Although I’ve been an EFT practitioner since 2005, I am still in awe of what this method can do. It should be no surprise that when we apply any of its 48+ techniques correctly, they work … and sometimes faster than we expected. In this case, EFT worked immediately.
My client Janice is a long-time tapper. Six months ago she came to me for help in a highly agitated state, hardly able to speak for crying. Finally she was able to say, "I’ve hardly slept all week. Inside my body it feels like huge anxiety waves are relentlessly surging all the time, one after another. They won’t stop, day or night. My own tapping doesn’t make much difference and I’m afraid for my health." This huge upset was NOT part of the neurological variety of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) that Janice has suffered from for years. This panic was a new reaction to a sudden family crisis.
Usually Janice is calm, a mature, capable and clear-sighted woman, and a loving and helpful presence. She lives alone in a house she cherishes. However, after having spent years looking after two close family members with chronic health issues until their deaths, she had developed the ‘crash’ variety of Chronic Fatigue.
This illness cripples many people. Here’s how she described it: "After a stressful experience I become bedbound, sometimes for days or weeks, unable to do anything but the most basic looking-after of myself. It’s complete fatigue, which is different to exhaustion or tiredness, and sleep makes no difference. It’s as if all my systems including my mind get switched off. I don’t feel fuzzy-headed, but it’s like you are dying and you really wouldn’t mind."
But the reason for Janice’s present agitation was finding out that an elderly pensioner relative with advanced Parkinsons, dementia and extreme chemical sensitivities had arrived in her city neglected, ill and homeless, with nobody to turn to but Janice. She immediately took on responsibility. This involved a huge amount of continuing crisis care. Somehow, without a car, she was able to find him rare accommodation in a nursing home, find him doctors and specialists, take on his complex application for aged care, sort out his financial, legal and medical issues, search charity shops for a whole new non-allergic set of clothes -- and also comfort and reassure him, constantly taking buses to visit him at the nursing home. No wonder she soon felt "exhausted, tearful, traumatised, panicked and in shock".
How to help?
As an EFT practitioner I could see that to clear this stress, obviously "Even though I’m anxious…" would not get far. While Janice was still deeply tuned in to her out-of-control anxieties, I turned to EFT’s classic question: "Janice, when was the first time you ever felt like this?"
(Psychology knows this approach as the Affect Bridge, where instead of working with the mental level of a situation, the practitioner says something like, ‘Just allow these FEELINGS to take you back to another time when you FELT the same way.’)
Janice’s memory immediately flashed back fifty years. In her mind she saw herself as a fifteen-year-old, sitting alone in her bedroom, experiencing exactly the same feelings and symptoms as now. The child was shaking in terror, dreading that her door would open at any moment on to other people’s vast chaos and disaster that she alone would have to handle – ‘because there’s no-one else.’ Her father had left the family five years before. Not only did the teenager not want to be solely responsible for dealing with her mentally ill mother who was frighteningly unpredictable and often in tears, plus two vulnerable and traumatised sisters, she had no idea how to do that. This was a classic moment of becoming psychologically traumatised – a moment that many tappers now identify as the UDIN state: U (unexpected), D (dramatic), I (isolating) and N (no idea of what to do).
From a practitioner point of view, rather than dealing directly with the present replay, I saw a possible way out as neutralising that earlier, causal, traumatic moment. So we did that, using imaginal tapping. I invited Janice to close her eyes and tune in to herself sitting on her bed at age fifteen, and in her own mind imagine tapping on the image of the terrified girl: "Even though you’re terrified, you’re a great person and I love you so much." (Imaginal tapping is used for insomnia, also in the popular Matrix Reimprinting process to help wounded Inner Self images. It’s now being used also in international EFT research studies where a tapper lies inside an fMRI machine, reacting emotionally to images, yet needing to lie still while brain effects are recorded.)
Several tapping rounds took the memory-figure’s intensity from 10 plus to zero. "What are you feeling?" I asked Janice. She said, "I feel incredibly calm. A huge load has lifted. I can’t believe it."
Chronic Fatigue gone!
A week after her session, Janice told me, "I’m still calm! No more anxiety!" She had spent the week heavily involved in organising for her relative, including for an overnight operation. She said, "Previously any stressful event on this scale would have brought on a bout of Chronic Fatigue, but I don’t have any of that. This is an amazing change! If the Chronic Fatigue is not there now, after all this, it can’t be there any more!"
Tapping had quickly taken away the terror overload. But clearly even more was involved. With that particular childhood trauma neutralised, it seemed that immediately, her body had no more need to manifest Chronic Fatigue!
The ground-breaking U.S. Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) study demonstrates the new understanding that commonly, long-term effects of unresolved childhood trauma are likely to manifest much later in life as serious, even life-threatening, diseases. (What great opportunities for tapping before that could happen!) From the perspective of mind/body medicine, it would seem that, mysteriously, Janice’s ‘doom’ moment fifty years before had seeded Chronic Fatigue symptoms and suffering that showed up in her mind/body system as she aged. We had somehow cancelled that effect by tapping away the stress of those moments of terror in her childhood bedroom.
Six months after the relative’s arrival, Janice is still caring for him. She has seen him through more operations, a seizure, and injuries from a fall as well as his daily mental health concerns. "Yet I’m still free of Chronic Fatigue," she says. "I can’t say it will never come back, but the overall picture of my health is so positive it’s amazing. I am so infinitely grateful to Gary Craig, EFT and Annie for a new healthy, calm, clear and energetic life that I had given up on expecting to ever have back again."
• Affect Bridge: ‘Clinical EFT Handbook’ Vol. 2 ed. Dawson Church & Stephanie Marohn
• Imaginal tapping: Dr. Peta Stapleton, Youtube: ‘2021 EFT Tapping Research Update’
Annie O'Grady is an EFTi Advanced Practitioner and Trainer based on Adelaide, South Australia, working online around Australia and beyond. She trains EFT practitioners and conducts Levels 1 & 2 trainings for the public.