Dear EFT Community,
The techniques used in the two sessions described here by Dale Teplitz combine experience and knowledge of EFT with creativity. They help illustrate the importance of following one’s intuition while improvising spontaneously in order to address underlying disruptions that lead to negative emotions. Note that though the sessions may seem unorthodox because Dale never talked about the OCD symptoms with the client, they still contain the most important components of EFT, including tuning into the problem, using specific events, identifying separate aspects, and testing the work.
By Dale Paula Teplitz, M.A., EFT TRN-2
Joey is a beautiful four-year-old boy who arrived at my office with his mother. His behavior and speech development were more like those of a reserved two-year-old. Almost immediately after they arrived, Joey was fixated on finding the bathroom so he could wash his hands. His mother reported that since Joey was old enough to reach the sink, beginning about two years ago, he has been compulsively washing his hands up to 100 times per day.
He was on medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) prescribed by a psychiatrist.
During the past two years, whenever his mother tried to change Joey’s behavior, he became more anxious and angry, resulting in tantrums of screaming and falling on the floor. It was the mother’s fear that if this compulsion could not be calmed, Joey would have to take even stronger medication and possibly be institutionalized.
The mother reported that Joey’s father does not live with them, and his presence in Joey’s life is random and unpredictable. The mother is very angry at the father for his irresponsible behaviors, including drug use, and doesn’t hide her feelings from the child. My guess was that Joey was feeling abandoned and betrayed.
Though he wanted to run away to wash his hands during the first part of the session, we were able to get Joey feeling safe and comfortable by having his mom cradle him on her lap while I gently spoke to him and tapped on his face, torso, and hand points.
He became so relaxed from the tapping that he became almost limp in his mother’s arms and started to repeat my setup phrases without prompting:
Even though I am sad, Mommy really loves me.
Even though I get angry sometimes, I am a really good boy.
Even though I don’t know where Daddy is, I know he misses me too.
I did several rounds of tapping for each setup phrase, using portions of the phrase itself while tapping each of the points, rather than switching to a more abbreviated reminder phrase.
At no time did we ever discuss the hand-washing. During the hour-long session, Joey only went to the bathroom once and then settled quickly back into the tapping routine.
The following day the mother called to happily report that she couldn’t even get Joey to wash his hands! We agreed that was great progress and she wouldn’t push him to do so.
However, she noticed that he still had a tantrum when other children tried to touch his toys at pre-school. Once handled by others, he felt they were dirty and needed to be thrown away or washed repeatedly.
Several days later they came in for a second session.
In that session I allowed Joey to lie on the floor and color in a coloring book with crayons. I lay down across from him and began to color on the same pages with him. As he began to show frustration with having to share the book and crayons with me, I tapped on him while he colored. We did not use any setup or reminder phrases but rather just talked about the pictures we were coloring.
Once he was comfortable with the sharing, I began to “steal” crayons he was using from out of his hand and rub them around in my hands, all the while tapping on him, once again, without any setup or reminder phrases, as I knew he was already tuned into the problem.
As in the previous session for the hand-washing problem, we never discussed the issue itself. This time, we chatted about the pictures we were coloring as a distraction from the tapping. I was trying to bring up negative feelings for him to focus on without crossing the line that might trigger a tantrum. Joey gradually got comfortable with sharing and reached the point where he didn’t mind picking up the same crayon I had just put down, if it was a color he wanted to use.
Several weeks later, Joey’s mother reported that there were no more tantrums at school during the following days, nor had the hand-washing compulsion returned.
It’s easy to imagine how Joey’s life would have progressed if he had not released his energy blocks with EFT. The odds are that his behavior would have continued to deteriorate until he was drugged into submission and/or taken away from the person who loved him most. Of course, prescription drugs and life in an institution would not have cured Joey, and he would have faced an uncertain future.
As the founder of EFT often pointed out, if the client’s attention is focused on a specific problem, it isn’t necessary to describe the problem in standard setup phrases — or for that matter, any setup phrases. Just tapping on the EFT points while focusing in on the problem can be a fast and effective, and in this case, appropriate use of EFT.