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Step-by-step EFT for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Dear EFT Community,

Here, Michelle Hardwick from New Zealand guides you through the steps she took to achieve great results with a client suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Through the Movie TechniqueSpecific Events, and creative language, the client’s symptoms improved dramatically to the point that she was able to engage in activities she hadn’t been able to do for 10 years. 

-Stephanie M


By Michelle A. Hardwick

Lil came to see me in January this year, suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). She told me she had ‘turned 70 a couple of weeks before and felt she needed to do something to help herself. She had had a stroke in July of last year and she’d had an operation to have a piece of bowel removed (she was suffering from SLE, or lupus, which she had been diagnosed with six years ago).

Lil felt unable to cope with the IBS and was only with me a few moments when she became tearful.

I asked Lil to tap her collarbone point continually, and to keeping breathing deeply. She did and I explained that ‘this point was like our own “pressure cooker point,” in that we get all worked up with emotions and we need to let the steam escape so that we can calm down. Tapping this point is like lifting the weight off the pressure cooker and allowing that steam or emotion to escape. She visibly calmed down and said she felt better.

‘”Great!” I said. I told Lil we’d just started to use EFT, a revolutionary technique that I have found to be incredibly fast, effective, and useful in all situations–just like the one she had just experienced. EFT allowed the emotion to escape or be released so that we could continue and that she could be free.

I asked Lil if she knew anything about gardening. She said yes and so I told her we’d be doing some gardening in the sessions! We would weed stress, emotions, and feelings right out of her mind and her body. After those weeds had been removed, we would plant positive feelings and confidence back into her mind and body by using specially made hypnotherapy tapes, which I have found wonderfully augment the EFT work I do.

I demonstrated the EFT shortcut procedure and told her it’s easy to learn, she could use it anytime, anywhere, and she could use it regularly to help herself so that she could feel more powerful rather than powerless.

I also explained that the EFT work we do is both a collaboration and a construction. Collaboration, as the key ingredient to success, is working together on her current life challenges. Also construction, in that we were constructing something powerful together, the changes within herself and the future. I told her it’s important to hit the nail right on the head with what was inside of her, with her words, her feelings, her beliefs. That way if I say something that doesn’t feel appropriate, and she has the right word, feeling, belief or information inside herself, she must say it, just butt in–not worry about interrupting–and just say it. I go a lot with inner guidance and intuition, however, there might be things that percolate up inside of her and they need to be expressed.

I told her that feelings might come up for her as we work, for example, sadness (like she’d just previously experienced) or even anger, and to know that these feelings were being released and were on the way out of her body and mind. ‘”The technique is called ‘Emotional Freedom’ and that’s exactly what happens,” I explained to Lil.

I also explained that a memory might pop up in her mind, and that meant her mind was working and collaborating with us too, bringing up issues that were connected with what we were working on. I asked her, if that happened, to keep me informed of what she was feeling, hearing, seeing, or sensing. She agreed. ‘”Then again,” I told Lil, “sometimes nothing happens and that’s fine too. That just means nothing is connected with the piece we are working on at that moment and we’ll move onto the next piece.”

Having covered all these EFT introductions, I showed her the shortcut and then asked questions about how she felt about her condition. We began tapping on her answers, just to clear some of her surface feelings about the situation so that we could look deeper without it being too overwhelming for Lil:

“Even though I’m tearful, overwhelmed, and can’t cope with this condition, I deeply and completely want to love and approve of myself anyway.”

“Even though I am missing out on so much, especially travelling, I deeply and completely want to love and approve of myself always.”

She became more relaxed.

I asked, “Where do you hold the emotions about your condition?” she replied, “My stomach.” I asked, “What emotions are they?” She said, “Frustration, sadness, embarrassment, nervousness.” On a scale of 0-10, she rated them now at a 9.

So we tapped: “Even though I have this frustration, sadness, embarrassment, nervousness in my stomach and it’s a 9, I deeply…”

The rating dropped to a 7. She then added that the embarrassment was actually held in her bowels.

I asked what was now contributing to the residual feeling of a 7. She said, “There is nothing we can do with it. My dad was the same. It’s something I’ve got to live with.”

So we tapped again:

“Even though I have this embarrassment, it’s a 7 in my bowels, and there is nothing we can do with it now, I just have to accept this condition, I don’t want to, and I’m angry, I deeply…”

“Even though my dad was the same, I am choosing not to be like him any longer and I deeply…”

“Even though I have this condition and they have told me it’s something I’ve got to live with and I don’t choose to, I feel let down by them and by my body, I deeply…”

We consistently worked to bring the feelings down to 0. We addressed a number of issues, which included Lil’s frustration, annoyance, and disappointment at how trapped she now was and how much her life had changed since being diagnosed with IBS. We also cleared a number of emotions with EFT about: her loss of freedom, not able to go out alone, not being able to travel on a bus, do what she wanted, when she wanted.

She was devastated that she had missed her holiday to Australia to see her family and grandchildren who were currently living there. She had turned down many invitations to go out, for meals, to the theatre, for trips, with friends and with groups she belonged to, and she felt she had become a prisoner in her own body, as well as in her own home, not really wanting to talk to anyone about what was actually happening for her. We cleared the misery and other emotions she felt about her condition and tapped on all of the emotions she was holding.

Lil explained that she had no warning whatsoever when her bowel was about to let go. A lot of grief surfaced as she talked about what was happening. I asked her to keep tapping, which she did. So we tapped and talked about how the condition wasn’t getting any better, that she had coped better before her operation, how nobody in the hospital had worried about the fact that the IBS wasn’t getting better, how the nervousness and anxiety still kept happening, how stressed out she felt traveling, how fearful she was of getting “cut short” (her bowel letting go at any time, without warning), her frustration at not going on a bus trip, how nervous her husband was now, being with her in the car. We just kept tapping around each of the points as her mind cleared itself of all the emotions she had kept inside of her in her stomach and bowel.

I also added:

“Even though I have this guilt about my condition, it’s even affecting my husband and that makes me feel worse, I deeply and completely want to love and approve of myself…”

“Even though my stomach is like my emotional barometer, and I thank my stomach for holding onto all these things in the past, I’m ready to free myself from these feelings and pain, and I deeply…”

“Even though my bowel lets go because it just can’t hold onto all these things, I’ve stored so much in there it’s overloaded and overwhelmed too, and I deeply…”

I asked Lil if this was the first time she had felt these feelings. She said no. I asked when was the first time she felt these feelings of frustration, embarrassment, the loss of freedom, the devastation. She said with her first husband.

I checked to see if there was anything else contributing to this first husband situation. I asked, “If you had your life to live over again, what person or event would you most like to skip?” She said, “My first marriage.”

So we used the Movie Technique to clear her emotions about a situation from the past. Her movie was called “Naoveti” and rated a 4.

We tapped, both of us adding words and feelings each time:

“Even though I have this annoyance and anger at myself, I didn’t know a thing, I was so naive, I deeply…”

“Even though I wish I knew then what I know now, I was only 18, and didn’t know what he was up to, I did the best I could with the skills and the knowledge I had, I deeply…”

“Even though it was hell back then, there were more bad times than good, I deeply and completely love and approve of myself and I know now that I am lucky, I value my current relationship.”

The rating dropped to a 2. I asked what was still left in the movie that gave it a charge of a 2.

She said bitterness, hurt, she couldn’t depend on him, and that she still had to be in contact with him. We tapped on those too:

“Even though he left me for the barwoman, he was a better friend than a husband, I still have to be in contact with him because of the kids, I deeply…”

“Even though I still have to communicate with him and I feel bitter about it all, it’s not what I dreamed of, it’s not what I wanted out of life, I feel so hurt, I knew I could never depend on him, and now I can’t even depend on my bowel, everyone lets me down, my bowel let’s me down, I deeply…”

The movie became a 0. I got her to fast-forward and check it. No feelings. I got her to imagine meeting her ex again. No feelings. I asked her to get the emotions about the movie back. She couldn’t.

At the end of the session, we created a hypnotherapy tape, to help her be calm and reduce her anxiety. I suggested she do EFT throughout the day and use the tape daily.

The next session was a week later, wherein Lil explained that she had been quite good. Her husband had noticed that she was a lot happier and her sister (who lived in another part of the country) had commented that she had noticed that Lil had begun again to laugh over the phone like she used to in the past.

Lil talked about an enormous fear and nervousness of being “cut short” and needing to find a toilet–fast. She and her husband knew where all the toilets were in her hometown, just in case of an accident.

We tapped on the worst and earliest times she could recall relating to being cut short, a few of which included having to go home, shower, and change her clothes. We removed the embarrassment and shame that Lil still carried from those past experiences when she had been cut short. We tapped also on the fear of it happening again and on the fear of the fear of it happening again.

In the past, Lil had found it hard to talk about her condition and so she avoided people. There had also been many comments and misunderstandings, from friends and family, which we successfully cleared to 0. Lil held anger in her stomach about that lack of understanding. In particular, one person in the family had been incredibly judgmental about Lil and she still felt upset by this person. I asked how she felt on a scale of 0 to 10 about this person. She said 10.

So we tapped:

“Even though she upsets me, I don’t argue with her, it’s so hurtful, she’s getting at me, she starts me off, my nerves get so worked up, I deeply…”

“Even though I feel so sad, she talks about me behind my back, she doesn’t like me, maybe she’s jealous of me, maybe she feels threatened by me, because nobody who has a sense of self need run anybody down, I deeply…”

That stopped Lil dead in her tracks. She was so amazed that this could be so. Then she agreed that this was probably the case.

When I asked who this person reminded her of, she said, “My mum.” I checked the rating; it was down from 10 to 5.

So we tapped, Lil still adding her feelings:

“Even though she’s like my mum, she’s domineering, we’re not close, I feel so guilty, I deeply…”

“Even though I’ve been hurt over the years, I hold that disappointment inside my stomach, and maybe my bowel, it’s time for a change, I deeply…”

EFT cleared all aspects of this, including her sadness too. The rating was down to a 3.

With the time we had left, we tapped again on the sadness and disappointment. It dropped to a 2-3. I suggested we continue with this in another session.

I was away from my clinic, overseas, so eight weeks later, Lil returned for another session.

She was full of enthusiasm. She had been to Christchurch (4-5 hours drive by car). She felt good the whole time. I asked about the anxiety of being cut short. She said it had gone and, in fact, she had not been cut short for 5 weeks already!

She said, however, she had had one sad thing happen. While listening to the tape, she had been cut short in bed, and that she still could not tell, but since then it had been 5 weeks without an incident.

I asked how she felt about the movie and her first marriage. She said she had been feeling a lot better. I checked about the family member who she had had the troubles with previously, and she said that she had called her and that went okay, but she was still not ready to see her.

So we tapped:

“Even though I got cut short in bed and it was horrible, I was so embarrassed, I got upset, I wasn’t prepared for it, I still don’t get any warning signals from my bowel, I deeply…”

“Even though I’ve been hurt so many times, and I’m not yet ready to see her, I’m not strong enough just yet, I deeply and completely love and approve of myself, I know I’m doing the best I can with the skills and the knowledge I have, and maybe she is too, and I honour myself for the strength I have.”

Lil then said that she’d been ill for so long she couldn’t see it clearing up completely and that she began to feel uptight in preparation for coming to the session.

So again we tapped:

“Even though I get so nervous when I have to leave the house, I’ve had this condition for so long, it’s my identity, it’s who I am, I couldn’t possibly be free of this right now, it’s time for a change, I’m ready for a change now, and I deeply…”

In addition to all these feelings, situations, and emotions regarding her current IBS condition, we cleared contributing situations or “diseased trees” held in Lil’s past. There had been, throughout her life, two other devastating experiences that she had never talked about to anyone and had therefore never resolved.

I used the Movie Technique to clear them too.

She said that people back then just went on with life” and that there was no real support for anything that went on in the 1950s and 1960s. So she had bottled these up. These memories, and the emotions associated with them, were held within her body–mainly her stomach, chest, shoulders, and bowel. We worked together with EFT and easily and gently released these. We reframed a lot of the experiences so that Lil became more at peace with her past.

She felt more positive and in control. We arranged to meet again.

The next session was two weeks later. She said that she was feeling a “bit like her old self!” She had been ill with a viral infection but was feeling a lot better. She said that she’d had to go to hospital to get her eyes tested and that she felt uptight, but she tapped and just “relaxed myself.”

She said that she had not been cut short now for 7 to 8 weeks already and that she had not taken any extra pills. She had more confidence, she had even bought herself a stepper for herself to work on at home, and was ready to go to the shops alone.

I checked about the family member that she had felt upset about and she said that she now felt sorry for her.

We tapped on her need for the tablets for safety.

“Even though I needed those tablets in the past, I believed they kept me safe and maybe they did, I’m open to the possibility of feeling safe without them or maybe even reducing them sometimes, and I deeply…”

As part of this session, I made a hypnotherapy tape to reinforce the changes we had made. The tape included more programming for her bowel to “hold on” until Lil was ready to release. We worked on strengthening her confidence in all situations, increasing her self-esteem and her self-respect. We also did visualisations and affirmations to let go of the past and to “take a hold” of her future.

Three weeks later, Lil returned for a session. She had been back to Christchurch, had a wonderful time, and nothing happened. She had not been cut short! She went shopping with her sister and still nothing happened! She had walked around an outdoor market with no problems either! She felt really “chirpy” inside. She said, “It’s good to be feeling good!” She was now walking faster. Talking to more people. She realised in the past that she had “bottled it all up” (meaning her emotions).

She was now looking forward to meeting the family member to see if she did have a reaction to her and whether she would run to the toilet or not. She added, “I don’t think I will”–a big change from her fear in the past.

Lil began to make decisions and plan for her future: a trip on the bus to test it all out, a visit to this family member to test it out, and then a trip to Australia to see her family. We tapped on her residual fears of traveling on the bus, her fear of going to town alone. She knew that once she could go on a bus she was well on the road to recovery. So we worked on all the “yes, buts” that came up and any residual nervousness about this.

Lil had decided to reduce her medication–to no ill effect, she was not cut short either. In fact, nothing happened! She became more confident, reduced the dose further, and had begun to have tablet-free days when she was staying at home.

We worked on the “benefits” of having IBS and collapsed or removed those.

My belief is that each experience we have can be looked at as a gift. We may not like the wrapping paper, but if we can find the gift within it, we become accepting of the situation and therefore powerful, rather than powerless. We worked on the things that IBS allowed Lil to have. Time out. Peace and quiet. An excuse not to go to some places that she didn’t feel confident enough to say no to or decline.

Everyone was noticing how much happier she was looking, how much more confident she was becoming! People started to comment on how well she looked. Her grandson had even commented on how much better and smoother she was walking for the first time after having her stroke! We didn’t work with EFT on Lil’s walking; this occurred by itself. I feel perhaps this occurred as a result of offloading a lot of Lil’s burdens.

She began organising trips out with the group she belonged to. She began meeting people while she was out and many of her friends expressed concern about not seeing her for so long. She told them her story. She told family and friends about how easy it was to release the feelings with EFT. She said that they should do it too, that she had held onto those emotions for years and how free she felt and how they too could benefit!

A month later we had our final completion session. Lil said she had not been cut short for almost three months now. She said, “I can cope now.” She had been on her own downtown. A little fear came up as she felt a feeling in her bowel and so she went to a toilet, only to find out she was just passing wind! A new experience. We tapped on this.

She said, “I am coping much better. I’m more like my old self.” She was due to go to a concert the following day, and she’d been out grocery shopping and been “as good as gold.” She had noticed she’d been more assertive, she’d been thinking things through and doing them. She’d been talking to more people. She’d gone to see that family member three weeks previously, she said she’d known she’d cope–and she did! No trotting to the toilet; now she was going to the toilet when she wanted to, without fear. She felt empowered!

She reflected on the work that she’d achieved in our sessions, saying, “It was so good to get it out of my system. I’ve never been one with lots of confidence, but that’s changed now. I’d always been uptight in the past.”

Lil has now reduced the tablets to two in the morning and one at night. We tapped some more on the need to have those tablets there for safety. I checked with all the past issues that we’d tapped on. She made the comment that her ex would go to the pub and come back bombed.” Also that divorce was taboo back then, and that she was the first in their circle of friends to divorce. So we tapped on each of those, including the guilt and shame, and she added an old quote that came up for her: “You make your bed, you lie in it.” We tapped on that too and she replied that nothing about any of those past events bothered her at all now.

It’s been over seven weeks and Lil has not needed to make another appointment. She continues to get better and she has all the resources she needs to continue her success. Lil is really “going for life now.” I feel so blessed to have been able to work with her!

Here is Lil’s Feedback:

“Dear Michelle, I would like to thank you for giving me back my life! I came to you just over three months ago feeling miserable. I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) over two years ago. I have had SLE, which is lupus disease, for about 6 years. In February 2004, I had 12 inches of bowel removed (nothing to do with my IBS); I was in hospital for 2 weeks. I also had a slight stroke in July 2004. We have had to cancel two holidays to Australia to see family. When I came to see you, I was getting cut short at least once a week. I was frightened to go out unless there was a toilet handy, and I was taking up to eight pills before I went out to make sure I would be fine. I have been to you about six times, I listen to my tape every day, and I was also doing the stress exercises (EFT) as well, but I don’t need them now. They are there in case I get stressed. I am now on two pills a day. I watch what I eat. I am feeling great and enjoying life again. We went to Christchurch for four days a couple of weeks ago, walked around the market for a couple of hours, something I had not been able to do, because as soon as I started walking, I would get cut short. I have not been cut short for about 10 weeks, which is marvelous! Twice I have been downtown on my own in the bus [one of Lil’s major goals], done some shopping, and rode the bus home. I have not been able to do that for over two years. Thank you again for giving me my life back. I am really enjoying it! With love, Lil.”

Thank you, Lil–you did it! I am so proud of you! You regularly used the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and you listened to the tapes, and you achieved the success! Well done! Blessings to you!