My experience with a group of women suffering from Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is very helpful to understand how insidious and debilitating this illness can be. EFT is valuable because of its simplicity, its gentle and universal use and creative applications.
Many of us work with additional healing modalities; EFT can be the “work horse that pulls the cart forward” in difficult situations.
They Had "No Life Left"
In 2000 I started working with FMS/CFS (Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) clients in weekly group therapy sessions. The first motivation for starting the group was my personal battle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is a common symptom of Fibromyalgia. The group sessions were two hours long and included up to six clients in one session. The majority of my clients came to join what I called “Relaxation Therapy” because they had “no more ways to go”, “had no life left”, or “just HAD to get help”.
When I started the group I believed it would work well for overall symptom management. I had just started using basic EFT applications in my office and had noticed how much it increased success rates. Never did I expect that it would become the solution for the core issues of their illness for most of my clients. Since 2001 I’ve been in contact with many former group members; all of them are still symptom free. I believe EFT had the greatest impact on the improvements all participants experienced.
My clients were either on disability, not able to work any longer or not able to move around without help, or all of the above when they first came to me. Symptoms typically included widespread pain and fatigue. Very often FMS comes along with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Symptoms include pain in soft tissues, skin, organs throughout the body, muscle spasm, pain in neck, shoulders, feet, back, facial pain, headaches, sleep disturbances, flu-like symptoms, environmental hypersensitivity, gastrointestinal problems (IBS), irritable bladder, depression and anxiety. The pain is unpredictable and more generalized than it is in arthritis or regional pain disorders; there is also a chronic dysfunction, decreased attention span and often impaired short memory noticeable in clients who suffer from FMS/CFS.
EFT as Gentle Motivator
Besides being depressed and anxious, FMS sufferers did not want to invest any time, energy or money, and needed to be motivated constantly during the first time of their therapy. Motivation to exercise, to be patient, understanding and loving with THEMSELVES was a crucial part of therapy. There was rarely any knowledge of body-mind connection. I had to work hard to achieve overall body relaxation, motivating them to especially let go of much pain-causing tension. I had them follow me into guided imagery, never forcing or pushing them into actually doing something. EFT was the most gentle help and motivator during those times and could cover everything that needed to be addressed.
The typical FMS/CFS client shied away from ANY type of commitment, since she never knew what her next day would be like, if she could function at all. The typical FMS/CFS client I worked with could not plan anything in advance. I worked with a 79-year old lady with severe CFS. Her only trip out of the house was the Sunday morning church visit. Every second Sunday or so she would faint and fall to the floor, unconscious, the whole congregation watching her. Another client, a woman in her forties, could never make it through her weekly grocery shopping; she became always paralyzed by pain in the midst of it.
EFT Heals the Effects of Trauma
I learned then that Fibromyalgia really “explodes” as an illness when when clients have accumulated enough traumas in their lives – in their bodies. This can be emotional and physical trauma of any kind. All those car accidents, when nothing “really” happened; all those sad and hurtful times; losses of friends and family members, jobs and identity; parents that had to leave early in life; abuse of all kinds; divorces; suicide of friends, and other traumas. Apparently trauma is stored in our bodies, maybe to different degrees for different people. We HAVE to deal with the things that happen to us in order not to get sick, if we like that or not. In the healing field we have known for a long time that the body does not forget anything that ever happened to it, nor does the mind. EFT definitely came to the rescue here.
Creating "Relaxation Therapy"
I created "Relaxation Therapy” because it is a gentle but determined approach and works beautifully well. It’s a technique any therapist can adopt, follow and even create more and more of as they go. It consists of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), group hypnosis, guided imagery, metaphors and suggestions for physical and emotional well-being, some coaching techniques. It provided tools for re-empowerment of the client, re-gaining self-confidence and self-love, explorations of how trauma manifests in body and mind, establishing awareness of the body-mind connection, and artistic expression to explore and communicate with Self. EFT here is especially important for stress management; it is easy to apply once clients are motivated to use it.
Relaxation Treatment Results
After having talked to approximately 80 FMS sufferers and working intensely with more than 30 acutely ill FMS clients, I had some women who were completely symptom-free after 6 weeks of weekly group sessions, and still remain symptom-free after 12 years. Most of the others at that time were able to reduce their very severe symptoms to as little as 10% to 30%, with symptom-free times in between sessions. Flare-ups appeared only in extreme stress situations, or when the client did not stick to the relaxation routine she learned during group sessions.
EFT was an important part and applied regularly each time in the most basic form. Clients would tap the Karate Chop (KC), face points and collarbone (CB) only for two or three rounds, addressing silently in their minds anything that felt disturbing or painful at that time. Before and after tapping, FMS symptom charts were filled out with numbers between 1 and 10, to rate the typical symptoms. Filling out the charts was a potent psychological motivator since the pain numbers dropped drastically low after using EFT. In the beginning of the group sessions I often had individual participants address their concerns and pains which the group then tapped on. Everyone to some extent shared the concerns and later the healing. Tap for one; get six free, I used to think to myself.
Included in this therapy were the audiotapes (yes, it was such a long time ago!) that I customized for my FMS clients. There is a basic procedure and sequence of tapes clients listened to daily. Here EFT was used to tap along while listening to the hypnosis tape. I greatly encouraged that and of course, I still do. Tapping along with positive messages for healing works powerfully well to quickly establish physical and emotional wellbeing.
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of EFT International .
Originally published on March 24, 2012.