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Articles & Ideas


Using humor with EFT

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Humor has many uses in the healing process but its delivery can sometimes be delicate. Fortunately, EFT Master Tania Prince gives us many tips and insights for including this useful tool. Her delightful British flair (and spelling) are evident throughout her article.

Hugs, Gary

By Tania Prince

Most forms of therapy can be extremely stressful for the client. In fact it is not uncommon for clients to spend at least some time during the session in tears or distress.

EFT, in contrast to most therapies, has the potential to achieve results without the client having to experience distress. In EFT there are many ways to make therapy less stressful, such as, The Tearless Trauma Technique, Sneaking up on the Problem and Chasing the Pain. Another tool EFT therapists can use is humour. Humour is something that can work extremely well combined with EFT.

The Benefits Of Using Humour In Therapy

Humour can not only can lighten an emotionally intense experience for the client, but it can also help to create fast and painless change.

Humour can also make the therapy process less stressful for the therapist and help to avoid burn out.

When a person laughs their whole body is flooded with natural body chemicals which are conducive to health and well-being. Basically laughter is healing. 

Ways In Which Humour Can Be Utilised During A Session 

There are several different ways in which humour can be used during an EFT session, these are: 

1. As a means to test the work you have done.

2. As a means to reframe, give a different meaning or perspective to the client’s previously unhelpful experience.

3.  As a way to lighten the emotional intensity of the therapy situation and as a tool in and of itself to help collapse the negative un-resourceful state.

The body cannot hold two opposing states simultaneously. For example, a person cannot experience the feeling of finding something extremely funny and the feeling of something being hurtful in the body at the same time. If the two opposing feelings were to be fired off simultaneously the feelings would collapse into each other and you are left with a different feeling. This phenomena is used in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and is called collapsing anchors.

In EFT humour can be used in this capacity to help collapse the client’s un-resourceful state.

(A state refers to mind/ body/ mood/ emotions occurring at any one moment in time).

Feedback Models and Humour 

I think it is important when using a form of therapy that might conflict with the client’s expectations that you establish very early on during the session that you are focussed on achieving results.

Thus when I use humour, I also set up feedback mechanisms that show the results are occurring. I use the 0-10 intensity scale before and after each round of tapping. So even though the client may have been laughing through the tapping sequence, we test and firmly establish that it has indeed eliminated the original negative feeling or belief.

I may even ask the client to try to get the negative feeling back. After they have tried and failed, I may even say, “You haven’t tried hard enough, try again”. Of course, I say this in such a way that it maintains rapport between myself and the client.

Case Utilising Humour

Below is a case in which I used humour to help a client who to deal with a weight issue. At the time of attending my clinic she was compulsively over eating every evening and was several stone (1 stone = 14 pounds) over her normal healthy weight.

Although this session highlights the use of humour, this is only one of a multitude of techniques utilised during the session.

From almost the minute the client came in to the clinic we connected; the rapport was instant. It was also very obvious to me that the client had a very well developed sense of humour.

Reframing from Deprivation to Increasing Choice 

One of the common things that occurs in an issue such as weight management is that the client often feels deprived; as if they can’t have something. A lot of people find that the moment they are told or feel they can’t have something is when they seem to want it even more. Shifting this can be a powerful intervention that can help the client achieve their goal.

Firstly I explained to the client that it would be good for her to no longer feel deprived at the thought of not being able to have these foods anymore and that we were not taking away her choice about whether she could have them. The objective of what we were doing was to give her a choice because at present she was almost non stop compulsively eating in the evenings.

We were looking to increase her choice so that she could now decide whether she wanted to eat the food or not. Also that it wasn’t that she couldn’t have the food, it was that she would be choosing that she didn’t want the food.

Humour in the form of Slips of the Tongue 

After getting a 0-10 intensity level on the feeling of being deprived at not being able to eat these kinds of foods any more, we set up the EFT statement as follows. 

“Even though I feel deprived of the pleasure of eating my favourite foods, I completely …..”

After establishing the set up statement, I clarified with the client that the word was in fact deprived and not depraved. The client stated to smile and confirmed it was deprived.

Slips of the tongue are common comic phenomena, one which can be used for great effect especially if rapport is excellent. For example,  “accidentally”, slipping in the word depraved and innocently asking “is that right”. In my experience this works best when you as a therapist have an internal feeling of finding it funny yourself (congruently). When you are in rapport with your client you can lead your client to where you are, and thus help them see the humour in what you are saying.

After doing this the first time, fate took over and intermittently the word depraved slipped out. Each time it did the client doubled over in hysterical laughter, in fact both of us nearly rolled off our seats. Of course after the first time of linking the word depraved to laughter, each subsequent time I used the word I was merely retriggering off the past association I created by doing it the first time, a phenomena in NLP called anchoring. Asked at the end of the round whether she could still access the feeling of being deprived, she said she couldn’t. 

Tapping out the Cravings 

Prior to the session I had asked the client to bring with her some of the foods that she was compulsively eating. She brought a meat pie and a chocolate bar.

Tapping out the cravings was a very simple procedure with this client. I simply directed her attention to each piece of food that she had brought, tossed it under her nose and asked her how much she wanted to eat it right now. Within two rounds of EFT, the 0-10 intensity fell to zero on both foods.

Demonstrations such as this are very powerful convincers that EFT is effective. Helping the client notice the change in perception of taste/smell, which is very easy to demonstrate, immediately creates a sense of expectation for the session to be successful. 

Dealing with the Underlying Drivers: Guilt and Bereavement 

Further into the session we decided to work on the underlying drivers fuelling the addictive eating pattern. The biggest was the death of her father, over which she had guilt feelings because she had been out of the country at the time. In my experience irrational feelings of guilt quite often occur in these circumstances. It is as if the person feels they should have been there, and yet only in hindsight would they have known the person was going to die.

After using sneaking up on the problem methods and thus taking the edge off the issue, I decided to use the Movie Technique as the client was near to tears even at the thought.

I asked her to give a title to the moment when the first large emotion had occurred. I asked her if it was a movie of someone else’s life, what would the title be?

As can often happen, she said,- “Oh, I’m not good at doing stuff like that”,

She seemed to be having difficulty coming up with a title.

Although her answer indicated a limiting belief about her own abilities to create movie titles, I chose not to work on that simply because I did not feel it was relevant to the issue we were dealing with, but merely a side issue. To bypass it I said,

“If the movie was a colour, what would it be?”

“Well, blue”, was her immediate answer.

Knowing what came next, as I had chosen to use the movie technique set up, I immediately said, “Interesting choice of colour”, in a tone of voice indicating that I had found something interesting, although I did not reveal what that was to the client. Without saying anything more about what I found interesting, I started the EFT statement,

“So even though I have the blue movie problem………”

Effectively by saying what I did prior to doing the set up, I helped the client develop an internal state of curiosity. Whilst in this mental state her mind was seeking out what it was that I found curious. As soon as she heard me say, “Blue movie problem”, her mind made the connection instantly. She burst into spontaneous laughter.

Although it is possible that she may have made the connection without my words drawing her attention to it, my words made it easier for her to connect more quickly.

Since she was already tuned into the issue around feeling guilty about her father’s death, she now had basically two opposing states occurring. As earlier stated, the body cannot have two opposing states at the same time. They cancel each other out and all that usually remains is whichever of the two states has the greater emotion.

Immediately the client fell into hysterical laughter and she even said her dad would see the humour of that. Within a round of EFT the emotion around the specific event relating to the death of her father, including the guilt feeling was gone. In fact, it went within the first few points of tapping, except we were both too busy laughing to check until the round finished.

Since the title, “blue”, had come from the client, I had merely utilised it to help facilitate change.

No Go Areas

There is a fine line between humour which can be appropriate and effective and that which breaks the mood and creates adverse reactions in the client, such as feeling you are making fun of them or you have gone too far and are touching on a subject which isn’t funny. As we moved further into this session we approached a moment when the situation could very easily have triggered a negative reaction.

Talking further about her father, the client mentioned that he had had a favourite piece of music. The moment she mentioned this, it triggered a feeling of missing him. Going into more detail the client mentioned a specific event in which he played this music and it was obvious she had some quite intense/sad feelings around this moment.

I asked her where she felt that feeling and she said it was in her chest.

Automatically I set the EFT up as “Even though, I have Dad feeling my chest, I completely and totally love and approve of myself”.

The instant the words were out of my mouth my mind made the connection. Danger zone, a slip of the tongue and we would be in very dodgy territory.

An inner voice said to me, “don’t go there”.

Still, the seeds had already been laid, the client took one look at me in the middle of the round, smirked and said, “Don’t go there” and laughed her head off as both of us struggled to remain precise with what we were saying.

Both of us burst into laughter, as we tapped through the rest of the round, making sure we got the reminder phrase precise, “Dad feeling IN my chest”.

The feeling of “missing” him was gone. In fact positive memories were popping into her mind at the thought of her Dad.

Follow Up Session: Feedback

The follow-up session was arranged for the following week. The client reported that the compulsive eating had stopped. She was able to buy sweets and pasties for others and was happy not having any herself. She also was eating normal food in moderation as opposed to food made for dieters.

Tania Prince


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