In this illustrative article, EFT practitioner Stephen Carter works with a client in a shopping mall to resolve her escalator phobia. Each aspect of her trauma is uncovered and addressed–literally step-by-step–using pure EFT.
By Stephen Carter, Certified EFT Practitioner
Barbara (not her real name) is a successful and confident 56-year old female retail buyer who sought help for her fear of escalators. She reported that her phobia response simply “appeared” about two years ago.
For the first few months after the phobia emerged, Barbara was able to force herself to ride escalators up. When she attempted to ride down, she became frozen with terror. Despite valiant efforts to force herself to face the fear, her phobic response continued to grow.
At about the six-month mark, Barbara was unable to ride up or down an escalator. Each time she tried to force herself to face her fear and step on an escalator, she experienced debilitating panic attacks.
I met Barbara outside of a large shopping center in preparation for treatment. We discussed how the session would unfold to include preliminary treatment using imagination followed by EFT treatment in the presence of a real escalator.
I asked Barbara to imagine herself standing at the foot of an up escalator. I asked her to pay attention to this imaginary action and notice what she saw, what she heard, and how she felt as she prepared to step on to the moving stairs.
After noticing the physiological indicators suggesting she had reached the point of highest intensity, I asked Barbara to approximate the intensity of her feelings using the 0 — 10 SUD scale. She replied her fear feeling was about 7 or 8. I asked her where in her body she felt the fear. She replied, “In my chest”. She added that her heart was beating faster than normal.
I asked Barbara to take two imaginary steps back from the foot of the escalator and to then tell me her SUD level. After about 10 seconds, she replied, “about a 4”. I asked if her heart seemed to be beating more normally. She replied, “It’s better”.
We then tapped using the setup affirmations at the KC point:
“Even though I’m afraid to step on that escalator…”
“Even though the thought of stepping onto that escalator brings up this fear reaction in my chest…”
“Even though I want to run away from this imaginary escalator…”
The reminder phrases were:
“This fear.” “This feeling of fear in my chest.” “This fear.” Feeling this fear.” “I don’t like this escalator.” “This fear”… ending at the Top of Head point with, “I choose to release this feeling of fear.”
I asked Barbara to again imagine standing at the foot of the up escalator and share the SUD level.
After a few seconds, she replied her fear was less and rated it, “about a 2 or 3.”
We then altered the setup affirmations to:
“Even though I still have some of this fear about stepping on the escalator…”
“Even though there is still some discomfort remaining…”
“Even though some of this fear feeling remains…”
The reminder phrases changed to:
“This remaining fear.” “I still seem to have some remaining fear.” “There is still some fear remaining”… ending at the Top of Head point with, “I choose to release this remaining fear.”
I asked Barbara to again check back into the imaginary escalator experience and share her SUD level rating. She replied, “I think it’s gone. I can’t really feel any fear.”
I then asked Barbara to change the imaginary escalator experience and place herself at the top of the escalator, looking down, as she prepared to step on the down escalator stairs.
After closing her eyes and creating the imaginary experience, she replied, “It’s a 4 or 5. I really don’t want to step on the escalator, but I’m not terrified of doing so.”
We then tapped with the setup affirmations of:
“Even though I feel fear as I look down the escalator stairs…”
“Even though I know this fear is irrational, but it’s real to me…”
“Even though I have this fear when I imagine stepping on the down escalator…”
Reminder phrases included:
“This fear of stepping on the down escalator. This fear. I don’t like this…” …ending at the Top of Head point with, “I choose to release this fear of stepping on the down escalator.”
I asked Barbara to again create the same down escalator imagery as she did before and to then share the SUD rating. She replied, “It came down a little, maybe a 3 or 4.”
While a lowering of the SUD level by one may indicate progress for starting SUD levels below 7, I was nevertheless suspicious that a mini psychological reversal (PR) may have crept in. (Note: SUD levels starting at 7 or above will normally drop by at least two levels with a short or long sequence unless psychological reversal is present).
I led Barbara through the rubbing of the sore spot while repeating the setup affirmations followed by tapping the KC and UN points 10 – 12 times each. We again tapped through the shortcut sequence using the same reminder phrases as previously.
This time when I asked Barbara to again imagine preparing to step on the down escalator in her imagination, she reported a SUD of “0”.
After again testing the imaginary escalator experiences for both up and down travel and having Barbara report that they remained a “0” SUD, we headed inside the mall to one of the major department stores.
We entered the second floor level of the store and walked to the escalators. Stopping about 20 feet away, I asked Barbara if any emotional charge was showing up.
She replied, “No, it seems okay.”
We walked up to the top of the down escalator. I asked Barbara if she felt any charge. As she looked down the escalator, she replied, “Yes, there is some feeling of fear.” She rated it about 3 or 4.
We tapped using setup affirmations of:
“Even though I’m feeling fearful at about a 3 or 4 level as I stand near this escalator…”
“Even though I’m feeling fearful, I know it’s okay to experience these feelings.
“Even though I am feeling fearful…”
“Even though I have this fear when looking down the escalator…”
The setup affirmations were then followed by reminder phrases that included:
“This feeling of fear.” “This fear feeling.”…ending at the Top of Head point with, “I choose to release this feeling of fear.”
I asked Barbara to again look down the escalator stairs and tell me how she was doing. She replied, “Those stairs are moving fast. They are really moving fast.”
We then tapped on this new aspect with:
“Even though those escalator stairs seem to be moving so fast…”
“Even though those stairs are flying by…”
“Even though it feels unsafe to step onto those fast stairs…”
We followed the setup affirmations with remainder phrase:
“These fast moving stairs.”
I asked Barbara how she felt now when looking at the stairs. She replied that the stairs didn’t bother her anymore, but she now noticed a blue light underneath the moving stairs that did bothered her. The light appeared and disappeared as the stairs moved (the light was visible through the stair gaps). She said the “annoyance level” was a 3.
We tapped for this new aspect with the setup affirmation:
“Even though I keep focusing on this annoying pulsating blue light…”
The reminder phrases included:
“This annoying blue light.” “This pulsating blue light”…ending with, “I choose to release my annoyance with the blue light and I choose to do so now.”
We again tested for any remaining charge on aspects already identified or any new aspects that Barbara may have noticed. The SUD level for stepping onto the escalator was now “0”.
Barbara took a tentative step and then another as she stepped onto the escalator and rode it down. She then walked around to the up escalator and rode it back up to the second floor. As she smiled and laughed, she again stepped on the down escalator and rode it down again. She repeated the up and down escalator rides a half dozen times.
Barbara was ecstatic. All traces of her prior phobic response were gone.