Dear EFT Community,
Sherrie Smith, EFT Intermediate-1 practitioner for Christians, taps with a young relative and aids in relieving a case of Trichotillomania, a disorder that causes people to pull hair out from various parts of their bodies. She uses the phrase, “I know God loves me” in place of “I deeply and completely love and accept Myself”. Using the idea of a higher power can be helpful if the client believes in one and is resistant to the idea of accepting themselves.
By Sherrie Rice Smith, R.N., B.A., Certified EFT Practitioner
Recently, a relative of mine asked if I would tap with her teenage daughter who has trichotillomania. This is a disorder that causes people to pull out hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or other parts of the body, resulting in noticeable bald patches.
Trichotillomania falls under the OCD spectrum, with neural and subconscious tendencies. Strong stress or depression component is usually intertwined within the symptoms, too. Medication is available and it is treatable. It was thought to try this energy therapy first before any other treatment was sought.
Since we have never met and Bethie lives 1500 miles away, we opted to do this via telephone.
Bethie’s Mom is familiar with emotional freedom techniques, so she instructed her on the EFT tapping points and I had emailed a tapping point sheet to her earlier. As a 15-year-old I wasn’t expecting Bethie to actually make the phone call, instead assuming her Mom, my cousin, would call, then introduce Bethie to me. I wanted her to feel comfortable with me as quickly as possible, so I inquired about school and other activities to break the ice when she called, but I immediately had her begin tapping on her collarbone area as she told me the details she felt were important about life.
I then asked if she knew the tapping points and informed her I was adding one more — top of the head — to round out the exercise. I finished the instructions and asked her to tell me why she wanted to tap today.
Bethie’s story sounded pretty familiar. Typical teenage stuff to include homework issues, being self-conscious, quiet, family tension problems, caught in the middle of different groups of friends, fears, saying the wrong things, and not having anyone her age with who she could share her faith.
Bethie’s SUD Level of Intensity was a 7-8 on the usual scale of 0-10, so we started.
Even though I have all this stress with home and homework, I know God loves me.
Even though I pull out my eyelashes and eyebrows pretty often without thinking about it, I know God can fix it.
Even though I know I should stop pulling my hair and I have no idea in the world why I do it, I know God can make this better and I know He loves me anyway.
TH: I do this hair pulling thing when I’m alone usually doing homework.
EB: I know I should stop but I can’t.
SE: I’m pretty quiet and self-conscious.
UE: They like me if they get to know me, but few do.
UN: I feel like a pickle in the middle with my sister and my parents.
CH: I like my sister and her family, but my parents fight with her too much.
CB: A lot is expected of me with school and all and I can usually handle it, but it’s hard sometimes.
UA: I feel all this tension.
TH: It’s a lot of stress with the family.
EB: I don’t like my looks.
SE: I’m “pale looking”.
UE: I know I should stop pulling my hair.
UN: But I can’t. I don’t even know I’m doing it most of the time.
CH: I’ve been doing this since I was pretty little.
CB: I just keep pulling at my eyelashes mostly.
UA: It’s getting worse now.
We did a few more rounds here on these same ideas.
At this point Bethie interjected some more information. I made notes of the details and we kept tapping. I knew she was crying and I inquired if she was OK. She have some tissues available.
TH: I have to choose between friends.
EB: This is hard. I’m really stuck in the middle.
SE: I’m the youngest and I’m simply stuck.
UE: They all look at me “like I’m crazy”.
UN: I feel “close to God” but it’s hard to talk to people about it.
CH: No one wants to hear about it.
CB: I’m scared.
UA: I’m really, really scared.
TH: I have a friend who has terrible anxiety problems.
EB: She is a really close personal friend.
SE: I try to help her, too, but I can’t help myself.
UE: I really feel like I’m in the middle.
UN: I don’t want to be alone.
CH: I’m scared.
CB: I don’t want to choose anyone over anyone else.
UA: I’m so fearful about everything.
As before we did 2 more rounds on similar ideas as above.
At this point Bethie really began crying. I stopped for a minute, telling her to please keep tapping on her chest, if she could, and then let me know what was happening and when she wanted to continue. “I never had a boyfriend,” she told me. (Inside I kind of wanted to giggle because she is only 15! Of course, I kept my cool and just empathized with her!)
She continued, “No one seems attracted to me. I always mess things up with my friends, especially the boys. I always say the wrong things. I don’t know what to do to fix it.” I inquired what she was feeling. “Embarrassed, sad, and lonely” came the answer.
TH: I’ve never had a boyfriend.
EB: I want to feel special to someone.
SE: I always mess things up!
UE: I always, always mess stuff up with the guys!
UN: I don’t know how to fix it.
CH: I’m so scared.
CB: I’ve never had a boyfriend.
UA: I’m so embarrassed by it all.
TH: I’m horribly sad about this whole situation. It will never, ever change.
EB: I know I will be alone forever.
SE: I’m so lonely.
UE: I’m so quiet no one notices me at all.
UN: I’m stuck in the middle.
CH: I don’t know how to fix this. How do I get out of this rut I’m in?
CB: I’m invisible to everyone.
UA: I’m terribly embarrassed to be like this. It’s embarrassing to be pulling out my eyelashes, too.
TH: I’d like to consider the fact that maybe I could forgive myself for being this way.
EB: I know God understands me.
SE: At least someone gets me. Doesn’t seem like anyone else does though.
UE: I think I could maybe forgive myself for pulling out my eyelashes all the time.
UN: God forgives me.
CH: I forgive me.
CB: I’m ok with myself because God loves me.
UA: I forgive myself for doing this.
At that point we stopped to reassess the tapping sequence. Bethie reported she was down to a 2 from the original 7 or 8 at the beginning.
I asked her what was left in there that it was still a 2? Her answer was, “I feel very peaceful right now. This won’t last very long, will it?”
I explained that once the neural pathways (and she seemed very familiar with neural pathways from science class!) were broken, they tended to stay that way and she would begin today to build up a new neural pathway that didn’t include many of the things we tapped about. So we started:
Even though I don’t believe for a minute this will last, I know God can make it last.
Even though I feel great right now and I really like what I’m feeling, there is absolutely no way this is going to last very long, I know I can count on God to make sure it does.
Even though it is impossible for this EFT thing to be this easy to make my eyelash pulling go away, I’m going to hope God makes it right and fixes this problem.
TH: This won’t last.
EB: It’s simply impossible.
SE: This is too, too easy to fix something like this.
UE: It can’t happen like that.
UN: This is absolutely impossible.
CH: I know this science, but no one ever told us about tapping like this to fix stuff.
CB: This is impossible.
UA: No way this is going to stay permanent.
Bethie reported a zero. She felt good. When I inquired if there was anything else she would like to tap on, she reported nothing. I gave her one of my “Grandma Sherrie” pep talks. I told her “I get you” because I really do get her. She reminds me very much of myself 45 years ago. Bethie was instructed to pick up the phone and call me anytime she wanted to talk and not to her Mom!
I explained that I would be happy to tap again in the future if she found something else that she wanted help on. Once again, I reiterated what I had told her at the session commencement — this session was confidential and I wouldn’t be telling her Mom anything about it unless it was something life threatening, and I used a ridiculous example of “you deciding to drink strychnine.”
Bethie giggled at that. It was one of my silly ice breakers!
Unlike many teenagers who I have tapped with, mostly at the insistence of a Mother, Bethie was pretty easy to work with. She opened up about what was going on in her life and head. Most teens tell me everything is fine, fine, fine and not much happens during the tapping session because I have nothing to work with.
This went well. We spent 45 minutes together.
Her Mom texted me later to say, “Bethie is very peaceful this afternoon, so I know it helped.” I told her Mom to ask her to tap a bit routinely, as I had given her enough instructions and information during our session that I didn’t want to completely overload her.
I’m pretty confident that the “Case of Trichotillomania” is history!