Table of Contents

Table of Contents Help

The tabs on the right are shortcuts to where you have been:

  • Previous Screen
  • Previous Articles
  • Previous Categories
  • Start Page
  • Hide Entire Menu

Swiping to the left will take you to the previous screen.

The folder icon indicates that more content is available. Click on the icon or the associated text, or swipe to the right to see the additional content.

Articles & Ideas


To Lead or Not to Lead...

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Dr. Tam Llewellyn of the United Kingdom, helps us with the fine points of properly delivering EFT (or, for that matter, any form of therapy). Clients react poorly when we try to "force" a new perspective on them. However, they react quite nicely when we gently bring these new ideas to their attention and skillfully move them in healthy directions. Tam's helpful ideas should help any dedicated EFT student.

Hugs, Gary

By Dr. Tam Llewellyn


In this short article we are to consider the methods a therapist could use to foster cognitive shifts in the client to encourage them to change their view on life without leading them into some preconceived view on life that may be the way of the therapist.

It is impossible to carry on a therapy session without leading the client (after all they come to us for help and advice), but it is also quite wrong to lead a client to some particular way of life or understanding, which happens to be the one we support or hold true. Thus at the start of every new client / therapist relationship was are faced with a difficult dilemma, and have to take the narrow line between helping our clients with useful suggestions on the one hand without leading them along some path which we see as "correct" on the other. In this article I discuss some ways this can be done.

Positive Regard

The key to this dilemma is unconditional positive regard for each client

We must provide a climate in which the client feels safe and free to proceed along any path however different that path may be from our own. As this happens we must be willing to offer the client alternative views that are different from both the perspective held by the client and our own. We can offer differing and sometimes opposing view for the client to sample but without them feeling pressured to accept them. This can be difficult as the client is in a dependent situation and may feel a need to comply. The stress must be on 'offering' rather than 'forcing'.

It is not fruitful to offer views far removed from the writing already on the walls of the client as these will be simply rejected as "untruths", and may form a barrier of distrust between client and therapist. Rather, careful preframing is necessary to allow the client to at least make an assessment of views at odds with the writing on their walls. Again care must be taken that the preframe only presents the alternative view in a way that it can be considered, not in a way that is becomes a "truth" to be written unquestioningly on the clients walls.

This preframe can be presented in a number of ways, but in all cases the therapist must be careful to avoid leading the clients into perspectives which are owned by the therapist. The new perspectives should be offered not presented.


The simplest method of offering a different perspective is via humour. Although this method is obvious and simple it can be fraught with difficulties. It must be remembered that in doing this the therapist is attempting to make fun of the clients' most precious self evident 'truths'. In using this method to foster cognitive shifts the therapist must be ever attentive to the way the client is reacting. There is no point in joking about Tony Blair's (nor President Bush's) integrity if the client is an ardent party supporter - that would simply alienate the client. To successfully produce a cognitive shift via humour it must be presented in the gentlest way possible, small step by small step, taking the client with you all the way and allowing the client to lead the humour along a path he feels humourous.

The therapist must be seen to be laughing with the client - not at him. Once the client feels you are poking fun at him or his beliefs you have lost the game and probable the client as well and you will never succeed in any reframe. You will have simply emphasized the gulf between the clients self talk and the therapist - not a good result. Humour can be the most effective method of fostering cognitive shifts, but it must be handled with care and compassion.

Reductio ad absurdum

Closely allied to humour is 'reduction to absurdity'. Here a perspective is taken and uncritically applied to other situations as an absolute truth. (eg. "I was wrong to cross my mothers boundaries as a baby, because I was born with a complete understanding of social graces and was thus the only three-year-old with a complete understanding of modern morality). Here the same caveat must be made as the therapist must guard against allowing the client to feel that he is ridiculing the client's beliefs about a situation. Rather it must be the client who comes to realize that his current perspective in untenable - at least in some situations. It is not for the therapist to lead the client to this but for the client to find this out for himself with only the lightest prompting from the therapist.

Questioning questions

In addition to humour, in some cases, more serious questions may be used to foster cognitive shifts. These must be deeply questioning questions, but must not directly challenge the client's current perspective. Rather they should be open ended questions allowing the client to come to his own conclusion about the validity of his current perspective or, at least, to come to the conclusion that they may be "open to the possibility" of other perspectives being possible. Some useful open ended questions are :-

"What good can come from this?"

"Why did you act that way?"

"What advantage comes from this situation?"

"What would be the downside of overcoming this problem?"

The closed leading question which must be avoided is of the form :-

"Surely this is not the best way to look at this" or

"Another way of considering this would be more helpful"

Questions of this latter form will simply upset the client and drive him to defend his original position - not the way to foster change.


It is not easy to foster a cognitive shift in the client without some leading, and it is in fact even leading to assume that a cognitive shift is necessary. However, a client has chosen to come to the therapist for help, and this must suggest some permission has been given, at least implicitly, for a degree of leading. The art is leading in so gentle a way as not to drive the clients deeper into their entrenched views, while the therapist keeps his entrenched views out of it.

What must be avoided is the heavy leading of the client towards the perspective of the therapist, and what is needed is gentle leading by offering the client options to consider which may lead to a better situation irrespective of the therapist's stance regarding those opinions.


I hope in this article to have provided some useful ideas on how to engender a cognitive shift. However, if I have also alerted the reader to the difficulties in fostering such a shift, and the pitfalls which must be avoided when doing so I will be more than pleased. Remember, to have unconditional positive regard for your clients, and only to lead them where they need to go (not where we think they should go!)

Dr Tam Llewellyn-Edwards


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