EFT Addresses Five Hundred Years of Dental Phobia
Even the sight of a dentist’s business card made Isabelle break into a cold sweat. Since early childhood, she had dreaded visiting the dentist. Isabelle told me that, as a very little girl, she recalled a life as an old man who had all of his teeth removed. Isabelle felt that she had experienced this in a previous incarnation. It seemed to have happened in Europe during the 15th or 16th century. Isabelle believed this torture was the root of all her current dental fears. It stopped her in her tracks. Although she needed a routine cleaning as well as a root canal treatment, Isabelle simply could not bring herself to visit a dentist.
Past life memories?
It was irrelevant whether her memory was from a past life, an inherited ancestral trauma, a scene from a long forgotten horror film or a creation of her imagination. It definitely qualified as a specific past event. Isabelle was familiar with tapping through me, but she hadn’t explored it much herself. I suggested that when she was ready we could use EFT to bring her some relief. Unfortunately her phobia was so extreme that even the thought of addressing the memory was too triggering.
Developing familiarity with Tapping
Over time, Isabelle developed a greater sense of safety and familiarity with tapping. Eventually (a few years later), she decided she was ready to address this issue. Knowing how distressed Isabelle felt, I knew the best approach was to start with gentle techniques and sneak up on the problem. I asked Isabelle to imagine what the intensity would be without going anywhere near it. Using Tearless Trauma, she identified her SUDS at 20 (on a scale of 0-10). During the first round, we emphasized the vast distances of time and space between her and that lifetime. Without going into any details, Isabelle chose a neutral movie title to serve as her reminder phrase.
Using Tearless Trauma
We started to tap on her movie title. Even after one round Isabelle noticed the intensity was starting to come down. Knowing that it is best to be thorough and gentle, we continued to tap on her neutral title from a distance. When Isabelle’s SUDS came down to a 3, I asked her if it felt comfortable to tap on specific details. Surprised and delighted with how calm she felt about the whole story, she agreed. We then proceeded systematically to address each aspect that held any remaining distress.
As Isabelle tapped, she discovered it was her sense of betrayal and injustice that held a far greater sting than any physical pain. Our next round focused on how angry she felt, both about being mistreated, and on naming the injustice of the whole situation. Finally, feeling validated around this injustice deflated most of her remaining anger. As we reached the end of the session, Isabelle realized she was ready to let go of the emotional intensity towards her story. She could acknowledge the truth that it was wrong, and it would always be wrong, but could see that the ordeal was behind her. Isabelle had reached a place of acceptance. It happened, and she could recognize that she is okay today. Her SUDS were down to zero.
A few months later I checked in with Isabelle, to see how she was feeling about dentists and dental work. She shared that while she still doesn't "like" the idea of going to see the dentist (who does really?), there is no fear any more. Isabelle no longer breaks into a cold sweat when she drives by a dental office. She can keep her dentist's business card on her fridge, without feeling anxiety any time she notices the tooth graphic.
I even showed her a photo of a dental treatment. If Isabelle had glanced at the image for even a moment before we had worked on it with tapping, it would have ruined the rest of her day. Months after our session she gave this picture a long, hard, unflinching look. I asked her if it set off any reaction, and she told me she felt NOTHING! We are both totally thrilled with how effective EFT has been for eliminating this life long, debilitating fear for her. Perhaps best of all was that she was able to call her dental office and schedule an appointment as if it were an ordinary occurrence.
Phobias in general
When it comes to phobias, not everyone is going to have vivid recall of a traumatic event that happened over five hundred years ago! The Merriam Webster dictionary defines phobia as
an exaggerated and often disabling fear, usually inexplicable to the subject and having sometimes a logical, but usually an illogical or symbolic object, class of objects, or situation.
What stick out to me in this definition are the words inexplicable and illogical. We know we have them, but may or may not know why. However, what I have found is, more often than not that, as we start to tap, a corresponding event reveals itself. Whether the origins are from this lifetime or another, the approach can be the same. If someone can recall an original event, then we can gently start with that. If someone knows only that they have an irrational fear of something, then we can start by tapping on awareness of the phobia. In some cases it helps to tap first on the fear of the fear. It also helps to keep the emotion at a safe distance until it feels more manageable.
Whilst tapping on phobias is not something I do every day, I LOVE when I have the opportunity to work on them. I love how a few dedicated rounds of the basic recipe can dramatically change someone’s life. Phobias hold us back and prevent us from living our lives to our full potential. We often exert substantial energy and effort trying to avoid these triggers. As EFT practitioners, it is incredibly gratifying to help liberate ourselves or others from lifelong suffering and paralyzing fear.
Tapping for phobias does not have to be complicated. In fact, sticking to a simple reminder phrase, then tapping down the intensity one aspect at a time allows us to dismantle the triggers most effectively. Start with what is obvious, approach it gently, then tap until it shifts. Then lather, rinse, repeat!
Jennifer is an Accredited Trainer, Practitioner and Mentor. She specialises in working with self esteem and spirituality issues.