Using EFT to Improve and Strengthen Relationships
By: Forrest Samnik, MSW, LCSW, EFT Cert-I
The sad statistical fact that over 50% of marriages in this country end in divorce speaks to just how difficult it is to build and maintain a romantic partnership that is mutually supportive and satisfying. Once the initial physical attraction has leveled off and the routine of daily life settles into place, negative relationship patterns often begin to emerge.
These patterns can be triggered by absolutely anything, a look, voice tone, word, or a gesture. Once these patterns are in motion they seem to gain a life of their own, resulting in predictable response behaviors with tragic effects. Negative relationship patterns usually begin in childhood and are reinforced over time, resulting in a chain of automatic, uncontrollable projections and reactions. Often people notice they have been caught up in a negative pattern in hindsight, declaring, “Why did I do that? I know better than that!”
These patterns can be thought of as energy circuits that have become disrupted. When relationships are running “smoothly” the circuits of energy surrounding the relationship patterns are free flowing. Energy circuits are disrupted by a myriad of things, such as thoughts of suspicion and distrust, beliefs about what is “right” and “wrong” according to gender or role, feelings of betrayal or being misunderstood, and unconscious destructive behaviors. When these circuits of energy are neutralized, it breaks the old behavior patterns giving way to a new freedom to make wiser choices in the midst of difficult situations. The energy that is liberated from the old pattern can then be used to intentionally create desired results.
As a psychotherapist, I found treating relationship issues using traditional therapies frustrating, obtaining only mediocre success. However, with the advent of Energy Psychology, I now use a highly successful tool, the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), that addresses these negative repetitive patterns at the causal level. When this is successful, which is over 90% of the time, the manifestations of the problem disappear within very few treatments.
I had been utilizing EFT for treatment of depression, phobias, and trauma and anxiety related disorders, in my practice for several years when I finally caught on it was also a perfect tool for relationship issues. Sophie (name changed to protect her privacy) came for counseling because her husband had an affair and she was developing obsessive-compulsive type behaviors. These were quickly resolved with EFT allowing the feelings of betrayal, anger and resentment to come to the surface. With these feeling her anxiety grew and she reported finding it difficult to breathe.
We set up the EFT round of tapping with the phrase, “Even though I have this pressure of betrayal in my chest, I deeply and completely love and accept myself”. Her respirations normalized and her anxiety reduced from 10, on a 0 – 10 scale, to 3. After a few more rounds of tapping, she connected with her anger. We tapped on “all this anger”, “how could he do this to me”, and then “what did I do wrong”. The tears immediately began to flow. She was able to verbalize the part she played in the breakdown of the marriage and though she didn’t accept responsibility nor condone her husband’s affair, she recognized her own self-defeating behavior patterns. As the session came to a close, she stated she wanted her husband to join her for the next session.
Kyle (again, not his real name) readily voiced his feelings of guilt and remorse for the affair, as well as resentment that Sophie kept throwing the affair back in his face. I directed Sophie to facilitate a round of EFT for Kyle. I was amazed at how she readily connected with his feelings with her set-up phrase, “Even though I feel all this guilt for cheating on my wife, I deeply and completely accept myself”. As the session went on with Sophie leading the tapping sessions for Kyle, new issues (known as aspects in EFT) surfaced. Finally, some deep seated core issues were revealed. Painful childhood memories he had buried for almost 40 years came spewing from the depths of Kyle’s soul.
Sophie stayed focused on working through these issues with Kyle. It was apparent from her tears that Sophie felt deep empathy for the depth of Kyle’s emotional pain. It was amazing and even humbling, to witness the transformation in this couple.
As we processed the session together, they both spoke of feeling a level of emotional intimacy they had never before experienced. Kyle broke down once again, buried his face in Sophie’s lap and through his sobs told her how sorry he was, how much he loved her but hadn’t felt worthy of her love. Sophie held him and simply said, “Your love is safe with me.”
I saw this couple for two more sessions. As the two took turns applying EFT to the other, they came to know each other as they came to know themselves. I will never serve as mediator between couples again. By stepping back and allowing the healing to be done through the couple themselves, more than relationships can be healed.
Forrest Samnik, MSW, LCSW, EFT Cert-I is a psychotherapist and life coach with a private practice in Palm Harbor. For questions or comments call LifeWorks Counseling & Coaching at (727) 781-6567.