Testing Your Work

Testing is essential because it gives you ways to measure your success AND it provides pointers to where The Guard at the Gate is resisting the healing efforts of The Unseen Therapist.  Through it you discover what's not done yet.  Without it you can be easily fooled into thinking a surface result is all the further you need to go.   This article starts with the basics and then provides numerous advanced methods.

First, the basics

How do you measure your success with Optimal EFT? 


You could just ask whether or not you or your client feels better.  A simple yes or no will provide you with a rudimentary test. 

But wouldn't it be more useful to find out how much better the issue became?  For example, is it 20% improved, 80% improved, 100% improved?  This sort of measure points to the possible need for more rounds of Optimal EFT AND motivates you to be more thorough.

A basic way to do this has already been mentioned in the Lessons.  There we recommended that you estimate the severity of the issue, on a 0 to 10 scale, both before and after doing Optimal EFT.  In this method, 0 would be no intensity whatsoever and 10 would be the worst the issue has ever been.  Thus if the "before" number is 8 and the "after" number is 3, then you have (1) an estimate of a substantial improvement and (2) evidence that more Optimal EFT may be necessary.

This 0 to 10 scale is in common use with professional therapists and is often called the SUDS scale (SUDS means Subjective Units of Distress).  It is a basic method and is very useful for most people.  However, it does not get into the depth that is sometimes required by the highest quality uses of Optimal EFT.  Our Advanced Testing methods (see below) fill this gap.

HINT:  Sometimes my clients have been so far removed from zero on some emotional issues that they don't really know what a zero is.  Accordingly, they might report a 1, 2 or 3 when, in fact, they are at zero.  In these cases, if I suspect they are mis-judging the intensity, I might ask, "How do you know it is not a zero?"  This can add accuracy to the Optimal EFT process.

Advanced Testing

Putting the whole process under a magnifying glass.

Putting the whole process under a magnifying glass.

Here we explore several in-depth ways to test our Optimal EFT efforts.  They are advanced over the 0-10 scale and put the whole process under a magnifying glass. In the process, they show us where resistance (The Guard at the Gate) may be thwarting our progress.  This resistance usually shows up in the form of Aspects or related issues and, like other problems, can be addressed with The Optimal EFT Basic Formula.  

Please note that these methods should not be used unless you think the issue(s) are reasonably well collapsed.  You are looking for remnants so this in-depth testing should be done near the end of the process where the possibilities for pain are minimized.  Please consult physicians on all medical issues.

Test in the real situation when possible

This is the ideal test because it provides the highest likelihood for exposing remaining Aspects or related issues. Putting yourself in a real situation will often present Aspects you couldn’t have anticipated.  Examples of this would be (1) Testing the anger you may have toward an abusive parent by actually meeting with the abuser, (2) Performing basketball free throws under intense situations in a real game or (3) Testing your result with a fear of heights by looking down from a tall building.

Obviously, it is not always possible to Test in the real situation, so you can also try the other methods below.

Vivid Visualization

On the surface, this may seem self explanatory. The general idea is to vividly imagine the issue or event in your mind ... turn up the volume, make everything bigger, exaggerate all the sights, sounds, colors and sizes and really TRY to get yourself upset about it. If you succeed in generating intensity, you likely have a new aspect(s) to address.

However, many people are afraid to do this because they don’t want to experience the pain they think may be there. They may have made great progress so far with Optimal EFT but are sometimes concerned that this testing method will run them headlong into possible pain (even though we are expecting little or none to be there).

Accordingly, many people don’t really vividly imagine the issue. Instead, they tend to close their eyes and tip-toe lightly over it. This is NOT a good test. That’s why I give specific instructions to the client to make sure this test is properly performed.

Tell the Story

This is similar to Vivid Visualization except one tells the story about the issue ... IN DETAIL  If intensity arises during the story telling, you have new material to address.

Use Props

Here we test using photos, memorabilia, sounds, movies and the like. This is particularly useful as a substitute for those times when testing in the real situation is not possible. The idea here is to trigger emotional issues and observe what aspects or related challenges arise. For example, you might (1) view a photo of a deceased loved one to test your level of grief, (2) play the sounds of gunfire or helicopters to test the traumatic response to war/abuse or (3) view the snake scene in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark if you wish to test your progress regarding a fear of snakes.

I once used a recorded TV series as a prop to help Robert, a 52 year old African American man, with his poor self image around being black. His inadequate feelings consistently improved through our EFT sessions UNTIL I tested our results by asking him to watch ROOTS, the TV series about black slavery in the US. He recoiled at this and pleaded that he could never watch it.

“Excellent!,” I thought, "Here is a fabulous opportunity to get deeper results."

This was ideal because ROOTS consistently tested the specifics of Robert’s issues and gave him opportunities for resolution right on the spot. The result was a complete transformation because he now beholds ROOTS (and himself) with a sense of pride for what his ancestors were able to overcome.

“Say this….”

This one can be used to test aspects or specific events as well as generalized (global) issues.  
The method is simple.  Just have the client say a direct phrase out loud that represents anything that would previously have triggered intensity, and ask how true it feels on a scale of 0-10.

For an Aspect or a Specific Event the testing phrase might go something like this...

  • "She thought I was stupid"
  • "The whole class was laughing"
  • "I was raped"
  • "It was my fault"

These phrases are typically taken from the words of the client and represent the “hot spots” of the issue.

For a generalized or global issue...

  • "I’m useless"
  • "I was raped"
  • "My mother doesn’t love me"
  • "I was humiliated"
  • "She left me for someone else"
  • "I’m all alone"
  • "I deserved to be abandoned"
  • "It was my fault"

It is often useful to establish BEFORE and AFTER 0-10 measurements on the statement so you can see how well you did with this round of Optimal EFT.

If the intensity has been released, they should be comfortable saying the "Say this..." phrase. If not, more Aspects or specifics await you. One way to access those is to ask what their "self talk" was when they said the phrase. Whatever they said to themselves as a reaction to that statement can lead you to new Aspects or related events.

Role Playing

This involves re-enacting a disturbing memory or actual event. For example, you can mimic the voices, postures and gestures of offending persons to test whether or not there is any intensity left.  You can even ask a friend to play one of the roles and perform Optimal EFT as the client role plays.

Catch the client off guard

This involves testing your result by doing something unexpected. Depending on the context of the session, you might surprise your client by doing one of the following: (1) mimic the gestures of an abuser, (2) turn your back on the client in a manner that symbolizes his or her rejection issue, (3) raise your voice like an ex-husband or boss used to do or (4) use your imagination to fit the circumstances. Then watch your clients’ reactions. Are they startled? Do they squirm or become angry, tearful or insulted? If so, dig for more Aspects or issues because you have more work to do. If, on the other hand, there is no reaction except for smiles and calm demeanors, then you have solid evidence of success.

Here’s a classic example. I was participating with other EFT’ers in a 5 day healing workshop for over 20 clients with severe emotional issues. One of my sessions was with a badly traumatized 50 year old woman (we’ll call her Sandy) who, during her early years, had been consistently beaten and thrown down stairs and against walls by her father. She was perpetually anxious and was constantly on the lookout for impending danger, especially from men. My first exposure to this was in the first minute or two of our session when I casually raised my hand to scratch my head. She immediately flinched and cried out, “Please don’t hit me.”

As the session evolved, Sandy told me that her father usually started his abusive ways by surprising her from behind and grabbing her shoulder with his hand. I chose this as a foundational issue and spent the next hour addressing her reaction to having her shoulder touched from behind. She got better and better and, by the end of the session, I could grab on to her shoulder from behind without her flinching or having any reaction whatsoever.


However, Sandy knew I was going to keep testing by putting my hand on her shoulder from behind. She expected it. Thus her father’s element of surprise was missing from our test and I couldn’t think of a way to recreate it during our session. So, I waited for a few hours after our session until I saw her sitting in the lobby talking to some other clients. I then caught her off guard by putting my hand on her shoulder from behind when she least expected it. To my delight, she simply turned her head toward me the same way someone would turn if they were routinely tapped on the shoulder. No startle reaction, no panic, nothing unusual.

Success! However, if she became startled I would know that we weren’t done with this issue. Very important input. Vital.

Does that mean we are done with her traumatic issues? Not really. She has an entire childhood filled with abuses. But we did manage to handle a foundational piece quite nicely. That makes the rest of the job easier.

Triggering Statements

Surprise your client by saying something challenging and direct that would normally cause them intensity on an issue you just addressed.

  • To someone with a rejection issue, say something like, “Well, I’d never hang out with you.”
  • To someone with a guilt issue, say something like, “That really was your fault.”
  • To someone with a self worth issue, say something like, “Well, I don’t think you deserve any better.”
  • To someone with an authority issue, say something like, “You’re not allowed to do that in my office.”

You can use any of the language that triggered your clients during your session, or you can make up your own. However, the delivery is an important factor for this method. If you surprise them with the comment, and their intensity has truly been released, they will have a healthy, possibly humorous response. If not, more Aspects will be waiting for your attention. 

This is similar to Catching the Client Off Guard, but with using words rather than actions.

Knee Wobbling Questions

This important testing method is the exact opposite of the gentleness often recommended by conventional therapy practices. Instead, our purpose is to jar issues out of the client by asking very graphic questions. We are aiming right at the core in hopes of locating buried troubles. The conventional practice of always being gentle, while laudable in most other respects, can work to the clients’ disadvantage by leaving too much on the table. You need to probe and sometimes it takes a crowbar.

Although this process is wrapped in brutal clothing, it is a highly respectful thing to do. Properly done, clients understand the loving intention and appreciate your efforts at digging up these burdensome emotions. Without your skills and dedication in this regard, your clients may needlessly carry around life-sapping issues that seethe under the surface for decades to come.

For someone who witnessed an accident or even death you might ask something like:

  •      Was the bone coming out of the skin?
  •      Could you see any organs?
  •      Did you smell the blood?
  •      Have you ever touched a dead body?

For someone who was assaulted, you might ask:

  •      How did his breath smell? 
  •      Was anyone else watching?
  •      Did you deserve it?
  •      How did it feel when your head hit the ground?

For someone who went through a traumatic breakup or infidelity you might ask:

  •      Did he/she ever love you?
  •      Did they have sex in your bed?
  •      Has he/she met your friends?

With rare exception, this harsh approach should only be done AFTER you are confident that you have resolved all or most of the issue. While some testing methods are designed to assess your progress as a session unfolds, these knee wobbling questions are like sledge hammers looking for remaining bits of ore in a spent gold mine. If you try them up front you may create unnecessary pain in your client.

Properly done, this method can bring up a deep well of intense issues and so it should only be done when you have plenty of time left in your session. 

Use Humor

Humor is part of my style and tends to be therapeutic in its own right. It elevates the energy of the session and dilutes the "seriousness" of the issue. It is also a fabulous testing device because the client's response to the humorous attempt can tell you a LOT about his or her progress. If they frown, cry or appear insulted, then your humor has hit a sore spot and you have important evidence that you have more to do. If there are smiles and calmness, however, you have evidence that you are getting good resolution.

e-hugs, Gary

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