Safety, Connection and Rapport; Essentials for Healing
I often ask EFT practitioners if they believe that they provide a safe space for their clients. The answer is always yes. Hmmmm. I imagine this response would be the same no matter what healing professional I asked.
This overwhelmingly positive response puzzles me because I also hear from clients and students who tell me some pretty incredible stories of what practitioners and even instructors have said to them during sessions. They feel as if they have been judged, or they did not feel listened to or felt that they had been treated with less sensitivity than they needed and were even led into directions and subjects that they did not wish to address.
These clients often continue with the practitioner for another session or two. After all, the practitioner had been referred to them or perhaps they had been impressed with their credentials. Sometimes they fell prey to the convincing marketing material and hope that they felt in considering the EFT would finally be the modality that changed things for them. Eventually they ended the therapeutic relationship, feeling something was not right and sometimes offering the practitioner honest feedback as to the source of the disconnection, but more often finding it safer and easier to just discontinue. As best as they were able to, they offered an excuse about being too busy to continue or about having financial constraints. Hence, the practitioner never became aware of why the client truly stopped working with them.
So if all the practitioners I query about this topic, respond by affirming that their sessions with their clients are ones that provide a sense of safety, are nurturing professional relationships with a strong sense of connection, then who are the practitioners that these other clients are referring to? Or could it be that there is a difference of perspective between the practitioner and the client. And, whose sense of safety is the one that really matters for healing to occur? I would say, it’s the perspective of the client that is paramount.
I believe that the only reason a person becomes an EFT practitioner is for the purpose of being of service for the healing and transformation of people’s lives, including their own, I truly I do. It certainly isn’t to cash in on a quick and easy money! That being said, good intentions do not necessarily ensure the establishment of deep rapport with a client. So I decided to put together a list of some of my top tips for creating deep connection with a client. It is of course not an exhaustive list, but its purpose is to provoke the thought; how could you create even greater and deeper rapport and connection with your clients so they can feel even safer, faster. For without safety, real healing and lasting change does not happen.
My Top 7 Tips for Creating Safety, Connection and Rapport in an EFT Session:
1. Rapport begins with the first contact: Rapport refers to a harmonious relationship in which the people concerned understand each others ideas and communicate well. Realize that safety is being determined and gauged by your client right from the very beginning of your interaction which begins from how they first become aware of you. That includes the tone on your website, the sound of your voice on your voice message, the way you respond in your email communications. Maybe ask a tapping colleague to be a “secret shopper” and offer you feedback on your initial contact process.
2. Listening Deeply: There is a dance with this, in that a tapping practitioner really needs to have an understanding of where a client is coming from and what there concerns are, but at the same time, unless they are licensed as such, they are not a therapist and must move a session along into tapping. Make sure in your initial consultation and/or initial session, make sure that your client gets to express their concerns and desires for their work with you without interrupting them.
3. Your Client’s Words are Better Than Yours: This one of the most important things that I can emphasize for creating swift rapport. The tendency of a practitioner to fill in the blank, assist the client with finding the right word, offering their perspective as a way of creating empathy…it often takes training to resist any of these. As Alina and I repeat over and over in our workshops…”Parrot-phrase, don’t paraphrase” otherwise it is likely to be your assumption or your opinion. Repeatedly doing this breaks rapport like the repetition of a thousand cuts that a client will feel, but rarely feel comfortable or confident enough to correct, as the practitioner is often deemed as the one who knows how to do this tapping process. A client’s words are magical, meaningful, ripe with perspective, and often reveal metaphor and meaning based upon their experiences. Give silence and space for these jewels to be revealed.
4. Try to Only Ask Open Ended Questions: Try to avoid yes or no questions as clients can feel that there is a right or wrong answer and many will feel the pressure to give you the right response. Avoid questions like Does the make you feel …….(fill in the emotion) and instead ask something like, Do you feel an emotion thinking about that event? What was it like for you having to face that situation? Or how does it feel to be the one who had to…? Open ended questions make a client feel free to answer without their being a right or wrong answer and make them feel as if you are really interested. Unfortunately, this for many people is a rare experience!
5. Be Their Seeing-Eye Dog: As practitioners doing EFT, unless you are licensed, this work is peer-to-peer work, client-centered and client-directed. I like the analogy of acting as the service animal or seeing eye dog for my client. It is their responsibility to decide in what direction and towards what location they wish to go, while it is my responsibility to try to get them there and to make sure they get their safely. That may look like pausing the client when they get sucked into the high velocity of the trauma pull and I have to pause them or slow them down. It may mean I don’t let them talk and talk about trauma to trauma and instead educate them on the nature of working slowly with trauma. Just because they start to step off the curb into an intersection does not mean that I jump out there too. It also means I don’t run after rabbits that I want to chase if the client hasn’t offered it as a subject of interest.
6. Safety means Going Only as Fast as their Slowest Part Can Go: If there is one practitioner question I hear that to me is like the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard, it is “When was the first and worst time this ever happened to you?” This is especially true when I hear it was asked during the initial session. Yes we know that early traumas, especially before the age of six are the greatest source of negative beliefs, but please go slowly. Please let these memories arise organically, proffered by the client who feels safe and ready enough to allow their subconscious to bring these forward. Please establish safety and rapport first. Please work on recent events first that enable the client to feel confident and resourced by their first tapping session. We have just seen far too many times, with the best of intent, practitioners ask questions like this and then found themselves amidst an emotional meltdown and even a serious abreaction.
7. Empower Your Client to Tap on Themselves ASAP: This is critically important in a first session. It is our belief that all EFT practitioners should be teaching their clients how to tap for themselves. That means that when possible, allow the client to tap on their own points and empower them with the skill of self-regulation. If the practitioner is doing all sorts of advanced tapping techniques that the client cannot easily self replicate, then I believe we are not doing all we can to empower them to feel competent in tapping for themselves in between sessions. For that reason, both Alina and I do our very best to keep the EFT techniques simple for our clients in the initial session. In that way, clients are more likely to follow through in doing their own tapping homework. They then do not rely solely on the experienced practitioner, as “they” know how to do it better and then simply wait for the next session to do any further tapping. Clients learning what to safely work on themselves and what subjects to leave aside to work in conjunction with their practitioner (I am specifically speaking of Big T traumas. If you do not know the distinction, please consider the Tapping out of Trauma online training)
So my question to you is this: when you have experienced working with a tapping practitioner, what may have been done…or not done…that made you feel guarded, defensive, or perhaps especially vulnerable? Were you able to sense it when it was happening or not until later when you reflected upon it? Were you able to honestly share how you felt about it? This is extremely important for you to be aware of as an EFT client and as a practitioner as you have the right to choose relationships that make you feel safe and you have a responsibility as a practitioner to always seek out ways to make your clients feel as safe as possible in your presence as a healing practitioner.
Author: Craig Weiner
Certified EFT/Matrix Reimprinting trainer