Dear EFT Community,
Nancy Linnerooth from the Seattle area is a certified EFT practitioner, licensed marriage and family therapist, and career coach who specializes in helping people get rid of their internal blocks to professional success. In this article, she tells how she used EFT to successfully resolve long-term sexual addiction, though she had no experience in treating that particular addiction.
By Nancy Linnerooth, MFT, Certified EFT Practitioner
I recently had success using EFT in an area I know little about: sexual addiction. Perhaps my surprising luck in finding the source of my client’s problem can help others.
“Greg” (I have changed his name and some of the details of his situation to protect his confidentiality) came into my office the very model of a successful businessman. He had built a company from scratch, was in talks to sell it for a great profit, was already considering which of a handful of ideas to pursue for his next start-up, and clearly adored the talented woman he had married the previous year.
He was also hiding a big problem. As he put it, he had a sexual addiction. Several times a day, he would put everything on hold to satisfy his need for an orgasm. He spent a lot of money on Internet porn. He was finding it increasingly difficult to hide his activities from his wife, and he was disgusted with himself.
It took a lot for him to come into my office and tell me his story; he had never told anyone. He was clearly disappointed when I explained that working on sexual addiction was not something I had done in my therapy practice, but I would ask around for a referral to a good therapist who specialized in that field. Since he wasn’t keen on starting over with someone else, I explained what I would do if he worked with me. I would start with the assumption that his addiction was an escape from stresses in his life, that certain stressors during his day triggered it. I would use this strange-sounding tapping with him on events from around the time his addiction started to see if we could unhook whatever had set up that trigger in the first place.
As an example, I said we might look at events around the death of his mother when he was a teenager, which he had told me was a big event in his life. He assured me that his hypersexual behavior started before her death. Well, teenage boys often find themselves obsessed with sex, I noted, adding that maybe he had gotten “stuck” in that way of thinking and acting when his mother died and hadn’t been able to leave it behind.
I was just trying to give him an example of what we might find, but Greg looked thoughtful and said that my theory rang a few bells for him. So that was where we started. Despite my referral to a specialist in sexual addiction, Greg wanted to work with me.
Greg looked distressed as he started to tell me about his mother, so I stopped him and had him tap on the points along with me while he told me the story of his mother’s death. He grew up in a community in the Midwest where you just didn’t talk much about your feelings. To make matters more difficult, neither his father nor his three brothers ever talked about his mother’s death after the funeral. It just wasn’t done. As far as I could tell, Greg had never talked to anyone about her death or what it had done to him and his family before that day in my office. No wonder he was distressed.
Next we did some focused tapping on his feelings of sadness, anger at his mother, and guilt, which I pointed out were all normal reactions during grief. As he experienced how quickly these emotions came down, Greg decided to bring up an event that had troubled him since his mother’s death. The day she went to the hospital for the last time, he had a date planned with his girlfriend. They had recently started having sex, and he was understandably rather focused on that aspect of the date. During the tapping, he realized he had blamed himself all these years for not recognizing that his mother was very sick and for not staying home so he could have gone with her to the hospital instead of going on that date.
We just had time to tap down all the emotions that came up around that memory before the session ended. It had been intense, and Greg looked quite tired. However, he also looked somewhat relieved and thanked me as he left.
We hadn’t tapped at all on the symptoms of his sexual addiction or his emotions around it. I had no idea whether I had helped him with the issue for which he had come to me for help, but I comforted myself with the thought that at least he had cleared out a painful trauma he had carried around his entire adult life. And, of course, he could always go to the therapist I had referred him to!
The next week Greg gave me a huge smile as he walked in the door. “I’ve come out of my swamp,” he told me. Since our previous session he hadn’t felt any of his usual impulses. His sexual addiction of fifteen years just went away. And it didn’t come back over the following two weeks as we worked on his regrets from those years. And then he felt finished with our sessions, ready to live his life the way he wanted to.
I don’t know how many sexual addictions trace their roots back so directly to a specific event from adolescence the way this one did. As I said, I’m far from an expert in that field. Still, for anyone who has a similar problem, traumas from around the time the addictive behaviors started may be a good place to begin.
Nancy Linnerooth, MFT, Certified EFT Practitioner