A few weeks ago, I said goodbye to one of my dearest friends - my brindle-colored mutt named Scoot, my faithful companion for over 11 years. At least since Easter, he had developed very sudden and rapid form of cancer, and it was becoming clear that I needed to make arrangements to end his suffering.
Mercifully for the both of us, the whole process unfolded rapidly enough that he did not suffer unduly, but not too fast that I was overwhelmed or unprepared. I deeply appreciated, for example, that in that last week, many of his friends and caregivers were able to come over to say goodbye, and he was able to visit with them. The ease with which it all unfolded didn't lesson the grief I was experiencing, but it did give me the opportunity to prepare for what was to come. When the day finally arrived, our vet helped me see him on his journey, and we took him into the woods where he was peaceably laid to rest.
This all happened before 10am the morning of, and by noon I found myself in a haze of grief and sadness. The weeks preparing for this had taken an enormous amount of focus, I realized, and today I could barely hold a conversation much less think about moving forward. Then at some point in the afternoon that I remembered I still had a 5pm Skype EFT session to do! Perhaps sensing that helping someone else would do me good, I just decided to go with the flow.
My client, a friend I'll call Joan, wanted to finally heal what she described as "PTSD." This embodied, in her estimation, a series of past traumatic life situations that remained unresolved. She shared that her relationships with others were consistently troubled - causing a lot of pain and self-blame, and she sensed that these big earlier traumas were playing a big part. We had worked through one of these situations in an earlier session with very positive results.
When the hour of our session approached, I half-heartedly set a Borrowing Benefits goal for myself. In other words, I named a specific healing intention for myself before giving Joan my full attention. I chose to trust that the quality of my interaction with her might somehow help relieve some of the pain and loss I was feeling, although given the events of the day and past several weeks, I had very low expectations!
A week or so before we got together this time, Joan shared with me that she felt like her previous session had left her almost too exhausted, and she sensed she needed to proceed even more slowly than we had during our second session. Our rapport (i.e. our way of communicating in harmony with one another) was still quite delicate and in many ways tentative, and I took her desires especially seriously. I wanted to be ever mindful to reflect her exact words back to her (to honor her subjective experience) and to always proceed slowly and steadily - at her pace.
Big Life Movies
Joan presented a very complex relationship to her self-esteem and was very open about how her negative sense of self was affecting her interactions with others. Her belief was, "I'm disposable," and it had come up a number of times in our work together. She was also in an affordable housing situation as well as on disability, and therefore I knew she had a very complicated and long-standing relationship to her troubles. While we might've followed any one of the many intense aspects she was presenting, it was when she mentioned "PTSD" that I remembered our earlier session clearly where we had identified several "big life movies" that still haunted her.
I asked her to think about how many of these difficult areas there were. She said there were probably around five big movies she could think of easily. When I asked her which of these movies was foremost in her mind, she told me that the most intense one pointed to the relationship with her father. I asked her what the title might be. She said, "My Dad. Definitely,'My Dad.'"
Usually The Movie Technique involves isolating a very specific past event - a short movie of roughly 20-minutes or less, which can then be broken up into several 2-minutes scenes. By tapping on the title, then tapping on the most intense crescendos of feeling in each scene, a person can get some major relief.
Slowing Down and Stepping Back: A Flexible Approach
In my experience, this "by the book" version of The Movie Technique is not appropriate in every situation. Basic Movie is certainly a tool to reach for when the time is right, but sometimes the situation is complex and specific events are not always evident or necessarily appropriate to visit. In fact, in my experience, clients benefit the most when Movie is used flexibly.
I sensed that the best way I could help Joan was to slow the whole movie process down to a crawl. As a helper or practitioner, this approach allows me to stay very present with the person and with the energy of the title of the movie. It helps me meet them where they are in their subjective experience without skipping anything important. It also allows me to approach highly charged emotional areas gently - without pain or pushing.
The Nuts and Bolts of Leading "The Marquee Technique"
For me, slowing down The Movie Technique involves starting globally - choosing a big life movie (which may hold many, many scenes), in an effort to be gentle and allow specific scenes or other movies to reveal themselves naturally. This approach usually involves hanging back with the intense energy of the movie title only, for as long as there is intensity. In my experience, we may never get to narrating the movie at all.
This slow, visual approach usually involves seeing the title up on a movie marquee. Doing so helps us easily take advantage of what are called submodalities (i.e. How close are you to the marquee now? How far? What color are the letters? Are the letters clear or fuzzy? etc.) which can help the person be as present as possible with the energy of their "big life movie." Just allowing the title to be and responding with tapping helps a person be present their own unique experience. This is usually the opposite of what they have been doing which is probably resisting anything that mirrors or has the potential to mirror this painful time of life. Consequently, this approach can yield very surprising results!
The Setup phrase we used at the beginning was a blend of Joan's words - those that reflected the intensity she was feeling. I also did what I call "open-ended tapping," where I gave her the opportunity to fill-in-the-blank (which I show in bold letters). You'll see that I also offer her gentle reframes that included phrases like, "this is a really big movie," to help her stay distant from it and keep perspective - to remind her that we are safely outside of all the tauma. You'll notice this reframe was useful, as she then offered, "about relationships and love," which showed that she felt empowered to take the session where she needed to go.
Tapping With Joan
Below is how some of the tapping unfolded. While I can't include most of the session (which was about an hour), notice how much it involved helping Joan stay very present with her experience of the movie title while tapping through the points. Even though we were on Skype (on video), keep in mind that I say the name of each of the points and reflect her language back to her to help her keep the process flowing. Notice how being extremely present helps the process unfold rather rapidly.
We began on the Sore Spot:
Even though I'm seeing this marquee outside the theater, and it says "My Dad," and the letters look like black block letters, this is a really big movie for me, in my whole body, in my life, my beliefs about me, my relationships in love, all happened in that movie...
(Jade: Tapping on the Eyebrow Point, tune into that title and say, "My Dad")
EB: My Dad (Jade: Stay with the marquee... "My Dad")
SE: My Dad
UE: My Dad (Joan: It's kind of getting blue)
UN: It's kind of getting blue
Chin: It's kind of getting blue
(Jade: What's getting blue? The letters?)
CB: (Joan: Yes, kind of a lighter blue)
UA: Kind of a lighter blue (Joan: Mostly a powder blue, baby blue. How could that happen?)
Gamut: How could that happen?
(Joan: It should be deep dark black, blazing black, hell back!)
Wrist: It should be deep dark black, blazing black, hell black!
Inside Wrist: (Joan: I've only worked on this a few seconds - instead, it's powder blue)
Top of the Head TOH: (Joan: Now it's more grey)
CB: (Jade: How far away from the marquee are you now? Joan: When I was looking at the black letters I was pretty close, but as I tapped I got farther away. I was 7 feet - I'm uncertain.
EB: This Movie, "My Dad"
UE: Looking at this movie, "My Dad"
SE: (Jade: As you're looking at the grey letters, what's that tension now?)
(Joan: It's definitely released. I'm not feeling that tension in my shoulders, a little in my throat. (laughter) I'm seeing flowers and roses blooming - crap like that! (Jade: Wow, where are you seeing those in the scene?) (Joan: Maybe he died right now!)
UN: Maybe he died right now
(Joan: Maybe he's sorry!!)
UN: Maybe he's sorry
Chin: Maybe he's sorry. (Joan: He should be)
CB: He should be
CB: He should be
(Joan: You know what I got right now? Maybe I'm sorry)
UA: Maybe I'm sorry
Gamut Point: Maybe I'm sorry
TOH: Maybe I'm sorry
(Jade: Keep looking at that marquee, maybe I'm sorry)
EB: Maybe I'm sorry
(Joan: Now I'm seeing green stems and leaves. Maybe I'm sorry)
SE: Maybe I'm sorry
UE: Maybe I'm sorry
(Joan: the stems and flowers are covering up the marquee. It just kind of grew in front of it or it manifested)
(Jade: What's more intense, Maybe he's sorry or maybe I'm sorry?)
(Joan: I'm sorry)
SE: I'm sorry
UE: I'm sorry
UN: I'm sorry
(Joan: I'm sorry to myself)
Chin: I'm sorry to myself
CB: I'm sorry to myself
UA: I'm sorry to myself
(Joan: I'm sorry Joan)
UN: I'm sorry Joan
(Jade: Just stay with the marquee, however you see it and say, I'm sorry Joan)
Chin: I'm sorry Joan
CB: I'm sorry Joan
UA: I'm sorry Joan
On and on we went, slowly - stopping to laugh or talk a little and then refocus on the marquee. Me: managing the process, encouraging Joan to respond to the movie title while she managed the content. When we tested, she indicated that the whole "My Dad" movie as she had been experiencing it had shifted. She indicated that she felt more stable and secure in her body (as she was typically in a state of fight or flight). She kept saying that she didn't expect to feel so grounded. Eventually, a significant past event (one that involved being angry with herself) did rise up, although we never actually got to tapping on it since some other more intense aspects emerged. We did however do "continuous tapping" while she shared the event and moved on to more present feelings.
Eventually, I asked her how she experienced the words, "I'm disposable," she said it was no longer a 10+ on the intensity scale, but more like a 3. She also shared her realization that being a victim had, in the past, helped her get needed attention. We then tapped on a huge realization she was having, "I want other people to take responsibility! I want them to take responsibility for my well-being!"
As we tapped, Joan's voice became lighter and, as we went along, the personal realizations and self-compassion began flowing abundantly and effortlessly. It was the first time in my recent interaction with her that I experienced her expressing feeling so grounded and positive about herself. At one point she even said, "disposable doesn't feel true at all." A week later she let me know that she is "feeling much less self-conscious" after our work together. I believe the approach of allowing and responding to the Movie title facilitated this.
What was so wonderful about this session, to me, was our rapport together. Joan and I are old school friends, so we have a history of honest communication and an easiness in our interaction, which certainly helped. She had clearly allowed personal insights to flow and find expression during our tapping rounds, and in return I reflected her language as best I could, ever-mindful to stay with with the emotional intensity while helping respond to the words on the marquee. While it could have been "tough" work, it did not feel that way to me - more like an allowing of tough stuff to naturally evolve - which is what I find amazing about EFT.
I experienced a profound awakening after helping Joan. Immediately after our session, MY deep body-level, crazy-making grief, exhaustion and sadness was no longer the same - at all. Instead, in it's place were the words, "this was hard, but it was right," words that I found myself speaking to a friend easily. Later that evening, I was able to go socialize, initiate conversations - even have an impromptu meeting for a non-profit group.
A week later, the rightness of the words, "it was hard, but it was right," still resonate, somehow solidifying the ground on which I stand. I'm secure and resolved in the knowledge that Scoot and I had to go through his passing together, and that somehow communication between us is still happening at deep levels even now. I feel the loss, but the love between has been more present - a very gratifying and surprising result of Borrowing Benefits.
Jade Barbee is an EFT International Accredited Certified EFT Master Trainer of Trainers and Advanced Practitioner based in Southern Vermont, US. He offers mentoring for practitioners as well as EFT sessions in person or online. Jade is always learning new ways of tapping - helping himself and others integrate artful practice into daily life. Visit him online at www.emotionalengine.com.
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of EFT International .
Originally published on May 11, 2013.