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Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Many readers will recognize Don Blackerby from his superb presentation regarding Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) on our EFT Specialty Series 2 DVD set. His passion involves teaching students appropriate learning skills and, as a result, he has become proficient at both NLP and EFT. In this article he tells us how he enthuses his students regarding EFT. This is an important article for educators, students and parents.

Hugs, Gary

By Don A. Blackerby, PhD

When I am telling another person about how I use NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming to help struggling students with school, I always mention how I am also increasingly using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) to help them with stress, anxiety and other emotions and traumas.  One of the distinctions of my work with students is my desire to teach them to use EFT on themselves without waiting for an “adult or counselor” to help them out of an emotional or stressful situation.  I consider it as one of my personal gifts to a young student. 

Many times, students are stressed out or overwhelmed by the demands of school, teachers, parents or life in general.  This is particularly true since our “schools” do not seem to get around to teaching students HOW to learn the academic subjects.  We leave it to the student to figure this out and the lack of effective learning strategies is one of the primary factors that leads to confusion, stress, anger and sometimes depression in our students in school.  Teaching students how to learn the different academic subjects alleviates much of this emotional wear and tear, but there are many other factors that create emotional stress that are “just part of the growing up process.”

Two of the many questions I am frequently asked are “How do you turn students on to EFT, especially younger children?”  And, “After you teach them EFT, how do you get them to use it on themselves?” 

The short answer is:  Very tentatively.  The long answer is:  I carefully break the process down into sub-lessons or very short segments that are fun in and of themselves and then I chain the sub-lessons all together and show them how to do it to themselves until they can see and feel the difference.  Only after they are turned on to it and what it can do for them do I label it “EFT” or try to partially explain it.

The specific sub-lessons mentioned above happen ONLY after I have solid rapport and credibility with the student.  This “student” can be a person of practically any age—very young to very old.  The approach will vary to fit the age and life experiences of the student.

First sub-lesson—I introduce them to the concept of body energy without naming it or explaining it.  I like to give them an experience of body energy and I do this with “muscle testing.”  There are many, many ways to muscle test but I find that the more physical it is, the better it works with youth—especially if the student has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or ADHD.  So, while I do this, we are standing and moving around in my office.  My only criteria is that it fits the age of the student and the affect of it needs to be dramatic enough to get the attention of the students.  They also need to be able to duplicate what I do and see and feel the differences when certain internal states are compared, as explained later. 

One of the most common muscle testing techniques is as follows: 

A.  Stand slightly to the side of the student, looking over their arm as the arm is extended horizontally —either left or right arm.

B.  Place one hand lightly on their wrist.  Place your other hand on their shoulder for stability.

C. Have them keep their body relaxed and their eyes closed while focusing on their arm and shoulder strength.

D.  Whisper to them to “Be strong.”

E. Briefly apply gentle downward pressure on their wrist for about 1-2 seconds or until you feel the muscle either “let go” or “lock in place”. (Avoid “bouncing” or “playing war” with the arm pressure).  You are looking/feeling for a benchmark “neutral” strength for when they “feel strong” without something specific to think about.

F.  Internally note the strength of the arm (or lack of).

G.  Demonstrate the difference in muscle strength when they access and compare some of the following different states:

Like or dislike (eg, think of: person, food, subject in school, chore, hobby,             sport, etc),    

True or false (eg, “My name is true name or “My name is false name”, etc.)

Yes or No (eg, “I like ice cream” or “I like vegetables”, etc)

Positive or negative situation (last week “when I was sad” or “yesterday             when             I was happy”, etc).

Zip or un-zip central meridian energy line (with their eyes closed and with             your fingers about 2-3 inches from their body, rapidly lower (unzip)             your fingers from their chin down to their knees—test muscle strength.              Then rapidly raise your fingers from their knees up to their chin (zip)—            test again.  There should be a significant difference in strength).

Interrupt central energy line(trace an X in the air about 2-3 inches from             their belly button—test muscle strength.  Then in the same position,             trace a figure 8 about 2-3 inches from their belly button—test again.              There             should be a significant difference in muscle strength).


After they have noticed differences, comment and elaborate on various possible learnings, like:

            a. Everybody has an energy field;

            b. Everybody’s energy is affected by emotions;

            c. What do they think happens to them when they become--angry, have their feelings hurt, feel sad, are bullied, etc?; 

            d. Are they more resourceful when they are in a “negative” emotional state or a “positive” one?;

            e. Getting into a “negative” state is a fact of life (ie, it is going to happen); 

f. Getting out of it is their choice-- “WOULD THEY LIKE TO KNOW HOW TO CHANGE IT WHENEVER THEY WANTED? 

Get a “yes” to this question.  If you do not get a “yes”, you will have to do more on the first sub-lesson to convince them of the existence of body energy and it’s effect. 

Second Sub-lesson—have them try it on somebody else (parent, friend, etc—be careful NOT to set up a competitive situation) and have BOTH notice the differences.  (Personal note:  With a student 18 years of age or younger, I always have at least one of the parents sit in the sessions with us.  They make a perfect candidate for the student to practice on.)  

Third Sub-lesson—Introduce the idea of energy meridians as the pathways through which positive energy flows through their body.  Also, when they are in a positive state--energy is flowing; when they are in a negative state--energy is blocked.

Fourth Sub-lesson--tapping on energy meridians releases the block.  Demonstrate what tapping is and how to do it on some of the easier meridian points.

Fifth Sub-lesson—teach and demonstrate the EFT tapping sequence or procedure.

Basic and Whole Lesson— Throughout the whole process, I attempt to be humorous and light hearted and give lots of examples of how I use it personally and how I have helped others, like them, use it.  I treat it as one of the important lessons to be learned in life—how not to be trapped by unwanted emotions; and I give them lots of examples of when we can be.  I then label the EFT tapping protocol and name it as “EFT” and explain it according to their age and ability to understand (sometimes I don’t even attempt to explain—I let them become convinced by the experience).  I demonstrate it on several current emotional issues that they have.  I then future pace how to use it on emotional issues that might come up in the next few weeks.  I teach and demonstrate how to do EFT privately; when and where to use it in public and when not to and why; and how to use it covertly.  I also treat it as a secret that they and very few others know.  If they will share it only with those who they REALLY want to know about it, it will remain their secret to use when they think they need it.

Note:  The fact that they know something that very few others know helps them “buy into the aspect of using it on themselves”—particularly if they have been led by you to use it and notice a positive difference.  Also, the fact that they tried it out on a parent or a readily accessible friend AND shared it as a secret, gives them great ownership and a sense of “belonging” to something outside themselves.  This is a deep-seated need in most of us and is the primary reason kids join gangs and have secret handshakes, language, symbols, etc.  The more you can get them to talk about this and to “invest emotionally into the shared secret” the more they will buy into using it on their self when they need it.


“Negative emotions” come with living life.  Human beings of all ages experience them.  Young students, though, are particularly susceptible to being pulled down by their emotional hits.  It is often said that young people can be so cruel to each other—sometimes because they intend to be but most of the time because of the way the receiving child takes the offending remark or incident.  The negative meaning they assign to it can make it very personal and can affect their self esteem.  It is a part of growing up.  Learning to deal with these emotional hits, it seems to me, is a valuable lesson to teach our children.

My goal for teaching EFT to students is to empower them to take charge of their own life.  This is a paradigm shift for many.  And to have it so easily available is even further mind-boggling—especially to their parents.  The notion of emotions as something to control is, for some parents, a sacred area and borders on mind manipulation.  I like to explain it in a different way.  That is, that negative and stuck emotions keep us from being as resourceful as we can possibly be.  When we use EFT to un-block and release the negative emotions, it allows us to have access to our more positive and resourceful emotional states.  Given the choice, who wouldn’t rather be positively resourceful than stuck in negative emotions?  I have never had a student, young or old, choose negative emotions.

Besides, how many times have we, as parents, grandparents, family members, or friends or teachers watched and listened to our children and others around us get totally caught up in the emotions of some incident and “lose it!”  Wouldn’t it be nice if we had already taught them EFT and could just quietly suggest to them that they might want to go “tap on it” for a while.

Don A. Blackerby, PhD

More articles on Children's Issues


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