EFT and The Power of Reframing
Here is another article on combining EFT and the art of reframing. Both EFT and reframing are powerful tools in their own right for creating powerful shifts in perception, shifts that can enhance the quality of a persons life. When combined it can increase the effectiveness of the approaches.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.
There have never been truer words said, we create our own meaning from the experiences we have in life. Nothing is good or bad until we decide it is good or bad. Since we create our own meaning we also have the ability to recreate that meaning to one which serves to improve the quality of our life.
Reframing – What is it?
Reframing is an incredibly effective tool that therapist’s can use for helping the client to change the way they think about their issues. It is the art of linguistically helping a client shift the meaning they give their experiences, to a meaning which is more conducive to health and well-being and living the life they want to live.
Why Combine EFT with Reframing?
Reframing can be done without EFT. In fact it is commonly done in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming)just in the context of conversation. However, combining reframing with EFT in my opinion makes the reframes embed even better.
The Benefits of Using Reframing
There are huge benefits into incorporating reframing into an EFT Practice. These include increased flexibility which, of course, increases the success rate you have with your clients. Another great benefit of using reframes is that it can make the session seem very relaxed and informal, because it takes away the rigidity of the more mechanical EFT approaches, such as chase the pain etc. To the client it may well just seem they are in a friendly conversation with their therapist, whilst casually tapping, in reality powerful therapy is taking place, because the client’s perceptions/ cognitions are being subtly influenced in the direction of their goal.
The Art of Reframing
There is a definite art to delivering effective reframes. The therapist needs to be in rapport with their client and also calibrated to the subtle communication that the client is constantly giving them.
Reframing should never be confused with leading the client. Leading is pushing the client to take on a new belief system, whereas reframing is far more subtle in its delivery and is respectful of the client. Reframes are not forced on the client, the client can choose to accept or not. And if delivered correctly this will not harm rapport.
In my experience the best reframes are those that just occur in the moment, spontaneously without the therapist consciously deciding what to say beforehand. Since the therapist has had different life experiences and thus different belief systems etc than the client, it is quite natural that when the client tells their story, the therapist has a different perspective on it than the client. This makes reframing easy for the therapist.
Steps to using Reframes
- Develop Rapport with the client
- Calibrate to the client’s body language and tonality (many EFT’ers have this skill naturally and just term it as intuition)
- Ask for content on the issue: content is essential in order to reframe
Years ago I worked with a client who had schizophrenia. When the client told me their story, they spoke of an event in which they had laughed whilst attending a funeral. The client interpreted this behaviour as meaning he was a “bad person”.
As he told his story, I asked myself, “What else could this behavior mean?” The thoughts that came to mind were, innocent like a child, naive, lacking in understanding of the conventions of our society. When I reframed by putting this to him, it created a change within the client, one which helped him see his behavior in a new light, one which supported him as a person in a much more positive way.
Although there are many different ways to reframe, the following are some of the reframes that I have used in my practice. Some of the examples are fairly wordy whilst others may just be one word.
Example 1: Reframing at an Identity Level
This is a reframe I used with a client who had experienced panic attacks for over nineteen years, in fact since the age of about 6 years old. The client expressed the idea that she was weak early within the therapy process. This is a common idea for someone to have if they have had endless experiences in life where they have felt extremely nervous. It becomes their identity. When asked to describe WHO they are they instantly scan through all their life experiences and evaluate who they are from the meaning they gave to those experiences. In this case the client had decided she was a person who was weak because she panicked all the time.
After we had done some work on the panic attacks, tapping out specific events, starting with the earliest she could remember, we targeted the belief, “I am weak”.
To set up the reframe, I told the client a metaphor, a story from my past that high-lighted what I wanted her to do. The initial story was told whilst tapping on the karate point and in a very conversational manner. At this point I already established excellent rapport with the client.
Whilst tapping on the karate point I said, “It doesn’t really matter what happens in life, it is the meaning you give to that event. For example, when I was in show business I was driving home from a gig, one Sunday afternoon along the M6 motorway in broad daylight, with my two colleagues in the car, when two cars came up and tried to force me to pull up. They had walkie-talkies and were working together. So a potentially negative situation, but you know what, I don’t see it that way (Pause, calibrating that the client is following along) because I out-drove them and out-thought them and left them behind.
And because of that event I know that in a potentially stressful situation, I am ice cool and am a quick thinker. So in a way I came away with something really positive, because if I hadn’t have had that happen I might not know that about myself. And I don’t know, but if you were to think about that experience and if there were some positive learnings to be had about you, what would you guess them to be”.
The client listened to what I had said and processed it for a moment before replying, “I am a strong person, because I could have left after five minutes because I felt so awful, but I stayed 90 minutes”.
There are several points about this type of reframe that make it highly effective:
Point 1: I didn’t offer the idea she was “strong”, although it certainly was what I was thinking, I enabled the client to come to that conclusion herself. After she concluded she was “strong”, I merely agreed with her, therefore confirming the conclusion she had come to and therefore reinforcing it. Since the idea came from the client she isn’t going to reject it.
Point 2: The reframe that I did here was merely suggest the possibility that there was something positive about her identity that she could learn from the experience, an experience which previously she had only been able to think about in negative terms. By using the word “if”, I am bypassing resistance to the idea that I am putting forward.
Point 3: Neuro-logical levels are a model of therapy developed by Robert Dilts a well-known NLP Trainer who has written many NLP Books. Within this model he cites the different levels at which you can target a therapeutic intervention. The higher up the model you go the more profound the effect. Identity is at the top of the model, therefore shifting a person’s concept of who they are to one that supports them, will create a powerful shift through many other areas of their life. Interesting, that not long after this reframe took place, the client went climbing on a practice wall at a leisure facility, even though the panic had not fully subsided at this point as therapy is still continuing at this point.
Example 2: I should have been able to deal with this
Another reframe that I use from time to time is one that deals with the idea often cited by clients who have experienced years of panic attacks;
“I should have been able to deal with this”.
The way I do this is simply setting it up by asking a few questions whilst tapping on the karate point.
The first question I put to the client was, “You’ve seen a doctor about the panic attacks and did they sort it out for you?” I then wait and allow the client to process what I have put to them.
“No”. At this point the client is often curious about where you are leading them with the questions. Curiosity is a great state for enhancing learning.
Then I continue: “Alright. And you’ve seen a psychologist/ counselor about it as well, and did they sort it out?” Again I wait and allow them to process what I have said.
“Umm…….(putting my self into a mental state of thinking) and yet you think YOU SHOULD sort it out?”
Often at this point the client begins to smile, as they begin to see their issue from a new perspective.
I often take it one step further: “So you expect you to sort it out when even those who have studied therapy all of their lives can’t”. I usually do this with a sense of amusement, because as the client realizes the truth in what I have said, they also can see the amusing side of it. In fact at this point it is not uncommon for the client to say, “I hadn’t thought about it in that way before”. This is very firm proof that the client is now thinking in a new way about the problem
As a follow through I say, “No one gives you a manual with HOW to deal with panic attacks when you are born”. As I am saying all of this I am following the client’s reaction to what I am saying to make sure that the reframe has effectively helped them shift the idea, “I SHOULD have……..”
Looking at Robert Dilts neuro-logical levels of therapy again it is easy to see how this reframe works. It shifts the problem to one that is about them, identity level issue to one about their lack of knowledge in other words, they didn’t know, HOW. Thus the reframe shifts the problem from being a character flaw to just simply lacking a piece of information.
Example 3: One word Reframe
Not all reframes have to be as elaborate or wordy as the ones above, sometimes the inclusion of a simple word is all that is needed.
The following is an example of one of the simplest reframes I have ever used. It was used in a case where I was working with a client who had a dental phobia. I had taken her back to two events at this point in the session, both of which occurred when she had been in a dentist’s chair and had experienced extreme pain and discomfort yet had to remain in the chair for a long time whilst the dental work was done. In the first and earliest event, she described herself as thinking, “I’m going to die”. I was using extreme exaggeration in the reminder phrases. So when I started working on the second event, amongst other things, “I’m going to die…………..again”.
Well in most people’s lives they only die once, so by saying “again”, I am subtly pointing out that they survived the first time.
Learning more about the Art of Reframing
As with any skills, practice makes perfect. The more experience you get using reframes the better you become. However I would highly recommend reading Robert Dilt’s book called, Sleight of Mouth. This book covers multiple ways of reframing and is an excellent resource for those who would like to truly master this art.
Tania A Prince
© Tania A Prince, EFT Master
This article was previously published in the published by Gary Craig the developer of EFT and also on the EFT Masters worldwide site
Tania Prince, EFT Master