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Articles & Ideas

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Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

By David Lake, MD

EFT can be used in a creative and useful way to "analyse" dreams. The following technique is most easily used by two people (a helper and a "client") although you can use the ideas yourself, with practice. It is far easier to get meaning from a dream when being helped.

It is not necessary to believe any assumptions about dreams or about interpretation or Gestalt work. Based on the techniques of Gestalt Therapy, you can use tapping to help integrate the fragmented messages from the unconscious mind with the feeling-state of the dream. The process is a tool for associative balancing based on being free to give acting/playing energy to the dream interpretation without thinking too much; EFT integrates these "knowings" further. This leads to some interesting shifts in the processing of conflicts in the daily present.

Creative extensions of this association technique include using "found objects" (like a rock or tree, and "role-playing" those), using artworks (associating to the felt imagery of art, poetry, literature, music or film) and using your own projections (negative impressions) about others. It is all grist to the mill from our inner world.

The assumptions of this process are that:

Obviously there are many ways to work with the rich material of a dream. The results of using Gestalt techniques are typically a greater self-awareness. Adding EFT brings a new dimension. Regardless of theory I have found this combined process to produce fascinating results which are uniformly productive.

My guidelines for working this way (with a client) are:

Work with the dream or dream fragment such that the client is instructed to relate the dream in the present tense. First I want to hear the whole dream as they recall it. Note on a piece of paper each representation or symbolic part of the dream. Let the client give you the material. Your role is quite neutral and non-committal. Particularly note the vague or "diffuse" parts of the dream, and any symbolic parts. When the tale has been told--and it may be brief - go back to your notes and ask the client to "play the part" you choose.

I want them to "blurt" whatever comes to their mind as they focus intently on the dreampart--this is like acting out the role. Typically, to begin, they state: "I am the (dreampart)...I am (doing this)...". This produces greater realism and focus. If they falter when starting you can ask them to: "Describe yourself...what do you look like?...what is around you?...etc." Guide the client repeatedly as it is difficult to maintain being in the present tense initially. Note the significant words or phrases they use. Do this until they "run out of steam" naturally. At those places where there is a pause, I enquire with simple questioning, such as: "What is your function?...what is your role?...what are you doing here?" if I want more material. With the vague parts of the dream (most distant or unavailable) you need to linger in this way.

When all the parts have been played in turn, feed back to the client the relevant phrases in a naturalistic and neutral way, with emphasis on the personal meaning it may have. I call this "floating" the words past them. Very often they seem to be quite separated from the import, and the potential meaning, of the words. While they pay attention to this, commence tapping sequences. They follow your lead. In one sense there is a recovered dream-state that too much talking will change. During this phase of working, be sensitive also to the feeling-state that EFT may establish as the "messages" take effect. This is not logical and not rational, nor does it need much explanation to the client. What it needs for integration, in my opinion, is a lot of tapping.

Ideally one could model continual tapping with the 7 points (without a set-up) because I doubt whether reversal is present. I use this continual work a lot; it usually takes about 15-20 minutes to finish working with the parts. [If the client is comfortable with EFT, I think they could tap continually while "playing the parts" too, as there is a lot of associative work happening there. I have not tried this yet.]

If you do use EFT set-up phrasing you could also say, for example:

I accept myself and this part of the dream is me

I am this (dreampart) and I'm getting it together

I'm lost in my dream and I'm doing the best I can

Despite what happens to (dreampart) I'll be OK

Use the phrases and words they came up with originally, and keep the EFT technique very simple. Be sure to use some of the symbolism of the dream.

Finally, enquire as to what "comes up" for the client during or after the tapping. There will either be rich material for further work, or a creative confusion. Part of the confusion might be a protective effect. Milton Erickson used to say to the client in trance that they would become aware of "only as much as they needed to know from their unconscious" after hypnosis. This confusion does resolve very soon. The processing from this work typically continues after the session. Audio taping the session is very good if the client receives a copy of the tape to play back several times.

I resist the temptation to make clever interpretations in the session--it is far more important for a good result to do plenty of EFT. I would also use EFT later if the client was frustrated by not "knowing" enough about the session.

Doing it yourself

Although it isn't so easy to associate and observe yourself too, the method does produce simple statements and phrases that do have meaning if you don't censor or judge the results. I have tapped on the symbolism of a dream. I have tapped on the bizarre characters in my dream (being this part) and been surprised at what came out--and how I felt after tapping on that.

Brief Example

A woman who was unhappy in her marriage had a dream fragment where she was lying on a white marble table in a temple with no walls. She could not "see" outside the temple. She "played the parts" and spontaneously produced the statements (which I join together):

(as the Table) I am cool and dead. People can lie on me.

(as the Temple) I am here for other people to receive grace. I am not finished. I don't know what is holding me up

Vague Parts I don't know where I am. I could be lost and no-one will find me

Symbolism (to me) ? morgue table...?death...incomplete...?no support

Her 30-minute EFT session did not produce great insight but she subsequently felt a calmness, and a sadness. Within a year she had divorced, remarried and entered an IVF program. In retrospect that session was a turning point in several months of counseling.


Despite my over-simplification of a complex framework, utilizing EFT with Gestalt dream imagery is a satisfying process for the participant, leading to greater self-awareness. It encourages spontaneous "play" in a respectful manner. It is a practical way to use the material of dreams for benefit, without "contaminating" the dream intellectually (from either side, in the room). You can also use the technique individually.

Such dream "messages" then become very direct communications, and using EFT to harmonise the associated feelings can be a settling process in one's inner world. From a small amount of dream material a wealth of inner meaning can result.

Dr. David Lake


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