the client will no longer see the incident as his or her fault.


(5)  Test the Body: If a client has been working with you because of a physical ailment, you will be able to test very effectively and of course have immediate feedback.  My client came in with knee pain, but it didn’t bother him when he was sitting.  So our before and after test on the SUDs scale required that he get off the couch and walk over to the other side of the office and back.  Again, after EFT treatment was completed, I asked him to test in this way. (Many clients can become overly eager to see results and might go too far in testing any body pain or limitations.  Remember to advise the client never to do anything physical that might harm them.)  When I work with someone who complains of limited range of motion in their arms or shoulders, I ask them to see how far they can reach now…or measure how far back their arm goes now…


(6)  Chasing the Pain:  When working with pain, you will often find yourself and the client “chasing the pain” throughout the body before it leaves for good.  It is critical that you know about this technique when working with pain management, so you don’t bail out too early. Oftentimes, the pain (headache, backache or whatever) moves to a different location, changes intensity, or changes features and qualities before dissipating. 

For example, a client of mine with sinus pain kept thinking the EFT didn’t work, because while she no longer felt the pain over her left eye, she was now in pain in the middle of her forehead!  Believe it or not, this was a good sign --- we always want evidence that the physical ailment is movable.  The number of her pain (“8”) didn’t go down for a few rounds, however, the location and the words she attached to it kept changing --- a sure sign that EFT WAS working and that all I had to do was continue to chase the pain...EFT was working in an atypical, non-linear fashion, but it was certainly working.  Eventually, the pain subsided, but not until it had “visited” most of her head and neck. 

I encourage everyone to practice testing by trying out the different methods of testing to discover which ones you connect to the most.  Eventually, you will want to include all of them as part of your practice. 

Part 3 of this series is “What to do with the Feedback From Testing…”

Stay tuned,

Carol Look

Part 3 of 3: What to do with the feedback

Once you have done your testing of the EFT work, it’s time to decide what to do with the feedback!  This is the juicy part…

In general, what you have with the suggestions in PART 2 is several wonderful feedback mechanisms, and now you may direct the treatment according to the feedback you have received.


Gary advises us to address 3 issues if nothing has been working so far.  He says that if your clients report that EFT has appeared to not be working, “excellent practitioners ask themselves (1) What’s in the way here? (2) What have I not seen yet? And, (3) What core issue have I not been able to find yet?”


Suppose the person visualizes the original problem raised, (next week’s public speaking engagement), and testing reveals that their SUDs number hasn’t dropped at all.  One possible explanation is that this is a sign that you have not been specific enough about the problem.  Perhaps you have been too global in your description.  For instance, if you have said “Even though I’m afraid of public speaking…” this is too global, and you need to tweak it to “Even though next Thursday’s morning business meeting makes me nervous…” or “Even though I get sweaty palms just thinking about standing at the podium…”

I often find people using global statements such as “Even though I have low self-esteem…” which is far too general and doesn’t tell us anything.  Suffering from “low self-esteem” is a bit of a catch-all phrase these days, and we need to play detective and find out WHY people think they have low self-esteem, what statements led them to believe it, what incidents gave them this impression, who told them they were worthless etc…in other words, get very specific:  “Even though my mother said I would never be more than average…” or “Even though the coach announced to everyone that I didn’t have that star quality…”  EFT results will be dramatically improved when you become more specific.


Suppose a client comes in with a general problem they term, fear of success.  Your client clarifies the problem enough so you become more specific and change the focus to “fear of not holding on to money once I make it…” After a few rounds of EFT, they announce that their fear of success has now changed to “I’m afraid others will be jealous.” This is evidence that your client has changed aspects on you, and you will need to address this new angle of the problem.  An aspect is of course just a different part of the same problem.  Someone who contacts you complaining of a fear of flying needs to break this down into (a) fear of closed spaces, (b) fear of turbulence, (c) fear of taking off, (d) fear of landing, (e) fear of losing control etc.

Make sure when you are testing that the client is revisiting the original problem they measured on the SUDs scale.  This is the most common reason people claim “it didn’t work.” Once you establish that the client has changed aspects, you may evaluate the first aspect, continue to neutralize it, and then move on to the next.


Besides being the best rapport-building tool in the world, the EFT Setup statement is an incredibly graceful part of EFT treatment.    If, however, through testing you discover that your client’s SUDs is not going down, ask your client to be more emphatic when saying the setup statement.  The two of you may shout the setup statement, slow it down, add a crescendo or anything else to accentuate it, just as long as you pay attention and add emotion to it. 


I rarely use the 9-Gamut procedure anymore --- unless a client is stuck.  If testing reveals that the client isn’t getting anywhere after several EFT rounds, sometimes I will throw in the 9-Gamut to see if it allows the client to become unstuck.  For those of you who haven’t used this technique in a while, I recommend introducing it again to clients who don’t seem to be changing.  It used to be considered a critical part of The Basic Recipe, but is rarely used these days.


One of the reasons EFT works for physical, emotional and spiritual problems, is that we have so many options or doors to enter to relieve suffering.  There are many doors into a person’s world, and eventually, we get to the core.  Suppose you worked with the symptoms of a migraine, and never addressed possible emotional drivers to this diagnosis or problem.  If you test after treatment and find little or no movement with the SUDs level, it’s time to go through a different door.  Now you could address emotional events around the time this syndrome began.  What was happening in your life around the time of your first migraine?  What were you going through emotionally when you had your first panic attack? What were you most worried about before you had that car accident?  These are essential questions and will hopefully give you answers and different doors through which to approach the presented problem.


If your testing reveals that your client hasn’t enjoyed any relief from the presented issue, another possibility is that you have not uncovered a core issue that might be in the way.  For instance, if someone comes to your office with anxiety attacks and fears of having another one, and the SUDs doesn’t move after several rounds of EFT, the core issue may be anger.  Whenever I ask someone what they were feeling in the days leading up to their first anxiety attack, they tell me they were angry at someone or feeling trapped in a relationship or job.  With this feedback, you start tapping for these feelings instead of focusing on the anxiety or the anticipatory anxiety.

Maybe someone continues to sabotage themselves, and you keep tapping on the frustration of this, the fear of success etc.  When testing tells you that the feelings haven’t been reduced, you might ask them about big “guilts” in their life, and why they feel the need to punish themselves --- a typical core issue that is often missed.


When a client is stuck and EFT doesn’t seem to be having much of an effect, I always ask my favorite question, “What do you think is the DOWNSIDE to your getting over this problem?”  Sometimes you will get an immediate answer, other times it will invite a lively discussion about a potential gain from holding onto the problem the two of you have been working on.

When I asked a client the downside of her losing weight, she told me that if she stopped focusing on her body and on degrading herself for being overweight, she would have to face her deteriorating marriage, and this felt too threatening to her.  When I asked another client the downside of getting over her panic attacks, she said she wouldn’t know how to say “no” to all the invitations she would inevitably get, and would hate how obligated she would feel to make up for lost years of not visiting friends and family.


I always tell my workshop participants that if a client gets worse, “we must be on the right track!”  Worsening symptoms mean we have triggered more conflict that is showing up in the body.  In other words, we are getting invaluable feedback.  If your testing reveals that the client feels worse about the issue, you have most likely hit a nerve, and now have more access to the problem.  Continue to ask key questions about the issue.  Whether the problem is physical or emotional, concentrate on the new or “worsened” symptom, and keep tapping.  You are likely to see immediate improvement.

Thanks to all who have helped me become a better tester…

Warm regards,

Carol Look




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