EFT Session with Woman Frustrated with her Lapse in Self-care

Dear EFT Community,

Valerie Burke, MSN, EFT Certified Practitioner shares a story of a client's strong emotional charge and how she had no idea it was connected to her former abuse issues until she did a tapping session which was related to her lapse in self-care.

-Stephanie M

By Valerie J. Burke, MSN, Certified EFT Practitioner

I’ve known VK for 3 years, having connected via the Internet through my work. We are colleagues and friends. This was a phone session, as we live on opposite ends of the country.

VK has done some tapping on her own in the past, but not on this issue and not for many months. She felt stuck on the issue of her current poor self-care choices and asked for my help. She wanted some insight about why she has recently become unable to follow through on making good diet and exercise choices.

Prior to two months ago, she had been doing very well with those aspects her life. After some quick greetings, we jumped right into tapping. VK had a sheet with the tapping points on it in front of her, which I had previously sent.

Client is diabetic and her blood sugar levels are easily controllable WHEN she pays attention to her diet and exercises several times per week.

But for the past few months, she’s not been doing the things she knows she needs to do, and her doc has given her only three months to “get her act together” or he’s “putting her on insulin.” Client thought her lapse in self-care was a result of moving into a new apartment with a roommate, after living alone for some time.

However, she now doubts this is the underlying reason because her roommate has been gone for 3 days, and she’s done no better with the roommate gone, in terms of diet and exercise. Her apparent “lack of motivation” (her words) has her very frustrated and perplexed. Her initial SUDS level was 10. She reports feeling discouraged and disappointed in herself.

We began with a round of tapping focused mainly on the initial concerns she had voiced to me, including: “I just don’t take the time to take care of myself” “Everything changed when I moved in with Sharon” “I feel better when I eat right and exercise” “My blood sugars are acceptable when I take care of myself” “I know my diabetes will go out of control unless I get back on track” “I don’t know why I can’t get back on track”

After the first round, VK remembered the issue arose prior to her moving in—it had started in her old apartment with the event that triggered her desire to move.

Her landlord, with whom she had prior conflicts, and a repairman walked into her apartment one morning while she was in the shower, without any prior notice. While in the shower and alone, she heard the front door open, followed by male voices that gradually drew nearer.

She was absolutely terrified that it was a group of intruders—possibly aiming to rob or assault her. She turned off the shower water so that she could hear the voices, and only then did she realize it was the landlord and some repairman. This event would be very traumatizing in and of itself, but for her, it was even more significant because it triggered intense feelings related to childhood sexual abuse.

VK has a history of PTSD related to severe childhood sexual, physical, and emotional abuse from her father. She is now in her 60s and only recently entered therapy for the trauma, after two years of severe depression, anxiety, loss of several jobs and her own business, and eventually loss of her home and eventual homelessness.

She lived in her car for several months, traveling from state to state until finally being committed to a mental hospital for treatment following a suicide attempt (by car exhaust). She has just gotten “on her feet again” and is currently in her first paying job since moving out of a Salvation Army “group home” facility. Client realized the feelings she had when the landlord and repairman entered her apartment were very similar to the terror she felt when around her father, as a child.

The day of her landlord’s intrusion marked the turning point at which her ability to take care of herself lapsed, in terms of the diabetes. She also could not stomach remaining in that apartment because she didn’t feel safe. At this point, it was clear that the Movie Technique would be the best way to proceed, to deal directly with the landlord intrusion.

So I had her tell me the story in detail, while tapping. Her initial SUDS was a “13.”

Although she was not tearful, the fear in her voice was palpable. When she got to the point of hearing the front door open, her intensity level jumped upward. I stopped her from proceeding and had her tap on: “Someone’s in my apartment” “I’m alone, naked and helpless in the shower” “They’re going to rape me. Or kill me.” “I’m so scared.” She tapped on the sound of the male voices, because that was the panic trigger.

After two rounds, she spontaneously moved on in her story, saying that the point at which she recognized her landlord’s voice, her fear was replaced by anger. She did not go on past this point in the story, but instead said it now occurred to her that on the day of that incident, she started eating in response to her fear and anger, eating for comfort rather than for nutrition. I asked for her SUDS again. It was now 2 to 3 for fear, and 0 for anger. Her SUDS about her diabetes was now down to a 1.

VK then commented she was extremely surprised this incident had the strong emotional charge that it did for her, because she had no idea it was connected to her former abuse issues, exclaiming, “I thought I had dealt with all of that. Good grief!” I explained to her how trauma is resolved in layers, and it was no shortcoming of hers to have those feelings triggered, and her response should not detract from the hard work she’s done. I explained about neural pathways and reassured her that this does not mean her therapy “didn’t work”.

At this point we were out of time.

So, I made a few suggestions about how she might want to proceed, using EFT to sneak up on abuse memories, using gentle, little steps. I suggested she not choose to work on the worse abuse incidents first, but work her way into it with lesser-charged ones. I also offered her another session, which she thought she might want. I cautioned her about not working on deeply disturbing memories while alone, that she might want to have a coach for those, even though she’s worked on them in traditional talk therapy. I know from past history with VK that she can get easily overwhelmed.

We did a final tapping round on “time to heal” and, basically, self love, and it’s okay to have “more work to do.” I also sent her links to EFTuniverse and a couple of other EFT resources, as she anticipates buying a computer before long. VK was every appreciative of the session and very excited about the possibilities of tapping on her own, as a means of “cleaning the closets.” I told her I would be willing to continue our work together in the future, if she felt the need.

Although there is certainly more work for VK to do, at least this experience shined light on the path ahead for her, in terms of where to go in her own work, as well as powerfully illustrating how current emotional states are intricately tied in with our past experiences. 

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