I am writing this article to share an exciting, creative technique I have discovered while working with a ten-year-old client.
Tapping With A Book
Chloe (not the client's real name) was referred to me because she was suffering from anxiety. There had been issues with illness, her best friend’s mother had recently passed as had her grandfather. It was a lot for a child, aged ten, to cope with.
We started the process very gently and tapped on what was coming up, week to week. We tapped on her emotions and on the associated somatic sensations. Chloe took to tapping like a duck to water. After a few weeks we had made great headway with the manifestations of her anxiety. Mum said that bedtimes were better and Chloe was no longer as overwhelmed at school. Her confidence in sport and performing had also improved. She now had a great bank of strategies to use whenever she felt uneasy.
Although she made significant progress in our sessions, I still felt that something remained that I couldn’t quite reach.
An Aspect That Didn't Seem To Budge
An issue that remained, however, was Chloe not wanting to be apart from mum and dad, and needing constant reassurance that they were safe. We tapped on feelings of grief and loss relating to her best friend’s mother and to her grandfather.
Chloe found it very difficult to talk about any of this, so we used gentle techniques such as picture tapping and tapping with Teddy. We also used protective distancing techniques such as putting the thoughts, feelings, memories, words, and smells in a box or container and tapping on this. Although she made significant progress in our sessions, I still felt that something remained that I couldn’t quite reach.
A New Strategy
I bought a book to read with Chloe called ‘The Heart and the Bottle’ by Oliver Jeffers. The book tells the story of a little girl who loses her grandfather and decides to put her heart into a bottle which she wears around her neck. The character keeps her heart and emotions tucked away and out of sight. When she grows up, she meets a little girl who reminds her of her former self; loving and curious. She decides to release her heart and to start to love again but she doesn't know how. I thought that this book could help Chloe externalise her emotions by speaking as the character.
I started by copying specific pages of the book so that I could scribe Chloe’s words as they came up. We began sessions by reading the book. I told Chloe that we could tap for the little girl. I asked her to name the character and Chloe called her ‘Glisten’.
We chatted about what we thought was happening on each page and how Glisten could be feeling. We explored questions such as: What was she thinking? What might she have said? What were the illustrations showing us? I scribed Chloe’s notes and we then tapped on them.
Even though I feel so sad that my grandad has gone, I am going to put all of these emotions and feelings into this bottle and keep them close to me.
Even though, I feel lonely and sad that I don’t have grandad to talk to anymore, I can protect my heart and keep it safe.
We tapped as we discussed these feelings and thoughts.
We continued tapping with Glisten’s words and thoughts for each page. Chloe suddenly had a lightbulb moment, smiled and said, “Glisten put her heart in a bottle like I put my memories into the black box!”
Previously, when using a protective distancing technique, Chloe had put her thoughts and feelings into a black glittery box which she had tied with a black bow and put in a tree. She could not look in the box at this moment in time.
We tapped through the rest of the book to the stage where Glisten realises that she must release her heart from the bottle so that she can live her life without fear. We tapped on the meaning of this:
Even though I still feel a little scared of what may happen, I am going to trust in myself and live my life.
Even though I have had these worries for a long time, I feel happy and confident to release them now and wear my heart on my sleeve.
We tapped around the points and worked on building confidence to release the worries until Chloe felt ready to look in her black box.
I found that understanding and empathising with the character in a well-chosen book allowed my client to disassociate from her own trauma. She could project her feelings and emotions in a safe space, free from overwhelm or judgement. Working through the book, at a child’s level of understanding, allowed a calculated pause and time for assessment during each stage of the journey. To me, the process felt like an age-appropriate version of the Movie Technique.
This innovative application of EFT can be used across a range of areas and can be adapted so it works with clients of all ages. The technique supports the visualisation aspect of EFT as, in most cases, there's a picture for your client to work with and process.
Tina Bajjada is an Accredited Certified EFT Practitioner.