Why Short, Online EFT ‘Practitioner Trainings’ Are A Bad Idea

Online courses are appearing everywhere.

They are short, convenient, inexpensive and easy to access wherever you are in the world.

What’s not to like?

If the course is offering you a ‘Practitioner Certificate’ for watching a few hours (or less) video and reading a couple of articles then there is quite a lot not to like.

In the video above I had a quick rant about why I thought short online EFT ‘Practitioner’ courses are a bad idea.

This article is an in depth look at these courses and why they are well worth avoiding if you want to become a confident, competent practitioner of EFT.

I’m going to talk about EFT because that’s where I have the most experience but what follows applies equally well for NLP, Hypnotherapy or any other ‘healing skills’ being ‘taught’ in these courses.

There are lots of different online courses available, but this article focuses on the trainings that are:

  • Low cost
  • Low effort – you only need to watch videos and read articles.
  • Short duration – anything from 39 minutes (!) to 8 hours.
  • Implying or promising that you will be able to use your new skills with other people.
  • Promise you some kind of ‘Practitioner Certificate’ of some sort when you have completed the course.
  • One way only – that is you get no observation or feedback from the trainer during the training.
  • One off – there is no continuing support after the training

All that glisters is not gold

These courses often have impressive, official sounding titles:

  • EFT / TFT Tapping Master Practitioner Certification (Expert)
  • EFT & TFT Tapping Practitioner Certification
  • Professional Accredited EFT Diploma Course

They always promise amazing results

  • Become an awesome EFT Practitioner
  • Help others to rid themselves of negative and disempowering emotions
  • Uncover the deeper levels of helping that EFT and TFT can provide

If you are thinking of taking such a course because you want to become an ‘EFT Practitioner’ please look elsewhere.

If you are emotionally distressed and thinking of taking your problems to an ‘EFT Practitioner’ who has only taken a short online course please look elsewhere.

Facts are not skills

Short online courses are excellent for the transmission of information (learning about something), but they very poor for transmitting a skill (learning how to do something).

Would you take a short online course to learn how to dance, scuba dive or ride a bicycle?

Reading a book will give you a lot of information, but it wont show you how – even if the book is about how to do something it cannot give you the skills necessary to perform the skill.

Reading a book about cycling won’t help you learn to ride a bicycle.

Learning to cycle requires trial, error and skinned knees (even when you use training wheels and have a helpful parent showing you how it is done).

Cycling is a system of skills, to learn them and how to use them you need instruction, feedback, practice and time to get those skills embedded into your nervous system.

Most people understand this and would not try to learn cycling by just watching some videos and reading a few articles.

Cycling is a comparatively simple set of skills because your bicycle is inanimate. You can get on a bicycle, fall off it, put it away in a garage, not use it for months and the bicycle doesn’t care. Bicycles can tolerate your mistakes, they don’t suffer because of them.

When learning to help other people change their thoughts, feelings and behaviours it gets much more complicated. Other people are animate: they think, feel, act and react to what is happening to them. If they are in distress they may be much less able to tolerate your mistakes, in this case the ‘bicycle’ can suffer much more than the ‘rider’.

There’s much more to healing than the technique

You only need to Google your favourite healing technique to see thousands of videos, testimonials, articles proclaiming how this technique saved / healed / transformed people’s lives. It’s easy to come to the conclusion that the ‘technique’ did it.

The great promise (and deception) of these online courses is the idea that all you need to know is the technique and success is yours.

But using EFT (or anything else) successfully with another person requires far more than just the knowledge of the techniques.

These are some of the things you need to learn in an EFT training:

  • Techniques: if you are learning EFT / NLP etc you are going to need to know about the techniques and approaches that are used in your chosen modality. This is the stuff you can get from a book or a video.
  • Rapport: this is how to connect with the person that you are working with to get where they are coming from and to help them feel safe. This is a people skill, some people are naturally good at rapport, some people need to learn how to do it better. To learn how to do rapport you need to be in front of another living, breathing human being in real time.
  • Calibration: the skills of paying attention to the non-verbal information that other people are giving you. Some people are naturally good at this and some people need to learn. Once again, learning calibration skills need you to be in front of another person in real-time.
  • Which technique to use when: knowing what to do and when to do it comes with practice, reflection, discussion and mentoring.
  • Ethics – understanding your ethical and legal obligations (which depend in part on your jurisdiction) to the client and others.
  • ‘Combat skills’ – this is my shorthand for knowing what to do if your client tells you they are going to commit suicide, are being or have been sexually/physically abused and all the other terrible things that can happen to real people in the real world. Being able to steer a safe course in such dangerous waters requires skill, mentoring, knowledge of help that is available from other agencies and how to access that help.
  • ‘Therapeutic presence’ – I use this as shorthand for the qualities of a good therapist / coach / practitioner. It includes:
    • stability: the ability to be grounded and steady when the client might be anything but grounded or steady.
    • clarity: the ability to be aware of what is going on in a session and what would be most helpful
    • self awareness – to know (as much as possible) what your hidden biases, hangups and needs are that might affect the quality of the sessions. This takes a lot of self work and mentoring.
    • humility – to be aware of and (kindly) accept your own limitations. It is an unfortunate fact that the less you know the more you think you know (the Dunning–Kruger effect).

Do you really think you get all that from a 39 minute video?

If those are the necessary skills what do you need in a training to learn them?

  • Instruction: having the principles and practices explained and being shown what to do to use these skills.
  • Demonstrations: people learn from example. Watching what a skilled practitioner does helps them see and understand some of the subtleties of what is being done in a way that having it described does not.
  • Practice: to learn a skill you have to practice it. Every skill you’ve ever had you learned it through practice and a good training should have ample opportunities for you to put your learnings into practice. This is what turns learning ‘about’ something into learning ‘how to do’ something.
  • Feedback: having someone who knows what they are doing helps you improve your skills by encouraging the good and making you aware of your mistakes. Having supportive feedback accelerates learning.
  • Discussion: opportunities to reflect on what you have learned, to get other opinions and perspectives and to be able to ask questions. All this helps you embed your learning into your existing knowledge.
  • Continuing support: learning skills is just the start, being able to access support and mentoring after the training is done is essential to maintain motivation and help the new (and not so new) trainee manage the inevitable bumps in the road.

As far as I can see only the ‘instruction’ part of these processes can be handled by watching a video.

Does your practitioner know what they are doing?

There is another aspect to training: assessing the suitability of the trainee to do this kind of work.

EFT is not a regulated practice (at least not in the UK) there are no restrictions on someone setting up as an EFT Practitioner and start seeing clients.

Even though EFT is not officially regulated, responsible trainers can help make sure that the public get high quality practitioners.

In my opinion there are two important questions that need to be answered:

1. Is the trainee skilled?

If the student has done the training, read the manual and done the practice then they probably have the requisite skills to start working with other people.

2. Is the trainee safe?

This is a much harder question to answer.

One of the requirements for successful therapy / coaching is that the client is safe and feels safe while they work through whatever they bring to the session. It’s difficult to get the most out of EFT sessions if you are scared.

There are lots of different kinds of safety.

Safe from physical threats: obviously a client does not want to be physically attacked or intimidated by their EFT Practitioner.

Safe from unwanted sexual / romantic advances: EFT sessions are not a dating opportunity (for either party). Clients are often emotionally vulnerable and (sometimes made to be) dependent on the practitioner – that vulnerability and dependency can be exploited by the Practitioner to lead the client into sexual or romantic relationships that will probably harm the client.

Safe from financial exploitation: the vulnerability of the client can also be exploited by therapist / coach – by insisting on extra sessions, workshops, sales of other products, etc.

Safe from emotional abuse: we don’t like to think that our therapists / coaches / counsellors could indulge in emotional abuse. Sadly, some people are in this line of work for the power trips or other manipulations.

It would be nice to think that all EFT / NLP / Hypnotherapy Practitioners are honest, compassionate and completely sorted out people. But all Practitioners are people and some people are more suited to being helpers than others.

I’ve been an EFT trainer for 14 years and an NLP trainer for 5 of those years and I’ve trained hundreds of people.

I’ve seen students who have been unaware of their emotional difficulties and play them out on other students. (I’ve also seen students who have been very aware of their personal difficulties and found ways to work well within those constraints).

I’ve seen students who use the opportunity to dump their entire belief system on the people they are working with. Tell them what’s wrong with them and what they should do about it.

I’ve seen students who have been desperate to help, and that desperation to help, be helpful be appreciated for being helpful has coloured everything they have done.

I’ve seen students who, for whatever reason, just don’t get it or just can’t do it.

I’ve even seen one person who had vividly obvious mental health issues trying to push business cards advertising their ‘hypnotherapy’ practice onto other trainees.

In short, I have seen people who wanted to be Practitioners that I would not want within a thousand miles of any of my problems.

Some trainees recognise, or come to recognise, these problems and are willing and eager to do what it takes to overcome them. As a trainer I’m willing and eager to do what I can to help.

However, some trainees either don’t recognise the problem or don’t see it as a problem.

Since AAMET EFT Practitioner Certification is a two stage process: training + certification, the trainer can decline to grant a certificate if they have concerns about the competence of the practitioner.

By the way, unsuitable trainees is not a phenomena peculiar to EFT/NLP/ etc trainings. I’ve met a few conventionally trained counsellors and therapists over the last 30 years who I definitely would not want to work with.

So, what does this have to do with online video ‘Practitioner’ trainings?

Simple, these trainings can be taken by anybody, regardless of their suitability, aptitude or integrity.

In spite of any ‘Certificate’ they have from such a course, neither you (or the trainer who gave them the certificate!) have any idea how good or bad they are at what they do.

So what can would be clients or trainees do to get a good deal?

In an unregulated system there are no ‘Tapping Police’ patrolling the streets to protect innocent clients and arrest suspicious trainers. It’s up to you to check what is on offer and whether it is right for you.

What can clients do to find a good practitioner?

If you are looking for a good EFT practitioner check to see if they are certified practitioner members of, and trained by, a respected professional organisation (I recommend AAMET and the EFT Guild).

What can trainees do to find a good training?

If you are looking for a good EFT Practitioner training check out trainers who are certfied trainers of respected professional organisations. Look at their requirements for an EFT Practitioner Certification (this one is an example from AAMET). If the training and certification looks like a big commitment and a lot of work then it’s probably worth investigating further.

You can find a very useful checklist in the article 13 Critical Factors To Consider Before Choosing An EFT Training by Peter and Tamara Donn

Not surprisingly having to check the usefulness of what you are buying is not a new principle, it has a very long history and a fancy Latin name: caveat emptor – ‘let the buyer beware’.

P.S. If you want to find high quality EFT Trainings worldwide visit the AAMET International’s Training Events page. If you are in travelling distance of Newcastle upon Tyne and want to find out about my trainings visit the Practical Wellbeing EFT Training page.

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