By Nicole Nicholson
Stephanie (not her real name), age 47, came to me to work on anxiety around and avoidance of looking for a new job as she was no longer feeling fulfilled at her current job. She had realized during the Covid-19 pandemic that she was no longer fulfilled but was hesitating taking that next step to move up a level and find greater fulfillment.
This was her first introduction to EFT and Energy Psychology and her first session with me, so we discussed how EFT worked and what she could expect in a session. As she had been seeing a psychologist for a number of years for what she reported was about 30 years of anxiety and depression, she had experience in therapy and talking through things. She has experience with yoga so we discussed yogic breathing and how we are also working to center and balance and breathe and calm the system during this work. We also discussed how we have all been dealing with additional levels of fear and anxiety as the world was dealing with the pandemic and it is okay to not feel okay right now, and that we could use the session to help her take a breath, feel safe again in her body, and start feeling safe to move forward on that next step.
We developed rapport fairly quickly and Stephanie mentioned how she was already feeling comfortable crying in front of me, so I knew we were ready to dig in.
We started with a recent event where she felt too nervous to take that step forward. “It was my dream job and I couldn’t even apply for it,” she said. Her SUD level was 8. We started breaking down what made her too nervous even to apply for the job so we could do some basic EFT tapping on that part.
We started with, “Even though there was a part of me that got too nervous about what was expected of me and whether or not I could hit my goals, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.” We gave a voice to what was scaring her and how she was feeling tightness in her chest in the reminder phrases. After two rounds, her SUD level was 4.
After that, Stephanie remembered an earlier event when she was about 7. She was away at camp and too nervous even to sit at the table with the whole group and say her name. She had suffered from anxiety when she was younger (although she said she didn’t give it that name at the time) and that created a stutter. The stutter created more anxiety and she dealt with this vicious circle by repeating her name silently in her head, “My name is Stephanie,” as she waited for her turn to introduce herself. She said the SUD level was 11 on feeling nervous and scared about being able to say her name without stuttering in front of others, so it was a very intense moment for her.
We did some sneaking up on “Even though I was so scared to introduce myself in front of the whole group, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. Even though I was so nervous as I watched the other girls at the table saying their names and it was getting closer and closer to being my turn and I didn’t want to speak, I honor all of those feelings and I love and accept myself.” With reminder phrases, “I was so nervous, I felt so sick to my stomach, I was so scared to say my name…”
After the first round, it dropped to an 8. She seemed very tuned in to the physical, so we then did Chasing the Pain with 9 Gamut on “Even though I have this muddy dark red and black, medium-sized square of tightness and nausea in between my chest and my stomach, I love and accept myself. Even though I have this heavy medium-sized square between my chest and my stomach, I love and accept myself and I know I’m okay.”
After one round, Stephanie felt her body relax and rated her SUD level at 3.
We did a couple more rounds as the shape and color shifted, with reminder phrases such as “this seafoamy green color between my chest and my stomach, this lighter seafoamy green color” and then “this light small round circle between my chest and my stomach, it is fading and it doesn’t feel like anything now.”
With the SUD level now down to 0 and her feeling so calm and relaxed, we used reenacting and vivid imagination to test. I asked Stephanie to close her eyes and use vivid imagination to see the table she was sitting at in the camp kitchen, the faces of the other girls, their reaction to her saying, “My name is Stephanie”, and see what else was going on in the room, what other details she remembered.
She remembered a girl named Rachel sticking out her tongue at her when Stephanie said her name (there was a slight pause but not much of a stutter) and then Rachel teased her after they left the table and Stephanie was so embarrassed. Her SUD level went back up to a 6.
I asked if she would feel comfortable with the Unfinished Conversations technique and she was willing to try.
She tapped on her collarbone point and imagined Rachel coming up to her after they left the table and saying, “My name is S-Stephanie” and laughing, and she remembered how embarrassed she was and how she felt that tightness in her chest again. She imagined herself as her younger self in that moment, when she had originally been frozen in fear and couldn’t say anything but felt tears coming on, and she decided to tell Rachel, “That really hurt my feelings. I was so scared to say my name in front of everyone. I was so nervous. Sometimes I stutter when I am nervous. I thought I did a good job. Why did you pick on me? I didn’t do anything to you. I was already scared, but now I am afraid everyone else heard that and thinks I’m stupid, and I just want to leave.”
Then she imagined herself as Rachel, in that moment, having just heard what was said to her, “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I just thought it was funny. I didn’t know you were so scared. I guess I thought I was being funny. My brother and I do stuff like that to each other all the time. I didn’t know it was going to hurt your feelings. I’m sorry. Do you want to be friends?”
Stephanie then switched back to being herself to accept the apology, move quickly through the emotions, and instead latch on to a new friend, just like kids often do. It was a quick cognitive shift. She felt more relaxed in her body and didn’t have a lot to say back to Rachel but imagined them running out to the playground to play together. “Yeah, I guess you didn’t hurt my feelings that much. Do you want to play?”
After that round, Stephanie’s SUD level went to 0 and it seemed like a weight had been lifted.
It was a nice conclusion and happened faster than I expected, as it seemed like so much hurt, but it did make me remember disagreements in school or on the playground and how quickly they could resolve when you just say “yeah” or “ok” and run off to the next thing.
We tested again and the event wasn’t retriggering her at this point, so we went back to the presenting issue which was at a 2-3, did some sneaking up on “Even though I am still nervous about applying for this job that is a step up and I fear that my resume isn’t good enough, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
She addressed the remaining nervousness but felt she was ready within the next few days to prepare her resume and cover letter to apply for a new job she felt would be a good fit and a step up. We discussed some tapping rounds she could do as anxiety and nervousness crept back in. We ended the session with Quick Coherence and she left looking and feeling ready and confident.
Last I checked, she had sent in her application and was awaiting word on an interview. She no longer felt that if it didn’t work out, that meant she was not good enough. It would mean it was not a good fit and there would be more opportunities out there. Overall, it was a productive session.