I recently attended the Milton H Erickson Foundation Brief Therapy conference in Anaheim, California. One evening I found myself in the bar and in conversation with an engaging and intelligent psychotherapist. We spoke about our experiences of the conference and she asked me about my practice in the UK and was very interested when I started to explain EFT. She asked lots of questions with keen curiosity.
Now, as you know it’s not explanation that communicates what EFT is, it’s experience. So rather than talk about it I asked her if she would like to experience EFT and was it OK to do something there and then, in the bar, that looks daft and feels silly? Yes she was up for it, so I asked her was there a situation in which her emotional response is out of proportion to what is happening. Yes she said and told me:
“I usually love public speaking and am very comfortable in front of a group of any size but recently I was in an audience and the presenter who knew me, asked me to come up on stage and introduce myself. As I walked to the microphone I felt my heart pounding and my throat went dry and I was shaking and could hardly speak and now I’m scared that it will happen again and I’ve lost my confidence”
OK, I thought to myself, this is a classic case for EFT and so I led her through a couple of short cut rounds of EFT focusing on the body sensations of the memory of being asked to speak. To my surprise, when I then asked her to think about what had happened again there was very little change in intensity.
With curiosity I asked her to describe in more detail exactly what the presenter had said when he asked her to come to the stage. She said “Oh, I can’t tell you that because it was a group from my community and he spoke in Farsi which is my first language, I grew up in Iran and came to California as a teenager.”
That gave me a clue as to how come this caring, outgoing and confident woman had experienced such a sudden attack of unexplained nerves. So I told her that we would go through the EFT again and this time as I spoke in English she was to translate the words to Farsi and speak aloud in Farsi.
We did that and even before I asked her for an intensity number I could see the change in her. Her face and shoulders softened she smiled and her eyes moistened. Her intensity was right down and we did a little more tapping on a couple of remaining aspects with me speaking English and she in Farsi.
Then I asked her to imagine presenting to a group in Farsi and she could find no trace of the nervousness, indeed she was looking forward to it.
If it changes then it changes
Now here is my explanation: English is her grown-up language in which she is a capable, confident and successful therapist. Farsi is her childhood language in which she was herself as a child, a small person. When as a mature and capable adult she had to speak to a group the language she had spoken as a child, she felt fear. What would a child have to say to such an audience.
This is all a guess because I didn’t ask her and I didn’t need to ask her. The beauty of EFT is that as the therapist we don’t need to know the whole story and if something changes then it changes. Had there been no change in her after that Farsi round of tapping then I would have gone on to ask her about earlier experiences but her experience did change and when the job is done and you’ve tested the result, then the job is done.
The learning from this is that if you are working with someone whose native tongue is not yours have them translate and speak in their native tongue. It does not matter if you the therapist don’t understand. The purpose of the words we use when tapping is to tune into the emotion. Sometimes that emotional tuning is dependent on the language in which those words are articulated.
With best wishes, Gwyneth
By Gwyneth Moss, EFT Master First published by Gary Craig, EFT Founder on www.emofree.com