Please note: This article contains descriptions that some readers may find disturbing, so reader discretion is advised. This article is intended for mature audiences because it contains descriptions of a sexual nature.
By Sophia Cayer, Master EFT Practitioner
“Andrea” (not her real name) contacted me about the possibility of working with EFT because of constant anxiety and sadness.
Without sharing what the contributing factors were, she told me that for more than 10 years she had worked with counselors, psychologist, various alternative therapies, and meditation and had made little progress.
In many instances, she said she ended up feeling worse. She was skeptical, at best, and wanted to give it some thought before diving in. The thought of trying one more thing without positive results seemed unbearable.
Months went by before I heard from her. When things had reached critical mass and she was at a complete loss, she called. Andrea told me that a friend had talked her into trying a “special therapy,” and it sent her into the worst state she could ever remember.
The anxiety was turning into anxiety attacks and the sadness had become a deep depression.
Being self-employed, this was presenting some real problems.
With every passing day she was finding it more difficult to get out of bed. She wanted to hide in bed all day. When she would finally make it to the office, she found it almost impossible to do the work that for so long had been her passion. Faced with the fact that if she didn’t resolve this she would lose her business and felt she could lose her mind, she was finally ready to give EFT a try.
She arrived for her first session and had yet to give me any background information or tell me what compelled her to go through years of therapy. She had been very guarded in our previous conversations and avoided the subject.
As we began to chat, before she revealed any information, she began to sob uncontrollably. With no Basic Setup language, I began to tap surrogately and console her at the same time, in an effort to help her regain her composure. This went on for quite some time, because each time she became a little calmer, the level of intensity would rise and the sobbing would resume.
Periodically, she was sobbing so hard that she began to experience difficulty breathing.
I continued to tap surrogately, and encouraged her to tap with me when she felt she could.
Here is some of the language I incorporated while tapping:
“Even though I am overcome with this deep sadness, I choose peace within.”
“Even though all of this is just too painful to deal with, I choose peace within.”
“Even though I am afraid that this session may take me into places I am not sure I am equipped to deal with, I choose peace within.”
“Even though the thought of dealing with these memories is just too much for me, I choose peace within.”
Eventually, she was breathing easier and the tears subsided for a few minutes. She then began to convey that she had been the victim of various forms of abuse and incest. And once again, she went into a state of uncontrollable, inconsolable crying. We tapped again for several minutes until she managed to regain her composure.
I then learned that part of the immediate challenge was that since she went for the “special therapy,” she was experiencing flashbacks that triggered “episodes.” The flashbacks weren’t coming one event at a time, but as she described it, “running through my mind like snapshots on a movie reel, with each picture being a different event.”
She described the pictures as quite vivid and said they had her feeling as if she were reexperiencing the trauma of all the events simultaneously.
This had become a daily occurrence, with no pattern. She had no idea when it might occur, or how long an episode might last. As she attempted to share more information, the tears began again. This time not as intensely, so I was able to gain more of her cooperation and attention as we began to work through it.
Here are a few of the tapping statements we used:
“Even though there are too many pictures constantly flashing through my mind, I choose peace within.”
“Even though these flashbacks have stolen my power and my peace, I choose to feel calm and relaxed.”
“Even though I am overcome by all the emotions evoked by these pictures, I choose peace within.”
“Even though this movie won’t stop replaying, I choose to feel calm and relaxed.”
“Even though I never know when to expect these flashbacks, I feel calm and relaxed.”
While we were making progress, our first few sessions were very challenging, with most of them beginning in a similar manner. The instant she would sit down in the chair, the tears would start to flow before we could begin! (At one point, I was tempted to move the chair out! How could this keep happening?)
There seemed to be no way to introduce the Tearless Trauma Technique (not trying to be funny here!) or to try “Sneaking Up” on a specific event. The opportunities just weren’t presenting themselves. Sometimes we just have to start where clients are and move more slowly.
Persistence was required, but she began to experience the flashbacks less frequently and it was becoming a little easier to work through things.
Here are a couple of the phrases we worked with to overcome the emotional flood:
“Even though my mind is so flooded with these memories, that I feel peace is impossible, I still deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I feel completely overwhelmed by the idea of dealing with this, it is simply too much, I still deeply and completely accept myself.”
Need I express my great joy when things progressed beyond this point? Bear in mind that, after all this time, I still knew next to nothing about her experiences.
Now the story began to unfold. She was adopted, as were all her siblings, and according to Mom and Dad, they were to appear “The Ideal All-American Family” at all times. What went on behind closed doors was another story, however.
It began at such an early age, she could not recall the first incident, but we began by working through the overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame in a global manner, because she was unable to focus on a particular event. It began so early and was so frequent that she had a very difficult time sorting out events.
She described the feeling as that of “battered wife syndrome” with “constant mental, physical, and emotional abuse.”
She found herself constantly feeling responsible for healing Mom, Dad, and relationships. She said she felt that she was weak because she couldn’t break the pattern and was constantly beating herself up. She also found herself unable to maintain a relationship or have any relationship that didn’t end up being abusive on one level or another.
Her inability to focus on anything for any length of time had her jumping from one subject to another, and I never knew what to expect in the next moment.
She had a flashback to a particular event, and became quite emotional as she described it as “Freaky far-out s—! That put me in danger.” She couldn’t talk anymore.
So we began to tap.
“Even though I had this terrifying experience [she in tears] that put me in danger, I am safe right now.”
We got beyond that flashback, and then she began to tell me about the pain she was experiencing due to no more communication with her folks after she found the courage to confront them. She shared that, after that, she always felt they had some energetic, psychic kind of energy, control over her.
Then through tears, Andrea proceeded to describe one of her nightmares: “What I saw happening to me, I was waking up and felt someone attacking me. Like an alien entity enveloped me and took me away, as if they were stealing me. It still feels real dark. I didn’t understand it. There was no safe place to go. I could see entities feeding off the energies of being sexually abused. Terrifying scary entities attaching to me. I felt like I was trying to wake from the dream. What was this that happened to me? I could feel it, like here, real. Trying to wake from the dream, but feeling as if I couldn’t move my limbs, terrified, trapped, frozen in time.”
As I could hear and see the intensity building, I encouraged her to tap:
“Even though I feel frozen in time, trapped, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I feel frozen in time, trapped by this entity, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I feel terrified, terrified, overwhelmed, overpowered, frozen, frozen in this energy, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Andrea arrived with great determination to dump the remaining baggage. A weekend event triggered more memories, and she was feeling frustrated and ready to be done with it.
She told me: “I feel as if Pandora’s box has been opened. I want to let go of this deep sadness and grief inside me…get to the bottom…I am feeling broken-hearted and hopeless. Cellular memories are in my body holding the sexual abuse with my family and…”
The tears began to flow, and we start tapping immediately to decrease her distress.
Here is the “run-on, non-stop stream” we followed:
”Even though I feel overwhelmed by the size of this task, there is too much inside of me, how could I get through this, I love and accept myself. I am trusting myself, I am trusting these sessions, and I am trusting the Universe, to help me work through this, with ease and grace, with little pain, I don’t need to carry this anymore, it no longer serves a purpose, I am taking my power and my joy back, I choose to be whole and happy.”
“Even though I am really nervous, wound up like a top, filled with wild anticipation, about facing all this, it really frightens and overwhelms me, it disturbs me, I love and accept myself anyway.”
“Even though I feel I have opened Pandora’s box, everything and everyone is coming out marching towards me, ready to steal more of my power and my peace, I love and accept myself anyway. I choose to let this go and know that this process doesn’t have to be too painful. Pandora’s box or not, I have it together. I choose to be calm and relaxed.”
“I can handle this, I can handle this. I am strong enough. Look at all I’ve endured, and look how great I am. I am strong; I can let go of the past. I can be in charge. I can have peace.”
Now that she was feeling more in control and relaxed. I began to explain how we could attempt to “sneak up” on a major event. Mid-explanation, the tears began to well up. I stopped and inquired. The childhood “themes,” as she referred to them, were beginning to surface, once again like an endless stream. She said the early memories were very clear, but when it came to the adolescent events, she felt aware of them but numb.
When she tried to access them on her own, she said they were blocked. This added to her fear and frustration about being able to eliminate the pain of the past.
Andrea said it felt like “stuck patterning, stuck in my body, and there is no way to be rid of it!”
So we began tapping:
“Even though I am sick and tired of working on this. I have no doubt it is stuck in my body on a cellular level and I’ll never be rid of it, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.”
“Even though I am really frightened and I’m just over this, I am so sad and grief-stricken, I love and appreciate myself anyway.”
The tears began to flow here, so I continued with the following reframes:
This deep sadness,
All these fears,
I stopped for a moment to see if anything specific was coming up.
She responded: “Yeah, but it’s just I feel like every time I release these things, it feels debilitating, and makes me cease to function.”
I asked if she had been having that experience working with me.
She responded: “Minimally, when tapped into deep core stuff. I want to be able to have it release without getting so out of balance emotionally.”
I attempted to explain that we could “sneak up” on it, but then I said, “For now, though, let’s go after the movie that’s running in your mind.”
Andrea, fighting tears and sounding frustrated, said, “I need to talk through it first, get off my chest.”
I responded by saying that I understood the need, but that I could also see and sense the intensity. “Are you willing to give something a try?”
Andrea said, “Yes.”
“Even though I have this event that I want to get off my chest, and I dread getting into it, I love and accept myself.”
The tears began to flow, but I was determined to gently move forward, closely monitoring her.
“I need to get off my chest, and I dread getting into it because I know where it is going to lead, I am tired of this pain, I love and accept myself.”
“This awful event and the trail it leads down, this awful event, this awful event, dreading this event, needing to release it. This old dreaded event. This awful event, dreading opening this up. Don’t even want to think about it, but is really bothering me, this dreaded event and everything attached to it, don’t want to go there. Need to unload it, don’t want to go there, it is too painful. I dread it, don’t think I can do it without falling apart, this dreaded event I need to unload…I want it off my chest, this dreaded event.”
At this point she agreed she was much calmer, and I strongly encouraged her to do the best she could to “stay on the outside” of the event. I asked her to see it at a distance or “in the back 40.”
“Even though I think facing this event is going to mean a 10, I love and accept myself. Even though trying to sneak up on this event feels like a 10, I choose peace within.”
‘‘Even though sneaking up on this event, or the possibility of trying to sneak up on it, still feels like a 10, I love and forgive myself, this therapy is going to try to keep me away from that 10. 10 is a scary number, just like this event. I know I can do this, sneaking up on it before it sneaks up on me. Nobody is going to let it get me. It got me then, but it is not getting me now. I’m not going to let it. I can handle this. This event in the back 40, sneaking up on this event, sneaking up on this event.“
We took a brief break to allow her to breathe and drink some water. I asked for a SUD level, holding my own breath! She reported a SUD level of intensity at an 8.
“Even though I’ve still got this 8, just thinking about this event, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Even though I’m not even in this event, I’m just thinking about getting into it, and it really upsets me, disturbs me, frightens me, it’s hitting me in the stomach, I deeply and completely accept myself.
This last comment was pure intuition. If you noticed, she never mentioned her stomach. Immediately after, I said, “It’s hitting me in the stomach,” asking, “Is it not?” She dutifully repeated, “Is it not?” and then said, “What?” I let her know that I could “feel” it and was seeking her confirmation.
She immediately agreed, and we continued to tap:
“I love and accept myself, this 8 in my stomach, this 8 in my stomach.”
“This dread event, this 8 in my stomach, this dread event.”
“This 8 in my stomach, I just can’t go there, just thinking about it gives me an 8 in my stomach.”
When I checked in with her again, she reported her intensity level to be a 6. She said she felt calmer overall, but inside she was feeling a lot of agitation. ”I feel very agitated. I feel confusion and anger. My body is so overly sensitive, I feel as if I have pricklies inside. I feel like pricklies all over.”
So we continued:
“Even though I feel these prickles all over, and I feel agitated inside, angry and confused, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
These prickles all over, this inside agitation [tears again], this anger, this agitation, these pricklies, this inside stuff.
I could sense a release, so we stopped for a moment and she acknowledged a definite overall improvement.
“Remaining agitation, these itches, this inside agitation, this anger and confusion.”
Andrea then shared more of her frustration about dealing with this event: “I have to be mentally strong, I can actually feel my brother, sister, father, neighbor “inside.” Why do I feel it…I want to hurt myself to get them OUT! That’s when I feel like I could go mentally insane! I am not even sure who I am feeling! Why can’t I tell?”
I reassured her that it was irrelevant “who” and that she could release it without knowing.
“Even though I am filled with anger and frustration because I have to deal with this, yet again, I choose to feel calm and confident. I know I can handle it.”
“Even though I am still dreading this event, I am not sure I am mentally strong enough to face it, I choose to know I have the power within. I choose to know I am strong enough.”
“Even though I am doubting my strength, don’t think I can work through this without falling completely apart.”
Andrea was now at a point where she felt strong enough to continue with both the ability to ”sneak up” on an event but then to work directly on and clear it. Her story became quite graphic as we worked through it, and I am sure it would be very unsettling to many who might choose to read this article. Therefore I have chosen not to include the balance of the script.
In order to reach a point where Andrea feels that she is operating optimally in life all the time, some continuing work will be required. However, she feels much better equipped to work through things and doesn’t panic at the thought. Andrea and her business are now doing well!