Reframing refers to changing the frame through which one sees an event. You can’t change past events, but you can see them through different lenses. Imagine looking at an old photograph of a family on vacation. You place it in a dark and somber frame. It seems depressing. You take it out and place it in a happy-looking frame ringed with smiley faces on every side. You might perceive the same photograph as joyful. That’s the power of reframing: same event, different emotional tone.
Reframing is a useful technique in EFT sessions. Clients often spontaneously reframe an old event after tapping. An event that previously seemed traumatic to a client may be placed in a neutral emotional frame.
Jacques, a man whose father had spanked him with a belt on several occasions when Jacques was a child, was angry and resentful toward his father. After EFT, Jacques said, “I know my father loved me, he was doing the best he knew how. Compared to the way his father, my granddad, beat the crap out of him, what he did to me was just his best effort to keep me in line. I was a handful.” Jacques had flipped to perceiving the spankings as an example of his father’s restraint rather than abuse.
Either the context or the content of an event can be reframed.
The context represents the meaning of the event. Here’s an example. Before EFT, Roberta exclaimed, “I am so angry at my mother for not protecting me from my father’s abuse. I can never forgive her.” After EFT, Roberta saw the same events in a different context. She said, “Mother was trying not to get assaulted herself, knowing that her survival was all that stood between us kids and Dad’s craziness. She also knew Dad was a good provider and the family couldn’t survive without Dad’s paycheck.”
The second kind of reframing involves the content. Janie first said, “My sister tried to pull my hair out when she got angry and jealous.” After EFT, Janie saw the content differently and put it this way: “My hair is strong and thick to this day, despite my sister’s efforts to destroy it.”
The client or the practitioner can do the reframing. A simple reframe by a practitioner might be to add the words “and you’re safe now” to a Setup
Statement. This places the traumatic event in a context of safety and of the present moment.
Practitioner: “Even though your mother threw things at you, she had terrible aim, and she always missed, and here you are safe and sound.”
Cognitive shifts by the client often result in spontaneous reframing while doing EFT. As a client taps, she may shift her perceptions of the people and events that troubled her in the past. She may go from describing the two bad things that happened on vacation to the six good things that occurred. The bad things fade in intensity after tapping, allowing the good things to predominate in memory.