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How the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) helps people become relationship ready

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The increasing popularity of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has led to its applications in various areas of life, such as career or sports performance. For Dr. Annette Vaillancourt, EFT has been a useful tool in supporting people to develop healthier emotional coping strategies in their personal relationships. Dr. Vaillancourt has a PhD in Counseling Psychology and currently works as an Elite Soulmate Coach. Her book “Manifest Your Soulmate with EFT” is a guidebook on how the method can be an effective way to reduce anxiety and other unproductive behavioral patterns as they navigate relationships. She explains how EFT can support relationship goals in individuals by aiding them in becoming ready for one.

Your book "How to Manifest Your SoulMate with EFT" is not dating system with a formula or template on how to meet and catch a person. Rather it focuses more addressing the subconscious beliefs and memories or emotional/behavioral patterns that interfere with forging a long-term healthy relationship. Could you explain how you developed this concept and what kind of EFT exercises are in the book to support a person in creating healthier habits that are beneficial to their relationship goals?

That’s right. My book is not a series of “rules” or “do’s and don’t’s.” The book is intended to teach people how to use EFT to clear any subconscious barriers to manifesting love in their lives. The emphasis is on how to BE, not what to do.

I developed the idea for the book after listening to so many of my spiritually aware, single friends express frustration over not attracting a soulmate into their lives. In reading the EFT literature over the years, many authors talked about using EFT to create abundance, but their focus was mainly on financial abundance. Only a cursory nod was given to creating abundance in relationships. I kept thinking, “someone needs to write a book on EFT and relationships.” So, in the end, I decided that I would do that. I had used EFT to successfully manifest any goal that I set for myself, so I decided to apply it to manifesting a SoulMate. I wrote the book that I would have loved to have when I decided to start dating, especially when I got clear that what I wanted was a SoulMate relationship.

Given your academic and professional background, how did you discover EFT, and how did you incorporate it into your practice as a licensed mental health professional? Do you have any recommendations from the book that would be helpful for other clinicians who are interested in incorporating EFT in their therapy work with individuals, couples, and families?

I came across EFT through one of my coaching colleagues. She offered a 3 week course in overcoming food cravings using EFT. I later used EFT to stop a panic attack in it’s tracks in 5 minutes without medication. That success prompted me to go study EFT more thoroughly. I started out training with Steve Wells, Ph.D and Dr. David Lake from Australia. They developed a form of EFT called Provocative Energy Therapy, that focused on using humor and working with projections - the stuff we deny in ourselves and hate/love in others. From there I trained a bit with EFT founder, Gary Craig. I sought additional training through the Association of Comprehensive Energy Therapy.

I started tapping with my clients as soon as I’d received enough training to be effective. I would introduce the idea with clients who seemed open to trying it, as part of a series of treatment options, including traditional “talk therapy.” Of course, it had to fit in with the client’s goals and our treatment plan. In addition, we had to have already established an adequate therapeutic relationship. I was pleased at how quickly EFT promoted change and how easy it was for clients to learn and use on their own.

My book isn’t written for clinicians. It is written for the general public - more specifically, for spiritually oriented singles and cultural creatives who want to develop a certain kind of relationship - a SoulMate, not an Ego-mate or Play-mate relationship. A SoulMate relationship requires that you learn to relate from a very deep level - from the Soul, not just from the Ego. In my view, that requires that you clear and continue to clear any and all emotional baggage, ego fears, past attachments, and self-limiting beliefs that hold you back. My book gives you the tools to uncover and clear those.

Describe some case studies that you are aware of that utilized EFT to reduce relationship distress in an individual who had maladaptive patterns of relating and was able to eventually break bad dating habits. How did EFT target particular conscious and unconscious thought patterns effectively that may not have been achieved with traditional talk therapy alone?

I would refer you to www.EFTUniverse.com for case studies on that. I’m not a researcher. I am a clinician and coach.

Could you give a chapter by chapter brief synopsis of what people can expect to read in the book? How much of the content is focused on EFT exercises as well as background information on patterns of human behavior that either undermine or nurture a person's ability to form a healthy secure attachment with a significant other for the long-term?

People can read a sample of my book on Amazon.com, as well as get 3 sample chapters to preview by clicking on signing up for my list at this link.

My book isn’t a clinical manual or an EFT manual. The main focus of the book is to introduce the reader to the seven stage process of manifesting and how to use EFT to move quickly and easily through the challenges and obstacles they might encounter at each stage. The first three chapters introduce and define the concept of a SoulMate, discuss the cultural and societal trend away from traditional relationships towards more spiritual/evolutionary partnerships, and the “inner” and “outer” work necessary to manifest a SoulMate relationship. Exercises are given to prepare the reader to be successful and to start uncovering themes, fears, and beliefs that are blocking their SoulMate from already being in their lives. An entire chapter is devoted to teaching how to use EFT. Subsequent chapters show readers how to create unique tapping statements and use them for their specific life situation. The final chapter discusses how to know that EFT is working and what to do if you think it is not. A bonus chapter is given to all who purchase the book and sign up to receive it.

Early disruptions in attachment to primary caregivers are a common cause of relational difficulties, especially if a person has anxiety around trust and abandonment, which creates conflict in a relationship. Furthermore, those with a history of neglect or abuse may be attracted to partners who will replay the negative scenario with them. Can EFT be useful in changing an insecure attachment style to a secure one? If so, how? Do you believe that EFT can be effective in rewiring a person's blueprint for the kind of partner they tend to be attracted to? If so, how can this work?

Although I considered including attachment theory in the scope of the book, I thought it was not appropriate for the general readership. Therefore, I did not directly address the use of EFT for that in my book.

I did go into more details about how one’s history, including any neglect or abuse, could replay in current relationships. In psychological jargon that is called a “repetition compulsion.” All of our past experiences create beliefs and fears that get locked in the body, internalized in the form of beliefs we hold about life, ourselves and the way other people are. Consequently, those beliefs from past experiences get acted out in our current behavior. Often we are unaware of it or completely puzzled as to why we behave the way we do when we “know better.”. Because EFT works, like acupuncture, to clear blocks in the body’s energy systems created by those thoughts and experiences, it is highly effective for creating a new blueprint, as you say, for future relationships. In my book, we not only clear negative patterns, but use EFT to install desired beliefs that will promote healthier relationships in the future.

Many dating programs seem to suggest that putting oneself out there and getting a makeover or mastering flirting tips is all it takes to get a soulmate. While networking and playing the numbers game is certainly helpful if one is a salesperson, the same strategy may not have quite the same ROI when it comes to personal relationships. There are people who are great at fostering wonderful friendships and familial connections, but suddenly become abrasive or inappropriate when meeting someone in a social event geared towards dating. What explanation do you have for why this sudden change in behavior and interpersonal dynamics when the relationships become the focus of meeting new people? How can such a person use EFT before social mixers so they don't ruin their chances so easily?

LOL...it’s funny that you use such business-like terms when talking about love. Love is a state of being, not a commodity.

There is such pressure in social situations designed to promote only romantic relationships. That’s why online dating, speed dating or social mixers can be so difficult. What those artificial situations are great at fostering is infatuation and projections. That’s why people have such highs and lows with it. Without all the information that comes with meeting the person in a the course of going about your life, you only have your fantasies and very little information to go on. What I mean by that is we tend to fall in love (or get turned off) by what we think they are like or what we want them to be like.

I do notice that people change when they are pursuing romantic relationships instead of friendships. Personally I think that is a mistake because the “infatuation” and “chemistry” of new love dies off. If a basic friendship wasn’t established as a foundation, the relationship will not survive the first major conflict. Either that or people will run scared when they start to open up and become vulnerable. That is where EFT comes in handy because that is when your personal fears, limiting beliefs and past attachments come to the surface to be healed. EFT is the perfect tool for that.

If people become abrasive or inappropriate at the get-go, I assume they have a lot of fears blocking them from even creating initial rapport with someone. One assumption I make is that they lack skills for relationship building, or that they were really hurt in past relationships. In preparation for a social mixer, EFT could be used in a variety of ways:

  • create relaxation/reduce anxiety
  • build confidence
  • create an attitude of openness
  • reduce nervousness
  • create appropriate expectations for initial interactions
  • rehearse asking someone out
  • reinforce positive self-image

much more...

Another trend in the dating and relationship advice market are people who coach but who do not have the kind of training as licensed mental health practitioners. This in itself does not mean they aren't helpful. However, timing is an important aspect of working with people who are often sharing very personal information and may feel vulnerable for doing so. EFT practitioners comes from an assortment of backgrounds. What are your personal thoughts on how to serve the client, do no harm, and help them achieve a quality relationship with themselves while reducing social anxiety in order to "get out there" more to meet their best match?

I am admittedly biased in this regard because I am highly trained (Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology), have 24 years experience in counseling couples, and am a licensed as a mental health practitioner. I also have extensive training as a coach. I believe in the power of intention and attention for healing, but I know from my clinical training that there are some people who have problems that only trained professionals with a wide variety of skills should deal with. At the very least, I would encourage non-licensed EFT providers to seek supervision or consultation with licensed mental health providers to provide the best service possible and avoid endangering clients.

As far as my recommendations for clients seeking an EFT practitioner - caveat emptor. I would advise them to inquire about the practitioner’s training and experience and the results their clients have achieved through working with them. Then, ask for permission to contact a current or past client to get their independent feedback. I would also inquire as to how the practitioner deals with ethical issues, such as insuring confidentiality and respecting the boundaries of a professional relationship. I would ask them what they do when they encounter something they are not trained to deal with. I would also ask the practitioner of examples of how they have used EFT successfully in their personal life.

Do you think people can get the same result in their relationship goals by just following along YouTube videos on EFT applied to relationships?

No, I do not think someone can make needed changes by following someone on YouTube. What is needed is an individualized approach with specific tapping statements created for that particular individual.

How is doing that different from one-on-one sessions with someone such as yourself, who does EFT and also is trained in therapeutic intervention?

Working with a trained coach or EFT practitioner is more likely to get the desired results. How many people read self-help books or watch a video but don’t benefit from the exercises? Or they do the exercises that are very general, but get no results? Unfortunately, when presented in such general ways, EFT can appear not to work. EFT founder, Gary Craig, admonished EFT practitioners to not publish or promote “tapping scripts” for this reason.

That is why my book is designed to help the reader uncover their own issues and create individualized and specific tapping statements to work on. Of course, I don’t expect that exceptional change will come from reading and working through my book alone. That is why I have developed additional services, so that people can work more directly with me. The book is intended to give an introduction and overview of the process. I could not possibly address the infinite number of issues that people bring to their intimate relationships.

Also, a common strategy in the dating or relationship coaching world is the emphasis on developing interpersonal skills that are either geared to coerce attraction at will and/or assess a person's romantic triggers and then mold one's personality into their ideal. With the focus on such external actions it can be interpreted that this approach is about being a chameleon in order to be chosen by another person. This can work in theory and probably quite well in practice but how come it can't necessary prevent a relapse into unproductive relationship patterns even after one has "sealed the deal"?

Every sales person who is well trained knows how to present themselves to make a favorable impression. What they aren't dealing with is a long-term intimate relationship. In the world of dating there are charmers and players among us. We can sweep or be swept off our feet by such highly skilled people. Likewise, those without a strong sense of self or who lack self-esteem may think that changing themselves to attract a partner is the way to success. This chameleon like behavior is not sustainable.

In both cases, your real self eventually will show through. I’ve seen this a lot with divorcing couples. One person spent the entire marriage trying to be what they thought the other person wanted, only to discover they what their partner wanted was someone who was their own person. It is our own insecurities and lack of self-love that drives both types of behavior...creating false intimacy. To sustain a truly intimate relationship all the masks have to be dropped. We all have fears and emotional baggage. In a healthy intimate relationship, the couples have developed ways to work through those things while sustaining trust and respect for the other person. It is up to each individual within a partnership to assume responsibility for healing their past hurts, creating a happy, interesting and abundant life based on their true path and passions. Then they have a life worth sharing with someone else. Then they can develop a healthy inter-dependence, not a mutually dependent relationship.

Are some people better candidates for EFT while working with a therapist on their relationship challenges? If so, what criteria do you use to determine suitability for EFT focused sessions? Does EFT help facilitate an adult person with developing healthier beliefs over time? If so, how does that happen?

In a perfect world, all therapists would be trained in EFT as one of the tools they have to offer clients from their therapeutic toolbox. People who are only trained in EFT aren’t as well resourced, so might want to recommend therapy for their clients as well. It is hubris, in my opinion, to think that all you need is EFT.

If a client has specific, identifiable fears, EFT is a great option for clearing those. EFT can also be used to facilitate changes in one’s belief system. As Gary Craig once told me, most any belief can be stated as a fear. For example, if someone believes that they are unattractive, they have a fear of rejection. If someone believes that all men are interested in is sex, they have a fear of being used. EFT can also be used to “install” positive beliefs or strengthen internal resources by using Dr. Pat Carrington’s “Choices” method of EFT. For example, to strengthen one’s confidence, as tapping statement might be developed “Even though I waiver in my self confidence, I choose to see myself as and act as if I have all the confidence in the world.”

Why are beliefs so hard to change the older we get as humans?

I don’t experience that. The research in brain plasticity would be evidence against that. Just like the brain continues to grow new brain cells and functions that are lost due to injury and illness can be retrained in another part of the brain, “old dogs can learn new tricks.” It is more likely that people don’t perceive a desire or a need to change their beliefs until some painful circumstance causes them to do some self-examination. Why change what’s working, unless it stops? That’s why drives most people into therapy...something stopped working, including a set of beliefs about the way things work.

How come some people can really become clinically depressed over relationship stress even if they are single?

This could go back to attachment issues that you alluded to earlier. Or, it could be that they person had an underlying pre-disposition to depression that was triggered by a stressor. That is where a skilled, trained professional can accurately assess what’s going on.

What is going on in their cognitive process that contributes to some very serious bouts of frustration and emotional dis-regulation over the lack of a primary relationship or being involved in a troubled relationship?

I can’t answer that unless I had a full history on a particular person.

Where can EFT be applied to reduce the intensity of negative emotions, thoughts, and behavior that only serve to reduce a person's overall mental health in the long run?

EFT is a tool. When used in the hands of a skilled practitioner, who also has other tools to draw upon, the client’s overall mental health can be improved. What I love about EFT is that it is easy for the client to learn and use at home. As Gary Craig points out, even beginner’s have an estimated 80% improvement rate. Sometimes in a session, we will develop tapping statements together for an issue that a client can then do as homework. Any questions or unresolved issues can be dealt with in the next visit.

To learn more about Annette Vaillancourt, Ph.D. go to www.EliteSoulMateCoaching.com. Dr. Vaillancourt is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Illinois and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Missouri.

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