So I realize that in my last post, I talked more about what not to do, i.e.  “Don’t get ahead of your clients.” Advising not do something is not much of a tip, and when you are first learning something it can even be detrimental—stranding you with the “Danger Thin Ice” sign but providing no safe detour. So I’m back with some ideas on what to do to stay in attunement, experience the moment with our clients, and not get ahead of them. (Remember, when we are too far out in front of our clients, we will risk them talking about how they feel and not actually feeling it, and we will all miss out on an essential part of the EFT work — the experiential. Read more in my last post.)

For one, take a deep breath. Oftentimes, (as my EFT Certified colleague Maria Lorditch of Summit, NJ commented last post) our getting ahead of our clients is rooted in our own anxiety. So taking a deep breath can ground us in the moment and be a physical reminder to slow down, to remember that in EFT, slower is faster.

Use the RISSSC of EFT* (Repeat, Images, Simple, Slow, Soft, Client’s words), this helps both the client AND you to stay in the moment. 

Lean forward. Lean into the client (especially if your anxiety is telling you to back up!). When you are leaning in towards your client, you will be more likely to stay in the emotion and less likely to “zoom out” and go cognitive.

Feel what is happening in the room. Open up and allow yourself to feel the emotion in the room, to let the emotions of the couple into your heart. Take in all the non-verbals your client is giving you, body language, facial expression, tone of voice, eye contact. Sometimes going into the emotion with our clients and staying there can be challenging–and–it is where we need to go. Be brave with them. If you feel it too, they won’t be alone. This is where the healing is.

Hold back on “Meaning-making”. Kathryn Rheem, is a wise, warm, and talented EFT Trainer in Baltimore and I attended her EFT and Trauma workshop in October 2015. (If you ever get the chance to go to one of her trainings, I highly recommend it. Find her here: Washington Baltimore Center for EFT) She talked about holding back from “meaning making” for a little longer than your instincts might tell you to.  She said as humans (and as therapists) we are “meaning-making machines” but that oftentimes that instinct to label, to categorize, to know, gets in our way of being in the moment with our clients. So put meaning-making aside for a beat or two longer than you might ordinarily and just be with your client (with your attachment lens on).

I hope this helps! Add to the conversation–what are ways that you’ve found that help you stay in the experience with your clients?

*Read more about RISSSC in: Johnson, Susan M., Brent A. Bradley, James L. Furrow, Alison Lee, Gail Palmer, Doug Tilley, and Scott Woolley. Becoming an Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist: The Workbook. New York: Routledge, 2005. 53-54. Print.


    1. HI Evelyn! Yes, I am familiar with Internal Family Systems, and certainly use Richard Schwartz’s “parts” language in my EFT work. But admittedly I don’t know this model deeply. How about you?


  1. Yes, to refrain from “meaning making”! I had forgotten this gem from Kathryn Rheem’s training and how true it is that we are “meaning making machines”! That is how we orient ourselves, to make meaning of what is happening, to contain the anxiety of not knowing! So what you say is so true… tolerate the anxiety of not knowing and staying with RISSSC. Eventually, the meaning makes itself known without the need for us to share our wisdom or insight. The client finds the answer him or herself through our attuned responses – and how much more meaningful that is! Thanks, Karyn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Maria! As we all know, not jumping in with meaning-making can be hard to do, especially if a light bulb is going off in our heads! But I find it is almost always worth it if I can hold back for a few moments… something usually emerges that might have gotten lost otherwise.


  2. Karyn-
    Awesome post, very helpful to me today. I sometimes go to meaning-making too soon, especially when I’m tired. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    Liked by 1 person

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