EFT practitioner Wes Gietz uses EFT to help a client get to the root cause of her severe menstrual cramps.
By Wes Gietz
“Virginia” has had menstrual cramping since the age of 12. The cramping became incapacitating at age 15 and has continued that way. As she expressed it to me, the cramping was so severe and the onset so sudden that “I don’t want to be in public when it happens.” The time from the first slight discomfort to helplessness was typically about half an hour. She is now 26 years old. She was diagnosed through laparoscopy as having endometriosis at age 21.
Tylenol was useless for the pain. She had been using Chinese herbs and acupuncture, but her supply of the herbs had run out just before she came to me. Her usual practice was to use the herbs for two weeks prior to and during menstruation.
She was not experiencing cramping at the time of the EFT treatment, so there wasn’t any point in tapping for that. I asked her, “When you think about having cramps, what emotions come up for you?”
“Fear… I’m afraid of the pain.
“That’s understandable, but not what I’m looking for… What emotions do you feel when you think about your body betraying you this way?”
She immediately identified anger (with a 0-10 intensity rating of 8) and shame (6), commenting, “Why should I feel shame?”, then sadness (4) and fear (7).
I asked Virginia to close her eyes for a moment and experience this mixture of emotions as fully as possible. I invited her to experience the color, texture, and intensity of each emotion and to say “Okay” when she was fully into the “soup” of emotions. We then did two rounds of standard EFT, with me tapping. The result was a decrease in the fear, anger, and shame, but a surge of sadness during the second round. The overall intensity of her emotional disturbance did not decrease, in my observation.
My preference in cases like these is to “sneak up” on the issue so that it can be more gradually diffused (see the Tearless Trauma Technique).
At this point I invited Virginia to “get into the soup again,” closing her eyes and indicating when she was fully in the emotions. A few seconds later, she said “Okay,” and I then directed her to go back in her memory, to an earlier time when she had those same emotions.
Almost immediately, she mentioned a memory from age “12-ish” and indicated that the shame had become much stronger again in conjunction with this memory. I directed her to go back further, and after a few seconds she said, “Okay, I’m there.” I asked how old she was, and she responded, “Five”.
Again I directed her to look earlier. She could not find any memory before the one at age 5 that was associated with that mix of emotions, including the strong shame.
I did not ask for 0-10 intensity ratings of the emotions, as it was obvious from her tears that she was at a high level of intensity; nor did I ask what the memory from age 5 was. We did a round of standard EFT using “this experience” as the reminder, with Virginia doing the tapping for herself. I provided verbal prompts and modeled the tapping for her. After the first round, there was a noticeable improvement, though she indicated that she was still in a state of some intensity.
We did three more rounds using the same reminder phrase. I looked at her and asked, “Okay?”
“Okay.” (She was obviously okay. Her entire demeanor had changed.)
And that ended the session.
It was 6 weeks later that I next saw Virginia, again at an outdoor event. She said to me, “I’m cured!”
She describes the experience, beginning with a historical note:
“The month before [our EFT session], I biked 20 minutes to my doctor’s office on the third or fourth day of my moontime. Usually the cramps were on the first day of the cycle, so I thought I was in the clear, but when I got to her office, the cramps hit me. I could hardly breathe, and couldn’t even lie down for the acupuncture. She stayed with me for about 15 minutes until my breathing returned to normal.
“After the EFT session, I was due for my moontime the next day. I had no problems except for a bit of discomfort, like what I get just before the cramps hit. That was after an hour-long bicycle ride. Then I went swimming, with no problem. I was waiting for the bomb to drop, and it never did.”
Virginia has had one menstruation since this experience. She said, “I was shocked–I can’t remember the last time I was surprised by my moontime!” She reported that there was no discomfort at all.
For me, the remarkable part of this story is that the successful EFT treatment essentially ignored the physical pain or the potential for it, dealing instead with an experience of many years ago that was linked with the physical pain only by emotion. The emotional “soup” provided a temporal conduit through which Virginia traveled in memory to the experience that was, I believe, the initial, though perhaps not the only, cause of her condition.
Note also that I did not, and do not, know what the experience was (though it’s easy to make an accurate guess in such circumstances) beyond the age at which it occurred and the emotions associated with it.
I did not tap directly on Virginia except at the beginning of the session. I had had two previous successful sessions with her, where we also used the technique of verbal prompting and modeling. She is a delight to know and a delight to work with.
Four months after this session, Virginia called me and asked if we could do another session by telephone. The cramping had returned, and though it was not as severe as before, she wanted to be free of it. During the telephone session, we dealt specifically with four more memories, one of which ( the most recent, 5 years ago) was a home invasion during which her life was threatened by a male. In each case, the emotional impact was gone in one or two rounds. The last round we did was at my invitation, using “I’ve been afraid of men all my life” as the reminder. When we were done with that, she expressed astonishment about how powerful the phrase was for her and delight about being free of that fear.
It’s still too soon to know how effective the session was in terms of her cramping, but she sent me an email saying, “I should tell you that after I hung up with you I danced around the house for a while singing I am not afraid of men anymore (my partner thinks I’m crazy!) and it felt so good to say it, mean it, feel it. I have a relatively good handle of EFT now and I do it at school when I feel myself getting sucked in to the negativity.”