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Self-Healing with WHEE - (The Wholistic Hybrid of EMDR and EFT)

by Dr Daniel Benor(more info)

listed in eft, originally published in issue 107 - January 2005

I studied psychiatry in the days when the focus of my chosen profession was primarily psychotherapy and there were only minor indications for the prescription of medications. I spent close to 20 years in the study of as many aspects of counselling, self-healing and spiritual healing as I could identify. For ten years I lived and practised in London and South Devon – the UK being much more open to healing than the US in those years.

I then found myself back in the US, working in conventional psychiatry for a living – as I could devise no reasonable ways to earn a living through the practice of my passion. My profession had changed drastically. As psychopharmacology developed into a major therapy intervention, the balance of work in my chosen profession evolved in ways I have not been happy to see. The prescription of medications is now the major focus of psychiatry, with psychotherapy parcelled out to psychologists, social workers and counsellors.

I refused to capitulate and to totally abandon the practice of teaching people the arts of sleuthing in the shadow of the unconscious and collective consciousness, in the sculpting of psyches and the harmonizing of relationships, in the search for immediate and ultimate meanings for existence. It was extremely challenging, however, to manage to pursue these passions in the framework of half-hour sessions with clients, once a month. I prayed for guidance and inspiration, and was led to discover a series of self-healing approaches that readily lend themselves to brief therapist interventions.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR – see: was a blessing to me, as well as to my clients. EMDR relies on stimulation of the left and right sides of the body, while focusing mentally on a statement of the problem. Negative feelings and beliefs, even intense ones, are rapidly relieved and transformed to positive ones with this method.[1]

I was particularly pleased to use EMDR with great effect for children who had post-traumatic stress disorders. Children respond very quickly to this approach – not having barnacles on their problems like adults do. I also used EMDR to de-stress myself.

With adults, it is recommended that EMDR should be done only during sessions with the therapist. This is to prevent being overwhelmed by intense emotional releases that can occur during treatment. I found that children rarely had such intense releases, perhaps because they had not kept their hurt feelings bottled up for as long a time, or perhaps because their emotional defences are not as strongly developed. Another factor may be that I am comfortable doing this, having used EMDR for myself without the constant guidance of a therapist.

As I usually see children with their parents, I also taught the more stable parents to guide their children in doing EMDR. If the children were mature and responsible, I encouraged them to practise the technique on their own, at home or at school, whenever they were upset. This was very helpful, for instance, with nightmares, when traumatic memories were stimulated by current stresses, or where excessive angers erupted. I still worried, however, that there might be intense emotional releases which could be traumatic.

I then learned to use the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) of Gary Craig ( In EFT you tap or press a finger at a series of acupuncture points on your face, chest and hand, while reciting an affirmation. Because it works more rapidly than EMDR and does not evoke intense emotional releases, it can be used as self-healing.

I started offering 'two (or three) for the price of one' introductions to EFT to children together with their mothers, including their fathers as well when they are present. This way, the children more often accept the therapy and comply with the recommendation to use it at home to deal with stresses.

Parents are more confident of its therapeutic efficacy because they have experienced its benefits themselves and, therefore, encourage their children to use it more often.

In an introductory workshop by Asha Nahoma Clinton on Matrix Therapy, Asha observed that alternating tapping the eyebrows at their closest edge to the nose, while reciting the affirmation, works just as well as the entire series of EFT points. Ever conscious of my time limitations, I immediately started exploring a hybrid approach, combining aspects of EMDR and EFT (which I now call the Wholistic Hybrid EMDR-EFT or WHEE(tm)).[2]

EMDR suggests the use of a 'butterfly hug' as one of its self-treatment interventions, particularly for children: Your arms are crossed so that your hands rest on your biceps muscles, and you alternate tap on each arm with your hands. Instead of tapping at the eyebrows, I often have children and parents use the butterfly hug with the affirmation. Many find the self-hug comforting, in addition to being highly effective in combination with the affirmation.

WHEE has been hugely successful for several reasons:

  • It takes a fraction of the time that EFT or EMDR require;
  • It allows for much greater flexibility in working on target problems within the session because it is so rapid. If the child is successful but the parent is not, or vice versa, there is plenty of time to explore alternative target symptoms or alternative methods of addressing these;
  • It is better accepted and the compliance outside the therapy room is much higher because of this simplicity;
  • It works marvellously well and rapidly on pains, and is excellent for allergies, though it may take several days to be effective for the latter;
  • It is tremendously empowering, as it is so simple and so rapidly effective in self-healing;
  • It taps into (pardon the pun) the excellent research database of EMDR, providing greater confidence to professional colleagues when I explain what I am doing with clients.


1. Shapiro F. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. New York. Guildford. 1995. (Portions of this paper are taken from Benor, 2000).
2. Benor JD. Self-healing: Brief psychotherapy with WHEE, a hybrid of meridian-based therapies and EMDR, other approaches. 2000.

Further Information

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) of Gary Craig:


  1. Tom Cheney said..

    Dr. Benor,
    I am an EMDR-trained, licensed marriage and family therapist in California. I too have sought to enable my clients to use EMDR on their own in a safe manner. In that regard I have been quite taken with EFT's set-up phrase. I think it is a brilliant piece of cognitive work. In particular, I love the way it promotes exposure to typically avoided distress and wraps it in an embrace of self-acceptance. I, too, in my initial sessions with clients, explain EMDR and the virtues of exposure, acceptance, and bilateral stimulation, and invite them to practice the butterfly hug while reciting a version of the EFT set-up phrase. Many clients choose phrasing other than the standard second part and replace it with religious or spiritual phrases or something uniquely personal. One client just last week began using the lyrics to "Love Is All You Need." It has been fun to see another practitioner doing something similar.

    Tom Cheney, LMFT

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About Dr Daniel Benor

Daniel J. Benor, M.D. is a psychiatrist in New Jersey who blends wholistic, bodymind approaches, spiritual awareness and healing in his practice. He is the author of Healing Research, Volumes I-IV and many articles on wholistic, spiritual healing. He appears internationally on radio and TV. He is on the Advisory Council of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychotherapy (ACEP). He is editor and producer of the International Journal of Healing and Caring ­ On Line See more by and about Dr. Benor at:

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