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Articles & Ideas


EFT and insights (cognitive change)

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

by Gary Craig

Hi Everyone,

Below is a question from a newcomer to EFT who has only reviewed the "6 Days at the VA" video and has not yet received her EFT course. She brings up an excellent point about clients gaining "insights" into their problem. More technically, this falls into the area of cognitive change.

Insights/cognitive changes happen with great regularity with EFT. You can hear them if you listen to how your clients speak about their problem before and after their session. The rape victim, for example, might start her session with "He's a beast!" and end the session with a healthier response of, "He needs help."

Here's the letter. My response follows:

LETTER: "From my review of your PTSD Veteran's video, I see that your clients get better, but have no insight into why. (They don't seem to be complaining about that!) I may be a snob in my quest for insight, but my belief system says that insight may keep someone from repeating a bad habit in another form.

What are your thoughts on this? I am not arguing with you. I am very respectful of your work and am sincerely interested in buying your materials and in using the techniques with my clients. But I do have this question about the value of insight. I'd appreciate your comments."

RESPONSE: The question you ask about insight is a good one. One of the nice things about EFT is that its results are often very rapid (minutes instead of hours) AND insights, or cognition, changes at the same time. Clients discuss the issue differently after EFT. You may have missed that.

Watch Robert again on the Veterans video. He is the one who had to shoot the young boy that was walking towards him with a hand grenade. At first his "insight" about it contained major guilt as he said tearfully, "You don't shoot little kids!" On our follow-up the next day he discusses it in a completely different light (insight). He calmly says, "I'm more rational about it now. It was him or me." I hope you see the shift in insight/cognition there. He did it within himself while experiencing EFT. I didn't have to plant or reframe anything. It's still not his favorite subject, of course, and he wishes the event never happened. Nonetheless, the charge on this problem has clearly dissipated and it no longer has the tug on his heart that was the centerpiece of constant intrusive thoughts.

You are right. Those vets don't complain about not having insights. That is because the insights have indeed changed in a manner that is so subtle, so normal, that they don't think to articulate them. You as a therapist, however, can prove the changes to yourself by proper questioning. It is a good way to test the power of your work.

You are in for a real treat. EFT will take your results to a new level.

Hugs to Everyone, Gary

A Response to Insights/Cognitive Change

Hi Everyone,

Does EFT itself bring about the cognitive change that is so frequent among its clients? Or does it merely trigger the cognitive changes that other therapists have tried to implant over the years? That is the question posed below in answer to the previous post on Insights and Cognitive Change. My response follows the letter:

LETTER: HI Gary: About the insights and cognitive change, I was just wondering whether the insights were already there from the 1000's of hours of talk therapy those vet's had undergone. Or if it really happened from the EFT. I would think that the psychologists tried very hard to implant those kinds of beliefs into them. The EFT just short circuited the old responses and opened the path for more rational thinking. I would say that intellectually Robert knew for a long time that the more rational thought was, "It was him or me." But because there was a number of emotions around this event and deep seated beliefs about not hurting children that wouldn't allow him to accept the more logical, rational thought. Therefore he stayed stuck in this closed loop program until someone came along with the right tool to end the program loop. I would say the real test would be on people that haven't had any talk therapy or read the endless barrage of self help books. If they still have the same insights, then you can say it is the EFT. But no matter, the important thing is that it works, it brings about change and relieves symptoms. That's the bottom line.

RESPONSE: There is a lot we don't we know about EFT, TFT and all the other "power therapies" and your question brings up one of these unknowns. I have not kept statistics on the above matter so I don't know for sure whether or not EFT is unlocking the previous work of one or more therapists. I rather doubt it, however, as I can think of a number of cases where cognitive change occurred in EFT clients who had never seen a therapist before. For example, many public speaking phobics don't seek formal therapy for their problem. They just don't speak in public. After EFT, however, the typical client shifts their view of an audience from "intimidating" to "friendly."

I think what goes on here is similar to my views on self image improvement. To me, our basic nature is positive but, as our life unfolds, it becomes forested with negative trees. Life DOES have a way of planting them, it seems. Once these trees are removed, our naturally occurring positive attitudes are allowed to blossom. I see much evidence of this. What appears to be a cognitive shift may actually be the removal of a negative barrier so that the healthier cognition (which was always there) appears.

Some may disagree with me on this. So be it. Like I said, we have much to learn.

Peace, Gary

Two More Thoughts On Insights/Cognitive Change

Hi Everyone,

Here, for your perusal, are two more thoughts from our membership on the role of Insights and Cognitive Change.

Peace, Gary

LETTER #1: Those concerned about insight: While as humans most of us are curious about how things came to be and enjoy insights, their relevance to changing behavior is greatly overstated in my opinion. This emphasis on insight probably comes from the Freudian tradition. Of course, it is useful to help a client use the new cognitive freedom to assess the world and plan more useful actions. However, once freed of emotional baggage they have that ability and can do so. As a good friend, colleague, (and psychiatrist by the way) said to me some years ago, 'When we give a patient understanding of her/his problem, we are frequently simply adding insight to injury.'

LETTER #2: "Hi Gary, This is a fascinating topic to me since I believe that cognition and changes of cognition are essential to healing.

I actually doubt that many therapists successfully implant cognitive changes at all - I suspect that the underlying drive for well-being may or may not be met successfully by the therapist and let blossom. Some therapists are excellent in doing this by tuning in to the client's perspective on the world and drawing out their natural will - sometimes the choice of language, paradigm or spiritual view is fundamental to this success. Some clients and therapists simply cannot form any connection of meaning, and in these cases no amount of apparently obvious (almost obtuse) rational suggestions for cognitive change will have an effect.

I'm sure there would be cases where a client has met with some understanding of a necessary cognitive change in therapy but still been blocked in their progress by overwhelming tension, which EFT could theoretically release allowing the client to soak up the cognitive change fully. Equally there would be clients who have not even glimpsed a rational alternative to their current thoughts (with or without previous therapy) and who, once relieved of the emotional burden clouding their understanding, quickly come to a new cognition from the wellspring of their own inherent desire to thrive.

I especially appreciated your following lines, which I think is a more accurate view of what we discuss as a cognitive shift;

"What appears to be a cognitive shift may actually be the removal of a negative barrier so that the healthier cognition (which was always there) appears."

"Some may disagree with me on this. So be it. Like I said, we have much to learn."


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