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TANGO MOVE 4 - Processing the Encounter

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

  • In Tango Move 4, we process the encounter with both the sharer and the recipient

  • In simpler terms, we want to explore, with both the sharer and the recipient, how they experienced this new/more vulnerable interaction

  • We ask questions like:

    • "What was it like to share/risk/ show your heart/confide?"

    • "What was it like to hear/How did this message land/touch your heart?"


recipe for tango move 4 (From Brubacher and Lee, 2019)

  • Check-in with sharer- What was it like to share? (Replay moment of contact and core message)

  • **Validate and or heighten sharer’s experience (if the recipient is not able to provide a safe response, our job is to be the temporary safe attachment figure)

  • Check-in with the recipient- What was it like to hear? (Replay moment of contact and core message)

  • Foster a connecting response/validate mistrust or hesitancy in the context of the cycle

** A common question is who should we check-in with first, the sharer or the recipient?

When asked this question, different EFT trainers provide different answers. The best answer is that we should use our clinical judgment based on what we think will help facilitate a moment of connection and what will protect the risk-taker if we anticipate that the listener is not receptive.
EFT trainer George Faller’s traffic light guide to encounters

Type of response

Recipient is

Therapist task

Green light

A.R.E. (Accessible,

Responsive, Engaged)

Reflect, heighten, and celebrate new

way of risking and


Orange light

Responsive + showing


Validate the mistrust

Focus on responsiveness/ longing to


Red light

Hostile, not open

FIRST: respond to the risk-taker, don’t leave them alone

THEN: process block with listener


Example Tango Move 4: Orange light

Julie: It’s true I do get mean. When I am expressing pain to you and you seem distracted..not interested..I feel desperate..panicky-alone. It feels like if you don’t respond I’ll explode. So.. I say mean things just to get a response from you…I want to find another way (stage 1 encounter)

Therapist: Julie, wow you are taking a big risk here..sharing your heart with Max (validate). What’s it like right here to talk to Max about how panicked, desperate you feel when the cycle takes over and it seems you don’t have his attention, he is not responding? (check-in with sharer, replay moment of contact and core message)

Julie: I feel nervous..I don’t know how he will react, but it also feels good to tell him

Therapist: It feels good to tell him, to let him see this part of you that longs for a response from him (Reflect, seeding attachment). And of course you feel nervous, it is risky to open up and Max is so important to you (validate, seeding attachment)

Therapist: Max, what is it like for you just now as Julie shares the panic that comes up for her when she does not get a response from you..that her mean words are a desperate attempt to get you to respond…to quell her panic? (check-in with recipient, replay moment of contact and core message)

Max: I had no idea she gets so panicked…I am happy she is telling me. It’s confusing though because when she gets mean she does not seem desperate or panicked…she actually seems very sure of herself (Orange light, ambivalent response)

Therapist: Right, you don’t want her to feel panicked in those moments..and of course it is hard to trust this right now…this is one of the first times that Julie has shown you what is behind what she calls her spikes. In the cycle all you see is an attack and meanness as you say…and now you are hearing something very different. Of course that is disorienting and your mistrust here protects you from being hurt again (validate the mistrust). I also heard you say you are happy she is sharing her panic with you… I noticed how your body started to lean closer to her as she spoke… can you say more about that? (Bring focus back to the longing to connect).

**Please note that this is not a transcript from a real session but was created based on clinical experience



Brubacher, L. & Lee, S. (2019). EFT Tango cards.


Faller, George, & Little, W. (2019) Get comfortable with enactments!

Furrow, J. L., Johnson, S. M., Bradley, B. (2022). Becoming an emotionally focused couples therapist (2nd ed.). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Johnson, S. M. (2020). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy: Creating connection (3rd ed.). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

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