By Steve Wells
“It is only with the heart that you can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince
Emotional Freedom is neither a technique nor a set of techniques. Emotional Freedom may be the reason or the goal we are using our various techniques to achieve, but it’s a trap to assume that emotional freedom is somehow IN the techniques themselves. In fact, real freedom may exist independent of techniques. And when we look at what really produces our results, it may come from something other than the mechanical techniques. Or how could different people using the same techniques get different results?
In this article I want to do three things. The first is to consider this elusive concept of “emotional freedom” and try to define it. The second is to separate this from being the sole province of any specific technique and point out the dangers of doing so. And third, I want to draw your attention to other seemingly hidden factors which are crucial to achieving the results we desire, the hidden factors which facilitate the transfer of energy and emotion between people.
EFT is just a technique
The basic recipe in EFT is just a technique. In its original form it is actually a very mechanical process. SET in its most basic form of tapping on energy points, could be considered the same. As could TFT and TAT among other Energy Psychology techniques. You can use these tools to assist you to achieve emotional freedom. But on their own they are just mechanical sets of steps to follow. So how can they be used to help bring about emotional freedom?
First we’d better get clear on our goal…
What is emotional freedom?
Many people define emotional freedom as freedom from ever having or experiencing negative emotions. They seem to see it as a state where you only feel good and you never feel bad. But how can that be freedom?
If I am fearful of my negative emotions and only allowed to think and feel good things, am I really free?
Is emotional freedom about freedom from emotion, or freedom of emotion? Surely the latter, otherwise we shut down or constrain our capacity to feel.
Is emotional freedom about never having or experiencing negative emotions, or is it about being able to flow with those emotions and learn from them? Again, surely the latter, or else how can we grow?
To me, emotional freedom isn’t about having to avoid what concerns us – to me you are emotionally free when you can face up to what used to upset you and it has no emotional hooks in you and thus no longer controls you.
Here’s how I currently define emotional freedom:
Emotional freedom is a state of being free from the limiting effects of negative emotions, and emotional attachments generally. It is not a place where you do not experience negative emotions, but is a space where you are not emotionally attached to them, stuck by them or stuck in them… It is a state where you are free to be moved by or to flow with all of your emotions, without being hooked into having to react in certain ways by them.
So let’s look again at using techniques to assist us to achieve emotional freedom.
If emotional freedom is the overall goal then should we not be focusing on that rather than being tied to any specific technique for achieving it? Otherwise if we only have one tool or one way of using it perhaps we are the ones without freedom … Like the old cliché: If your only tool is a hammer then you tend to treat every problem as if it is a nail.
To the extent that EFT (or any other Energy Technique) assists us or our clients to achieve greater emotional freedom then it is useful. But the tool isn’t the important thing, the outcome for the client is.
When we become wedded to one technique only we may lose sight of our real goal
If tapping is our only tool for every problem is there not a danger of treating people as nails to be tapped on? And is there not also a danger that we may eschew (shun or avoid) other potentially useful treatments that may also contribute to their (our) emotional and physical freedom? Another danger, perhaps more insipid, is that we forget about the other contributors towards the outcomes we get, such as the role of relationships, and the role of our own energy and emotion.
Here’s an important question when it comes to using these techniques with other people:
How important is the technique itself and how important are other factors to achieving the outcomes we are after?
Importance of the relationship
In all the research on therapeutic outcomes, the one thing that stands out is a factor called the therapeutic alliance. This is a fancy term used to describe the quality of the relationship between therapist and client. Independent of what approach to therapy is being researched, therapeutic alliance repeatedly comes out on top as the biggest factor contributing towards success.
But does this apply to Energy Techniques?
When Callahan introduced TFT (the precursor of EFT) to the world, he introduced it as a technique that worked independently of the rapport or relationship between therapist and client. Fred Gallo says similarly in his book Energy Psychology when he states that rapport appears to have little to do with the effectiveness of these procedures; and that they do not appear to be a necessary or sufficient condition for therapeutic effectiveness, although he does concede that rapport may be useful in itself and “may also enhance the therapeutic effectiveness of these methods”.
I believe the therapeutic factor of rapport and the relationship between practitioner and client in Energy Psychology results has been under-recognised. But here I am talking about a deeper level and definition of the term rapport. In fact, I believe from my own experience with clients that much of what has been called “psychological reversal” could be attributed to a resistance borne out of lack of rapport, lack of a strong connection and/or lack of acceptance by practitioner and/or client, and that by focusing on developing our rapport, connection, and acceptance we will get better results.
What is the evidence for this?
Firstly, the fact that different people using the same techniques get different results. If it were just down to mechanical technique, shouldn’t all results be the same? In one university research study on EFT treatment of public speaking fears , therapist factors were clearly evident: Some therapists were achieving superior results. What is the difference that makes a difference here? My discussion with the researchers suggests that skill in gaining rapport and capacity to work with different people was a crucial factor.
Secondly, let’s look at the differences in results that WE get with different clients. What is the difference that makes a difference in those results? In my own case I can recall a large number of cases where the defining factor was the level of rapport and acceptance which we achieved. I say “we” here because I see therapy as a joint effort between client and practitioner. When I look at clients with whom my results were less positive I can often pinpoint a difficulty in rapport and connection as the culprit.
Thirdly, let’s look at the progress of these techniques in the world. I contend that one of the primary reasons that EFT has gone further than has TFT in general acceptance comes down to Gary Craig’s awareness of the importance of rapport and use of this in both his writings and his workshops. Gary has endeared himself to many people by showing he can “speak their language” and understand their concerns – and his work with clients shows a highly developed capacity for achieving rapport. The term itself, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is itself more user-friendly.
What about the Art of Delivery?
Gary in his workshops and DVD’s has often discussed “the art of delivery” as being what separates those who get great results from the simply good or mediocre practitioners. But what is “the art of delivery” and what is it about this which produces the biggest part of the results? Does it come down to the tapping part of the equation? It can’t do. When you look at Gary work he is tapping on the same points as other practitioners, and often in the same order. But his results are clearly superior.
Let’s take a closer look at Gary’s work. What is really being taught here? At a simple level of analysis, you could look at the tapping. At another level you can observe the synchrony of the language Gary uses when working with clients. He uses language which “resonates” for the client, and he tends to adapt his style and language to them. Look deeper and you will see how he uses his voice and body to engage with the client. His body orientation is clearly open and positive and towards his clients. And his voice and language style shows care and concern. All of which is about rapport. However, to me this is still at a more “surface” level.
The level where change happens
The deeper level of analysis cannot always be seen. It needs to be felt. Sure, it is reflected in the words, the language, the body and the voice. But it is not something which can always be picked up from a DVD, which is one thing which makes me sceptical that DVD training will ever be the main way for learning it.
I think it is based in Gary’s feelings and intentions towards his clients.
I contend that it is the beautiful way of being with another person that is on display that represents Gary’s most powerful teaching.
Without the rapport, connection, love and compassion displayed by Gary in his sessions I contend that others will not get the same results. I think it is the transfer of this feeling energy between the practitioner and client where the more profound results really come.
This is not just “the art of delivery” in terms of the mechanical application of a set of techniques or even the fact that you match your presentation to the client. It is about something much stronger. Like love. Acceptance. And human connection. A loving connection combined with healing intention that transfers healing energy.
Ask anyone who has worked with Gary and they will tell you that they felt these things. These things which are not really things, things which exist independently of technique.
I defy anyone to get the same results without them.
Some years ago, I came across this quote by Stephen Covey which has stayed with me as a guiding principle ever since: “Only basic goodness gives life to technique.”
That’s the difference right there between the tappers who are mechanically following a formula and the elite performers in the Energy world.
You might as well know right now that everyone I know in this world who is producing superior results in helping their clients to change using Energy Techniques has developed some kind of spiritual basis to the work they do.
And here I am not talking about the province or doctrine of any particular religion.
More that they are consciously aware of the flow of energy within and between themselves and the client. They know that their positive intention or wish for the client, their acceptance of the client, their – dare I say it – love for the client, and the energetic connection they achieve with the client are crucially affecting every result they get.
There, I’ve said it.
What do you think?
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