Part 2: Being a Supporter
In the first article I wrote about the benefit of EFT supervision or support for those who are using EFT to help others. Now I would like you to think about how to be a helpful and valued supporter.
To offer support is to offer your undivided attention. Make an appointment with your supportee and clear the decks of your own life for that time. Support is not a two way chatter it is a directed and purposeful one way process where one person commits to offering their intention and attention for the benefit of another – just like we do in therapy.
Support is an asymmetrical agreement and because of that requires some form of payment or exchange. For the duration of the support session you need to get your own self and your own stuff out of the way – this is their time. So no interruptions and no saying “Oh yes, it’s like when I ….”
A Good Listening To
As a supporter you need to give your supportee a good listening to. And at the same time gently prevent them from babbling or jumping about all over the place. Listen with an awareness of what you are listening to and for. Gently bring them back to the client they were discussing or the question they were raising if their mind wanders or sidetracks. Agree a structure for the sessions that works for both of you so that you use your time together efficiently: you could start with an overview, then focus on the stuck cases and end with a success.
Praise their Successes
Often people take their successes for granted and pick up on every error or omission. As a supporter you need to have your antennae on alert for success and sometimes as little as a smile and nod is enough in recognition, sometimes it’s a ‘well done’ or ‘Wow!’ that you need to offer so that they can recognise that they have done well. And of course you can always ask “and what did you learn from that success?” “What could you do differently now?”
If you are aware of the concept of ‘attributional style’ then you can challenge your suportees global or permanent negative attributions to help them think more healthily about their work.
Ask the Unasked Questions
I was recently telling my supervisor about a client with an obsessive fear of death and she asked me the obvious question that I had not considered “have you asked her how and when she learned what death is or did someone special die when she was young?” That was a really useful question which when I asked my client opened many doors.
With another client she asked me “who does she remind you of?” and I had to think long and hard and she had to ask me twice before I replied “my old boss in London” and that opened lots of tapping doors for me.
As a supporter, you listen, and have the back of your mind looking out for the unasked questions. Resist the desire to offer your interpretation of the client’s situation – remember that you are hearing the story second hand and the most helpful contribution you can offer the therapist is a question rather than an answer.
From client to therapist to supporter there is an increase in objectivity and a decrease in subjectivity. A supporter can be highly objective because all they know about the person is what the therapist tells them. The supporter has never met the client and their understanding lacks the subtlety that comes from nonverbal awareness, they have to fill in subjectivity with conjecture and imagination. This is why I agree with a quote attributed to Fritz Perls “Any interpretation is a therapeutic mistake”. A supporter cannot tell a therapist what to do and what a supporter can do is ask the questions or tell the stories or offer the teachings that enable the therapist balance their objectivity and subjectivity to help the client.
If you feel that your supportee is straying towards the outer bounds of general human ethical behaviour then you must say so and you must then help them to accept and change their behaviour. Whether or not we operate within a formal professional code of ethics we all need to behave with kindness and consideration and in a manner that we can be proud of.
Talk and Tap
When a therapist is really stuck with a client I get them to tap continually as they describe the client and I keep giving little sounds of encouragement of asking “then what” to keep them going for several minutes. Often this leads to a spontaneous insight of where to go or an understanding of what action the client needs to take. A variant of this is to have the therapist role play the client and I act as therapist and ask the simple questions a therapist would ask and we tap together. This generally ‘unsticks’ the therapist and sometimes the surrogate effect unsticks the client too.
Remind about Self-Care
We all forget to look after ourselves and as a supporter you will probably need to remind your supportee to get a good balance of work, rest and play. Good things to suggest that we can all do are balancing the time we are serious with time having fun; and the time we are noisy with time being quiet; and the time we are sitting still at a computer with time moving whether walking, running or dancing. There are many ways to relax, re-energise and let go and they all work but sometimes we need a supporter to be remind us to plan them into our lives. And of course we need to be reminded to tap.
Being a supporter is rewarding in itself and an added benefit is that there is so much that our supportees can teach us and that we can learn from their experiences. Outside of the licenced and mandated professions where supervision requires specialised training and qualification all of us with natural human empathy and common sense can be supporters if we follow these suggestions.