By Karl Dawson, Master EFT Practitioner
My client “Joe’s” problem was anorexia (having gone from 182 pounds to 112 pounds over a 9-month period), extreme anxiety, panic attacks, and self-harming behaviour.
Other issues that became apparent were an addiction to Aspartame, his ADD,and his feelings of loss of control over his life.
Treatment consisted of eight two-hour sessions over a period of four weeks. Four of the sessions occurred in the final week of treatment, after Joe had been sent home from work because passed out and was told to remain off work until his problems had been dealt with.
In the first session, I concentrated on gaining Joe’s trust and mapping out some of the core issues that led to a highly intelligent teenager from a good loving home to have developed all of these problems. Joe insisted that his girlfriend, “Emma” sit in on this first session. This did concern me at first, but Emma was very helpful in encouraging Joe to work with me and happily tapped along, putting Joe at ease.
One of the first glaring issues was Joe’s addiction to Diet Coke/Aspartame. This substance is a controversial calorie free artificial sweetener, known as a highly addictive neurotoxin added to many diet products. Joe consumed up to 15 cans of Diet Coke a day in order to suppress his appetite and maintain his daily calorie intake too below 500 calories.
We tapped on this addiction issue with four simple EFT Setup Statements:
Even though I have this addiction to diet coke, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though this Coke helps me suppress my appetite, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I’m afraid I will eat more if I don’t drink lots of diet coke, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I’ll feel hungry if I stop drinking lots of diet Coke, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Very quickly Joe reported a loss of interest in coke, his consumption dramatically decreased over the next few days to the occasional can and then to zero, after tapping himself on the issue.
This first success was critical in my view for two reasons:
1. It gave a quick positive example of the effectiveness of EFT,
2. It gave Joe belief in the process and getting him off Diet coke/Aspartame, which turned out to be one of the triggers behind his panic attacks.
The following events happened around the time of our first few sessions but illustrate Joe’s frame of mind at the time:
Father saw me Putting on weight. Joe’s parents had hidden the scales in order to stop him obsessing about his weight. Joe found the scales and weighed himself just as his dad entered the room. On seeing his weight had gone up a few pounds, in conjunction with his dad seeing this (In Joe’s mind letting them down again in the only area of control he had in life) sent Joe into a suicidal panic. Joe disappeared for a few hours and returned with cuts and grazes to his hands and face.
On speaking to him later, he was in a desperate state and just wanted to give up: “I’m sick of trying, I don’t care anymore.”
Waiting for the train. I got a call early one Saturday morning from Joe’s mother asking if I could come round. Something had happened that I never got to the bottom off, but when I met Joe’s at his house he was in a highly distressed state.
For 15 minutes or so I just tapped through the EFT points occasionally repeating “This emotion, This anxiety, This panic.” Joe eventually calmed right down but was not in the mood to carry on with a session.
After talking to his parents for five minutes, I went to check on Joe before leaving. Joe was having his hair cut by Emma and was perfectly calm. Joe recently told me that day he had been “only a slight breeze away from ending up in front of a train.”
The dilemma was the eating issue. The last thing an anorexic wants to talk about or adjust is their food intake, but unless we consume at least 800 calories per day the brain is starved of nutrition making any logical thinking difficult.
Joe had also grown wary of health professionals, he had already been treated by his GP, Crisis team, Psychologist and Anorexic specialists, all of whom he felt had abandoned him and let him down. Joe was under the impression they were waiting for his weight to fall a little lower, so they could section and force-feed him.
Knowing that staying away from the food issue was the only way forward, we talked about other things that were bothering him.
I used the question: “If there was an event in your life you wish had never happened what would it be?”
It very quickly became apparent that a lot of Joe’s problems had started around the age of six or seven at school. Until then he’d been a happy, carefree child. This I’d had confirmed in a telephone conversation with his mother.
Joe’s teacher that year was an elderly, old school ma’am type, disciplinarian. From talking to Joe it was obvious he’d had a degree of ADHD and/or Dyslexia which had never been diagnosed, at the same time he was obviously very intelligent leaving the teacher to draw the wrong conclusions.
In the first sessions Joe’s memory of these events was vague to non-existent. In the subsequent talk with Joe’s mother, she provided me with small amounts information. Initially we pieced some events together, sometimes just guessing what the teacher might have said in these situations.
The more we tapped the more Joe remembered. Slowly at first, he started to recall memories which eventually flooded out – to the point were I had to write quickly to keep track on these issues to work on later.
I will let some of the Setup Statements we used over the sessions tell the story of what had transpired between Joe and his teacher that year.
Even though I found it hard to concentrate, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I found it hard to do Math, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I had trouble reading, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I didn’t pay attention to the teacher, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though Mrs Smith said I was stupid, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though she said I was a little monster, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I felt out of control, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I would panic and shout out silly answers, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though nobody wanted to be my friend, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I was different to the other kids, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even tough I had to sit on my own away from other kids, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though the other kids laughed at me, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I didn’t fit in, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though my parents were called to school, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though the teacher told my parents I’m bad, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though my parents believed everything the teacher said, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though she said she tried to make me cry to get some emotion from me, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though my parents were angry with me for not trying, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though the harder I tried the worse I did, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I let my parents down, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I had terrible headaches, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I gave up trying, I deeply and completely accept myself.
There were also many mental movies we had to work through, each one having several intense emotional highs and many aspects.
A brief description of these were:
Note left in desk. One day Joe found a note in his desk and on it was a list of things he had done wrong. His teacher said it had been left there by mistake, but Joe was terrified his parents would get to see it.
Tied to my chair. In her “infinite wisdom” the teacher thought tying Joe to his desk would be an excellent way to stop him fidgeting.
Kid with spots. Joe had seen one of the other children dotting ink on their hands. He told a few of the other kids he had measles. When the teacher heard Joe, she made a huge deal out of it taking the kid with the spots out of the class, telling them she was going to call the doctor and his parents. Joe was left shocked and afraid of the consequences of his joke.
Forgot about the check. One school day as Joe and his brothers were being picked up from school, In a rush Joe’s mum had handed him a check and told him to hold it. Joe had absently put it in his pocket. His mother had forgot she gave it to him and had been frantically looking for it for days. He did not remember having it until he’d found it in his pocket at school a few days later. He again felt he had let his parents down and was afraid to tell them, as they might think he had been bad again.
We also tapped using the movie technique on several recurrent nightmares he’d been having at this age. He hated night-time, due to intense headaches and the fear of these nightmares.
In the main dream, he was alone inside his house and there was something dark and threatening trying to get inside the house and attack his sleeping family. (It struck me that these repeated dreams would also likely be trapped in his energy system. Would his subconscious have been able to differentiate between these nightmares and reality?)
It took a lot of tapping and reframing to bring the intensity of these dreams down. Again, at the start his memory was sketchy, but as we cleared one area, a new part of the dream would open up – they were indeed scary.
Eventually Joe was able to go through the whole nightmare without emotion. He even gave his understanding on the dreams meaning. The exact understanding escapes me, but it had something to do with being petrified of having no control over events in his life and the effect his behavior had on his family.
Around this time on The Editors’s newsletter there was an article containing ‘The Volcano Technique.’
Joe would often experience some extreme anger; we used this technique several times. As described in the article, Anger can be a very empowering emotion. By giving the client licence to really vent their anger – while tapping – helps literally explode out many other emotions. I found this method very powerful and have used it many times since.
Joe at 18 is a very polite, well-mannered young man. Even so, I think some of the language he used while we experimented with the volcano technique can be left to the imagination.
By the 7th session, Joe was ready to forgive his teacher, putting the way he was treated down to a misunderstanding on her part. He was also willing to forgive himself!
The last session with Joe was over the phone. It was the fourth session that week, Joe had been very brave and had put a lot of effort into the sessions and was also do a lot of tapping on his own. This was critical, especially with Joe; self-empowerment of clients to me is one of the key elements and benefits of EFT.
It was our first and only telephone session; something was on Joe’s mind this evening, but he would not say exactly what it was.
Joe had cleared so much baggage, having undergone huge cognitive changes, regaining a lot of self-respect and much more personal freedom.
In retrospect, I realize Joe was toying with the idea of seeing if he was capable of relinquishing his need to control his eating as his only form of control in life.
Metaphorically I had a sense Joe was trying to reach the pivotal point of a seesaw. If he could find the faith to get past this point, his struggle would be an easy downhill ride – but he would have to let go and trust himself. We talked/tapped for an hour and he said he felt better. We set up an appointment for the next day.
Joe called me early the next morning, he said he had decided to start eating again and that he wanted to cancel the appointment. Although obviously pleased, I was also concerned. That weekend I kept in contact with Joe’s parents, but they confirmed he had started eating properly, they were also cautiously optimistic.
Two weeks later Joe returned to work. He called me a few days before saying he was slightly worried about facing the people at work, scared the pressure and the attention he would get from them might be too much for him. He said he would tap on it.
A few days after he called to say he had gone to McDonalds with everyone from work ‘To prove he was ok now. But he gave the diet coke a miss.’
I spoke with Joe this week, for the first time in over four-month’s. He now weighs 168 pounds, is happy with his weight, could never imagine so much as going on a diet, but is worried he eats a little to much ‘crap food.’
I wanted to ask him if it was ok to write this case study. He said, “I believe your help and EFT saved my life. If it can help others, please write anything you want–you don’t even have to change my name [his name is not Joe]. If I can help in any way, maybe write something myself, just ask.” He said he’s still tapping–when he needs it. At times he feels a little compulsive, when he feels under pressure, but EFT always helps.
He and Emma are saving up, as they want to travel round the world next year. He said he still thinks about what happened to him earlier that year and it scares him when he does think about it. But now he “feels 130% confident most of the time and can’t believe how things got so bad. It seems like it happened to someone else.” He wishes he could “Get my mum and dad to do some tapping–it’s about time they started dealing with some of their issues!”