Dear EFT Community,
EFT practitioner Masha Bennett offers a story from a Russian student of hers who used EFT to bring a suicidal pregnant woman off the balcony where she was considering jumping.
- EFT Universe
By Masha Bennett
I am fortunate to travel around the world to teach EFT and, in addition to the joy I get from using EFT in my private therapy practice and in my state health service job as a psychotherapist, I also hear dozens of wonderful and inspiring stories from my students, many of whom are experienced health professionals, working with difficult and complex cases, for whom EFT has offered a powerful approach that surpasses most, if not all of the existing tools in their therapeutic toolkit.
One of my students from Moscow, Dr. Oksana Korsunova, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, shared the following story.
Her 23-year-old female client (whom we will call Katya) began her therapy approximately six months after Oksana had learnt the basics of EFT in the Level 1 workshop I taught in Moscow in 2008. Katya was a nurse, married for two years to a man a year younger. At the commencement of therapy for depression, Katya was in the third month of pregnancy. She said she felt no joy at the thought of her baby coming into the world, no joy in the relationship with her husband, and her outlook for the future was gloomy and hopeless. Three years previously, she began receiving pharmacological treatment in the form of antidepressants and tranquilizers, but the doctors advised against psychotropic medication during pregnancy so she was referred for psychotherapy instead. Kate was absorbed by anxiety, low mood, and fears for her future, and had frequent suicidal thoughts.
At that time, Dr. Korsunova had already begun to implement EFT in her therapy practice. She had learnt to identify aspects of the problem (which she described as “magician’s handkerchiefs”—once you draw out the first one, it pulls out the second one, etc.) and had found the Movie Technique extremely useful for the treatment of both old and fresh traumas.
This was the first case for Oksana of working with a young suicidal patient who was pregnant, and she was treading carefully as she introduced EFT into the treatment, alongside the traditional psychotherapy methods. Whilst some of Katya’s distress eased during therapy, the relief turned out to be only temporary. The overwhelming feelings returned and, during one of the sessions, Katya told her therapist, weeping, that she didn’t think the therapy was working. She didn’t want to be tormented any more, and the thoughts of “stopping all the suffering” were coming to her mind more and more frequently. Concerned, Oksana gave the patient her mobile number with permission to call outside office hours if she needed help.
A few weeks after treatment began, Oksana received a call from her patient’s husband. He said that Katya was standing on the balcony of their eighth-floor apartment, and wouldn’t leave it. Just before going out on the balcony, she had been crying and pacing around the room for some time. Now she was standing, looking pale, serious and determined, close to the balcony railing. “What should I do?” the husband asked. Oksana told him to pass the phone to Katya, and asked her how she felt. She replied that she had been very low, anxious, and hopeless, and at that moment, as she was looking at the clouds, she envied them—they seemed to be floating so easily, calmly, with no care in the world; they were free from anguish.
Katya calmly noted that she wanted to float in the sky just as easily and freely as the clouds. She just needed to cross the balcony railing and then everything would be fine.
Oksana then asked Katya to describe the balcony, where she was, and her posture. She described her surroundings and said that she was leaning forward over the railings. Oksana asked her to move away a little from the railings, and gently suggested they do some tapping over the phone. Katya agreed, and they began to tap. Oksana was very conscious that the phrases of self-love, self-acceptance, or self-forgiveness in the Setup Statement would most likely be rejected by the client at the time when she was seriously considering ending her life, so she had to be creative in her use of language.
To start with, Oksana suggested the following words:
Even though I am standing on the balcony and am watching the clouds floating past, I am standing on the balcony with both of my legs.
She then double-checked with Katya: “Is this true? Are you sure that you are standing on the balcony with both of your legs?”
Katya replied, “Yes, it is true. I am sure.”
They tapped on that phrase. Then Oksana asked:
“Katya, are you alive now?”
“Yes, I am alive.”
“Would it be okay to say that even though you are standing on the balcony and envy the clouds, you are alive anyway?”
“Yes, I can do that.”
“Is it true?”
“Yes, it is true.”
So they tapped on “Even though I am standing on the balcony and I envy the clouds, I am alive anyway.”
They both continued tapping over the phone, Oksana in her office and Katya on the balcony of her eighth-floor apartment. After a little while, Katya repeated with some emphasis and conviction in her voice, “Yes, I am alive.” Oksana later found that that was the moment her client felt the determination to live. They continued tapping on phrases such as:
Though it hurts, and I am scared, I am alive anyway.
Though I feel anguished and weary, I am alive anyway.
When they finished tapping, Katya said that she had now left the balcony and was sitting on the sofa in her living room. She was tired. They said goodbye. An hour later, Katya’s husband called and reported that his wife was sleeping.
Next day Katya got in touch to arrange another session. They continued working throughout the pregnancy, using EFT as one of the integral tools. There were some successes during treatment and some significant challenges as well. The depression abated slowly. In the later stages of pregnancy, the frequency of sessions diminished, as Katya was beginning to enjoy the relationship with her husband and more eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new baby. Then one day she called her therapist and said: “I am ringing from the hospital, I have just given birth to my son—he is the most wonderful baby in the world.”
With advanced training in psychiatry and psychotherapy, Oksana has a good grasp of neuroscience and her hypothesis explaining the efficacy of EFT is that the tapping combined with tuning into the problem has an effect of regulating and balancing the activity of parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of our nervous system.
Dr Korsunova has now been using EFT for 2.5 years, and has seen some wonderful results on a regular basis, but this one remains one of her favorite cases. To me this is yet another manifestation of the tremendous versatility and power of EFT, and the potential for its applications in crisis situations, as well as in day-to-day self-healing and formal therapeutic settings. Of course, in addition to the major part that EFT has played in this case, we should credit the therapist’s expertise and skills as well as her creativity and resilience in the face of a very challenging situation. But this does not take away from the fact that we have the privilege of having an extremely potent tool literally at our fingertips, which in some cases, such as this one, can prove life-saving.