How to Tap for Someone Else

I have a therapist friend (who I’ll call “Lucy”) who sees children and teens in her practice. She is a fan of EFT and has used it creatively with kids who absolutely don’t want to tap.

One of her clients, “Bobby,” is 16 years old. He is highly anxious in general but one day, during a session, he had a panic attack. He began crying and yelling. Lucy talked him through breathing exercises to help him feel safe and grounded. He calmed a bit but the attack continued.

Then Lucy thought of EFT. She had Bobby look at her and she began tapping on herself. She had him mimic her movements. Since he was in such distress, Lucy said the set-up statement for him: “Even though Bobby is upset and terrified, I deeply and completely accept him.”

Lucy kept talking and showing him the movements. Bobby began to follow her and after one round she noticed his breathing was better. Lucy got a bit more specific with the statements but kept them as truthful as possible. “Bobby is scared, worried, anxious, doesn’t feel safe,” etc. They tapped about 4 rounds of Lucy talking Bobby through the points.

This got him through the toughest part of the attack. Then he was able to calm down and rest after they finished tapping.

In another case, Lucy was with Susie, a 13-year-old girl with intense conduct issues and anger. She had been in legal trouble multiple times. Even with Lucy, Susie was often sassy and argumentative.

One day they were talking about a recent “incident” at Susie’s school. Susie kept saying that she “didn’t care” about anyone or anything. Susie continued to argue and escalate about how stupid counseling was and how it didn’t matter.

Out of sheer desperation, Lucy began to tap on herself. She started by saying, “Even though Susie is angry, I deeply and completely accept her.” First, Susie stopped because she was so stunned at what Lucy was doing. Then Susie said, “I’m not angry, I don’t care.”

Lucy kept tapping and using more of Susie’s language: “Susie isn’t angry. She doesn’t care.” After 2-3 rounds, Susie was quiet. She was watching Lucy and was no longer protesting. Lucy was associating with her. Lucy asked her if she would like to tap with her and Susie said no. So Lucy did one more round and then stopped. Lucy told her what EFT was and why she found it to be helpful. Susie shrugged but remained calm the rest of the session.

Why are these examples worth noting? Even though most of us aren’t in a position to help teenagers as therapists, many of us know people, young and old, who could benefit from EFT but who don’t want to use it.

What Lucy demonstrated is called surrogate tapping. In these examples, Lucy talked about Susie and Bobby. As she did this, she tapped on herself. On the tapping points, she talked about their feelings: “Bobby is scared, worried, anxious, doesn’t feel safe,” etc. With Susie she talked about her anger.

Lucy added an affirmation of her own: “Even though Bobby/Susie is feeling scared/angry, I deeply and completely accept him/her” but she could have said something about them, such as, “Bobby/Susie is a wonderful person.” Both are effective.

Gwyneth Moss, an EFT Master, developed the art of surrogate tapping and has taught many (including me) how to use it for those who can’t or won’t tap. There are thousands of stories in which people have helped others by tapping for them. Here is an interview in which Gwyneth describes her approach:

Thanks go to Lucy for sharing these wonderful stories about how she used EFT in creative, non-intrusive ways to help her young clients.  Also, thank you to Gwyneth Moss for sharing her expertise on how to tap for others.