In this series of EFT Practitioner article series part 2, I will explore what I call the “arc of a tapping session.” As a coach, mentor and supervisor of beginner and advanced practitioners, I have noticed that what is often lacking and often complained of is a sense of structure within their EFT sessions. I will hear a practitioner begin a session by asking something generic like, “So, how are you today?” While this may be a natural question it can often create a tangent that can take up a quarter of a session explaining their stresses of the day rather than being the opportunity to work with the focus of why this paying client is coming in for help. I also find that practitioners commonly “run out of time” at the end of a session and frequently begin follow up sessions without having a sense of continuity from the previous one. So here are my recommendations for how to design a template of sorts for your initial and follow up sessions. There is of course no right or wrong way to do this, but the feedback I have received engenders appreciation so I thought it might be useful to share.
“The Initial Session”. There are no rules for how long a first session should be. It will vary based upon your experience level, your professional/licensure scheduling requirements, what simply feels right to you, etc. Personally I still prefer 90 minute initial sessions with a new client, especially with one who has little to no EFT experience. I will offer what I personally think are the most important elements of a first session. I look at the first session as having a parabolic curve with a “Warm-up”, “the Tapping Work” and the “Wind-down.”
- In Advance of the First Session: It is my strong professional opinion that by the first session you have already had the client complete and sign a new client intake form and an informed consent/practice agreement form AND have them submitted a minimum of 24 hours in advance so you have had sufficient time to review them. This gives you the opportunity to have some insight into whether the client or client’s concerns are within your scope of professional practice or whether any issues that need to be clarified in advance (i.e. mental health diagnoses, treatment/medication, suicidal tendencies, etc.).
- The Warm Up; Starting an Initial Session: This part of course varies with the client, but I usually give it anywhere from 15-30 minutes of time. In my mind several things need to occur before tapping begins. Most importantly it focuses on rapport building and establishing a sense of safety. That can look like many things that may include understanding and reviewing why the client is seeking your help, establishing and understanding client resources (think things that they appreciate and assist them in their life so if you move into trauma, you both are aware of positive action steps), clarifying the client’s expectations and specific goals for your work together and most importantly offering sensitive listening and presence.
- Offering your own explanation and demonstration of tapping and pre-framing. I find it helpful in advance of doing the actual work to demonstrate what and how the tapping looks like. This can easily take under a minute and helps put them at ease from the unknown. Pre-framing may explore anything from what they can expect during and after a session, what happens if…, whatever you may wish them to know about your tapping style, i.e. permission to correct you if your words are not resonant (i.e. the affirmation statement), to offer any changes that they notice during tapping (think Shifting Aspects), etc.
- The Tapping Work: This is the body of the session. In a 90 minute session this usually takes up 45-60 minutes. This is the exploration of the client’s issue and working with the beliefs/patterns and their related specific event/table legs related to that particular issue. This I will leave up to you and your specific approach. As the wind down time is approaching one needs to be aware of not going down paths that seem to be amping up heightened emotionality, exploring new traumatic events etc. You need to plan to give yourself time for a thorough wind down so you and your client can wind down gently and not leave the session dysregulated.
- The Wind Down: Several things should occur here. In the wind down you need to make sure that whatever you last were tapping on has been reduced to a SUD level of 3 or less. This gives you the opportunity to Sneak Away effectively. There is now sufficient time to return to each of the events that were above a SUD of 2 (that you may have Daisy Chained away from) and go back and check what I call the “Hanging SUDs.” For any events that you were able to get to a 0-1 SUD if affords you the important opportunity to do additional testing (think Vividly Imagine, Role Play, Provocative Questions, etc.). Finally there is the opportunity for you to work with your client to construct homework to be given to the client to do between sessions. (LINK to previous blogpost in this series).
Follow up Sessions: (This frequently is a 60 minute session but of course varies with each practitioner.) The same 3 parts of the session occur (Warm Up, The Tapping Work and the Wind Down) but their duration of course will change. One rule of thumb might be 10 minutes for the first part, 40 for the body of work and 10 minutes for the last section. The primary difference in my mind is in the Warm Up section. In follow up sessions, this initial part I would recommend checking on the homework, checking on how the client did with regards to the work that was done in the first session and setting up clear goals/focus for the current session.
I of course understand that this is my model and it works well for me, it may not work as well for you and your style. These are only suggestions. I would love to have your feedback on what about it works/does not work for you and any additional suggestions that you might have.
Craig Weiner, DC
Accredited Certified AAMET EFT Master Trainer
Certified Matrix Reimprinting EFT Trainer