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Articles & Ideas


Ann Adams on getting EFT accepted by Institutions

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Hi Everyone,

As you will see, Ann Adams has in-depth experience with how to communicate with the "Powers that be" within institutions. In fact, she IS one of those "Powers that be" within a facility for treating severely emotionally disturbed children. Her comments are invaluable aids for introducing EFT into institutional environments. Her article below is from her well received presentation at our recent Flagstaff EFT Specialty Workshop.

Hugs, Gary

by Ann Adams


1. The definition of bureaucrat

Bureaucrat: An official who is rigidly devoted to the details of administrative procedure. The difficult word there is rigid. I am a bureaucrat. We bureaucrats make sure our agencies meet regulatory guidelines. Our job is to keep staff on target, performance goals on target and our agency NOT a target for the front page of the newspaper.

The caricature of the lazy, incompetent, petty, insecure bureaucrat is, unfortunately occasionally true. But, for the most part we are bright, concerned, thick-skinned, hard-nosed and very busy. We are extremely talented at walking the fence line of no controversy. Our survival depends on it. And self-preservation is, after all, a basic survival instinct.

So, for the most part we are VERY conservative people. We live in such a litigious society. So many programs run scared of lawsuits and parents threatening to sue. For bureaucrats perception is everything. If there is a major mess, time and energy is tied up dealing with it. Anyone who has experienced such a mess or watched another have to deal with such a mess wants to avoid it at all costs.

I hold a clinical social worker license in the state of Georgia, but I have spent most of my working career as an administrator. I was, and am, a conservative bureaucrat. One of those no nonsense, hard nosed, get the job done, type A personalities. I am not easily impressed and certainly not the type to chase after rainbows. Tapping on any point of your body to remove emotional upset was a concept extremely far outside my schema about life. To paraphrase Richard Nixon - I am not a kook.

2. The concept of equilibration - being right is frequently irrelevant.

Jane Holmes, Ph.D., at a NASW workshop in Atlanta, first introduced me to energy therapy. I sat there incredulous. You have GOT to be kidding. I went up to her at the end of the workshop. You really use this in your practice? I was blown away at the idea. It fit into nothing I knew about at the time.

Remember Piaget's equilibration? When you throw out a brand new concept you create dis equilibrium in your audience.

I have seen supervisors attempt to cram a new concept down the throats of their staff. Or staff attempts to introduce a new concept to their supervisors. And fail. Great ideas, makes lots of sense, would save everybody a lot of work. Why do we resist change? It creates dis equilibrium. It is human nature to want to be comfortable - therefore avoiding pain. Dis equilibrium is uncomfortable.

BUT, "WE ARE RIGHT!", we protest. EFT will make everybody's life easier. So? We do not want to tackle the institutional systems with our self-righteousness. Changes create dis equilibrium. No matter how right we are. I have a statement that I say to staff or supervisors who come in my office complaining about some rejection of their idea. Some version of: I am right why can't they see that? I respond: Being RIGHT is frequently irrelevant.

This is not about being right. Just like with the children, it is about respecting where they are. Most of you are familiar with the Heimlich maneuver for choking. All restaurants are now required to have a poster outlining the process hanging on their wall. The Heimlich maneuver was credited with saving thousands of lives. The research was there. The results were there. It still took the American Red Cross 12 years to change their First Aid training for choking to include the Heimlich maneuver. Twelve years. And we are talking about a fast, cheap, effective, life saving, researched method. 12 years. Being right is frequently irrelevant.

We have to help people somehow assimilate or tie EFT into their existing view of the world or accommodate their view of the world to fit EFT. Now get real. How often are we willing to change our view of the world. What do most adults do with new information? They fit it into existing perceptions and if it doesn't fit they reject it outright. Sales people operate on this principal when they say: The confused mind always says no.

I introduced a psychologist friend of mine to EFT. He says: hum, it has a desensitization piece and a reframing piece. Another professional says: Oh, it is like hypnosis. Another identifies the cognitive piece. They have a need to tie it into something already familiar. They need it to already be in their repertory of knowledge. I don't fight that. I frequently just say that EFT is a new relaxation technique that calms you down quickly and helps you think more clearly about your problem. People think they understand the concept of relaxation.

My introduction to energy techniques certainly created dis equilibrium in me. What led me to get so involved? Like many bureaucrats, I am into efficiency and effectiveness. I have always looked for ways to be able to help people more effectively and quickly. I have never been able to accept that therapy SHOULD take months or even years. If one event can quickly upset someone for a very long time, why couldn't they get un-upset just as quickly? If, what Jane Holmes had told me, was really true, there was now a way.

In introducing EFT if you can't tie it into their existing view of the world, can you tie it into some value they hold dear? In my case, it was the values of maximizing efficiency and effectiveness to help people heal quickly.

But I had to explore it for myself before I just accepted this altered view of my world. After the NASW workshop I did some serious exploring and reading and learning. I flew all over the country to workshops and read everything I could get my hands on. I spent hundreds of hours and LOTS more dollars than that satisfying myself that energy therapy was effective. I learned TFT and EFT and TAT, BSFF and other acronyms. (Bureaucrats love acronyms.) I settled on EFT. I believe that EFT can fit in an institutional setting more easily than other techniques. It is quick, simple to explain, easy to learn and effective.

Before I ever mentioned it at work I practiced. I tried these techniques with my family and friends and volunteers. I talked with Gary Craig several times before beginning to use it with the kids in our intermediate residential treatment program. I felt that checking into these techniques before using them was the ethical thing to do. Our children didn't need one more failure.

I am seeing wonderful results. This is an incredible gift for our kids and us.

But it is not just we bureaucrats that experience dis equilibrium and have to somehow learn to accommodate and assimilate EFT into our view of the world. Even in my own agency, with me encouraging the use of these skills by our staff and modeling working with the children, I still have only a few who are willing to use EFT.

Getting EFT accepted by institutions (and their staff) has many of the same strategies as dealing with the no talk child. You have to find out what is important to them. You have to assess their organizational needs so you can speak their language. You have to advocate for their needs. How can you help them with their problems? How can you help them take small steps toward acceptance of EFT? If they don't see what is in it for them they won't be able to hear you or won't give you what you want. It's about speaking their language. Nobody does anything if they don't understand it and are able to see the benefits for him or her. And that takes time. In spite of our impatience, (or at least my impatience) this is not going to happen quickly.

Start small, gain experience, build support and, be patient.

4. The hierarchy of needs - Maslow was wrong.

And, one of the reasons is that, Maslow was wrong. Food, clothing and shelter are not the basic human drive. The true motivators of human behavior are power, control and territory. If you think about it, many have gone to jail, refused to eat and starved themselves, even died for what they believe in or wanted. They exercised the ultimate power and control we have over others - what we ourselves do. What have revolutions been generated over? They have been generated over the right to exercise power and control over what they consider their territory. What do countries go to war over? And send their young men, their best and brightest to die for? The answer: power, control and territory.

I propose that the very definition of bureaucracy is to hold on to (and in a few cases increase) your span of power, control and territory.

I formulated this theory about 20 years ago after the thousandth meeting in which I watched the negotiations and interactions among participants. Discussions revolve around positioning for power, control and territory, not for the issues at hand. And, more often than not, they are with the very best of intentions. I'm not even saying this is necessarily a bad thing. I am not even saying that groups of us bureaucrats are not able to get along. We do and have accomplished many good things. But, I have watched my theory in action in meeting after meeting.

If you are trying to push EFT into a system and the "powers that be" see it as a threat or invasion of their power, control and territory - forget it! You have to work on introducing any new concept in a way that never threatens people's perception of their power, control and territory. You have to respect the power they do have and respect their perception of their area of control and territory.

5. The difference in the governing structure and the informal power structure.

But let's get to whom to talk to and how. The top administrator's job is to assure the survival of the agency. This is basic. On some level he or she perceives that by protecting his or her power, control and territory they are also assuring the survival of the agency.

I took my social worker licensing test many years ago. One of the questions on it stuck with me. The question asked, "What was the primary role of the head of the agency?" The options were: Support the staff; or Assure the mission was met; or Assure the survival of the agency; or Increase quality of programming. The answer: A leaders first responsibility is to assure the survival of the agency.

The leader does not ordinarily involve himself or herself in the day-to-day operations of the agency. The good leaders surround themselves with competent supervisors who carry out the daily operations. They pick supervisors who will keep them informed of any problems; keep them abreast of progress toward goals and who can make suggestions for improving the programs. These supervisors carry out various aspects of the mission of the agency. The real work and in some, indeed many cases, any new innovations are initiated by these second or third in command people.

Rarely would the top administrator be the person you would approach first. This is the case whether you want to introduce EFT from your position within the agency or if you are a private practitioner wanting to share these techniques with a program in your community. The second or even third in command may actually be more open, more knowledgeable and have the ear of the top administrator.

If you are on the inside you are in a better position to know who those people are who hold the informal power in your agency. Ask yourself how well do you fit into the system at hand? What is your own credibility in the agency? How well do you fit into informal power structure? How capable are you in the eyes of the 'powers that be.' Do you have enough influence to generate interest in other staff? After you have generated the interest, are you the best person to introduce these methods? Is there someone with more influence who could be better suited to approach the decision maker in your agency?

Getting strong support for the idea of using EFT in any agency is an excellent place to start. Who do you know in your school or program who would be interested in learning about these methods? The old clique that there is strength in numbers surely fits here too. When I want to propose a new idea to the CEO of our non-profit company, I enlist the support of our Clinical Director and the Human Resources Chief.

But practically speaking there is a LOT of flexibility given to each practitioner and how they practice. Whether it is an individual doctor in a hospital, or social worker in a mental health center or counselor in a school setting, they will have varying amounts of leeway in their actual practice, as long as what they do does not contradict any clinical practice act, or regulatory body standard, or local policy.

One practitioner told me: They hired me as the expert. They trust me to know what to do and what 'tool' to use. I don't see using energy therapy as different than using any other methods of practice. My first supervisor, the center director in the first mental health center in Georgia, told me it was always easier to obtain forgiveness than permission.

Do you know the regulations covering your area of practice? What does the program description for your program say about the therapeutic techniques in your agency? Do your protocols describe the details of service delivery? Most such documents are vague enough to allow for a wide variety of style and approaches. Staff who read the policy manuals and program descriptions is rare. Staff who volunteer to be a part of the policy making or quality assurance committees are, indeed, beyond rare. But MANY of the informal power people in agencies serve on those committees.

As a staff person, maybe the first place you should start is to read your program's policies and - shudder at the thought - actually serve on a key agency committee?

I was an assistant director at a large mental health center for 26 years. I worked for the very first center in Georgia. I watched the system grow and grew up in it. I supervised therapists from a wide variety of approaches. Most were good-hearted people who did the best they knew how to do. But I would not have described most of them as open minded.

I saw therapists who never read another book after escaping from graduate school. I saw therapists who consistently used the same approach with all clients no matter whether it worked or not. I saw therapist become angry at their clients for not being motivated. Some therapists considered clients with certain diagnosis as beyond help. Most therapists frequently appear too afraid to reach out and try anything new. (Remember that drive to remain in our comfort zone.) I have a friend whose co-worker told her: If this energy stuff really works, don't tell me. I really like doing therapy the way I do it. Is that ethical? Not in my book.

We have a much bigger hill to climb than just the bureaucrats of the world!

6. The level of flexibility of large verses small agencies.

A great place to start with introduction of these techniques is to the small agencies in your community. They often have little or no training budget. They are not bogged down with excessive structure, policies and procedures or regulations. If you are willing to volunteer to get the experience in introducing and working with these techniques small community based agencies are a great place to start.

Even if you work in a large agency you can volunteer your time in other small community programs. Does your community have any type of emergency shelter?

What are the programs in your area that receive any sort of local funding? If you don't know, your local city manager's office can tell you. Many communities have Interagency Councils or another such collaborative body that brings the various agency people together. If you don't know, it is easy to find out with a few phone calls.

Starting in these small agency programs builds your experience and builds contacts. It is helpful to start small, gain experience and build support.

If you work in any large system, whether it is a large mental health center, hospital or school you work in a conservative, survival based, limited resource bureaucracy. Don't whine about it. Don't get angry about it. This is a truth: like gravity. You can't get mad at gravity. You learn to use gravity to your benefit. If you stay mad at the bureaucracy, I propose that you tap for your own problems with authority.

Start small, gain experience, build support and, be patient.

7. The critical nature of networking - often it's who you know.

I am a bureaucrat. I have hired professional and Para-professional staff for 30 years. I have hired many consultants for a variety of tasks. I cannot ever recall hiring any consultant from a cold call from the consultant. I am not saying it cannot be done; it is just unusual. I also can not recall a consultant calling back after the original phone call. It was as if they did not get the job on the first call they weren't going to spend any more time. This is a case where persistence may pay off better.

I hired consultants in two ways. My agency needed a training program or special expertise. I called around to my contacts and referrals. I called those referred to discuss their experience with my problem. I negotiated what was needed and, depending on my budget, negotiated money. The second way I found a consultant was through referrals from my own staff from workshops they had attended or people they met through participation on a local or state committee or task force.

This is where networking comes in. Most agencies hire consultants and trainers from referrals. Are you out there in the community? Do you do your bit for the good of the community? Make a list of all the agency people you want know. Then make a list of people you know who know these people. On the rare occasions I see a private practitioner in a community setting, they sit alone, or if they do talk, talk to other private practitioners. They don't talk to the agency people around them. Always, always take that opportunity to increase your contacts.

Who do you know in the neighborhood or church or community group or spa membership? Sometimes staff who live next door to the school board member or coach on the same little league team as the PTA president has a disproportionate influence on school policy. You may NOT be the right person to present this material to the 'powers that be'. But you may live next door to or play tennis with someone who might be.

I am amazed at the number of private practitioners who do not understand the importance of networking. They feel like networking is not a high enough priority for their time. I can assure you that administrators of agencies consider networking a top priority. They are very aware they can save significant numbers of hours and potential mistakes and therefore money by having a network of people they can call on for support, advice or recommendations. They are conservative; remember. They go with the tried and true.

In my town we have what is called the Family Resource Center. This is a locally funded, community-supported group that offers in home help and support to families referred by protective services. The director of the Family Resource Center is well respected and well established in the community. She would love to have you offer free EFT training to her staff. Look for those small agencies. Look for the ones that have respected directors and strong community support. These small agency directors will help build your network. A phone call from someone like the director of the Family Resource Center introducing you to a larger agency resource is invaluable. Remember we bureaucrats work primarily off recommendations from our internal and external network.

Make it a goal to meet one new agency person a week and to follow up with one old contact. Then it is your name that pops up when they have a need for your type of expertise.

You've heard the saying that it takes someone hearing your name seven times for recognition. Getting involved in your community interagency system may be your first step to getting your name out there. Name recognition is a big factor in getting elected - or called. If they don't know you, they sure can't call you!!

Start with small agencies, gain experience, build community support and, be patient.

8. The truth about CE applications - it's really not an impossible task.

A good way to get name recognition is to hold a workshop. There is a great but little known book: How to Design, Develop, and Market Health Care Seminars. If you have never conducted a workshop the book is well worth reading. It can save you a lot of time and work. Focus on the group you want to reach and follow up. One mail out can easily get lost in the stack of people's mail. But even if they don't attend your name and EFT has been introduced to them.

If you are conducting a workshop for mental health professionals and you want to attract the most people you will have offer Continuing Education credits or CE's. The process for getting CE's seems overwhelming and intimidating if you have never done it before. But the applications for NASW and LPCA and MFT CE's are straightforward and simple. They are also remarkably similar. If you fill out one you can easily modify it for the others. I have applied and received CE's in Georgia from NASW, LPCA and MFT for EFT workshops with no problem. If you will e-mail me I will send you a copy of one of the applications. It really is no big deal. If you can write simple objectives and follow directions you have it made. I can complete the application process now in less than an hour. If you have ever written a psychosocial history and a treatment plan you can handle a CE application easily. I can even see similarities between the two.

Writing your brochure is the most time consuming part. But again, email me and I will send you a copy of mine. You will take one look at it and say: I can do that!

You will probably say: I can do it better than that! There are also good suggestions for creating brochures in the Design, Develop and Market Health Care Seminars book.

What if you want to conduct the workshop on EFT for psychologists? CE's for Psychologists are more complicated and controversial. But David Grudermeyer, a Ph.D. in California got his presentation approved in California. I attended a short workshop he gave at the Las Vegas ACEP Conference in 2000. The workshop was a lesson in how to get CE's. He called it "Never Be Rejected Again." In the workshop he clearly outlined all the steps to follow to have an application accepted by the American Psychological Association. He did it, so can you. My summary of his workshop is in your handouts.

I also encourage you to join the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology. The networking and support and information from this group will help you in your quest to introduce these concepts to your clients, your agencies and the community. I have recently been asked to join a task force that is working with the licensing bodies to expand the acceptance of energy psychology. We invite your membership and support.

Continuing Education credits for RN's are much more complicated. Unless you really want to focus on that audience I suggest you skip it. If you do want to involve this group work with a hospital to sponsor you.

An agency may very well send some of their staff to your workshop to get their CE's locally even if the same agency is not open to you teaching an in house training program for all staff.

Many people are intimidated by applying for CE's. Filling out an application for CE's is easier than writing a psychosocial history and treatment plan. Applying and obtaining CE's is really not that difficult. If you are capable of completing an in depth case plan for a client and you are have the ability to follow directions you can complete an application for CE's. Follow their directions carefully. Fill in all the blanks; send them what they asked for; in the format they want it. Your application is like a job interview; you are showing them you are competent and knowledge and can represent the profession well. The application process is not written in some secret code AND it is less overwhelming than you are imagining. Following their directions, dotting the "i's" and crossing the "t's" IS important. It shows the reviewer you are diligent, responsible. It shows you know how to speak their language.

9. The importance of speaking their language.

Why does it matter so much to speak bureaucratic language? "I'm a clinician; I can't be bothered with all those unimportant details." Or even if it is not a conscious thought - that you don't consider all those details important. It is your lack of attention to them that shows. But what does that say about your credibility to the bureaucrats in your agency? Remember the definition of bureaucracy: Rigid adherence to administrative issues. Giving attention to that is critical in being seen as credible.

Regardless of your clinical skills, if you cannot dot those "i's", when it is necessary to do so, you have made my life as an administrator more difficult; and my perception of you is that you are sloppy. What about the concept of respect and dignity and starting with where the client is? Do I as an agency administrator deserve any less? Sometimes staff come and complain about having to do some task or the other related to meeting standards. I said one time in frustration: I don't make up all this stuff! It is my job to carry out the mission and meet expectations. The funding sources expect us to be effective, efficient, provide consumer satisfaction and to document that we do so.

In my agency getting kids to follow directions is a major treatment goal. Some times staff gets truly aggravated because even after many prompts the child still won't follow directions. But as a supervisor, what I am on to staff about? - Not following directions. I have one staff that after a year still is unable to add up his time sheet correctly. Another staff forgets he is a member of a team and wants to run his unit independently of the agency policy and procedures. Now what kind of credibility would either of those staff have if either came into my office proposing a modification in approaches? Does, 'not following directions' have to do with competence as a clinician? Maybe yes; maybe no. But you are gambling with the administrator's perception that the 'incompetence' in one area would bleed over to another.

The language we speak is made up of the lexicon of policies and procedures, of standards and regulations. It is made up of the concepts of effectiveness, efficiency and consumer satisfaction.

In a few cases the language is limited and narrow and inflexible. But most of us, conservative that we are, care about what we do and want to make it better. A few of us are even more willing to take chances.

But we did not get to where we are by taking foolish chances. We rarely want to be first in sticking our neck out. We want to be assured that your proposal fits into our agency language of effectiveness, efficiency and consumer satisfaction. Our 'consumers' extend from our students or clients, to funding bodies, regulatory agencies, the general public and, believe it or not, our own staff. We feel we are in the position of having to satisfy everybody. That is a large group to juggle!

If you want to approach your agency make sure you have clear answers to the top ten things administrators want to know:

  • What are the benefits to the agency?
  • What are your credentials and/or experience?
  • What is your credibility?
  • What other program/agency like theirs have used EFT?
  • What were the results?
  • What is the available research?
  • What relationship does EFT have to other techniques?
  • What do other administrators in similar settings think of it?
  • What would it cost, and how long would it take, to train staff?
  • What kind of plan would make EFT best fit into their agency?

Start small, gain experience, build support and, be patient. You will not change this overnight. Remember the Heimlich maneuver. In the mean time, teach this process to everyone you know, to everyone you meet. Have fun with it.

10. The fun of proselytizing.

Every time you teach it to a family member or neighbor or your Sunday school class or co-worker you have advocated for use of energy techniques in the world. Every stranger you teach on the plane or while waiting for the bus advocates for the world being a calmer more peaceful place. The more people are aware of these methods the more accepted they will be. Word of mouth is the best advertising.

Every person you teach EFT to multiplies the influence. And it is a lot of fun. Enjoy it. Use it frequently in your own life. Proselytizing is best done by example.

I have a friend, who uses EFT, who flies all over the country doing Red Cross Disaster work. She went to the recent ice storm in Texarkana and Paris, Texas. Now that is the boon docks. She came back all excited, not because she had used EFT with people successfully but because another one of the Red Cross disaster mental health volunteers also used EFT. He worked on an Indian reservation for a government agency. Said the Indians loved EFT.

We are even working on getting it into the Red Cross! I wonder if it will take another 12 years?


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