I just returned from a fabulous weekend in Denver, Colorado attending Jim Thomas’ 2-day Master Class on Effective Beginnings in EFT. Wow. I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating—if you ever get the chance to attend one of Jim’s workshops, do yourself a favor and GO. And then be prepared to be immersed not only in EFT learning, but in an EFT experience. (Jim Thomas is an EFT Trainer and Supervisor, and the Director of the Colorado Center for EFT. Find him here: www.coloradoeft.com and here: http://www.engagingtherapy.com)

There are so many tips that I picked up that I’m excited to share with you, but let me start with a basic but essential one, the importance of The Four P’s: Primary Emotion, Present Moment, Process, and Pattern (cycle) (Johnson, Susan. 2011). We all learned these at the EFT Externship, and as EFT therapists we know this is where we want to be working, but I think when we are first learning EFT, the Steps and Stages loom so large and the Four P’s—as an explicit list—can get buried under just trying to grasp the model. But as Jim Thomas reminded us, we should know these Four P’s in our bones. Carry them into every moment of the session with you. They are the focus of our EFT work.

Many of might be wide-eyed right now…. what?? The Steps and Stages, the EFT Tango, the Four P’s… how do they fit together? I think of it like driving. The Steps and Stages of EFT are our itinerary, they are where we want to go, the pins on our map. It is good to consult this map before and after sessions, to check in with where you are, where you want to go next, but if you are thinking about the map while behind the wheel of the session you’re going to be distracted and not in the moment with your clients. Then we have the EFT Tango, which are the 5 basic moves that we do over and over again in session. (See my 9/29/15 post on Sue Johnson’s EFT Tango with a link to Rebecca Jorgensen’s visual.) In my mind, this is route we take, the roads we drive on, i.e. we’re on Enactment Lane and we know that next we want to make a left on Process the Enactment. The Four P’s are what we are attending to in the moment while driving, it is where we are choosing to focus, i.e. that pothole in the road, the traffic coming directly at us, the speedometer, and maybe that deer in the headlights. 

Ok, so how to make the Four P’s into a tip to take into session with you? Think of them as home base, a place to continually check in with and to help you keep and hone your focus. You want to be working in one (or more) of the Four P’s at all times. So at any time in your session, ask yourself, which one am I working on right now? If the answer is none, (for instance if you are lost in content or if you are problem-solving), you’ve veered off the road. So just re-focus and bring the work back to Primary Emotion, Present Moment, Process, or the Pattern. Or a combination, i.e. the primary emotion in the present moment.

Here’s an easy intervention to get off the rumble strip and immediately focus your work on two or three of the Four P’s: “What’s happening for you right now as you talk about this?” With this one question, you are zooming in on Present Moment, Process, and depending on your client’s answer, perhaps Primary Emotion. (See my 11/15/15 post about the use of the words “Right Now”.)

I hope this helps! 🙂

Johnson, Susan. (2011). Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples: Key Concepts [Power Point Slides]. Slide 9. Retrieved from https://www.emu.edu/graduate-counseling/sue-johnson-training-follow-up/sue-johnsonpre.pdf.


6 thoughts on “BACK TO BASICS: THE FOUR P’s

  1. Karyn,
    Great meeting you this weekend. I have been using my 4p’s this week and to my surprise I am getting some great results. You know I love your blog. Keep ’em coming.
    EFT Hugs,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Renee!! Yes, so wonderful to meet you this weekend! 🙂 I wish we lived closer; but I love how EFT makes this a small world. I hope to see you again soon!! EFT Hugs, Karyn


  2. Great recap of Jim’s wonderful workshop! I really like your driving analogy, especially the part comparing the steps and stages to the map we check before and after driving, and the 4 P’s to our ongoing focus! Thanks for posting this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this Karyn! Love the image of the traveling by car – and yes, to Jim Thomas and his Effective Beginnings training! I second your enthusiastic endorsement – it was indeed an experience!
    I agree that the 4 P’s got buried for me under the weight of the steps and stages of the EFT model at the externship and like all things when learning EFT, hearing them again gives them greater weight and meaning than the first time around! Now, I feel ready to have them in my focus and in “my bones” in a way that I couldn’t totally integrate in my early EFT training.
    So hats off to you for this terrific blog entry and to Jim as well!

    Liked by 1 person

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