4 September, 2023 by Andy Hunt
Sometimes people want to know what the difference is between using EFT and Identity Healing when working on identity beliefs such as “I am not good enough” or “there is something wrong with me”.
In standard EFT, a practitioner looking to release an identity belief such as “I am not good enough” would first look for the memories where this belief was formed.
Once those memories are found, the practitioner would neutralise them using the Movie Technique and other memory resolution processes.
These significant emotional events are what give the belief its power, and neutralising those memories softens the identity belief.
This approach works well, but it has some drawbacks.
It may be hard to find the relevant memories. A lot of our identity beliefs are formed at an early age, and the memories of those events may be difficult to find, either lost in the mists of time or hidden away from our conscious minds to protect us from distress.
These beliefs can be complicated. It’s not just the belief that’s a problem; we may have a complicated relationship with those beliefs. We may hate ourselves for being so weak; we may also secretly support the belief because it is keeping us safe, etc. All this is mashed together within one person, and it can be hard to identify and disentangle all those aspects because they are all going on inside just one person.
Although standard EFT is very good at taking away the ‘negative’ emotions of trauma and distress, it is not so good at bringing resources to the parts of ourselves that may need them.
Identity Healing (IH) uses a different model of change, which allows for more flexible ways of working with identity beliefs and other issues.
The principle difference between Identity Healing and EFT is that identity healing does not rely on finding and neutralising memories.
Identity Healing is a ‘parts’ model. In this approach, an identity belief is thought of as the result of a part of ourselves that was ‘split off’ in difficult circumstances. The part (called a younger self in IH) holds the belief and
all the feelings, physiology, behaviour, and perspectives that go with that belief. When the identity belief is in operation, it is as if we are ‘hijacked’ by a younger version of ourselves that brings all of that into our present-moment experience.
For example, if you have ever been called into your boss’s office and suddenly felt that you were back in school and in trouble, this is the experience of being ‘hijacked’ by a younger self.
Because this model is based on parts, not memories, the way of working with an identity belief is completely different.
The basic Identity Healing process has six steps:
Identify the part from linguistic clues or from the felt experience of the belief (this is surprisingly easy).
Externalise the part Once identified, the practitioner invites the client to externalise the part by having them imagine ‘taking the part out of themselves and putting it in front of them’ so the part can be ‘seen’ as a representation of their younger self.
Soothe the part The practitioner guides the client to use tapping to soothe the stress and distress of the ‘younger self, taking care of all the ‘negative’ emotions that they are carrying. Tapping is very good for defusing painful emotions.
Resource the part Once the ‘younger self’ has been soothed, that part can be resourced by giving it all the feelings, abilities, and perspectives that it needed back then but didn’t have. This is done through visualisation, not tapping.
Integrate the part The soothed and resourced younger self is ‘brought back into’ the client and allowed to settle in.
**Evolve the part **The younger self is invited to grow up and take advantage of all the resources and learning opportunities that the adult client has to offer. Unlike most inner child work, the ‘inner child’ gets a chance to grow up in the process and become fully integrated with the client.
There are several advantages to using the externalise, tap, and resource approach.
Separation and clarification: having the younger self visible allows us to ‘see’ things that aren’t apparent when everything is tangled up together on the inside.
It gives us more information: once the part is externalised, we can ‘see’ what is happening, not just feel it. This allows us to gather more information and be more specific, allowing us to tap into so much more than just our feelings.
We can use our interpersonal skills as intrapersonal skills: by creating a ‘personification’ of that part, which we see as a younger version of ourselves, we can use all of our interpersonal abilities, based on years of experience, to read and understand the non-verbal communication presented by our younger selves.
It reduces distress: by converting the internal felt experience into an external visual form, strong emotions being dealt with are less distressing and painful than having to process those feelings directly.
It reveals intrapersonal conflict: some clients can resent or even hate their younger selves because of all the difficulty they have experienced because of this problem. This conflict, a cause of self-hate, can be concealed if you are only working on the internal experience of the client. Once the younger self is externalised, any conflict between their adult selves and their younger selves will be more obvious and can be worked on and resolved. This also leads to greater self-compassion.
It promotes self-compassion; usually, it is much easier for people to feel compassion for others than for themselves. Since the ‘younger self’ now looks like another, it can be easier to feel compassionate towards that ‘other’ you.
It promotes insight; sometimes the client can get a greater understanding and acceptance of why we do what we do. The experience of the younger self allows people to see the connections between how they were then and how that affects them now.
It helps develop rapprochement between the client and their younger selves. With a more compassionate perspective, it is possible to develop a healing relationship between the adult client and their younger self. Not having a supportive relationship to rely on is a major cause of distress. By creating supportive relationships within adults, some of that damage can be repaired.
It facilitates resourcing: by separating the sender (client) and receiver (younger self) of resources, it makes it easier to send resources from where they are (in the adult) to where they are needed (in the younger self) using visualisation techniques.
It gives the client a sense of agency. If a client has had this mysterious problem for a long time, they may feel that they are not able to do anything about it because it is fixed and eternal. However, just being able to take the problem and put it outside themselves implies that it is possible to act on it and maybe change something that previously appeared unchangeable.
It allows the practitioner to untie complex knots: the person’s difficulty may be the result of more than just one part of themselves; two, three, or more parts may be working in unison or against each other. If all of that is contained within just one person, it can be very challenging to understand what is going on and to work with each of those parts. If all the parts can be externalised, then it is possible to visualise and work with the parts and their relationships in a way that is very difficult in EFT.
For all these reasons and more, the Identity Healing processes allow a way of working that would be very difficult to achieve with standard EFT.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay