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Using EFT For ...

EFT for OCD-like Behaviors

Dear EFT Community,

In this article, certified EFT practitioner Sherrie Rice Smith relates how she used EFT to help a client become free of the multiple obsessive-compulsive behaviors that were controlling him. As often happens with EFT, clearing the main ones led to the spontaneous elimination of four other behaviors, without needing to tap specifically on them.

-EFT Universe


By Sherrie Rice Smith, RN (Ret.), EFT-EXP

A year or so ago. I had written up a case study about Tom and his light switch flipping. That behavior was quite similar to obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

Recently, Tom phoned me to “confess.” He hadn’t wanted to tell me about these other episodes, but EFT had worked so well on them that he now decided he wanted to brag a little about what he had been able to do for himself while tapping. I was all ears! EFT is a self-help tool. I was glad to see I had taught him well.

About 2 weeks after we tapped to disable Tom’s flipping light switches (something he had done since early childhood), four times each in order for him to make sure the switch was really turned off, other “OCD-ish” habits emerged. The light switch habit was something he probably started innocently enough when he realized it irritated his father, and he did it for just that purpose, as a child will do when a parent is abusive. I suspect it was a behavior Tom, feeling powerless, used to get back at his father. The other OCD-like behaviors that began surfacing were not new.

Rather, Tom now recognized that he actually did the behaviors and realized they were “controlling me.”

Tom and his wife take daily dietary supplements and Tom is responsible for putting a week’s worth of those together for them. He now realized that if a pill slipped from his hand and went into the “wrong” compartment, he would remove it from the “wrong” compartment and put it in the “right” compartment, even though both compartments would contain the exact same pills in the end. “That pill was destined to go into the second slot, not the third one, so I had to make sure it went into the second one, even though in my mind I knew it made absolutely no difference. The pills were all the same kind.”

He felt frustrated that he HAD to set out those pills in what he perceived to be the perfectly correct order.

I asked him what he felt like when he decided to tap on this issue. “I felt stupid and trapped by the behavior,” he told me.

The technique he used was the one I learned from Valerie Lis, EFT-EXP, where opposite sides of the behavior are emphasized and each emotion elicited is tapped to 0 on the SUD scale.

So Tom tapped, “I always, always, always will have to make sure the pills go into the correct hole. If it was destined for the third hole, it cannot go into the second hole. I always have to correct the problem, no matter what.” Tom was feeling “stupid” and “trapped” and “frustrated.”

To tap the opposite of that, Tom used the statement, “I will never get them in the correct order. They will fall all over the floor. I will never get it done right.” When I inquired what he was feeling when he tapped the opposite side of the issue, his response was “I knew the action was dumb, it made no difference what cup they went into, as long as there was one in each, but I felt compelled to make sure they were lined up in the exact logical order with no exceptions. I couldn’t stop doing it this way no matter what I told myself.”

Tom added that  “feeling compelled” and “out of control” were also present, in addition to the feeling “stupid,” “trapped,” and “frustrated” again.

To his amazement, and he knows he probably went a bit overboard in tapping, after about 20 rounds of tapping, he never again cared where the pills landed! If a pill “destined” for cup one landed in cup six, oh well, not a problem! Now, 18 months later, he has never again pulled a pill out of a cup to put it in the “right” compartment.

Shortly after dismantling that behavior, he realized another behavior popped up that he had never recognized as problematic.

Tom loves to cook, but he realized he had to follow the recipe in the exact order. The ingredients had to be assembled precisely the way it was written. No skipping around to make cooking easier or time saving. Precision was the key.

Again, I asked what he was feeling when the realization came to him of his compulsive behavior. Tom said, “I felt trapped in my own mind. My mind was controlling me.”

Once he had the light switch flipping and the supplement issue dismantled, Tom said it took only about seven rounds of tapping to knock the recipe one out of him.

However, the more amazing part is Tom realized a few weeks later that four other behaviors he had never identified and never tapped on also went away once he had tapped on these three aspects of the compulsive behavior.

Those other four behaviors included: Tom showered in a very specific order. He realized that, after 60 years, he had changed the way he showered. His wife once had suggested to him to wash his hair first, top down, and he simply couldn’t fathom doing anything but washing his hair last. Odd as it seems, his wife is a nurse and “sterile technique” requires “clean to dirty.” His point was he couldn’t make himself change his technique, no matter how much talking he did to himself about switching it up.

The second inadvertently changed behavior was how he mixed drinks. There was a very specific order to how the ingredients went into the glass and nothing could make him do it differently, even if his way took more time and effort. It all was cemented in his mind. Tom remembered his father’s saying, “It’s my way or the highway.” How much did this saying enter into this behavior? Tom actually tapped on that saying, too.

The third was similar to the initial light switch flipping behavior, as this one was checking and rechecking lamp switches by turning those off and on multiple times, too. The fourth, and for now, the last, was Tom always opened the mail slot exactly four times on the big street mailboxes to make sure any mail he had dropped into it had really cleared the slot and slid to the bottom of the box. It might be interesting someday to have Tom tap on the number four, as several of these behaviors had to be done four times. What’s the significance to the number four?

The saying that “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” is so outdated. Science has now proven that neuroplasticity or neurogenesis is in. Anyone at any age can learn anything. Mentally, age is no longer an excuse for not learning new things, or changing annoying behaviors.

If you have an OCD-like problem, feel free to phone or e-mail either Valerie Lis or me. We are both listed on the EFTU website under certified practitioners. We would both be delighted to help you tap and teach you this technique that Valerie developed to dismantle OCD-like behaviors. It’s a pretty amazing way to free you up to live a happier, healthier life.