While aspects of Aspergers Syndrome can be difficult to handle with conventional therapy, Nikki Ball writes to us about the quality results she received using EFT. She says, “The following week I went to see him. His words were simply, ‘that thing you did last week, it worked’.”
As an Occupational Therapist working in mental health in the UK, I have worked with many people with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) over the years. For those that are unaware of AS, it is a high functioning (milder form of) autism, the main area of difficulty lies in social functioning which means people have difficulty with social interaction and non-verbal communication.
One client I worked with who had AS explained it to me like this, if your worst fear is spiders, then for a person with AS being in a room full of people is like being in a room full of man sized spiders! Well it may or may not be like that for everyone with AS, but that analogy certainly gave me a good insight.
I mainly work with people with severe and enduring mental health problems. Asperger’s Syndrome itself was not within the team referral criteria, so clients who were referred to me with AS, tended to have a secondary mental health problem as a result of AS, such as anxiety or depression.
I worked with one particular young man called Tony (not his real name). He was in his early twenties, had moved out of the parental home and was generally trying to make a ‘normal’ life for himself i.e. get a job, make friends, meet a girlfriend etc.
He was referred to me with severe anxiety and depression. Due to his AS he found it extremely difficult to be in social situations. He joined a social group with his dad in order to confront his fears. During one of our sessions he explained that he was due to go to a bowling evening later that week. He was terrified! He knew that he would have to be in a room full of people.
When I work with people with any type of anxiety, I usually teach them breathing and relaxation techniques and use cognitive behavioural therapy. At this point I remembered the ‘spider’ analogy and think to myself, no amount of breathing techniques are going to help Tony in this instance and I’ve only got an hour with him to give him something that will make a difference.
I’m not officially supposed to use EFT in my work as apparently it’s “not part of my job.” However, I have decided that if I can teach breathing techniques then I can teach people EFT as a relaxation technique and whatever they decide to do with it is up to them.
So we went about our session exploring all the various aspects of the bowling evening that frightened Tony. I like to use the mind mapping exercise with the issue written in the middle and the aspects coming off from it. We rated each aspect and treated them in order, until he felt that his level of intensity was at zero out of 10 with the whole issue. I suggested he use the tapping over the next few days whenever he thought about going bowling and right before he went, in case there were any new aspects.
The following week I went to see him. His words were simply, “that thing you did last week, it worked”. He had managed to go bowling without any fear at all, he hadn’t even done any tapping since our last session. I was pretty impressed and quite surprised that one session had such a big effect on an issue that had affected him his whole life.
My observation with this client was that because his thinking was very black and white (a common AS trait) he didn’t have any reversals or complex hidden issues relating to the anxiety. It was purely anxiety about being in that social situation, which made it very straight forward to treat. Although his anxiety returned when faced with other similar social situations, he now had a tool to deal with it effectively.
I discharged him shortly after this so didn’t get a chance to use EFT with him long term. It would’ve been interesting to find out if consistent use of EFT had a more profound effect.