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Using EFT to improve motor skills


By Dr. Patricia Carrington

I have often wondered just how EFT might be best employed in the educational process. Aside from its obvious use to reduce anxiety in students and thereby improve performance, it has always seemed to me that there may be a more direct application of EFT to the learning process which has not yet been explored.

Recently I had an interesting opportunity to test this concept out with my niece, Daisy Carrington, who has just graduated from college and who received as a graduation gift a compact used car with a stick shift. She had taken several driver's ed courses in school as well as private lessons at a driving school where she learned to drive with an automatic shift and managed to pass her driver's test and obtain her license. But she was scarcely a confident driver when she began to handle the new car in real-life situations.

Since she is planning to live and work in an area where she will be required to drive extensively, all her family members have been trying to help her gain confidence when driving the little car.

Riding with her, however, I soon discovered that she was still anxious when driving and this made it extremely difficult for her to acquire the ease necessary for truly safe driving. It was at this point that I suggested that she and I use EFT to help out with this problem.

My experience doing so illustrates several things:

n It is clearly possible to use EFT on the spot to facilitate the learning of a motor skill such as driving.

n It may be necessary to handle difficulties encountered in properly assessing the role that EFT has played in the results obtained when the Apex effect (the tendency to discount the impact of EFT on outcome) is present in the person doing the tapping.

n There is a special challenge involved in applying EFT to a relative, particularly if, as in this case, she does not recognize many of the problems that are evident to others in the application of her skills.

I would like to comment first on the challenge facing those doing EFT with relatives because of many of you have used, or will in the future use, EFT with family members or close friends.

There is a great difference between having a client seek your professional help, and you then suggest to them the use of EFT for their problems, and having to "sell" a relative or friend on its use, especially when your help may not have been solicited.

In a professional situation, you and your client enter into an agreement with one another. He/she wants to become less anxious or be rid of some other troubling symptom, or to improve his performance, or increase his confidence, or whatever. Because of this, this person agrees to cooperate with you and do whatever is necessary (including EFT) to obtain the results they want.

This is not exactly the case with a relative or friend or anyone else close to us with whom we plan to use EFT, however. Here we may have to be the one who suggests the procedure out of the blue, so to speak, and may even have to convince the other party that it is necessary to use any procedure whatsoever for a particular problem which they themselves barely perceive.

In my case, having driven with Daisy at the wheel during the initial stages of her experience on the road, I became concerned for her safety and therefore bypassed my usual reticence at suggesting EFT when a person has not indicated any need for it. It was evident to me that she was experiencing a good deal of "nervousness" as she drove the car and that her handling of it was very uneven. I felt it necessary in order to avert possible danger to her in the future, that she become more at ease and masterful in her driving.

I therefore suggested to her that she try EFT to improve her driving. Daisy is very familiar with EFT. In fact, she modeled the various acupoints very nicely for my new EFT Beginner's videotape. But I could sense a reluctance in her to use it for her driving because she was not perceiving any real difficulty with her driving - only the rest of us in the car were. This was an awkward situation.

However, since Daisy knew she would soon have to drive her car all alone with no-one else in it (something she had not yet done) and since she was aware of being anxious about this, she agreed to apply EFT to her fear of causing an accident.

The set up phrase that we formulated to handle this was:

"Even though I'm afraid of causing an accident, I choose to take my time and make a safe decision."

We had together worked out this particular Choice. She was not sure what a viable alternative to her fear would be and so I had to help her with this. You will notice that the word "safety" was used in this set up phrase and in every other one that I suggested she use for her driving problem. This is because I think it extremely important when helping someone master a skill which truly does involve a safety factor, to introduce that word into the EFT set-up. It seems unwise to encourage somebody to simply accept themselves if they feel anxious at intersections on a highway for example, or enough to ask them to be calm and confident on the road, despite their anxiety. Confidence can be misapplied, as can self-acceptance at times, but safety is safe, and I felt this to be our major goal, one that had to be emphasized in our EFT work.

Daisy tapped on this issue and when she had reduced her initial 0-10 rating from an 8 to a negligible number (2 or less), she then identified another aspect of this problem which needed to be dealt with. She said she found it extremely upsetting when other drivers on the road were impatient or angry at her.

We now changed the set up phrase and took a new 0-10 rating for this aspect. It was an 8 to start with. The new set-up phrase was:

"Even though I'm afraid of causing an accident, I choose to take my time and be safe no matter what anyone else thinks."

This phrase was extremely useful for her. She found herself relaxing nicely even when I tested her by vividly describing other drivers honking impatiently at her or yelling at her from their cars. Following the tapping, she no longer felt pressured and confused when she imagined these people becoming impatient.

At that point still another problem surfaced. She was unsure of her right-away at intersections and this made her anxious and hesitant when she reached them. The two set up phrases she formulated went as follows:

"Even though I'm not sure of my right-away at intersections, I choose to be calm and levelheaded and make safe decisions."

and

"Even though I'm anxious when drivers get impatient with me, I choose to be calm and levelheaded and know what to do."

This last phrase turned out to be important for her becauseknowing what to do even though other people were impatient with her, had not formerly been in her repertoire.

This was all we did in this first session. Fortunately we were able to test out of the results right away. After she finished the tapping, she and her Dad drove 50 miles to New York City on the throughway, and she was the driver.

According to the report her Dad gave me afterwards, there was a marked change in Daisy's handling of the car after her first EFT session. She was, he said, much calmer and more collected on the road during the whole trip, and one time when she was slowing down to get off the highway and someone else began to honk impatiently, she was even able to say out loud, "Oh, let them honk!",unruffled as she made her turn. He identified a definite and immediate improvement in her ease on the road.

But this is not all we had to do. Before our next session I was in the awkward position of riding with Daisy as she drove to the family and noticing something that actually made me concerned for my own safety as well as hers. She had a tendency to brake too rapidly and come to an abrupt stop too close (within about 3 feet of) the car in front of her. The abruptness with which she did this was not only uncomfortable but it felt as though she did not have proper control of the car. The wonderful ease and gauging of distance that experienced drivers have, something that most of us to take for granted when at the wheel, was absent.

When I commented on this (as diplomatically as I could) her father indicated that he had previously advised her not to brake so slowly because she had been starting to brake a half a half block before an intersection, causing much consternation on the road. After this advice, she had apparently swung over to a too rapid braking action which was quite unnerving for others in the car.

I therefore found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to be the one who identified this problem for her and suggest she might want to tap on it. Not an easy task because this is not the usual EFT trainer's stance. We do not usually accompany our clients around and make suggestions as to what they might improve in their lives, but here safety considerations required me to abandon the objective stance and indicate that I felt a skill needed to be acquired for safety purposes, and that perhaps EFT could help in acquiring it.

I readily obtained Daisy's agreement to work on this problem and we choose a place to conduct an actual driving lesson aided by EFT. We selected a parking lot for her practice. It was a spot where cars came in and out at intervals but not at great speed, and where there was some open space to practice in.

Before we started tapping, I talked with her about what I consider to be the ideal way to brake in cars, taking the role here of teacher. I think this is important to note because I discovered from doing this that a skill such as driving can be taught by using EFT as an important addition to the regular training, and that this can bring about some remarkable results.

I pointed out to Daisy in glowing and appealing terms, how easy it is and how good it feels to be able to bring the car to a stop almost effortlessly and with such ease that you barely know you're stopping. Although she didn't seem to know what I meant, having never experienced it, the idea did appeal to her and so we formulated the following set up phrase:

"Even though I stop pretty well, I choose to stop so smoothly I hardly even know I'm stopping."

Notice the insertion of the phrase, "Even though I stop pretty well" into the set-up. This allowed Daisy to acknowledge her own progress in being able to brake (important for her) while at the same time she was preparing to take another step forward and thus acquire new mastery of the process.

I did not ask her to give me a 0-10 rating on this issue because there was no identified anxiety here, it was a self-improvement task. I believe this is important to note because when using EFT for on-the-spot teaching, a 0-10 rating is usually unnecessary since one can conduct an immediate objective test after each round or so of the tapping - the person is right in the car (or wherever) and can try out the behavior being tapped on. How better to rate ease with it than through a direct demonstration?

So we systematically tested out the effects of EFT after every three rounds of tapping (my Choices Trio method described in Chapter 3 of my Choices Manual). I would ask her to drive over to a more deserted part of the parking lot and brake at a designated point. For example, I would suggest, "As you're driving over there, bring the car to a stop before you reach that green post over to your right "- or "before you reach the red car that is parked near the curb-" etc..

She followed my directions and I must admit I was amazed when, after doing only three quick rounds of EFT (the Short Form of EFT), during which we had installed the new positive attitude of hardly even knowing she was stopping, Daisy, who had never even thought she had a problem with her braking but had simply taken my word for the fact that there was a problem, now handled her car in a completely different manner. I watched as she gently brought it to a stop with perfect control and no suddenness whatsoever - her stops were seamless.

What was also interesting was the fact that Daisy herself had no awareness of any difference in her driving after she did the tapping. She had not perceived a problem in braking before and she did not perceive a difference in her performance now - but it was clearly there, a behavior apparently learned at a subliminal level. The change in her visual motor coordination while driving was so rapid and complete that it was clearly apparent to me immediately after this first 3 rounds of tapping - but to this day it is not apparent to her, although apparently that change is permanent.

Just to make sure that this new behavior would take, I had her do some more tapping using the same phrases, after which we again did a test. We alternated this sequence three times, the tapping then the testing, and then it was time for the rest of the family to board the car and for her to drive us all back home.

The drive back gave me ample opportunity to observe the carryover effects of the work we had just done. As we went along, I felt as though I were riding with a completely different driver. I watched her stop at intersections or behind other cars or to let pedestrians cross the street, or whatever else was demanded, with such ease and smoothness that it was a pleasure to be a passenger now.

Particularly important was the fact that her father has since reported that Daisy's driving has improved noticeably. According to him, there is a definite ease that was not there before and a sureness, although clearly she has a way to go in terms of road mastery, something that can only come with experience.

Daisy has not done any more tapping for this problem because she feels no need for it, nor does anyone else in the family.

From this experience with the "driver's ed", it seems to me that an important potential use of EFT may be on-the-spot for educational purposes, that is, its use right while the teaching process is proceeding, as an adjunct to it.

Imagine the educational implications if such a plan were to be implemented in standard teaching situations.

Can you imagine a teacher stopping in the middle of a math class, say, to have the children tap on their anxiety about specific difficulties with math, right then and there - and then continuing with the math lesson?

Can you imagine a teacher stopping during a class to have students tap on their anxiety about a test that has just been announced - and then proceeding with the lesson?

Can you imagine an athletic coach stopping to have her students tap to improve a specific move on the high jump, and then continuing with their practice?

These are but a few of the many possible educational applications that come to my mind. EFT may be able to contribute powerfully to the efficiency and effectiveness of education, and I would hope that we will all explore this possibility and exchange our experiences with it. I am eager to hear what you discover if you try out this approach to teaching skills. Please contact me if you do at the email address below.

With warmest wishes,

Pat Carrington

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