By Carol Look, EFT Master
Part 1: Questions 1-5
Asking the right questions at the right time is essential to zeroing in on the exact issue your client needs to work on during sessions. Listening deeply to the answers to these questions separates good EFT practitioners from excellent, masterful ones.
Many beginning EFT practitioners ask me in supervision sessions, “So how do you know what to tap on?” Good question! When I started asking more of the “right” questions, my EFT practice improved considerably. Practitioners need to establish rapport and ask questions that will get to the heart of the matter. This work is never one-size-fits-all. If you don’t know what the “real” problem is, or the strongest emotional driver that’s feeding your client’s conflict, you won’t be able to aim the EFT treatment in the right direction. If you aim the EFT treatment at the real issue, you dramatically improve your success rate and take less time getting results.
My favorite brilliant question of course is Gary Craig’s “If you could live your life over again, and there were something or someone in your life you would just as soon skip, what or who would it be?” This gives the clinician immediate access to troublesome memories, relationships, and time periods in the client’s life that the client might not have associated with their emotional conflicts or physical ailments.
The following list of special questions helps me decide where to direct my tapping and how to become more specific with the EFT treatment. While some of you will recognize these questions from my work with weight loss and other addictive processes, they can be used effectively whether you are working with anxiety, addictions, physical ailments or blocks to abundance. While these questions don’t need to be asked all in one session, I am confident the answers to them will always improve my accuracy and success rate with EFT. Some of them are as follows:
1. How long have you suffered from this problem (conflict, ailment, disorder, concern…)? This question helps the therapist to orient themselves so they know whether this is a life long problem or it just surfaced since a recent stressor in the client’s life. While it may seem obvious that you need to know this information, too many clinicians forget to gather this information. If your client has been overweight since childhood, the course of treatment is very different than if they started putting on weight during menopause. Suggestions for tapping for focusing on when the ailment started might be: “Even though I started feeling this pain in high school, I deeply and completely accept who I am…Even though I didn’t feel these symptoms until my son left for college, I choose to accept how my body is responding…Even though I didn’t start overeating until I felt grief about my grandmother’s death, I accept all of me and appreciate how I have been handling my life.”
2. What was happening in your life before or during the time of diagnosis, or when you noticed this problem arise? This is just another way of asking question #1. We all know that stress triggers emotional and physiological problems. Our immune systems become weakened under stressful situations, and often we do not “connect the dots” between a family crisis or stressful employment situation and an emerging cluster of physical symptoms. Try variations of these statements: “Even though I didn’t have my first panic attack until after that terrible family fight, I accept myself and love who I am anyway…Even though I didn’t feel this pain until after I moved to the new home, I love and accept myself and my feelings…Even though I started overeating because of my loneliness after the relationship broke up, I choose to feel calm anyway.”
3. Who else in your family history has suffered from this? We often identify ourselves with particular family members. Sometimes we are even told “You are just like Aunt Sara…” or “You look just like your mother…” (who, by the way, might have died of heart disease or cancer or something else…) These associations get caught in our clever minds, and we tend to live out certain suggestions. “Even though I have taken on her ailments to be close to her, I accept who I am and how I feel…Even though I am identifying with my father by having knee problems, I deeply and completely accept myself…Even though I was trying to be like _____ by getting the same ailments, I choose to release this pattern now.”
4. What would you be focusing on if you didn’t spend time worrying about this issue? One of my clients told me that if she stopped obsessing about food, she “might” have to take a look at her failing marriage, and she wasn’t prepared to do that just yet. This is the information a clinician wants. This client’s need to lose weight wasn’t as strong as her need to avoid looking at her marriage. The EFT practitioner needs to know this or will think EFT doesn’t work when actually, the reasons around the problem weren’t explored deeply enough. Try setup phrases along the lines of: “Even though I’m afraid to give up this obsession, I choose to relax and feel free about it…Even though I don’t feel safe when I’m not beating up on myself, I accept and love myself anyway…Even though I don’t feel safe feeling the depth of my loneliness, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.”
5. How would you be spending your time if you weren’t taking care of or managing this problem? Several of my clients admitted to using a mild “chronic” illness as a way to avoid entering into new relationships. Their fears of intimacy and wounds from being “dumped” before were so great, that they avoided socializing because of the pain, discomfort, and complications associated with the illness. Examples of tapping sequences that would lead the client to more relief and the freedom to consider different options are: “Even though I’m using my symptoms as a way to protect myself from being hurt again, I accept and love myself anyway…Even though I’m afraid to even try a new relationship because of what happened last time, I choose to feel safe without these symptoms…Even though I don’t feel safe unless I’m hiding behind these problems, I accept and love all of me right now.”
Again, these may all be obvious questions, but a majority of the practitioners don’t ask them, or when they do, don’t listen deeply to the answers.
Part 2: Questions 6-10
Below is the second half of my favorite list of questions to improve my success rate. Again, while some of them seem super obvious, you would be surprised by how many practitioners don’t ask them, or don’t listen to the exact answer when they do! As I said in the first part of this series:
“Asking the right questions at the right time is essential to zeroing in on the exact issue your client needs to work on during sessions. Listening deeply to the answers to these questions separates good EFT practitioners from excellent, masterful ones.”
Another of my favorite questions from Gary Craig when working with physical ailments is “If there were an emotional contributor to this pain, what would it be?” And if the client “doesn’t know” Gary asks them to just guess anyway.
The following special questions (the second half of my list) help me decide where to direct my tapping and how to become more specific with the EFT treatment. While some of you will recognize these questions from my work with weight loss and other addictive processes, they can be used effectively whether you are working with anxiety, addictions, physical ailments or blocks to abundance. I am confident the answers to them will always improve my accuracy and success rate with EFT. They are as follows:
6. How would you feel if you didn’t have this in your life? One of my clients who was a heavy smoker for 30 years said, “I would have no idea who I was, or what my identity would be if I didn’t have a cigarette in my hand.” Identity issues are critical, and need to be explored so you can aim the treatment at the right problem. You could tap as follows: “Even though I’m afraid of the loss and grief if I give up smoking, I choose to feel calm and peaceful anyway…Even though I’ll feel insecure and won’t know who I am without this problem, I choose to feel free and relaxed right now…Even though I need this challenge to feel important…”
7. What is the downside of getting rid of this problem? This is my favorite question, because while it often takes clients by surprise, the client is usually very forthright about giving more than one “downside.” My client with financial difficulties said he is successfully avoiding being criticized by his siblings by “staying in the struggle.” He knows that as soon as he breaks through the abundance barriers (and he knows EFT is the tool to do so) his family members will jump all over him for being “rich” and will then “hit him up” for money! This is one of those fears of not being “safe” that is a perfect target for EFT. One direction of tapping setup phrases might proceed as follows: “Even though I won’t feel safe if I am wealthy because of what he might say, I choose to accept myself anyway…Even though they won’t feel safe or happy if I succeed, I choose to move forward anyway…Even though I’m afraid to succeed because of their typical reactions, I deeply and completely love and accept ALL OF ME anyway.”
8. What is the upside of holding onto this problem? How does holding onto this problem help you or give you something positive? Like it or not, all of our problems and conflicts “do something” for us. We need to take responsibility for any secondary gains we might be receiving as a result of our limitations. A lovely woman in a recent class was having violent dreams in the middle of the night and often ended up in the emergency room getting stitches from throwing herself out of bed and onto the floor in the middle of her nightmares. After tapping on the fears from the dreams, I asked her the “upside” of this issue. She said being “hurt” allowed her to take care of herself instead of running to take care of needy family members. Her injuries were “legitimate” reasons to stay home. We tapped on “Even though I feel trapped and don’t know how to say “no” to others, I deeply and completely…Even though I feel as if I am boxed in by their demands, I choose to say no and feel safe anyway…Even though I haven’t found the right way to take care of myself YET, I deeply and completely accept all of me right now.”
9. What is YOUR theory about why you haven’t yet resolved this dilemma, cleared this issue, neutralized this conflict? I know that all of my clients are brilliant and know the answers to these questions. A typical conversation following this above question runs something like this: Carol: “Tell me your theory about why you haven’t resolved this problem yet.” Client: “My doctor says…” Carol: “Yes, but I’m interested in what you think the reason is?” Client: “My husband told me…” Carol: “OK, that’s his theory, but what do you think is the block to recovery in this case?” Client: “I read somewhere that people with this illness…” Carol: “I’ve heard that too, but tell me what your inner guidance/wisdom is telling you about this.” (Long pause…) Client: “I am afraid to reach my potential because they will be jealous of me or hurt me…” Carol: “What happened the last time you felt like you had reached your potential?” Client: “My husband left me.” Carol: “That would be a good reason to keep yourself stuck. Anything else?” Client: “Yes, I don’t want to have to live up to anyone’s expectations. I just want to be left alone.”
10. What happened the last time you were at your best? Reached your goal? Got promoted? Won the award? Announced how happy you were in the new relationship? Looked fabulous? Said “no” to someone who was asking too much of you? I love these questions, because the client sees the connection immediately. When I asked a client who was struggling with abundance this question, she told me that she was afraid to succeed again because when she got a huge promotion, she went home and told her parents, and the following week her mother died of a stroke. “Even though I’m afraid something bad will happen again, like the last time, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway…Even though it doesn’t feel safe being successful, I choose to accept my talents and my skills…Even though I’m afraid to embrace my power because of what happened the last time, I accept all that I am and appreciate what I offer the world.”
So remember, asking the right questions will not only save you and your client time, it will improve your accuracy and success rate. Asking the right questions is also a wonderful way to gain rapport with your client if you listen deeply and use the essence of what the client offers you. Continue asking the questions that will reveal the heart of your client’s issues, and your success with EFT will rise dramatically.