Happy New Year!
I would like to start by taking a moment to honor all of you fellow EFT’ers. You can’t see me, but my hands are together and I am bowing to you all. We all work so hard to be the best we can be at helping distressed couples re-connect and find each other again (or perhaps find each other for the first time in a deep, vulnerable way). I hope that you were all able to take some time off this past year to relax and re-energize. As EFT therapists, we use ourselves in such an intense way in session, so it is important—imperative—that we take time for ourselves to unplug. Unfortunately, the paradox of taking time off from work is that starting back up again can be harder than we anticipate, as Wesley Little so articulately talked about in her blog, “Becoming an EFT Therapist”. (If you don’t know Wesley’s blog, it is a fantastic resource. Check it out here: http://www.becomingatherapist.org)
So, as many of us are getting ready to head back to our offices after the New Year, and as perhaps many of us have made the 2019 resolution of “I’m going to continue to learn, continue to improve”, I thought that I would write on self-supervision, more commonly known as, watching our tapes. But wait! Self-supervision should not be just “watching our tapes”. For one, we all know what that can be like. We sit cringing, shaking our heads, thinking “I should have” and “why didn’t I” and “what the hell was I thinking?” Secondly, just noticing our mistakes does not teach us what to do, it only highlights what we didn’t like or wish we hadn’t done. This does not make for a more confident, more prepared therapist the next time around. A more constructive way to watch our tapes is to do so with a goal in mind, with an agenda, with a skill we want to practice, i.e. today, I’m going to notice how often I validate, or how often I link primary emotion to reactive behavior, or I am going to notice what happens in the room each time I lean in and slow my voice down. If we are curious and watch our tapes with an eye to a specific intervention, how we use it, and what effect it has on us and on our clients, we can sharpen that particular skill and we will be better able to access it when we need it in our offices.
So today, I offer an exercise for self-supervision that has to do with the 4 P’s. You remember the 4 P’s of EFT, right? Primary Emotion, Present Moment, Process, and Pattern (cycle). (Johnson, Susan. 2011). As EFT therapists, we strive to be working in one or more of the 4 P’s at all times. (Check out my blog post on the 4 P’s from 3/2/16). So here’s the exercise: get yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or a lovely snack (popcorn is my go-to). Take a deep breath. Remind yourself this is about getting better, not about beating yourself up. Pull up a tape, and take a look at 15 – 20 minutes (or more if you like). Each time you say something on tape, notice if what you say, how you intervene, is in the service of the 4 P’s of EFT. For instance, are you trying to elicit some Primary Emotion, perhaps with “I noticed some shift in your voice right there, some emotion, it felt to me like sadness, but I could be wrong. Is there a part of you that feels sad right now?” Are you accessing the Present Moment, perhaps with an evocative question like “what are you feeling right now as you tell me that story?” Are you trying to explore Process, perhaps with a question like “what just happened right then as you looked over at your partner and sighed?” Are you working on the couple’s Pattern, perhaps with an intervention such as “and so what do you do at home when you are feeling so rejected; what would your partner see in that moment?”
Notice how often your interventions are in the 4 P’s, or how much of the time your interventions are more content-focused or problem-solving or advice-giving or something else. Just notice without judgment. Even if you realize you were not in “EFT-land” at all in the snippet of tape you watched, do not be hard on yourself. Just watching your tape and noticing is already sharpening your skill. If you like, you can go back through the tape again and re-do your interventions at your kitchen table. Stop the tape and think about what you might want to say differently. What “P” would you choose? Say your new intervention out loud to your dog or your cat or your coffee mug as you stop and start the tape.
If you find that you were in EFT-land for much of your tape, maybe you want to notice if there is one or two of the P’s that you seem more comfortable with and maybe one that you seldom use. Do you have a sense for why that is? If you like, you might want to go back through the tape again and practice intervening with the P that doesn’t come as easily to you. Or tell yourself that in your next session, you will try to intervene with this P a few times and see what happens.
Just this simple exercise of noticing how often your interventions are in service of the 4 P’s will help you be more mindful and deliberate about targeting the 4 P’s in your sessions. Which in turn will make your sessions more focused. And after all, focus is EFT’s middle name!
A note. Self-supervision is a really important way to learn. But supervision with a supervisor who cares about you and your work is, in my opinion, an even more important tool in learning EFT. Even though I am a supervisor, I continue to get supervision as I know I can always learn more, be enriched, and see things in a new and different way.
Let me know what you think about doing self-supervision with the 4 P’s as your guide. And again, Happy New Year! 🙂
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.