Delivering Life-Changing EFT

by Steven Kessler

In order to give our clients the deepest possible healing, the holy grail of EFT has always been to go beyond just clearing out the recent traumatic events to also clearing out the client's core traumatic events. These core events are the events that were so big and occurred so early that they literally shaped the person's life and personality. These are the wounds that created the client's deepest unconscious beliefs and they are what's keeping the client stuck today, so clearing them out is the key to giving our clients a life-changing healing experience. Clearing out the events that are directly triggering the client's presenting problem will certainly give the client an important healing, but clearing out the core events will give the client a life-changing, transformational healing.

But how do we find the client's core events? Often they happened so early and have shaped the client's sense of self and life so completely that the client is blind to them. The client's view is often, “this is just how life is” and “that's just who I am.” So the issue or event that the client brings to us is usually just the tip of the iceberg -- it's a clue, but the formative, core events remain buried. To unearth those core events, we must dig deeper.

Solving this problem is fundamental to delivering quality EFT. It is so important that we devote much of the Level 2 training to it. To find the roots of the presenting issue, we learn to ask “Is this an old, familiar feeling?” and “What earlier events does this remind you of?” We learn to use table tops and table legs to map the client's trauma history and discover what events underlie the presenting issue. We learn about the writing on our walls, and we practice clearing limiting beliefs.

All of these tools are terrific and I recommend them wholeheartedly, but what if we also had a map of the basic kinds of wounds children suffer and the signs each kind of wounding leaves behind? What if we could see those signs in our clients from the moment they walk in the door, in the shape of their bodies and how they talk and move? In how they think and feel? Even in how their life energy moves through them? With such a map, we could read the many non-verbal signs the client's body is giving us about how they were wounded and where to look for their core events.

Over the last 15 years, I've discovered that there is such a map, though it's been hidden away for decades among hands-on healers and energy therapists. It starts with the premise that all of us need ways to manage our inner distress, but that, during our earliest years, our only method is to move our awareness and life energy away from our tender, vulnerable self. By shifting our attention and energy away from the core of our bodies, we are able to buffer ourselves from our own direct experience of the distress.

Fundamentally, there are only five ways we can shift our attention and the flow of our energy. We can move it away from our tender, vulnerable self and:

  • away from others to escape
  • toward others for help and comfort
  • in and down to hide
  • up and out to fight
  • to our surface to improve our performance

Each of these five strategies will buffer us from our inner distress somewhat, but each also requires that we already have certain capacities in place in order to make it work. So, while we may try out all five strategies in childhood, none of us is able to use all five successfully. Instead, we each find two (or sometimes three) strategies that work for us well enough, and we begin using them over and over. Over time, they become so habitual and so physically conditioned into our bodies that as adults we do them automatically and unconsciously at the smallest sign of distress.

As we use our two favorite safety strategies, they begin to shape how we think and feel and behave. They determine what we consider important enough to pay attention to. And because they distort our attention, they also distort our raw sense perceptions, which gives us a distorted experience of the world. Our distorted experience of the world then develops into a whole self-reinforcing system of beliefs, actions, and emotions, which I call a survival pattern. The distortion of how our life energy flows through our bodies can be so profound that it even affects how our bodies grow, giving a tell-tale 'look' to each of the survival patterns.

Taken altogether, the information about these five survival patterns and how they form lays out a map of the human personality and gives us the key to understanding people. And, if we apply that map to the client before us, it allows us to read the many non-verbal signs our client's body is giving us about how they were wounded and where we should look to find their core events.

In your EFT session work, as you begin addressing the client's presenting issues and working your way down through their layers of defenses to find their core events, it gives you dozens of clues about where to look and what to ask. As I've gone through this process in sessions or training demonstrations, my clients and students have sometimes been startled by how rapidly we've uncovered their core issues. Sometimes they've asked “Are you psychic?” or “How did you know about that? I've never told anyone about that.” But I'm not reading their mind, I'm just reading a stream small non-verbal cues that are all saying, “Ask about this!”

You're likely to find that having the guidance of a map like this makes delivering life-changing, transformational EFT much easier than it used to be. It makes the rest of life easier, too, because you're constantly getting hints about how to interact and communicate successfully with everyone you encounter. Unfortunately, we don't have enough space in this article to dive deeply into how this map of personality works (last year I published an entire book on it, called The 5 Personality Patterns), but you can find a lot more information about it on the website, I will also be teaching trainings in the near future on understanding people this way and using this map to deliver transformational healing, and I hope you'll be able to join me for those.

  • I wanted to say that I found your book profoundly interesting. It explained things about myself that I’ve found nowhere else. My two styles are the fleeing one and the hunkering down one. As I read each of these descriptions, I honestly felt so known. They have helped me be honest about an awful incident from my past and have led to a feeling of release and a path to healing and a better future. These two chapters gave me the courage to be brave, to be honest and to push past my edge and reach out to others. Thank you.

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