The Professional Resistance Phenomenon
Getting In Your Own Way
Dr. Rossanna Massey, D.C., EFTCert-I
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This article is directed to EFT practitioners who may have inexplicably experienced only marginal gains with certain clients which can then discourage them from seeking further help with EFT. While I deal mostly with serious diseases, recognizing this not so obvious barrier between you and your client, and addressing it head-on initially, could save you both time and effort and get you the results that you expect.
With all due respect to my clients who are in their fifties and above and who have witnessed sexual discrimination within their families growing up, I’ve noticed a running trend in personality profiles. And even though some issues are more complex than others, the common denominator between them is what I refer to as “professional resistance.” Although this “professional resistance” can also apply to male clients, I’ve especially noticed this with female clients who are well educated and professionals of one sort or the other.
The majority of these women are accomplished with professional or literary backgrounds, including psychotherapists. They’ve been exposed to and tried more than one healing method with mixed results. By the time they seek my help they’ve had a history of jumping from one approach to another in their quest for self help. While they present as succinct and motivated in their session agendas, there is an underlying impediment to honesty due to the shame and embarrassment of what they weren’t able to accomplish themselves. It’s not unusual for this type of client to strictly control the number and frequency of sessions they will allow from “outside” help. Because I specialize in serious diseases, this ‘time limit” adds to the complexity of finding our way out of the diseased state maze. If this professional resistance is left uncovered, it can be a real disservice to those who desperately and consciously want the help.
In order to help visually define the sources of this resistance barrier, I offer the example of a currently popular and nostalgic TV program that very accurately portrays the male and female roles of our society in the early sixties. And while the program is gorgeously done and fun to watch, in reality the fallout from that era presents as females with a lifetime of fear, anger, and resentment, and in the case of the majority of my clients, left with serious diseases. Beneath it all dwells a silent anger held down with a layer of resignation that tightly coats some very deep core issues. With the mindset of “That’s the way it was then”, they had more times than not felt that they were not in control, that they needed to be “perfect” so that they could be noticed (feel loved).
Women played down their intelligence because it wasn’t necessary to nurture that part, especially if they were going to “get married and be taken care of.” Consequently, most females were denied college educations and even made to feel guilty for their ambitions. Being a “career girl” and being taken seriously with any career really meant the threat of becoming a pathetic spinster, which back then was a fate worse than death. Some sacrificed and fought to pay for their own educations against all odds, while they watched their glorified male siblings being supported and uplifted by one or both parents. They saw the men in their families rise and prosper, as they took a back seat inside their own marriages because of the writings on their walls.
Interestingly, it’s been my experience that the less one is capable of compartmentalizing their own issues and over-thinking them (i.e., less educated) the easier it is to clear the issues. This would imply that the less coping skills learned from professional training, or just thoughtful and intelligent rationalization, the thinner the barrier or filter for honesty between the client and practitioner.
Although I have many female clients who fit this description of resistance, I write this article with gratitude for the help from two exceptionally candid clients of mine, Raye and Adele. Coincidentally or not, within the same week both women separately shared their own observations of “professional resistance.” Their comments inspired me to gather my own observations of the rest of my clientele, connect the dots, and write this article. Because of them, I now making tapping for resistance before an initial session a standard protocol of mine.
Raye is a well educated and multi-talented artist in her early sixties and no stranger to EFT and other energy techniques. Although we made progress with her digestive problems in the past, they eventually returned. After seeking other energetic options for her list of symptoms, she eventually resumed our sessions, but this time in earnest. At that point Raye was the first to admit her resistance to being honest during previous sessions with me because then I would discover how imperfect she really was. She didn’t want me having a bad impression of her. I thought it was probably the healthiest admission I’d ever heard since after all, ego can stop us from admitting that we even have ego when it comes to our self-representation and looking “evolved”. It was her admission that gave me the idea to start with a pre-session round of tapping for resistance to my help.
“Even though I’m resistant to Rossanna’s help, and I have my own reasons, I accept myself.”
“I accept myself even though I’m ashamed that I can’t do this myself.”
“Even though I have this barrier of embarrassment that’s standing in my way, I accept the way I feel.”
The rest of our session flew by with fluidity, and she experienced deep and profound results that are still holding according to her progress reports. If not for Raye’s honesty this time around, fulfilling her dreams of “hitting the ball out of the park” with the rest of her life would have been short circuited again. She continues to successfully move forward.
My next generous client, Adele, again in her early sixties, has a BA in English, an MA in Divinity. She graduated summa cum laude from her class, is an ordained United Methodist Minister, and an author of two books. Ten years ago she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and underwent the usual protocol of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Through her own research, she paid strict attention to her diet including detoxification protocols, and sought holistic alternatives for support. After a recurrence a year ago, she said “no” to more chemotherapy. Feeling she didn’t have “ten years for talk therapy,” she decided instead to focus on deep emotional issues that she suspected were a missing and important aspect. First she tried hypnotherapy, and finally EFT after learning it on her own and working on her own issues for a time. She called me for an energetic nudge in the right direction with particular issues for which she had blind spots.
And, like Raye, had also preset her time limit as to how many sessions she would allow to reach the core issues before she could figure it out on her own. After a long break between sessions, I heard from her again for some recurrent digestive issues. But this time she admitted to tapping in anticipation of our EFT session.
“Even though I have anxiety about my appointment with Rossanna”
“Even though I’m afraid we’ll uncover something else that’s wrong with me”
“Even though I’ afraid Rossanna will think less of me because I’m not better yet”
“Even though Rossanna will realize how incompetent I am”
“Even though Rossanna must be tired of dealing with me”
And once that barrier was broken, we had one of our best sessions ever!
I realize this may sound like I’m generalizing a specific personality type, however this has been a predictable trend so far with my female clients of this age group. I thought it was worthy of an article to alert other practitioners who may not have considered this as an important aspect when working with chronologically mature women. Feminism didn’t just fade to black after the initial ruckus of the 60’s. There’s a whole population of “good girls” out there who didn’t want to rock the boat during that time. If they were perfect, someone would eventually recognize it and acknowledge them for all the effort.
Come to find out, it doesn’t work that way at all.
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My primary specialty is serious diseases, though I am experienced in a wide variety of problems and issues. Trained as a Chiropractic Physician, my background in the healing arts gives me an advantage in working with physical manifestations of illness. I never hesitate to confront the emotional underpinnings of even the most serious of health problems, including pancreatic cancer.
I can be reached for private consults and phone sessions at
1-888-287-0989 toll free or visit my website, WWW.EFTHelp.com
Posted July 25, 2010 01:17 PM
I very much appreciate and relate to this article. I have also found that people who have a more accepting approach to life and do not over think have less in the way to allowing the healing. I am thinking of a particularly delightful young woman who had an innocent air about her, not wordly wise at all, and she was so easy to work with, one by one, each issue just gone, no resistance. Very rare for my clientele and quite a delightful experience for me.
Posted July 25, 2010 04:47 PM
Thank you for this thought provoking article.
I wonder if it would be simpler for the practitioner to tap for his or herself: ET I may seem intidmating to certain clients.... ET some clients may feel afraid to bare their soul and acknowledge what they consider to be faults, even to themselves and certainly to me....
I believe that getting better is a journey and while we set our sights on wellness as a goal, it's still not in our control when we get there. It's not our place to judge someone for getting sick or for the length of their journey to recovery. At the same time, we offer our services to accompany them for part of that journey. Like Rossanna said, certain professional women don't want to disclose anything negative about themselves, but other people for other reasons also don't. Another avenue to approach is the idea of saying ET mmmm where the person knows what they mean by mmmm but they don't need to share it with the practitioner.
Every step of my journey I discover more things I'm embarrassed of, or more faults of mine that I'd not acknowledged before. It's quite normal and part of the process (if I hadn't any faults, I wouldn't have a journey, and then how boring life would be!). I'd love to finish with all of them, and just be rich, happy, comfortable and healthy, but while these are goals, they are not 1 step solutions, although many would seem to promise that. They're also often not 1 person solutions, I need a few people's input, and the composite presents a solution to that part of my problem. So while I see progress, it's like taking out a stain, you have to circle around the perimeter gently until you can make inroads. It's not wrong or bad, it's just part of the process.
What I'm trying to say is that I'm moving away from the old model of trying to cure a certain condition, and moving towards offering to be a paid supporter for them on their goal, and they get to define what that goal is right now, even if their presenting problems indicate otherwise. In this specific case, you had clients, who said they wanted healing for X, you did what you could for them at the time, it was unsuccessful or didn't last - you still did something for them. Perhaps part of their journey, what they needed for their healing, was to try you out, relative to trying to cure their illness and relative to their being controlling, and see what happened.
What you were suggesting in this article is trying to help the client into really being able to solve the issue they claim they came to solve. I don't think that is incredibly supportive. I think you did better just being your natural self and letting them/EFT fail. For sure you can, if the setting seems right, tell a prospective client that perhaps they have some reserve, and would they like to tap for that. But it's my personal way to take my cues from the client's needs in the moment, and not have a set protocol, even if that means that I "fail". Thank you for the article anyway, because more knowledge and awareness of potential pitfalls is a really good thing, despite what I wrote above, it's a part of intuition. It just doesn't replace it.
I had a client who grew up in the sixties. She needed to control every aspect of the sessions. While she said she gained a lot from it, she was unable to meet any of her stated goal. However, there was no way she would have agreed to tap on her reserve either! it wasn't safe to bring up safety issues. It's a shame. I'd welcome further discussion on these type of people.
To the moderators, please allow a tick box that send follow up comments to interested people by email.
Dr. Rossanna Massey
Posted July 27, 2010 11:04 AM
Thank you for sharing your experience with resistance, and for reading the article. I've come a long way since writing it, and have found that professional resistance not only occurs with clients but within ourselves as practitioners as well. It warrants another article about this topic.
Dr. Rossanna Massey
Posted July 27, 2010 12:25 PM
Thank you for taking the time to write your professional opinion regarding professional resistance. I'll do my best to respond to your many bullet points.
After five years as an EFT practitioner, literally thousands of client sessions and having achieved Gary Craig's Level 1 certification it was really eye opening to discover new depths of understanding while going through the Level II certification training. Several things that came out of that training. One was to maintain control of the client session by keeping them on track, the other was to identify and establish specific goals, and with a good preframe it's easy to justify a resistance barrier without making the client feel unsafe.
We are on our own paths, that is true, but we cross paths for a reason.
In my experience with people with serious diseases, they are masters at leading you down an emotional pea patch that can obfuscate their issues and further obstruct whatever healing is going to occur. While I agree with you I have no control over the ultimate journey, I do have a responsibility to give each and every client my very best efforts. That includes having a plan of attack and maintaining control. Because most of my clients are seriously ill I'm used to working with time restraints which does not allow me the luxury of following their lead unless of course we are chasing down different aspects of their core issues. I have tried, as you've suggested, following their leads but the session outcomes were, in the end, unsatisfactory to the client. We never seemed to get anywhere.
I certainly agree with you in that health and wellness is a multi-factorial process, but even in the event that a client of mine dies, I can never say that EFT failed. If it helped them die with emotional peace and clarity in their hearts and mind, then it was a success in my estimation, and their journey. It is not my agenda or goal to "cure" serious disease but to desensitize the negative emotions that feed into it.
In the end, I think we'll have to agree to disagree about whether or not to have a "plan" or goal for EFT sessions. To me, EFT is too important, too profound a tool for an ailing and needful planet Earth to simply shrug off its failures as part of someone's "journey". Each practitioner failure invites the client to say, "yeah, I tried EFT and it didn't work...don't bother." And while I most certainly am human and will have failures, EFT is too precious a gift from Gary Craig to not try my best to implement it as he envisioned.
Posted August 22, 2010 02:39 PM
Hi Dr Rossana,
Thanks so much for the detailed reply. How does a person determine what constitutes failure? If a client only allows you say 4 sessions to heal a problem, which has so many roots that it would really take 14 or perhaps 40, is it failure if you don't solve it? I don't think so. In one session, where I was the client, it was very practitioner led, and I had to try out all sorts of statements eg How true is it "I deserve to do X" "I want to..." - which I felt were a little too stilted (not how I would have phrased my resistance). By the end of the session, some of my numbers had gone up, and I felt some shifts and got a deeper awareness, but I still felt that the main issue I had come to address had been skirted. In terms of measureable results - well, I got some, and good ones - but not the ones I expected and intended. All I can say is that I got a session, it was what it was.
There's different ways of doing EFT. If she'd have been more intuitive, she may have done it even better, and if she'd been less knowledgeable she'd have done it less well. We practitioners are all on a learning curve, and keep gaining more knowledge, skills and intuitiion that can make a difference to our sessions, an improvement. But what I'm trying to say is that my session, where it was practitioner led, was equally 'unsuccessful' as my sessions, which are client led.
When I say client led, I let the client talk about their problem, I probe as much as I sense they let, I ask - is this the problem? Is that the problem. As soon as we get to what they describe is the problem, we preframe and treat. The problem arises when they come for a desired result which is out of touch with the reality of the time allowed. If they then claim that EFT doesn't work for them (which none of my paying clients have ever done), it would not be because of my not trying my best, but because I didn't tell them in advance that they really need many many sessions and the problems are very multifaceted, they've been telling themselves hundreds of different lies all their lives, and I don't know how much unravelling we'll need to do to heal this physical condition.
But I still feel that the best approach is to start where the client is and take it from there. One step at a time - helping them along. You can't jump in for them, like a long journey, you can't help them with the second half of it effectively until you've helped them with the first part. Where they're up to is depicted by how they're thinking and feeling right now. So that's where I start.
Dr. Rossanna Massey
Posted August 22, 2010 04:17 PM
Hi Rachel G,
Thanks for your response. Since we as practitioners continue to learn by experience, I have so much more to write about this subject since I originally wrote the professional resistance article. I've gained new depths of understanding about people and am constantly refining my skills.
I looked up the word "failure" and one of it's definitions is to "not succeed." Again, I think EFT is so powerful in itself, even if you don't set out achieving a client's initial goal, work still gets done and it's still a "successful" event in that regard. However, if a client comes to me with an expressed purpose of helping them with a migraine, for example, and during the session we resolved several issues that involved one of her parents but yet at the end of the session(s) there's been no change in her migraine, then by definition the session has failed, i.e. the session was unsuccessful in achieving the results she wanted.
I realize we are quibbling over words but my point is you have to have a plan and control. To have a successful practice implies succeeding with the clients i.e., not failing to achieve what they want. At least that's the way I see it. And I do agree that many clients have unrealistic expectations of the time (number of sessions) required to unravel what may be complex and multi-layered problems. Perhaps that's why it's extremely helpful to have a clearly defined goal as it helps keep the sessions on track and moving towards resolution of the problem, i.e., succeed with that issue.
That being said, of course other issues generally surface during the sessions. Those then become opportunities for addressing those issues in other, future sessions should the client wish to address them. If I have succeeded in helping resolve one issue, the the client will perhaps be more wiling to retain me for others. If I have "failed" to help with what they originally came to me for...you get the drift.
It's fun and helpful talking about this stuff. It helps me clarify my thoughts and that is something we should all be striving for.
Best wishes to you Rachel.
Posted September 12, 2010 04:19 AM
Hi Dr Rossanna,
Migraines and phobias are relatively simple to define and relieve. Things like chronic illness, weight problems, social anxiety are a lot harder.
How do you ensure you get success with these?
PS. Please can the owners of this site add a button to enable people who comment (or are interested) to get follow up comments by email? Thanks for this site. RG
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