Saying the exact same word for each point vs. changing words on every point – what is the best?
Changing the words when changing points. The new EFT?
When Gary Craig started demonstrating and teaching EFT in public, the reminder phrase used when he was tapping on each point was the same for each point. And then, sometime after, other words were coming through his mind while he was doing the tapping. He started to use his intuition and change the reminder phrase when switching to the next point. This became the new standard within the EFT community. Many practitioners think that using different words for each point is more efficient, that more ground is covered faster, that this is the new way and only way of doing EFT. EFT Masters even developed protocols where the script is designed in a way where you change your reminder phrase for each point. For some, the “old” way of doing EFT is outdated. The new way is “variation on each point." What is the rationale behind that change? Is the new way really better than the old way? These are the questions I will try to answer in this article.
Let’s step back… why are we doing EFT and some basic principles
In the first place, EFT is designed to deal with emotion, with negative emotion. In my world, I like to use the words SEF (Sensation, Emotion, Feeling). So, EFT is designed to deal with negative SEF. One of the key success factors of this technique resides in the person’s ability to tune and connect with a negative SEF. This is really the key here. We want to help the person to connect with (not necessarily relive) that SEF. Therefore, each time we tap, we need to consider this important aspect and have it in mind.
Another aspect to consider is to understand what the target is, in the brain, when you tap. Studies demonstrated that when meridian points are stimulated, an anti-stress chemistry is triggered in the brain. This works at the primitive brain levels: the emotional or mammal brain. I like to call it the automated part of the brain: the one you do not control. I also refer it to the subconscious mind. So, when I tap, my intention is to establish a dialog with the subconscious mind and the emotional brain. I want the neo-cortex out of the way. No logic, no thinking, no rational, just emotion and symbols (the language of the subconscious).
You need to understand that “words” and language are the creation of the neo-cortex. Selecting words, creating phrases, interpreting the language is the job of the neo-cortex. And since you don’t want the neo-cortex involved, we need to be careful on how words are used in the tapping sequence.
No words required
In some case, it’s easy. No words are required. You have, in front of you, a person in a strong emotional state. The connection is there. Just tapping will do the job. In that situation, while I do the tapping on my clients, I only say to them… “You have nothing to do, nothing to say. Just stay with your emotion, let it go. Do not contain it.”
Same reminder phrase for each point – why and when
For me, saying the exact same reminder phrase for each point is the perfect setup to make sure the neo-cortex is out of the way. The “neo-cortex work” is done before the tapping sequence itself. You talk to your client. You build a phrase together. On the client side, she tries to put words on her SEF. On your side, you try to build and suggest the best phrase that reflects the most the SEF she tries to express. Here, we have two people's neo-cortex working together and using the language to put words on a SEF. Once the setup phrase is there, no need to work anymore with the neo-cortex. The client just needs to go back to her SEF. The reminder phrase is there only to facilitate and “serve” the connection.
Another aspect to consider is repetition. Repetition is used in many areas. In education, repetition is one of the principles. Athletes doing visualization understand the importance of repetition. A lot of self-improvement methods are using repetition. One good example of repetition is coming from the "it's not your fault" scene of Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon (Will Hunting - patient) and Robin William (Sean Maguire - psychotherapist). Sean will have to say, "it's not your fault" nine times before Will really accepts this fact. Nine times. Do you realize that a typical short cut EFT sequence includes about 9 points?
In EFT, I suggest that repetition is probably underestimated in its capability to facilitate and sometime “force” and amplify the connection with the SEF. There is a transformational process going on when you tap using always the same reminder phase. As I mentioned, the focus should be on the SEF, not on words. And sometime this gives space for evolution.
On the client side, sometimes, new words are coming by themselves. And this is the key point here: “by themselves." These new words can then be introduced into the reminder phrase. However, it’s done smoothly, naturally. The neo-cortex is not involved here. The subconscious mind just brings new words to the conscious mind.
Changing the reminder phrase when changing points – why and when
I am wondering sometimes if changing the reminder phrase when you change points gives the illusion of facilitating the connection to a SEF or if this really serves the connection. One of the key principles of EFT is being specific. If you try to cover a specific aspect of a problem but, to do so, you cover many similar SEF in the same tapping sequence by changing the reminder phrase all the time, I am wondering if the quality “specific” of that sequence is somehow diluted. I don’t have the answer to those concerns. However, we need to consider them in our practice.
Personally, I am not a big fan of variation in the reminder phrase for a specific tapping sequence when done in a private practice, where the real deep work is done. However, this will be my first choice in group and in a training situation. In a training situation using always the same reminder phrase could be boring. I suggest that you would do it just when you teach the basic recipe. However, when you work on specific issue, like relationship, money, love or relation with food, changing the reminder phrase on each point is richer from an educational stand point. But you need to make it clear to the participant. Saying the same word in a sequence is best. And you are using variation here to facilitate the training and make it more appealing.
The best way of doing EFT – my humble view
My main goal with this article was to rehabilitate the “old way” of doing EFT. This is my preferred choice in private practice: keeping the same reminder phrase for each point. This setup lets the neo-cortex out of the way and allows the client to focus exclusively on his SEF. My only criterion then, to change the reminder phrase, is when the intuition manifests new words. It should not be forced. You don’t have to try changing the words. It must come naturally. The client stays in the repetition of the reminder phrase. However, she should be informed that if other words are spontaneously coming, she can change the reminder phrase with the new words if she feels they are more appropriate. It’s the same logic on the practitioner side. Nothing should be forced. However, if something comes up, you can introduce a new reminder phrase with the next tapping point. And you must inform the client that she can refuse it or take it if she feels it. The SEF and the connection to the SEF is always the priority here.
I suggest to systematically change the reminder phrase for each point only when you work with a group in a demonstration or training situation. It’s a perfect way to cover a lot in terms of reminder phrase suggestions. And it’s less boring than using the same reminder phrase all the time. Here, we are not doing deep work. We are in a learning situation.
As usual, I suggest that you use your intuition to install the best configuration for you and your client. So, trust your intuition. This is one of the big keys for those who do healing work.
François Picard is an EFT International Accredited Certified Master Trainer NQT and Advanced EFT Practitioner. He is also a massage therapist with over 10 years’ experience. He works mostly in French in the province of Quebec where he helps his clients find relief with any type of emotional or physical issue. Visit his website at www.liberationdestress.com.
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of EFT International .
Originally published on Dec 28, 2013.