How to make EFT work when it “doesn’t work”
By Carol Look, EFT Master
Last week I taught two EFT classes to therapists, many of whom were overwrought and distressed from their own feelings about the September 11th trauma. Their distress of course was amplified by their clients’ feelings about September 11th and the future. This case shows how EFT unravels a “stuck” piece of the traumatic imagery from Sept. 11th and how using exact language is needed to “hit the spot.”
It involved a young social worker who was still feeling traumatized by the image of a man falling/jumping out a window following the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. The image that was stuck in “John’s” mind came from a direct, vivid picture from a television news report.
John had been taught EFT in a class setting last week, however it did “nothing” for his feelings of terror and being traumatized. He admitted to being disappointed that it “hadn’t worked” and was now very skeptical of my raving enthusiasm. While initially reluctant, John agreed to be a demonstration subject in class. I had some concerns myself about the outcome, but knew if I was present enough and let go of any need to have it “work”, I would be able to guide him through an EFT experience that would help reduce his distress, even if he didn’t become an EFT convert. I was hoping that the impact of EFT would be even more worthwhile if I had some success with a true skeptic.
John told me that he felt uptight in his body, especially in his chest and that he felt fear and upset when picturing this scene. He said he could recall it vividly all too frequently and that the intensity of the scene had remained a “10” since he first saw it.
We started by tapping for “Even though I’m upset because of this man falling from the window…” We tried this round twice. He admitted that the scene or picture from the television story was now more “distant” for him and harder to access. (This is a common response when using EFT for the first time) He then became more specific and told me he felt afraid “AS IF” he was the one falling from the window himself. It was as if he over-identified with what the man “must have” been feeling as he fell. We then tapped for “Even though I’m afraid for him because he’s falling, and he must have been afraid, and I’m scared…I deeply and completely accept myself and my feelings…”
We then focused on John’s feelings of tightness in his chest. “Even though I feel this tension in my chest…” He reported that the tension in his chest had dissipated, but tension now moved into his arms. (This is not unlike “chasing the pain” when working with physiological symptoms. The sensations often move around before they leave the body) We tapped one more time for this tension in his body, until the physical sensations continued to move down and then out his arms. He reported feeling much better.
Finally, as we were tapping one more time for his feeling afraid, John looked at me and said, “Oh…it just occurred to me, I think I’m afraid of heights, and that’s what’s being triggered here.” He had never identified this phobia or deep fear before, and it surprised him. This fear/phobia was revealed as a result of tapping for the fears “for” this other man.
We continued tapping…
“Even though I’m afraid of heights…and would be terrified to jump…afraid if I fell…I deeply and profoundly accept myself and my feelings.”
“Even though I’d be so afraid of falling, and of jumping…”
“Even though I am so afraid of falling…of heights…”
This greatly reduced John’s discomfort and he said it appeared to be the heart of his lingering traumatized feelings.
While this class demonstration was no more than 10-15 minutes long, the other therapists and John were able to witness EFT’s effectiveness despite strong skepticism, the built in awkwardness of a class setting, and a previous experience when a tapping routine was unsuccessful. While there was more work to do, John could not deny the relief he experienced.