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Other Emotional Issues


Shared tapping provides benefits for relationship issues

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

David Lake, MD, from Australia, shares his usual wit and wisdom in this creative use of EFT for relationship issues. Pay particular attention to how formerly combative self talk tends to soften and become more understanding and loving during this process. In my opinion, EFT should be the centerpiece of all relationship counseling. It allows the issues to resolve in a much more genuine and rapid fashion.

By David Lake, MD

As part of my approach with many couples I introduce EFT and variations on the theme of meridian stimulation at an early stage. Let's assume first that there is a couple who wants help (not an individual, which is actually more common in relationship issues) and that they have had basic training in the EFT sequence, first on a neutral issue such as body tension. The majority of the tapping done in my sessions is "continual tapping", where any points are stimulated without stopping until the end of the session. For convenience the hand and wrist points are used most often. These are less "intimate" points, too, which can be a plus for a couple with difficulties and a lot of work to do.

The basic use of EFT is in self-soothing and used as first aid in dealing with the frustrations and reactions inherent in the "struggle" between two people who have different values. My most frequent use of EFT in a session is, however, in showing the couple how to incorporate tapping into mutual listening, understanding and validating. I call this "shared tapping". Finally, there is "mutual tapping" at the end of a productive session, where the two tap on each other's face points in silence, while looking at each other and thinking of what they most admire in the other. Naturally this part of using EFT is only gone well after the other phases and where there is plenty of goodwill and friendship in the relationship.

Shared tapping in my system is where the one who wants to speak does so while lending their arm to the partner. Shared tapping works best when the one doing the tapping says nothing and only taps on the finger and hand points while listening to what the partner says, until they have finished, Then they swap roles. They might be facing each other and sitting close or, more likely, sitting side by side--which is ideal. Obviously this technique reveals all the elements of active listening and allows each to be heard in turn. Then there is the effect of meridian stimulation for both (since the tapper is getting something too from the points 'accidentally' used while on the job). I incorporate this technique into all the ordinary couple dialogue and problem solving.

Here is a constructed dialogue of a little exchange which is a composite of feedback from many typical couple sessions using shared tapping. The couple is sitting side by side on the couch. (I put the dialogue down, with the inner private words in italics to follow, just for fun). It's a lighthearted example of how quickly tapping can help a couple navigate through the 'rapids'.

Man: Let me tap your fingers. You obviously have a lot to say (I hope this won't take forever...)

Woman: Yes, I do! You said you would clean up the yard more than a week ago and you haven't done any of it. When I look out there I feel...just so....(gets choked up).... (What do I have to do to get his attention?). You promised me!

Man: (just keeps tapping) (Here we go again...)

Woman: And you always find time to watch the game but you never get round to doing anything for me!

Man: (S--t! She's right about the yard. And the game. Always right, of course. But really cute when she gets mad. Oh well...) (Fights a strong urge to point out how hard he works during the week in a job he really doesn't like--but says nothing, and keeps tapping)

Woman: I just want a little help around here so I don't have to feel like I do everything. (Softens a little) I know you don't like doing it, but would you do it for me as a favor? (Whoops, I'm starting to beg again...) (Falls silent)

(They swap tapping roles)

Man: Great. As if it were that simple. There's no end to the work the way I see it. (Flash: she is doing most of it around here, and has her own job too!)...(Reflects on how easy it would be to blame her for upsetting him, by asking for help in the wrong way at the wrong time.... somehow that is not so satisfying as usual.... decides to avert the sulk)....(Quietly) I don't want to upset you, really I don''s just another job to me, but it's personal for you, isn't it?

Woman: says nothing, keeps tapping, nods happily through tears

Man: I'm having a moment here. What does the yard mean to you if it were clean and tidy? (It can't be this simple). ...Let's swap.

(They do)

Woman: I would feel cared for, too. You would be showing your love for me (this is a miracle...I can't believe we're talking like this without a fight). And I know you do love me. (Calmly) I'm sorry I get so worked up but when you say you will do it, I feel wonderful when I do have your help.... then really bad when I don't get it.

Man: (OK. This I can do).

Woman: Thanks for listening, I feel a lot better

Man: I'm sorry about the whole thing. I think I get it.

(Tapping stops naturally)

Man: (Smiles and leaps to his feet, full of enthusiasm). I'm just going out into the yard. What I have in mind shouldn't take too long. I'll get the spa cleaned out too. Care to join me later?

Woman: (Definitely. I thought a sulky husband would mean a very boring evening). Now I'll have to do some more tapping about whether this is going to last!!

Man: Ha!

I have found that if a couple can be taught this method simply, they are likely to use it whenever important matters need sharing. It is effective as relaxation and tends to forestall fights and disputes, as each will be heard--often a significant change in the relationship to date. EFT somehow 'detunes' the primitive reactions and hurts that are so easily triggered in discussions, and this effect increases the more time is spent doing the tapping while talking. It can be a completely different experience to find that you don't have to agree on everything, or submit with bad grace, or sulk or have a temper tantrum while navigating a tender subject in a relationship.

It can also be very strengthening in a relationship to tap on the other in silence when your friend is hurting and you don't know what to say or do.

Dr. David Lake


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