How do I Grow in my Confidence and Skill as an EFT Therapist?

Originally published in the ICEEFT Newsletter, Issue 5 – Spring 2010, pg. 10
By Yolanda von Hockauf, Alison Lee & Lisa Palmer-Olsen

The EFT model is both beautifully clear and simple, and at the same time, complex and difficult to use.

For many of you who take the training, this can result in a feeling of, “if the model makes so much sense to me, why am I having such a difficult time learning to use it with my couples?”  As EFT trainers, we see this all the time; it is a normal part of the growth and learning process. In fact, we have been there – and at times still are!

Below are some suggestions that can help you create a constructive and affirming learning experience for yourself.

1. Pick some couples with whom you will use EFT exclusively.

This may be all your couples, but it can also be the ones with whom you can see the EFT framework most clearly. By using only EFT with these couples, you can see the effects of the interventions as you focus on attachment, emotion, and cycles. It is tempting to default to more familiar or comfortable models when you feel stuck, but this is when you have the most to gain by staying with EFT! If you actively work to not dilute the model with other approaches, you will learn to get unstuck using EFT. Your trust in the model – and your own ability to use it – will grow.

2. Focus on one area of growth at a time.

This can help you feel less overwhelmed and notice your progress. For example, you might like to develop your ability to ask more open-ended evocative questions, use more enactments, reframe the negative cycle, or develop an aspect of your RISSSC manner (perhaps you want to speak slower or softer). There is nothing wrong with having little “cheat sheets” with you during a session, reminding yourself of your learning edge.

3. Use the forms and diagrams provided in the externship materials, EFT publications and the various EFT websites to formulate your understanding of your couples.

These are meant to help you get greater conceptual clarity by seeing where you are in the process with a couple (stages and steps), and where to go next. There is a lot to remember, especially when you are still becoming familiar with the model.

4. Be willing to reflect on your own personal reactions during therapy.

For example, if you find yourself repeatedly feeling stuck or overwhelmed by a certain client or aspect of the model (such as staying with primary emotion, or believing in the attachment significance of a couple’s struggle) it can help to ask yourself what is happening inside you at that moment. With this awareness, you can find ways through your stuckness.  It is normal for us to bump into our own emotional reactions and attachment experiences; after all, we are as human as our clients!

5. Finally, although learning the model conceptually is crucial, sometimes we can “get into our heads” as we try to get it right.

This can get in the way of our being authentically present with our couples. Our clients are the richest source of information about their relationship. As we enter their world, sit with them, and listen as they share their struggles, we become part of a profoundly human experience; all the skills in the world can not compensate for the quality of the therapeutic alliance and our belief in the validity of our couples’ experience. These are universal; our deep presence provides the emotional engagement and trust in the process that our couples need in order to take the risk of stepping into the pain of their wounded relationship. If we are not afraid to go there with them, we can help them heal these wounds.


Yolanda von Hockauf, M.Ed, R.M.F.T
Certified EFT Trainer
Director, Vancouver Couple and Family Institute

Alison Lee, Ph.D., C.Psych.
Co-Director, ICEEFT and OCFI Inc.

Dr. Lisa Palmer-Olsen
Certified EFT Trainer
The San Diego Center for EFT

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