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Articles & Ideas


Finding the root of the problem

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Sometimes the real problem isn't apparent when we first work with a client. There are surface issues, of course, but observation and detective work can often dig up what's really going on. In this regard, Tam Lewellyn of the UK explores two casees to help you find core issues.

Hugs, Gary

By Tam Llewellyn 


When we use EFT it is essential that we tap on the correct problem.  This may seem obvious, but it is very easy to miss the major aspect of the problem – the one which is really driving the discomfort.

In its standard form, EFT requires a ‘Set Up Statement’, where the problem is brought up and stated as accurately as possible, before the tapping begins.  Finding the ‘correct’ Set Up Statement is essential. I feel that when EFT fails to solve the issue, by far the most likely reason is that we have chosen the wrong aspect of the problem or even the wrong problem.

Often the problem is ‘obvious’, but in these cases we should be especially on our guard.  If it is so obvious why was it not identified and treated long ago.  I will give two of my own cases to illustrate this, and how careful we must be.

The first case was a middle aged woman, who had a number of both physical and emotional problems but they all appeared to relate to her being grossly overweight. The cause of her excess weight was obvious – she ate too much and exercised too little.

We worked on various aspects of her over eating and found these were related to incidents in her past and these were soon dealt with using EFT and her weight dropped a little.  However, she eventually admitted to being ‘hooked on’ Crunchie Bars (a chocolate bar available in UK).  Her craving for them was removed using EFT to the extent that the smell and very idea of them revolted her.  The job appeared to be done and I left a month’s gap until her next appointment expecting her to have lost a considerable amount of weight by then and to be ready for me to work on a few outstanding problems.

A month later she returned still over weight and still eating Crunchie Bars.  She hated the smell and taste of the Crunchie Bars but was still eating four or five a day!  We spent a long session exploring this aspect and I eventually discovered that many years ago the client had been in a “Weight Watchers’ Club” using a strict diet plan.  Crunchie Bars were included in the diet as a reward if the dieter had complied with the diet and they had been associated in the client’s mind as a reward and she still felt happy and rewarded eating them – even though they tasted awful!

We could have tapped forever on the weight problem and the other problems which her gross overweight were causing and would like have gotten little result, but as soon as the link between Chruchie Bars and the feeling of reward was tapped away the weight and problems disappeared.

The second case involved a younger woman who had suffered from a physically abusive father and had suffered sexual abuse from an older brother. Finally she was raped by a stranger as a young adult. She had completely lost her confidence and would not venture out alone, and was even very tense when escorted outside.

Again the problems were obvious.  The abuse by father and brother and the rape were all vivid individual events and all appeared to be legs under the table top which represented her problem.  All were ideal problems for EFT and easily worked on by tapping on the specific events which she could vividly recall.  The only difficulty was that she had very little emotion when recalling the events.  She had had a lot of therapy and I put her lack of strong emotion regarding the events down to the partial success of earlier therapy.

It was difficult to raise her emotion regarding the events.  Being provocative and pushing her very hard could bring tears to her eyes which could be easily tapped away.  After a number of sessions she could recall the various events clearly and without emotion, and she had forgiven the perpetrators.  However, the fear of being outside alone remained huge and steadfast.

When discussing forgiveness there was always some reluctance in forgiving herself.  This is often a factor when women have suffered a sexual assault – there is often a feeling that the victims were in some way responsible - however illogical that may be. When we worked on this aspect, she was always willing to forgive herself and certainly understood that there was, in truth, nothing to forgive and that she was in no way the cause of the physical and sexual abuse she had suffered.  Still there was always a feeling that there was more to it, and always the problem crept back.

We had almost a full session on this area and the truth surfaced.  She had been beaten by her father and was beaten until she stopped crying (as her father thought any sign of emotion needed knocking out of her)  Her elder brother had received the same treatment but had rebelled.  His rebellion had caused the father to increase the beatings until the brother was seriously injured and left the home.  This had taught her to take the beatings without emotion and not to resist.  This proved a very successful strategy and she learnt to take the knocks without emotion or resistance.

In later life when she was raped the same policy sprung into play and she did not resist, nor did she show any emotion after the event.  In view of this, her family and the authorities while accepting her story that she had been raped did not take the matter too seriously and the case was not pursued.   Consequently, she thought of herself as a natural victim and hence was afraid to expose herself to any risk as she knew she was trained to accept any abuse without resistance or emotion.  Not wishing to be abused she simply did not go out without protection.

Now that we had found the real problem, I knew where to work.  It was not an easy case, as I had to remove a life-long tactic of submission and withheld emotion and show that the client could be safe outside and could assert herself.  However, once the real problem was identified the task was possible.

Now that I have demonstrated how the ‘obvious’ aspect may not be the ‘real’ aspect requiring work, I cannot stop without offering some help in avoiding this pitfall.

The first advise I can offer is observe and observe closely.  The client will, often subconsciously, point out the problem area.  In the first case above there is an obvious inconsistency in that the client continued to crave something that revolted her.  In the second case the inconsistency was not so obvious, but there was a pointer in that the client’s forgiveness of herself was not fully implemented and the problem crept back.

Sometimes the inconsistency is identified by leakage (such as a tapping foot or a tight throat) or sometimes there is inconsistency between word and action (such as saying ‘yes’ and shaking the head)

If you study Gary Craig’s latest examples of EFT you will see that he is far less reliant on a slickly worded concise Set Up Statement, but he wanders around the problem statement – spouting garbage and gold, as he puts it.  This may seem undirected and random and as far as the actual wording is, it probably is, but look at Gary’s eyes.  As he chats on he is observing his client’s every movement and reaction. As he mentions the real problem in his ramblings he notes the client’s reaction and focuses in on the issue causing the problem, even if the client does not recognise it until much later.

Gary sometime moves on from the obvious problem by asking the client, “What does it remind you of?”You will note that he does not stop tapping while the client thinks, as during the thinking the client will be turning over in their minds the true problem basis and needs to be tapped on as different things pop up.  You will also note how closely Gary looks at his client while they think – looking for that subconscious indication that they have realised what the real problem is.

Another useful tactic, when the ‘Set Up Statement’ and ‘Reminder Phrase’ is not hitting home is to drop them altogether for a round or two and just tap.  The client often understands the real root of the problem, even if they do not realise it and tapping without reminders will sometimes bring it out.

And the moral of this tale?   Watch your client and understand their tiniest reaction

Dr Tam Llewellyn-Edwards


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