Belief change with EFT

by Don A. Blackerby, Ph.D.


Several years ago, after I started working with students who had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), I discovered that many of the students had massive trauma in their background and pervasive rage.  I needed some way of helping them clear the emotions that were locked in their bodies so I could have access to their minds.  I went to a Thought Field Therapy (TFT) workshop and found what I needed—a quick and efficient way to clear stuck emotions.  For those of you who haven’t discovered it yet, TFT is the brilliant development of Roger J. Callahan, Ph.D. (see Callahan).  TFT requires learning several protocols or sequences and of  tapping on points of the energy meridians of the body.  Different problems require different protocols.  The results are swift and lasting. 

Towards the end of the TFT workshop, the workshop leader reported that there was one protocol that would cover practically all the problems.  This protocol was called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and had been developed by Gary Craig , one of Dr. Callahan’s students.  The workshop leader taught us EFT and I have been using it with clients blocked by heavy emotion as well as students with ADD.  I have used it with rage, symptoms of ADD, confusion, depression, overwhelming feelings of all kinds, frustration and abuse to name just a few.   

So, before we go any further, let’s review EFT. It is simple and easy to do.  However, doing it with style and mastery requires training.  (If you are interested in being trained in EFT or in reading more about it, check out Gary Craig’s web site listed in the references.)  You identify the issue to be dealt with and have the client assign it a code word or “reminder phrase.” Then assess the strength of the issue.  Some EFT practitioners do muscle testing and others ask the client to assess on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is no strength and 10 is maximum strength.  Then, while the client attends to the issue with the reminder phrase, you lead them through the EFT steps as follows:


 1.  The Setup

Repeat 3 times this affirmation:

“Even though 1 have this __________  [or  “ Even though 1 still have some of  this _______]

1 deeply and completely accept myself.”                        at the same time continuously rubbing the PR Spot (which is shown on the first diagram below, situated above the heart).

2.  The Sequence

Tap about 7 times on each of the following energy points while repeating the Reminder Phrase at each point. EB = Beginning of the EyeBrow SE = Side of the Eye UE = Under the Eye  UN = Under the Nose  Ch = Chin  CB = Beginning of the CollarBone  UA = Under the Arm  Th = Thumb  IF = Index Finger  MF = Middle Finger  BF = Baby Finger  KC = Karate Chop


3.  The 9 Gamut Procedure

Continuously tap on the Gamut point while performing each of these 9 actions: (1) Eyes closed (2) Eyes open (3) Eyes hard down right (4) Eyes hard down left (5) Roll eyes in circle (6) Roll eyes in other direction (7) Hum 2 seconds of a song (8) Count to 5 (9) Hum 2 seconds of a song.

4.  The Sequence (again)

Tap about 7 times on each of the following energy points while repeating the Reminder Phrase at each point:  EB, SE, UE, UN, Ch, CB, UA, Th, IF, MF, BF, KC. 

Assess the strength of the issue again.  It usually has been diminished.  If there is any strength left, do the EFT on the “remaining” problem.  The Setup affirmation and the Reminder Phrase are adjusted to reflect that you are addressing the remaining problem.  Continue this until it has gone away completely.  Sometimes a new aspect or issue of the problem will emerge when the first problem is gone.  When this happens, repeat EFT on the new aspect. 

So, for example, a year ago I was working with a teenage tennis player who had trouble maintaining his composure during tennis matches.  This would occur when he would be playing a match without a linesman.  The linesman’s job is to officiate whether or not a ball is in bounds or out of bounds. When my client thought his opponent was cheating, he would get mad and lose his concentration and focus.  His anger measured a 10.  We tapped EFT on his anger and it dropped to a 5.  We did the “set up” on the remaining anger, tapped again and it dropped to a 1.  As he sat there contemplating the change he remarked “You know, it’s not just that I get angry.  When it really gets to me is when I am playing a friend and he cheats—I feel so betrayed!”  This is an example of another aspect or issue that is sometimes revealed when the emotion of the first aspect is released.  We repeated the EFT procedure on betrayal until those emotions were gone. 

A critical skill for the EFT Practitioner is to be able to assist the client in uncovering the evolving new aspects.  Many EFT Practitioners are highly skilled, gifted, and intuitive and do an exceptional job in assisting their clients.  One of the ways I use to assist my clients is to use the template of the Logical Levels of Experience to search for possible new aspects.  This not only allows me to utilize my intuitiveness but to also have a guide to assist me in making sure I have given my client access to all the remaining aspects. So, before we go any farther, let’s review the Logical Levels of Experience. 


Spiritual/Greater System - Attempts to change at this level affects our experience of being a part of a much vaster system.  Answers the question of WHO ELSE DOES THIS CHANGE SERVE?  Or, WHAT IS THE GREATER VISION FOR THIS CHANGE? 

Identity - Attempts to change at this level affects self-image and overall purpose.  Answers the question of WHO AM I THAT I WOULD PURSUE THIS CHANGE and/or WHAT KIND OF PERSON AM I THAT I WOULD PURSUE THIS CHANGE and/or WHAT IS MY PURPOSE FOR PURSUING THIS CHANGE? 

Beliefs and Values - Attempts to change at this level affects the motivation and permission by affecting the reasons that we do it.  Answers the question of WHY DO I PURSUE THIS CHANGE? 

Capabilities - Attempts to change at this level affects behavioral actions through a mental map, skill or strategy.  Answers the question of  MENTALLY, HOW DO I ACCOMPLISH THIS CHANGE? 

Behavior - Attempts to change at this level affects specific actions taken within the environment.  Answers the question of WHAT DO I DO OR WHAT ACTIONS DO I TAKE TO ACCOMPLISH THIS CHANGE? 

Environmental - Attempts to change at this level affects the external constraints a person has to live within and react to.  Answers the questions of WHERE and/or WHEN and/or WITH WHOM DO I PRACTICE THIS CHANGE ? 

When I first started using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to model the subjective experience of those with the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), I used the Logical Levels extensively.  The published symptoms of ADD like hyperactivity, distractibility, forgetfulness, impulsiveness, lack of organization, and procrastination are diagnosed at the Logical Level of Behavior.  What I found were symptoms at all the Logical Levels.  So, when I work with somebody with ADD, I systematically work with them through all the Logical Levels.  I have found that using EFT to do this greatly speeds up the process. 

First of all, the environment many times is the triggering mechanism for the ADD symptoms.  Classrooms, noise, lots of activity, a boring lecture, and the like can trigger ADD symptoms.  Many of the recommended remedies in the books on ADD are about how to control the environment around the person with ADD symptoms.   

Many schools have “quiet rooms” where students can go to study.  Sometimes teachers will move students with ADD symptoms around the room in order to find a place with fewer distractions.  Having them do the EFT tapping on what they sense around them when the ADD symptoms kick in is one of the easiest interventions to do.  Examples are: seeing or hearing a particular teacher, a brother or sister, a classroom, or being compelled to do a boring school lesson are just a few of the possibilities.  So, ask the client the following question and listen and notice those responses that are emotion laden “When you start to experience the ADD symptom of ______, what or whom do you see or hear around you?”  Get them to elaborate, so you can read the emotional response. 

As I mentioned earlier, the symptoms of ADD as listed above are primarily seen as behaviors.  Some of the more common remedies in the ADD literature, besides taking drugs, are behavior modification techniques (like moving the student around).  Tapping with EFT on these behaviors many times will eliminate the behaviors or at least will relieve the student of the emotional baggage connected to the symptoms. 

At the Capability Level, I have found two phenomena in students with ADD that I work with.  The first is the sense that their mind is out of control.  What I found was that many had multiple images in their mind and they could not control them or focus on just one.  Sometimes the images are flying around; sometimes they appear and then mysteriously disappear.  I had a 12-year old boy one time tell me that he had 16 images at one time in the form of 4 rows of 4 TV monitors.  Each TV had a different subject on it.  I have had others describe their subjective experience as giant shows with images flying all over the place like shooting stars.  One of the ways I test for this is to give them a mental assignment which forces them to stabilize an image in their mind.  I give them a word that they already know how to spell and have them spell it backwards or from right to left.  If their mind is out of control, they will exclaim “I can’t hold the picture, it keeps going away!” or “My mind won’t let me do it, it takes it away!”  I then tap on their feeling that their mind is out of control until they regain control. 

Secondly, once they can control their mind, then usually I have to teach them HOW TO LEARN in the classroom.  Our schools presuppose that children know how to learn in the classroom and do not accept the responsibility of teaching them effective learning strategies.   

Most teachers focus on giving them LEARNING ACTIVITIES (which are at the behavior Logical Level) and leave it to chance that learning actually occurs (e.g., writing a spelling word down 10 times).  This is a major void that occurs in our schools that creates much trauma in many students.  This trauma occurs in “normal” underachieving students as well as those with “learning disabilities.”  Many if not all of those who have been diagnosed with ADD and in particular ADHD have been traumatized repeatedly in school.  And much of this trauma comes from the fact that they cannot control their minds and therefore cannot effectively learn in the classroom.  I tap on these traumas while I am assuring them that things will change since I am also going to teach them HOW TO LEARN.   

At the next Logical Level of Beliefs/Values, I find that many students have either a void of positive and empowering beliefs and values regarding school and learning or they have already picked up “limiting” beliefs and values.  For example, some ADD students who have the sense that their mind is out of control will adopt an unconscious belief “I can’t control my mind!” or “My mind controls me!” or “My mind makes me do things and I get in trouble!”  They will also have limiting beliefs about the value of school like ”School sucks!” or “School is boring!”   They will also adopt beliefs about their capability like “I can’t learn ____!”  or “I can’t do math!”  In fact, they can have beliefs at any and all of the Logical Levels.  Eliciting these limiting beliefs and changing them to more empowering beliefs at all logical levels can and is a truly transforming experience for the students I work with.  Coupling the learning of new and effective learning strategies with the elimination of limiting beliefs and the addition of empowering beliefs through the Logical Levels pretty well completes the transformation.  After this coverage of the Logical Levels, I will share with you a way to change limiting beliefs using EFT. 

Many ADD and ADHD students have limiting beliefs at the identity level because so much of the feedback they get from parents, teachers and peers is about how different they are as a person.  So, many times they will have Identity Level beliefs like “I am weird.” or “I’m different than everybody else.” or “I’m dumb.” or “I’m learning disabled.” or “I’m an ADDer.”  Changing this level of limiting beliefs sends reverberations through all the lower logical levels and has quite an impact on the student. 

When I am working with a teenager who has been diagnosed with ADD, I look pretty hard for limiting beliefs at the highest Logical Level of Spiritual/Greater System.  By the time they hit teenage years they have been traumatized by the system to such a degree that they can become anti-social in many ways.  You will hear them say things like “Why did God do this to me, I didn’t deserve this” or  “Why don’t the schools help me—nobody cares about me!”  They feel so much like social outcasts that they sometimes turn to gangs so that they can feel like they have a group identity and a sense of belonging 

Last Summer in my “Rediscover the Joy of Learning” Certification Training, I was teaching how I used EFT with students when it dawned on me that I had added a wrinkle or two.  When I looked closer at what I was doing, I realized I had developed a new and quicker way to change limiting beliefs.  The structure of how to change limiting beliefs starts with creating doubt in the old limiting belief and then introducing the new belief and energizing it.  Beliefs are held in place by their emotional investment.  When you have a limiting belief that has been brought about by traumas and you use EFT on the limiting belief it, in effect, drains the negative emotion away from the limiting belief.  This weakens the strength of the belief, which opens the way for doubt to creep in.  If you immediately have them choose a new, empowering belief and repeat it while they go through the EFT protocol again, you are connecting new and positive emotions to the new belief—effectively installing it in them. 

With the tennis player I described earlier, after we had cleared his anger and feeling of betrayal, I asked him how he wanted to respond to the fact that somebody was cheating on him.  His reply was “I want the energy of the anger to translate into more energy in my game and I want it to be focused energy!”  We summarized that to “I choose for the cheating to give me focused energy!”  We tapped through the EFT again while he repeated the new belief at every energy point.  This connects the new belief with a positive energy and connects a positive response to the cheating.  The last time I checked he was having no problems with anger on the tennis court.  In fact, he was playing tennis better than he had ever played.  In the State tennis tournament, he advanced to the final round while beating some opponents that he had never beat before. 

Another example occurred recently when an insurance agent came to see me for fear of rejection when he needed to cold call over the telephone.  He had been an insurance agent for 7 years and was very successful in his career.  The stress that he would go through, however, when he had to cold call was unbearable and would filter down to his family.  He wanted some help.  I had him get into the fear of rejection and give it a number and he labeled it an 8.  While he was attending to the fear of rejection I led him through the EFT tapping protocol.  To his amazement, when we got through he could not access any fear of rejection—zero.  I future paced him and had him imagine all sorts of different situations and he could not access the fear.  I then asked him how he wanted to respond when he needed to cold call.  He replied “I want to be confident and calm when I cold call.”  We condensed that to the belief statement “When I am cold calling, I choose to be confident and calm.”  He repeated the new belief statement as he went through the EFT tapping.  The last time I talked to him about it was after several months and he was having no problems whatsoever with the cold calling. 

During a “EFT Speciality” Workshop presentation in Flagstaff, AZ recently I alluded to the fact that I was modeling how Gary Craig’s EFT tapping was so effective.  Some of the participants teased me about holding out on them.  I told them a little bit about how he was linguistically moving up and down the Logical Levels while tapping.  There was more, but I did not want to get pulled off of my planned presentation.  So,with Gary’s permission, here is the rest of the story. 

I am sure that Gary does even more than I noticed, but one of the more powerful things he does is change the limiting beliefs behind the issues.  He does it in the following manner:


In order for a limiting belief to be changed, you must create doubt in the old belief.  The old belief is held together with the emotional energy that is connected to it.  When Gary is tapping on the issues, he releases that energy in four primary ways: 

1.   The tapping releases energy.

2.   Humor—getting a person to laugh at the issue with his humorous remarks.

3.   His counter examples—one time he was working with a lady that believed she couldn’t make money until she lost weight.  He wondered out loud if Oprah Winfrey had a belief that her weight was limiting her money making ability—both a counter example and funny.

    4.   His Reframing of the issue—getting the person to think about the issue in a different way.  For your information, Reframing is one of about 14 “Sleight of Mouth” patterns that can be learned in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).  Sleight of Mouth patterns are linguistic patterns designed to “loosen” the believability of old beliefs. 

While Gary is doing the above in his “Stream of Consciousness” he is also offering new ways of thinking about the issue (reframing) through all the Logical Levels.  Since this is done while he is tapping, it attaches new and positive energy to the new beliefs he is offering.  One of the reasons this works so well is related to the fact that when you change an old limiting belief, it creates a vacuum in the unconscious that is open to positive alternative ways of being and thinking.  Since he does this while tapping through all the Logical Levels, he is, in effect, integrating the new beliefs through all of the Logical Levels.

Of course, this is just my opinion, so if it seems right to you, it is something that can be learned.  In my opinion, if you learn how to do the above to the degree that you are “unconsciously competent” at it then you can also do what Gary says “Go to a Spiritual Level and get yourself out of the way and let your intuition tell you what to do,” you can be even more precise and powerful in helping your clients. 

The nice thing about being able to elicit and change limiting beliefs to empowering beliefs, is how pervasive and transforming the changes are.  Particularly, when the beliefs are changes higher up in the Logical Levels. 

When you change a belief at the Identity Level, for example, it will affect lower level beliefs, capabilities and behaviors.  Because these changes are so pervasive, I want my clients to integrate the changes through the Logical Levels in my presence. 

I find that the integration solidifies the new belief(s) and sets it into their future with specific changes they can look forward to.  I usually do this physically by having the client write each of the six levels on a piece of paper and line them up on the floor about a foot or two apart.  As the tennis player above, for example, stepped on each level, I asked him the following questions and let him elaborate on his answers: 

Environment Level—“Where, when and with whom will you choose for the energy to be focused?”

Behavior Level—“What behaviors or actions will you engage in when you choose for the energy to be focused?”

Capability Level—“What mental states or strategies will you engage when you choose for the energy to be focused?”

Beliefs/Values Level—“What values and beliefs will you need and use when you choose for the energy to be focused?”

Identity Level—“What kind of person are you that you choose for the energy to be focused?”

Spiritual/Greater System Level—“Who else does this serve or what greater mission or vision does it serve when you choose for the energy to be focused?”

As a client walks the logical levels from environment to spiritual/greater system, the answers become more general and can even become metaphorical.  After they complete the walk, I have them turn around and walk back through the Logical Levels with their focus on their expanded identity and sense of mission or vision.   

This double walk through the Logical Levels not only grounds the new belief in reality and actions but also gives it a higher sense of meaning and purpose.  It also assures that all the logical levels have been connected and that there are not any voids at any level.  When the tennis player left my office he felt powerfully empowered and confident that he would not have any more problems with anger on the tennis court. 

In my experience in working with students that struggle in school (particularly those with ADD symptoms), it is incredibly important to ferret out all the limiting beliefs regarding school and learning and replace them with more empowering beliefs.  In the past, it has sometimes been a tough sale to get a student, especially a young one, to allow it to be done.  Using EFT to facilitate the belief change makes it quick and fun.  And, it can be done with very young children too. 


Roger J.Callahan, Ph.D.,

Gary H. Craig,


About the Author

Don A. Blackerby, Ph.D. is founder of SUCCESS SKILLS in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA.  He is a former math teacher and college dean and founded SUCCESS SKILLS in 1981 in order to focus on using NLP in helping struggling students in school.  In 1996, he wrote a book Rediscover the Joy of Learning in which he describes his NLP based strategies and processes on how he helps struggling students including those with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  Don may be contacted in various ways.  His address is: SUCCESS SKILLS, PO Box 42631, Oklahoma City, OK 73123, USA. 

His phone number is 1-405-773-8820. 

His fax is 1-405-773-5427.   

His E-mail is    

He also has a web site: