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Steve WellsBy Steve Wells

The Tearless Trauma Technique was introduced by Gary Craig as a way of using EFT tapping to treat a traumatic incident without (it is hoped) accessing too much overwhelming emotion. The idea is to sneak up on the problem by just designing a reminder phrase for the overall incident (such as "Mum hit Dad emotion"), and tapping on the EFT points whilst repeating this reminder phrase. Then after each round, instead of checking for actual intensity, the client is asked to "guess" what the intensity would be if they were to "go there". Progressively, the client and practitioner work through several rounds and hopefully at some point the guessed intensity reduces, and the client is able to actually "go there" and vividly imagine what actually happened, and find (usually surprisingly) that when they do so, the intensity is quite low or even nonexistent. Any remaining intensity is then dealt with via further rounds of EFT...

One of the challenges of using the Tearless Trauma Technique is that clients can manage to access traumatic material without intending to, and for some people and issues it can be hard for them not to go there due to the intensity involved.

One approach which can be great for creating a little healthy distance (and therefore reducing the tearfulness of trauma) is the use of metaphor. A metaphor is essentially a comparison to something else where likenesses can be found. For example, I once saw Frank Farrelly compare a client's dysfunctional relationship to a "train wreck". The client laughed, agreed, and showed an immediate observable lift in energy when discussing the situation. EFT Master Tania Prince has also written extensively on the use of metaphor with EFT.

The use of metaphor can be very powerful and simultaneously has several effects. One that is key here is that it provides a certain amount of safe distance from the incident itself. When describing and tapping on the metaphor, you are talking and tapping with the images of the metaphor in the foreground, and the problem, which is linked to it, in the background. This can often serve to reduce emotional intensity.

The best metaphors to use are those which fit the circumstances (or the person's "story") and also validate the feelings of the person involved. For example, with one client recently who had gone through an extremely difficult marriage break up I used the metaphor of him being a boxer who was on the mat after being k-o'ed by his ex. He found this metaphor tremendously validating because the images and the feelings fit in many ways with his experiences - and his energy. By tapping on the images and feelings of him being a beaten up boxer who has gone down for the third count, we were really tapping on his issues of being a beaten up ex-husband. However, the safe distance provided by the metaphorical images meant that much of the tapping on emotionally distressing incidents could be done without the same amount of suffering that directly contacting the issues to do with his ex would normally have provoked.

With another client, a mother who was continually having to go into battle for her family (and with her family), I used the metaphor of the wounded soldier, carrying on despite being repeatedly hailed with bullets. She was clearly exhausted, yet she responded immediately to the wounded soldier metaphor with a lift in energy.

And that is a common response when you find a good metaphor; there is an immediate "YES!" response from the person, along the lines of "Yes, that's exactly what it is like" or "That is just what it feels like!" Along with the shock of recognition in many cases there is also an energy shift, an uplift in energy in most cases. Occasionally, the energy will fall, however when that happens there is almost always a corresponding shift in perception. Or both at the same time. The positive lift in energy comes from the feeling of being validated.

There is also the pain of the problem being contacted. But this is lessened by the "difference" provided by the metaphor. And also by the SET continual tapping which we now do in every case.

The best metaphors are those that are "like" what the person has experienced, and which validate their feelings. However even an imperfect metaphor that only fits part of the situation or 'the facts' can be helpful. That's because the metaphor often imprints itself over the original image, and becomes associated with it, such that it changes the feelings and perceptions of the problem. Now when relating to it - and particularly if the metaphor is particularly strong in terms of validation and accuracy and "feeling fit" for the problem - the person can end up relating to the metaphor as problem rather than the problem as problem.

The metaphor thus offers a way out of the prison of trauma which sees things from only one perspective. By joining that perspective but changing it just slightly which the metaphor does, then a change in the perception of (and therefore the experience of) the problem is initiated. When combined with tapping this often means that the intensity is more easily reduced and trauma treatment is completed with less suffering and fewer tears.

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