Dear EFT Community,
EFT practitioner, David MacKay recounts how he helped a woman at one of his workshops work on her fear of dogs and the traumatic childhood event that triggered it.
By David MacKay
During a workshop I worked with 36-year-old ‘Mariana’, who suffers from fear of dogs since she was 6. I had asked the group if anyone had a trauma we could work with to demonstrate the Movie Technique that I had just explained to the participants.
From her seat, Mariana started to tell of an event when her mother was attacked by two dogs. Mariana had tried to drive them away, hitting them with her shoe, but they wouldn’t stop biting her mother.
Tears started to roll and I invited her to come to the front.
The title Mariana chose for the movie was “Horror.” Given the high intensity I had seen in her, I chose to start with the Tearless Trauma Technique.
Although she had managed to suppress her crying, Mariana estimated that if she were to think about this movie, her fear would go to a 10 on the 0 to 10 scale.
We began tapping with the Setup:
Even though I have this Horror movie
Hoping to reduce the anticipated fear, but she felt it would still go to a 10.
So it seemed best to me that we take a step back and try sneaking up on the problem. I sought a similar but less intense event that we could clear first. I asked if she could recall some time recently when a dog scared her, and she remembered a dog barking at her in the street.
Once we cleared the emotional charge from that event, we went back to the Horror movie. I started (intuitively?) to formulate a Setup with Even though I couldn’t” and Mariana started to cry; we had hit a nerve, so I just led her through the tapping points over and over until the tears subsided.
We did a round with the following Setup, looking to reframe her feelings of impotence and desperation:
Even though I have this Horror movie, and I was very small, I did all I could, it wasn’t enough, I really did all I could, I was very brave, I love and honor myself for the courage I had.
Even though I couldn’t defend Mama, I was only 6, I love and honor myself for doing everything I could.
After this round she was still noticeably emotional. She estimated her fear would go to an 8 if she were to recall the event. So we tapped with the following Setup:
Even though I would be very scared if I remembered the details of this event, I really was very brave, I defended Mama the best I could for a 6 year old, with bravery, and I love and honor myself.
At this point she was able to start telling her story. Her mother was 8 months pregnant, the dogs belonged to Mariana’s grandfather, and they were let loose by her uncles; half brothers of her mother.
Emotion was evident in her eyes, and she said it was rage.
Even though my uncles, half brothers of Mama, maliciously loosed the dogs and I hate them for that, even so I love and accept myself.
Even though I feel hatred for my uncles, which doesn’t really help me”
I asked what she felt now about her uncles and she felt pity; I asked about her emotions regarding the dogs and she said she wanted to poison them.
Even though I feel like poisoning Bandit and Star, and this feeling isn’t helping me”
Even though I have this desire to poison the dogs for destroying Mama’s back” and maybe they were only obeying my uncles or their instincts. (another reframe).
Mariana started crying and said she felt sadness, helplessness and fear, a mix of emotions, of which fear was the strongest.
Even though I feel fear again when I remember what happened when my uncles loosed the dogs”
Even though I feel fear again, the fear of a 6 year old girl when I remember how my uncles loosed the dogs, I honor myself for what I tried to do, I honor myself for facing the ferocious dogs.
The fear and sadness dissipated, leaving helplessness, “I wish I’d had a gun.”
Even though I feel so helpless when I remember how the dogs attacked Mama when she was 8 months pregnant, I couldn’t do anything more, I would have liked to do more”
Even though I feel so helpless when I remember what the dogs did and I couldn’t prevent it”
The emotions had dropped almost to zero, so I asked her to recount the story from the beginning. “Mama, my little sister and I arrived home. Mama was pregnant and it was early February. We were living with my grandfather but he wasn’t there. There was a brick partition with openings. Mama was tired and sat down and she asked my Uncle Felipe, “Hey Felipe, is my father here? No, he’s not here. Hold the dogs for me. Aw, f*ck off.”
She again felt angry at her uncles.
Even though I feel angry at my Uncle Felipe for what he said to Mama, her being pregnant”
She reported that the anger had come way down and continued her story: Then Mama sat down to wait for my grandfather. I knew they didn’t like her, because they’re half brothers. Mama sat on the partition and my little sister and I started playing on the floor, and then my uncle opened the door and loosed the dogs on Mama. Then Mama screamed.”
Again an emotion appeared which Mariana identified as resentment.
Even though I feel resentment for the evilness of my uncles, and this resentment isn’t helping me, and probably my uncles aren’t even aware of my resentment(reframe)”
After this round of tapping the resentment had disappeared, but there was anger at a level of 4.
Even though I’m angry at my uncles and it’s justified, they don’t deserve that I let go of this anger, the trouble is they don’t even know I’m angry, and I’m hurting myself, and even so I love and accept myself.
Even though I’m feeling angry at my uncles, I love and accept myself and I’m willing to consider letting go of the anger.
The anger came down and Mariana continued telling her movie. I remember that it was very cold and my mother was wearing a cape, one of those knitted ones that people used to wear, which was purple and pink, a sweater, two blouses and an undershirt.
Mama started grimacing with pain, and she started to twist and turn, like this, ow, ow. I stood up and I saw how the dogs were sticking their snouts through the openings in the partition and were tearing her flesh as if they were eating raw steak.
An emotion came up that she couldn’t identify, so we tapped on:
Even though I have this ugly feeling when I remember how the dogs tore the flesh from my mother”
After tapping she said she felt as if someone were comforting her and saying, Easy, easy you’re not there anymore. When I saw they were tearing my mother’s flesh and the dogs were covered in blood, I climbed on top of the partition, I took off my black patent leather shoe and I started to hit them saying “Leave my mother alone, leave my mother alone!”
But it seemed like that only made them madder. They stuck their snouts in even more, as if they wanted to tear out her spine. I saw that they paid me no attention, it didn’t hurt them.
At this point the feeling of helplessness returned and we tapped again with the Setup:
Even though I feel this helplessness, I hit the dogs with my black patent leather shoe and it seemed that they just became more pitiless, like they wanted to tear out my mother’s spine”
She was then ready to continue her story. When I saw that I couldn’t stop them, I got down and I took my mother’s hand and pulled, but she told me, No daughter, don’t pull me, leave me as I am, that hurts, don’t pull me, leave them be.
A painful emotion came up, for which we tapped with the Setup:
Even though I feel so much pain that I couldn’t help Mama, she just said, leave me as I am, that hurts”
Even though I feel so much pain when I remember Mama’s pain, and her face,”
The intensity came down and she continued the story. When the neighbors came out, because we ran to their houses screaming and knocked on their doors. They shouted at my uncles to put the dogs away.
When the dogs let go, my mother fainted and they never called an ambulance or anything, because Mama didn’t want them to. She didn’t want them to put my grandfather in jail because he was the owner of the dogs.
Mama couldn’t lie down because her back hurt, and she couldn’t lie on her stomach because she was pregnant. A week later my mother gave birth in the street, because nobody wanted to take her to the hospital. Mama suffered terribly and I still say that God should keep my grandfather in holy hell-fire. I can’t let go of this anger.
We tapped on the anger at her grandfather using:
Even though I feel angry with my grandfather because he did nothing to protect or help my mother, his daughter”
Even though I feel angry with my grandfather, even if he’s dead and gone, and I wish God’s hell-fire on him, even so I love myself and I forgive myself, it’s justified, it’s in the past and maybe this anger doesn’t serve me.
Even though all this is in the past and I still feel angry, even so I love and accept myself, and I forgive myself for what I wish on my grandfather.
With this, she could imagine a dog without feeling fear, though she still felt a healthy respect for ferocious dogs. Mariana’s whole bearing had changed: she laughed and smiled, was relaxed.
With a big sigh she said she felt relieved and tired, the excessive fear was gone. Something told me that there might be more work to do around her attitude towards men and she agreed that was true.