Success Practicing EFT with the Homeless

By B. Mallory, PhD

On Monday afternoons, I teach EFT to the homeless who drop in for services and supplies at a Community of Hope facility. Our class is scheduled for an hour. It’s an open class, so people wander into the Resource Room before or after showers, before or after picking up emergency food items, or just to get off the street for a while. A video clip about EFT always generates a cautious curiosity and gets us going. With luck, I have 30 or 35 minutes of actual teaching time.

The participants, class size, and presenting issues vary unpredictably. For many in this somewhat transient population, English is a new and challenging language. Since attendees tend to be shy and rarely volunteer for demonstrations, we usually do our tapping all at once, but with each person focused on his or her own problem.

Despite such logistical challenges, small EFT miracles such as the following happen every week.

With two complete rounds of EFT tapping, Elena (no real names used here) and her partner, Alfredo, lost their intense restless urge to leave the class for a cigarette, a craving which they rated as 10 on the SUD Level of Intensity 0 to 10 number scale. Rick, a veteran, currently unemployed and living on the street, also expressed an urgent desire for a smoke, rating his craving as 10 out of 10. After the group’s two rounds of EFT, Rick rated his craving at 0 and expressed complete disinterest in the perfectly good cigarette still in his hand.

As for Elena and Alfredo, both described an actual distaste for the smell of tobacco in the pouch they shared. A week or so later, Elena reported that she continued to tap instead of smoking. Only once had she rolled a cigarette and put it to her lips, then stopped before lighting up when she realized she really did not want a cigarette.

In another class, Dave, a quiet fellow probably in his mid-40’s, admitted feeling “homesick” for his family. He missed them with a SUD Intensity Level number of 5 out of 10. Then there was Martha whose ankle throbbed from twisting it when she was drunk the previous night. Martha wasn’t quite ready to work on the alcohol problem, but she was eager for relief of the ankle pain which she rated at 6 on a 10 SUD number scale. Juan, an out of work construction worker, described a piercing 7 out of 10 ache from an earlier injury to his left shoulder. Carlos assured us he really had no problems; he just had nothing else to do right then and would go along with what we were doing.

Together, we tapped once through the whole EFT protocol, checked for individual changes, and then did another EFT round for whatever degree of problem remained.

Overall, every participant reported decreased distress, whether emotional or physical. Those who previously complained of pain now reported zero discomfort along with a surprising increase in range of motion of the injured limb. Dave, still far-removed from his family up north, no longer ached with homesickness. Carlos still had no problem and now was so relaxed and comfortable that he was falling asleep!

Maria, an elderly woman with no English, attended class with her daughter, Ana. Despite the passage of many years, Maria’s issue was unresolved grief for her beloved “Papa” who had died long ago. She rated the intensity of her sadness and loss as 5 on a 10 SUD scale. Ana’s problem, with a distress level of 5 out of 10, was mid-back pain. Middle-aged Helen, whose mother died just a year ago, resonated with Maria’s grief, and rated her own lingering feelings of sadness and abandonment at 4 out of 10.

After just one run-through of the EFT protocol, Maria, whose faded eyes had minutes before been teary with grief, burst into smiles and a cascade of shy giggles. Ana, her daughter, still felt some back pain but, in her eyes, surprise and hope had dawned. Helen no longer felt sad but now realized she was angry (4 out of 10) at her mother for dying and leaving her. Class time allowed us to complete and debrief one more EFT tapping sequence for any remaining distress. By then, all eyes, regardless of age, were shining! No more pain, no more grief, no more anger, just smiles and chuckles and wonderment.

Down on both luck and cash, Aaron wanted to quit his strong addiction to cigarette tobacco. Why did he smoke? Because it calmed his nerves. How intense was his desire for a cigarette right then? At least 10 out of 10! Ever hopeful for a demo subject, I managed to recruit Aaron. After he and the rest of our small class had tapped their way through the complete EFT protocol just once, Aaron’s interest in having a cigarette had plummeted from 10 to 4.

How nervous was he after completing one round of EFT?

About 4 out of 10, the exact same intensity as his desire for a cigarette. Then Aaron admitted, “When I came up here (to demonstrate EFT with me), I was TERRIFIED! I’ve always been terrified of getting up in front of a group of people. In school as a kid, I was petrified when I had to give a book report or recite a poem in front of the class. It was AGONY. I did everything I could to get out of it!”

“How do you feel right now, Aaron, in front of this class?” I asked. “Well, not too bad, actually,” he said. “Still about a 4, and I’m still hanging in!”

We completed another couple of tapping sequences with everyone in the group tapping along. When I next asked Aaron about his desire for a cigarette, he declared, “I don’t even want one. It doesn’t interest me at all. And I’m not anxious in front of the class anymore either! I’m really comfortable up here! This is amazing! This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me! No kidding! It’s the best thing!”

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