I would like to share some insights that I have gained as an EFT practitioner of 13 years, on the effectiveness of EFT to release the physical and emotional symptoms of trauma.
I recently worked with a client, Millie, to assist her in releasing a snake phobia, which led back to a former trauma. Here is her story.
Moving house is a big life event and, when coupled with physical isolation, it brought up old traumas and a new, overwhelmingly crippling phobia. It felt like the end of the world. My family and I had recently moved to a new rural house. A dream, until the reality of my past trauma hit me like a ton of bricks. I rapidly became extremely fearful of snakes. The moment my 2-year-old son and I nearly stood on a snake in our yard was extremely traumatic to my fragile state and I spiralled into deep fear. Living in a state of panic for 2 weeks, I was terrified we were going to be attacked by a snake, always on guard. I would not let our children play outside. This lasted for two weeks. I was exhausted. Continually experiencing the fight, flight, freeze mode was unbearable.
Working with Alison, I started unpacking the fear. I felt instant relief, both during the session and after. I experienced a sense of calm that I had not felt in weeks. Tapping allowed me to release the shock and trauma of nearly stepping on the snake and my constant need to be on guard. Each day I feel more comfortable and I can now play outside with my children.
I have used this as an example, because many clients think that PTSD is something that only war veterans experience. They can often be surprised when they are, in fact, experiencing PTSD themselves. This was the case with Millie. What seemed like a simple snake ‘phobia’, we tracked back to another time in Millie’s life. This was where an overwhelming amount of stress prevented her innate ability to cope or process the emotions raised with that experience. Her body’s way of responding was to go into a state of Fight/Flight/Freeze.
What Fight/Flight/Freeze can look like in an individual who hasn’t processed trauma
- Fight – Inability to process unexpected situations, aggression, confrontational.
- Flight – Withdrawal, fearful state, avoidance, jumpy and anxious.
- Freeze – Lack of motivation, depression, unable to make decisions easily.
In more detail, when in this state and suffering from unresolved trauma, we continue to attract more hardship and can create limiting beliefs such as:
- I’m a victim
- I’m a failure
- I’m unworthy
- It’s my fault
- Something bad will happen
- I’m helpless
- I’ve lost control
- The world is a dangerous place
Symptoms can include
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Withdrawal from the world
- Inability to engage and move on in life
- Intrusive memories
- Recurring dreams & flashbacks
- Interrupted sleep patterns
The process used in Millie’s session
There were two major considerations for me to work through with Millie to enable her to experience relief and move forward without anxiety.
My first approach
was to immediately support her by using one of the Gentle Techniques to support Millie. This was to enable her to feel safe and calm so that she couldcomfortably recall one of the significant distressing memories she had about being assaulted by her ex-husband.
Once she was calm, we used the Movie Technique to clear all the distressing triggers within that. For example shock (freeze response), fear (flight response), wanting to run away, and clearing all the associated feelings in the body like trembling, tightness in the chest, etc.
Whilst recalling each piece of the event we continued to stop at any point where there was any reaction, and kept tapping to release it. We kept tuned in and focused on that specific emotion until the intensity was reduced. Only then did we use the same process on the next peak of emotion.
I tested the memory by asking Millie to recall the story again. Once she could do this without any reaction, we then established any limiting beliefs created or reinforced from earlier experiences at the moment of the trauma.
I'm powerless, the world is a dangerous place
(still active with her ex-husband and the snake).
The second approach
was to address the actual incident in the garden with the snake. She again felt under threat, powerless and alone, like she had done with her ex-husband.
We worked again with the Gentle Technique to help her feel calm. The we began using the Movie Technique, to clear the reactions in the distressing memory of being in the garden with her child and seeing the snake at her feet. We released the FFF responses. The shock, fear, all the distress, the inability to cope, and the sensations in the body.
At the end of this session Millie felt empowered. She experienced the insight that it wasn't actually the snake that was a major problem, although snakes can be dangerous and you need to be cautious. It was the unresolved fight, flight, or freeze; the unresolved trauma in the body from her abusive ex-husband that was showing up strongly when she was confronted by the snake.
Final note from Millie
During my tapping sessions I was able to let go of the fear of the snake and all the old energy from my traumatic past that it stirred up. Once I had done the clearing, I was then able to see the snake in a different light. I was more open and receptive to the messages, and the deeper meaning behind my encounters. Since then we have found a snake to be living in our roof, and one day it shed its skin right over the rafter at our front door. Had this happened before I had done the clearing, I would have had a very different reaction. Now I see each encounter for its beauty, and I look for the hidden meaning."
It was never about the snake. It was just opportunities for Millie. To thoroughly heal old trauma by feeling safe once again, to grow, and to have deeper insights into her own strength and ability to move on. The power of EFT continues to amaze me.
Alison is a Trauma Healing EFTi Practitioner, Matrix-Reimprinting Practitioner & EFTi Master Trainer.