I know that being an EFT Practitioner, an EFT Coaching Practitioner, EFT Coach or whatever words you want to use – is both rewarding and humbling at the same time. For me it has always been such a privilege to work with each and every client who has come to me. The honour comes because they chose me to work with them. Our clients share their inner most secrets, they confide in us their most pressing issues and to work through their deepest problems. They chose me to hear them. To be that one person who listened to what they were saying and what they weren’t saying. They chose me to hold space for them. To listen without judgement. To listen without agenda or the need to provide opinion.
They chose me.
I think it’s all too easy for people to come into a career of Coaching or being a Practitioner and forgetting that we are here to serve. It’s easy to be caught up in the hype of what fees you can charge, and how you can have a laptop lifestyle and only work a few days a week. Or to work from wherever, whenever and with whoever you choose. And all of those things are correct. You can. However, in my experience the coaches, practitioners or therapists who “get it” have the longest client lists, are the most sought-after and charge the highest fees – because they come to serve. They understand what it is to be present in that room for someone else. No ego. No self-thoughts. Totally present for that other person.
So many of us enter the space as a Practitioner/Coach-in-Training without any previous experience. We’re drawn to this, almost like answering a call to serve, however we are often unsure of ourselves, where we fit, whether we are cut out for this. I like to explain this to students in a metaphor of you haven’t yet developed the Coach Archetype within yourself. If it’s easier, think of Archetypes and Identity as “what hat do you wear?”. We often know our “hats” as that of a parent, or a child. I’m a brother or sister. Or we are often identified as a husband, or wife. Or by our career, i.e. “I am a ….”. These are versions of Identity. If you’ve never been a practitioner before, you probably won’t have an Identity of Practitioner, so you must develop one. We humans are driven by how we see ourselves. Our own self-perception helps us to understand where and how we fit in. We spend time in our school working with our students on their Identity or Archetype as a Coach/Practitioner. It’s in the development of this part of you that will evolve the self confidence that you need and the self -awareness that will support you to be great Practitioner/Coach.
Being a Practitioner or Coach is both humbling and fulfilling at the same time. A core component of our job in this role is to hold space for our clients. Few people know what this means. Even less people will know how to do it. We live in a world where we listen to speak. We listen with the intention of saying what we want to say the minute that the other person stops speaking. We aren’t listening to hear in these conversations because we are too busy formulating what we’re going to say next, what will come from our mouths when the other person stops speaking. This is listening to speak. Your true gift to your clients will come when you listen to hear.
Practitioners and Coaches who develop a strong Identity for themselves, get great at listening to hear and can always be present to serve, are able to charge the highest fees.
The art of being an awesome coach, or practitioner is to develop the skill of listening to hear. We put a lot of focus on this in our school. Often this is also referred to as holding space. In a society where listening to speak is the norm, can you imagine the impact on someone’s life when you listen to hear someone? Can you imagine the difference in that person?
At first it can be uncomfortable for both you and your client, because this level of conversation requires eye contact. Most of us as uncomfortable with a person holding good eye contact with us. However, as I tell my clients “coaching is a conversation like no other you will have experienced before,” which it is. It will be a conversation that could include a lot of silence. When I ask a question of a client, I then sit silent until they respond. Sometimes, people forget the question before they have responded. Sometimes they actually want to avoid the question, so they pretend not to know the answer. They don’t do this consciously. When I ask a client a question, I like to think of them going into their head and shuffling through some sort of filing system to retrieve the answer to my question. If I was to ask a question, and not patiently wait until my client accesses the answer it would be like asking someone to go get a box from the basement then when they are half way down, call them to come back and ask them to get something different. Then when they are half way down again, call them back and again ask them to get something different.
Frustrating for all.
This is where the silence, the holding space and getting really comfortable in waiting until someone accesses deeper parts of their brain become a skill. As I said, a coaching conversation is like no other. Through great questions, we ask clients to access thoughts, events and memories that are usually locked away. Metaphorically, some memories are just filed away to the side. While other people have thoughts locked in a box with a key. While other deep, traumatic thoughts and memories could be locked in a steel box, with a huge lock and encased in concrete. This of course depends on what the memory is for your client, and how traumatic it is for them. Asking a great question then holding the space in silence to allow your client the opportunity to access that memory is a gift to them, and a skill for you.
In our society, we all seem so uncomfortable with silence. We all know people that can’t seem to sit in any silence. They must fill it with words, even if those words are rambling nothingness. Sitting silent these days seems a dying art. However, as a coach, therapist or practitioner, it is a skillset that is as valuable as gold. I have learned that it’s not so much the level of connection or rapport with my client that determines how much detail they share but their communication style has a lot to do with it too. When I was first starting out as a personal success coach (before I had EFT in my toolkit), I had a client who just didn’t open up to conversation very easily. She was the type of client who had the memories in steel box with the lock and the concrete casing. After she skirted around any issues, she had for about 45 minutes into the session she then says “oh, and I should tell you what happened this week.” At this stage, my sessions ran for about 60 minutes. She told me about a significant event that had happened that caused her a lot of upset and trauma with her husband. At that point I laughed and responded with “are you serious? That would have been helpful to know 40 minutes ago.” She then saw the funny side and laughed with me. This served two purposes. It broke the “air” in the room that silence can sometimes create, and it called her pattern of avoiding the issue that was bothering her. The next session when she came in, I said “ok, let’s start the session with pretending that we’re at the 45-minute mark, now what can I help you with today?” Again, we laughed together. This also served a couple of purposes. It allowed a sense of fun around her communication style, it let her know that she wasn’t going to get away with being evasive again, and it deepened the rapport between us. I saw her behaviour, I called her behaviour and I still had her back.
Some of you reading this may think this seems a little mean, or unkind towards my client. In a normal conversation, you could be right. However, as I have said, sessions with clients are conversations like no other. My job is to help her shift and transform her life. It’s not to have soft, fluffy and easy conversation with her. Our friends hold that soft and fluffy space for us. Clients pay us their hard-earned money to help them to be different and to have different. It’s my job to do this to the best of my ability, in the quickest time, for the highest good for my client.
Clients will come to us because they know something in their life isn’t working. It’s our job to help a person to untangle their thoughts, and to make sense of patterns of behaviour. We help them to decide what’s no longer working and what to do about it. They will be able to tell you that something feels wrong, not right, or even broken. They will be able to tell you what they believe is wrong, or what the impacts on their life are, but it takes our skills, knowledge and questions to reveal the true source of what’s not functioning in their life, resolve those impacts and help them to make new choices and decisions.
Tapping has been gaining exposure and momentum for around three decades since Gary Craig started performing these techniques. There have been several spin-offs. Some have had clinical trials, others haven’t. EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques has been discredited not to work, yet there is an ever-growing body of scientific evidence of its effectiveness, its speed and long-lasting results. Any internet search on Tapping or EFT will give you all this information. It’s widely available to everyone
Which raises the question of why would anyone pay you as a Practitioner when they can search the internet and find any number of Tapping sequences on every topic you could imagine?
People know when something isn’t working in their life. They can tell you all about it. Some people tell a lot of people about it. Others will ask everyone who will listen what their advice is to help them. People will also do research and many of them will find EFT support in the form of YouTube, websites and articles.
Earlier I talked about how someone can tell you what the impact of what’s not working in their life is. It’s the “thing” that they can language. I’m fighting with my [insert other person]. I can’t seem to lose weight. I’m stressed all the time. These are examples. But it is a rare person who can actually drill down themselves into their underlying problem and tell you about that.
- It’s rare that someone can make the links themselves to their business not being as successful as they want to their father being a bully when they were young.
- It’s rare that someone could make the connection to agoraphobia to an intense dislike of their in-laws.
- It’s rare that someone could make the link themselves to their fear of public speaking and the other kids laughing in the class at them when they were 7.
At this point let me re-introduce the Table Top and Table Legs concept. From the examples I mentioned above i.e. I’m fighting with my [insert other person]. I can’t seem to lose weight. I’m stressed all the time. These are examples of Table Tops. They are the “thing” that someone could tell you is their problem. However, we as Practitioners know that the thing that someone can tell you is their problem, is rarely the real problem. It’s the symptom. I am stressed is a symptom. I can’t seem to lose weight is a symptom. These are all symptoms of something else that is locked away in the unconscious mind. Remember we mentioned the memories and events in our mind that are stored in the steel box with the lock and encased in concrete?
The human unconscious mind has one job and one job only and that is to keep you alive. As we talked about earlier in this Guide, your unconscious brain has a great survival tool. It’s your amygdala in your limbic brain and within seconds of a threat being detected this response has flooded your system with a cocktail of hormones including adrenaline, cortisol and epinephrine. It’s your flight, fight or freeze response.
Your brain also has another cool survival tool that works alongside the flight, fight or freeze response. That is its ability to tag memories. Something upsets you, frightens you or threatens you, your brain tags that memory. So, when an event or incident triggers that memory, your brain activates your flight, fight or freeze response. It’s the unresolved impacts of these tagged memories that leads to something “not working” in someone’s life.
When someone has their particular problem, i.e. I am stressed all the time and they go and find a YouTube Tapping video on stress and tap along with it. They are working on the Table Top of their issue. They are Tapping on the symptom. Tapping on the symptom will bring minimal relief to the person and is often the reason people suggest that Tapping doesn’t work for them.
As a Practitioner, we are interested in the Table Legs of the issue the client has. The Table Legs contain the gold! The tagged memories. The events and incidents that happened. The reactions to these memories, events and incidents. We want to help our clients to resolve the feelings they still hold around their tagged memories.
- For the client who can’t lose weight – we will want to help them to uncover the beliefs they have around their own self-worth, the sabotage and those tagged memories they have.
- For the person who is stressed all the time – we will want to uncover the choices they are making based on how they feel about themselves.
- For the businessman whose business isn’t as successful as he would like – we will want to resolve his issues around the negative comments and the tagged memories from the bullying from his dad.
These are just examples of the types of underlying issues that could be present for someone, even though they tell you their issue is something entirely different. This is the work of a Practitioner. We understand that the issue our client can talk about will rarely be the real issue. This is where our skills, knowledge and understanding are most valued.
People who work in an industry or in their own business helping other people are almost called to do this work. I know that expression can sound a little cliché and clunky, but it’s true. If you are not someone who wants to help other people, you will struggle in this industry. If you come from a motivator of self, rather than a motivation to serve the rewards will always elude you.
My primary role as an EFT Practitioner was to work with clients, help them to shift their world, empower them, then graduate them out of working with me. It was never a long-term arrangement. When I had clients come to me and say they had been working with their other therapist for two years, five years, ten years – my response was always the same – “you won’t be working with me in two years’ time, otherwise I am not doing my job”. It’s not my job to have clients dependent on me or to believe that I caused the transformation in them. Our role is to hold the space for the client to undertake their transformation, however we facilitate that with them.
Our clients pay us a fee for service, and my philosophy is that they deserve the biggest bang for their buck. With that in mind, I want the fastest and most effective tools and techniques to help my clients. Ones that will bring about permanent change for them.
Bringing EFT into my Coaching practice was a smart move, both for my clients and for me. What would have once taken several sessions over several months, could now be dealt with in several sessions over a couple of weeks. The power of EFT to be able to rewire the unconscious brain, untagged upsetting or traumatic memories and help our client to heal from these past events was priceless. It shifted my practice from a coaching space focussed on goals, and pushing and striving towards them, to a coaching space based on healing and releasing the triggers and memories to allow my clients to be free to move towards their goals, without any struggle.
The reward of helping other people to transform their world is returned to you ten-fold. Sometimes that reward will be direct monetary rewards, others will be more subtle. Perhaps it could be personal growth for you or an upgrade of your own skillset. Or some days it will simply be the inner feeling that you have done your best to make this world a better place – one person at a time.
I started my career in the personal development space as a Life Coach. I have a Diploma in Life Coaching and Practitioner certification in Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP). By the time I found Emotional Freedom Techniques and added it to my client sessions, I already had a thriving practice.
Emotional Freedom Techniques is an amazing set of techniques and tools that bring fast and effective transformation to our clients. I love sessions with clients when there are robust conversations and plenty of tapping going on. What I noticed in my early years as an EFT Practitioner was that there were sessions when my clients didn’t want to Tap, or Tapping wasn’t the best tool at that time. I found many of my sessions were more an awareness conversation, say about behaviours or patterns they were running, or we spoke about a particular human behaviour model, like the Drama Cycle or the 6 Core Needs of Humans. What I realised over time was that I was not just doing Tapping with my clients, but I was also drawing on my expertise in Life Coaching tools and NLP skills.
The ability to ask great questions that helped the client to open up came from my Coaching training. Building rapport. Reframing sentences. Secondary Gain. Archetypes. These all came from my Life Coach training. The questions that helped clients to dig deeper into their unconscious came from my NLP Training.
I realised that Life Coaching skills and NLP tools were like my back-end tools. The ones that I drew on for my work with my clients. These were the skills that allowed me to understand them better and to recognise their gaps. EFT-Tapping was like the front-end tool. It was the physical action that supported the transformation. I used questioning skills, along with understanding people, to get to the source of their problem quickly. Then we were able to do the Tapping to rewire their thoughts and beliefs around the issue. Tapping was also the take-home tool for my clients too, so they have something to support themselves between sessions if they felt triggered or upset by an event or person.
The combination of these modalities gives us the ability to understand our client’s patterns, behaviours and drivers in a deeply curious way, and to give them a fast and effective tool to resolve them.
Living in a world where we are so conditioned to listen to speak has deteriorated so much of our communication skills. We are fixated on devices more than ever. We communicate through texting and often hiding behind those text messages too! One of my favourite mentors is author, Brene Brown. In her books she quotes statistic after statistic that people are lonelier today than ever before. We, as a social species, are less connected than a decade ago.
Unless we have made a conscious effort to change this in ourselves, people will listen to speak. You know the thought, “I’m waiting for your lips to stop moving so I can jump right in on what I want to say!” or you’re listening to someone and actually forming your next sentences in your head while they are talking. I became aware of my habit of doing this several years ago and chose to make a conscious effort to stop it. I don’t always get it right, particularly when I am with someone fun, chatty and lively like myself. But I do make a conscious effort to listen to the person I am speaking with, with the intention of hearing and understanding what they are saying. The downside (or not) is that I now find great difficulty being in those gossip-y nothingness conversations when the other person is speaking AT me endlessly, barely drawing breath with little awareness that they are just talking, venting, whinging, moaning AT me. Sigh, perhaps my coach training has helped that too.
So why is it “priceless” for someone to feel heard?
To explain this, let’s step you into the space as a Coach, or Practitioner or therapist, whatever you want to call it. Anyone who is in a profession that serves another through listening to others.
When have you felt heard by someone? And I mean truly heard? Have you ever left a conversation when you felt the other person was listening? Actually, really listening to you? No distractions. No TV. No phone. Listening to you with intention.
I can honestly say I could count on one hand the number of people in my life who do that for me. The exception being when I am a session as a client. (Yes, I do have my own practitioners and coach that I work with on my own stuff.) When I am speaking with these hands full of people, and sharing my story or details with them, I know they are listening to me. They maintain eye contact, they aren’t distracted. They don’t jump in the second I take a breath and start talking, or even worse talk over the top of me. I know they have my best interests at heart. I know they are present for me.
Who holds this space for you in your life? How often are you present for someone? How well do you listen to the people in your life?
Sitting in silence in another state where humans get uncomfortable.
- Have you ever just sat with the silence with someone?
- How comfortable are you just sitting in that silence?
- Do you feel the need to fill that silence with words?
My observation working with clients over the years has led me to understand that we seem wired to be uncomfortable with silence. If the silence goes on too long, a discomfort evolves. As a Practitioner, this works in our favour so much. When you ask a client a question then sit silent, your client feels that need to fill that silence with words. And since we want our client to be doing most of the talking, this silence works in our favour.
As a Practitioner, you want to learn to hold the space for someone. One of the key components of this is maintaining eye contact with that person. For most people this is extremely uncomfortable at the beginning. Try it. Find a friend. Sit opposite them and just hold their gaze. You can blink, but your eyes can’t leave theirs. It’s not a staring competition, it’s an intentional and present exercise in maintaining eye contact. I had a friend challenge me with this a few years back. Unfortunately for him, I’m practiced at maintaining eye contact for a whole session. He gave out at the 7-minute mark. I maintain eye contact with my client for most of the session. When I am formulating a question, its ok for my eyes to look away from theirs. When I ask them a question, it’s ok for their eyes to wander wherever they need to for them to access the answer to the question, however my eyes never leave their face so when they come back to me with the answer – they are feeling I am still 100% present for them. This is the gift of them feeling heard.
Its life changing.
For both them, and for you.
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