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Children's Issues

Counselor Uses EFT to Improve Math Abilities


By Syandra Ingram

I am an elementary school guidance counselor on a PK-6th grade campus. In Texas, our public schools must give state standardized tests, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), in core subjects. Students must pass these tests in order to advance to the next grade. As you can imagine, as test time approaches, both teachers and students are highly stressed.

Last spring, the 6th grade math tutor expressed concern about the students she was tutoring. With the TAKS test only two weeks away, the students just didn't seem to be making the progress they needed to make. I decided to try EFT.

I invited all 16 of the 6th grade students in her tutoring groups to participate in an after school "TAKS Stress Reliever and Math Phobia Busting Academy," and sent home permission letters to their parents.

Of the 16 students, 10 chose to participate.

This group committed to meet after school for an hour each day. Due to Easter Break, we only had 8 meetings.

In our sessions, we used EFT for issues relating to math and test-taking phobias, math difficulties and stress and anxiety. I gave the students the freedom to be honest with me, and allowed them to tell me what they thought their problems with math were without censorship.

Examples of some of the current and past problems included...

I don't like my math teacher!

My teacher scared me!

I can't multiply!

I get confused!

I can't remember how to do it!

The teacher gets mad if I ask a question!

Math is too hard!

One of the girls said her problems with math began when she went to kindergarten where she was confronted with numbers for the first time. The other children seemed to know what numbers were and how to use them, and she didn't. She felt embarrassed, ashamed and dumb ... a feeling that persisted with her all the way through school.

After identifying each student's particular current and past problems surrounding math, we identified the 0-10 intensity for each concern, and selected a student to tap on. The rest of the students were to Borrow Benefits, tapping on themselves along with the student "on stage." The students were amazed that their own intensity levels kept falling even though they weren't the student being tapped on!

After a couple of rounds of the Basic Recipe, we also incorporated Dr. Carrington's Choices Method, for example:

Even though math is hard, I choose to let it be easy,

Even though taking the TAKS test scares me, I choose to feel calm and relaxed,

Even though I'm just too lazy sometimes to use my math strategies, I choose to use my math strategies.

The students were enthusiastic participants and loved being the volunteer who was tapped on and being the volunteer who sometimes did the tapping on someone else. Students were given "tapping" homework each night.

The day before the TAKS test, at our "graduation" meeting and pizza party, I had each student complete a TAKS Pre-Test evaluating the effectiveness of our TAKS Academy. I had the students rate the effectiveness of each activity we did, and asked, "Do you feel the TAKS Stress Reliever and Math Phobia Buster Academy helped you? If so, how?"

I was delighted that all 10 of the students who participated (8 girls and 2 boys) answered that they felt, "Yes, it had helped."

They answered the "How?" part of the question in basically one, two and/or three of the following ways:

I'm not afraid to take the test now,

I'm more confident, and/or

math is easier now.

I was excited about those results, but not surprised. I had seen the students grow in confidence for the last 8 school days. What I really wanted to know was whether these results would hold up as they actually took the TAKS test! In order to find out, I gave the students a TAKS Post-Test at the end of the testing day.

I asked three questions:

After taking the Math TAKS Test...

1. Do you feel the TAKS Stress Reliever and Math Phobia Buster Academy helped you with the TAKS test? If so, in what way?" Again, a resounding "Yes," with the following reasons given: "The test wasn't as hard as I thought it would be..." I felt calm and relaxed...I tapped when I got stuck...I used my strategies..."

2. "If it helped, which exercises do you think helped the most? Check all that apply."
EFT was a big winner here, with all students checking that tapping on current and previous problems with math, resistances to using their strategies and fear were big helps.

3. "Do you think you will use the strategies and tools you learned in the Academy in the future? Explain."

As a counselor, I was particularly interested in the answers to this last question. Again, all 10 students said they would be using what they learned in the future.

"Lisa" mentioned that using EFT had already helped her in her softball games.

"Carrie," who has a particularly challenging home life, said she now had something that could help her deal with her family problems.

"Cindy," who could barely participate in her classes because of shyness before we started meeting, blossomed. She not only was now participating in her math class, she chose "Goddess" as her nickname in our group! The other Academy students were delighted, and said, "She sure isn't shy anymore!" "Cindy" wrote that now she could be successful and planned to use EFT all the way through college.

"Maria" reported that she now felt much more self-confident, and wanted to continue using EFT for other things. Several of the students reported that they would continue to use EFT for stress and anxiety, and "Dillon" noted that EFT was helping him with his anger problem (not even something we had been working on!).

Final results? Nine of the ten students who participated in the TAKS Academy passed the TAKS, and the tenth made significant improvement, although not enough to pass the test. Of the 6 students who chose not to participate, 4 passed and 2 failed. I think that's significant. Beyond that, though, the students who learned and used EFT developed a new self-confidence and self-empowerment. All of them said that they would continue to use EFT in the future.

After 10 years of being a school counselor and feeling like I was putting band-aids on major wounds, I finally, with EFT, have something to offer these children that will not only help in the "here and now," but will be something they can use for the rest of their lives to create the lives they deserve. These 10 students learned that they have the power to shape their own lives.

I am also using EFT with faculty and staff members, and even some parents. This year I will enlarge the TAKS Academy and offer it to students at all TAKS grade levels. One of my goals is to expand the use of EFT in the schools throughout the district and the state.

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