Trauma and PTSD

This insightful article by Dr. Alexander R. Lees relates how he used EFT inconjunction with NLP techniques to connect with his client and enable them to work through her fears and memories of hiding from the Nazis. A very interesting case history well worth studying. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit Dr. Lees' webbsite.

By Dr. Alexander R. Lees

The client had refused to fill out the Intake form and was equally adamant about offering her name.  My wife Berit (she manages our business) created a file under the name Mrs. X, which I changed to Yana to share her story with you.  We join her during her third appointment, which demonstrates the value of learning and applying two NLP techniques (pace and lead, and calibration) which are very useful additions to the application of EFT.

The Client

I watched Yana enter my office and, like clockwork, her eyes darted about the room, and came to rest briefly on the ceiling-high bookcase.  From there, her next move would be to turn towards me, sitting in my chair, and lock eyes.  After this, if she remained consistent, she would look at the floor, then the couch, and sit at the end farthest from my chair.  Sure enough, Yana followed the same routine, and settled herself on the couch.


“You know,” I began, “I’m thinking of getting rid of that bookcase.”  Her eyes quickly found mine as she asked why.

“I don’t know... there’s just something about it.  I can’t put it into words exactly, but I think it just might have to go.”

“So you have figured it out, have you?” She asked in a manner that suggested a trace of hostility.  Instead of answering, I looked again at the bookcase, and scanned it up and down, rather like one would do to a person that had offended in some way.

“What do you think?” I finally asked her.  “It wouldn’t make any difference,” she replied, “the memories would still be there.”  I had spent the first two sessions with Yana quietly wondering why a 71 year old female, living alone, would pay a counsellor money simply to talk about the weather, what was wrong with society and the world in general, and refuse to give her name or anything about her history.  Especially, what she would like some help with.

I decided to continue to pace and calibrate her and followed up with, “You know, you present an interesting challenge,” I said as I watched her for a reaction.

“You are attracted to challenges” she asked as she stole another look at the bookcase, “are you?”  Because of the way she said them, the last two words seemed to almost convey a dismissal.

“Well, most people work hard for their money, as I’m sure you did, but I get the feeling that part of you has a reason for being here, and it’s as if there is another part that resents it.  If I said I think that you harbour an inner conflict, and it’s similar to what I’ve described, what would you say to that?”

Mind Reading

“People in a position of authority always think they know everything,” she said, “and think they can just take over.  What else do you think you know about me?”  “I know there is something about my bookcase you don’t like, and I’m wondering if this is true for all bookcases, or just mine?” I replied.

Yana stared at some spot on the floor between us, and after a few moments of silence, she sighed and said, “You know I have seen many counsellors before coming here, and finally just gave up.  Then my friend Gwen, who had seen you a few times, raved on about how intuitive you were.  She said you read minds.  Is that true?”

I checked my few remaining gray cells, and finally said, “In my experience, there are three groups of people that can read minds.”  I waited her out, and she said, “Who?”  “Mothers, wives and girlfriends,” I replied lamely.

The sudden explosion of laughter told me we just might be making some headway.

The History

“My father was a professor at the local university,” she began.  “And the Nazis had invaded Holland.  Our house was quite large for the area and father had a study.  Two walls were covered with bookshelves.  When they took over our house, they burned all those books.  Then they placed their own books on the bookshelves.  In those books were names, names of Jews.  The neighbours convinced them we had left.  We were actually under the house, hiding.  We were there for 11 days.  Our neighbours would bring us food and water, and remove the buckets we used as a latrine.  In the night of the 11th day, a man appeared and whispered, ‘Come, come now.’  We escaped by hiding in the back of his truck.  You see, my family is Jewish.”

So, now I knew the significance of bookshelves.  Names were written in the books.  After a few moments, I realized why she hadn’t given me her name.  We would record it.

After a few moments of contemplation, I decided to lead her just a little bit more.  To do so, I began with, “You won’t believe this,” as I shifted my position in the chair, “but I took some training in a remarkable technique.  It was about removing unpleasant feelings around things like bookcases.  Can I show you how it works?”

After receiving a tentative nod, I walked over to her, and as I did so, asked her to see the bookcase in her mind, and as she did so, to recall the feeling associated with it.


As soon as I saw the same physiology that I’d noticed when she looked at my bookcase, I did a short cut round of tapping, then waited.

“Well?” I finally asked.  Yana replied with, “Well, yours isn’t so bad (an indication that the generalization was dissipating) but the one that was there, in the house, still bothers me.”

We then did another round, this time with the focus on the bookcase in your mind, the one with the names in the books. Two rounds later, and after some small talk, I re-introduced the bookcase in her mind. Noticing the change in physiology, as compared to those indicators observed about the bookcase before the tapping, I felt confident in saying, “Isn’t the mind a wonderful thing?  Yours changed because of those awful experiences.  Now, your mind is changing again, I believe... is it not?”

“How can that happen?” she asked in wonder.  “All you did, was tap some spots on my body.”

We spent a few moments behind the scenes as it were, and I explained that it is useful to think of some problems as content, and the emotion as the fuel that drives it.  “Suppose a runaway bulldozer was heading for a friend’s house,” I said, “and all of a sudden it runs out of fuel.  What would happen then?”

“Why, it would stop, of course,” Yana replied.  “Exactly!  And, in a like and similar way, the tapping removes the fuel, so the problem, which seemed so threatening before, simply stops,” I finished.


“But I’m still flashing on that space under the house,” replied Yana, “and I still hear my father saying, ‘Don’t make any noise, no matter what happens.  Your name will be recorded in the book.’”

Finer Distinctions

We did a few shortcut rounds on both of these, using the reminder phrases starting with, the feeling of being in the space under the house.  Yana interrupted to say, “It was shear terror!”  We then switched the wording accordingly, and when we tested it, Yana responded with how much less the feeling was.

We then tapped for the feeling of getting your name in the book. Half way through Yana said, “It’s also fear.  I felt I was responsible for everyone in the family, and might do something to get their names in the book.”

A Core Issue

Once again we adjusted the wording.  For the first round, we used, this feeling of being responsible for the whole family and followed this with another round using the phrase, Fear of having your name recorded.

We did three more rounds with minor word adjustments, and as I observed her, I said, “You are beginning to look a bit tired.  Would you like to stop?”  The sigh of relief and facial muscle relaxation suggested we had perhaps hit overload, and it was time to stop.  After some small talk Yana said, “Gwen told me you use humour a lot when you are helping people.  We only laughed once today.”

Using Humour

“Well it depends,” I replied.  “It’s true that humour is a very useful tool, but some people get offended when it’s used.  They perhaps think therapy and changework should be serious, but since you brought it up,” I said as I shifted positions in the chair, “did you hear about the two blondes that walked into a building?”  After a few seconds pause, I added, “You’d think one of them would have noticed it.”

Yana half laughed and half cried.  Eventually she said, “It’s so good to laugh again.  My name is _____ _____and you can put it in your book, or on the file, or wherever you put it.”  After accompanying Yana into the reception area, I introduced her to Berit.


A few sessions later, Yana reported the nightmares (flashbacks) were gone, and she felt somehow lighter and most of all, more trusting.  We then dealt with the loss of her brother (he’d fallen from the truck and was buried in a field near the road) and the passing of her parents.

“I think you are very intuitive,” Yana said as she was leaving.  “You should use it more.”

I thanked her for the feedback, but quietly held on to the belief that I’m not very intuitive at all.  However, adding such concepts as pacing a client (joining them in their model, their understanding of the way things are) and using calibration goes a long way in optimizing the use of an excellent therapeutic tool – EFT.

Dr. Alexander Lees


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