Note from Steve Wells:
Almost everybody wants everything fixed quickly these days and one of the biggest selling points of tapping is how fast it works. The other side of this is the belief that you should be able to help yourself, so tapping is marketed as a self-help technique.
But some people's issues require more in-depth work and need good therapy to take them where they would not be willing or able to go alone. This particularly applies to those who have complex trauma relating to past sexual abuse and this article is an example of that which should provide inspiration to those who have been applying tapping to their past traumas with limited success.
The article was originally written prior to our developing SET, so the tapping referred to is original EFT, but the principles of tapping with complex trauma still apply. It includes a note from EFT Creator Gary Craig (who has also since developed Gold Standard EFT).
Original note from Gary Craig:
Steve Wells from Australia provides an intro and an important letter from his client "Erica" that should both inspire and educate all dedicated EFT professionals. You may want to print this out and show it to clients who have been so badly abused and traumatized that they need a complete overhaul.
By Steve Wells:
The following post is from Erica (not her real name) a client of mine with whom I worked over a period of 18 months using EFT. In all we had 35 sessions.
While many people come to therapy hoping to relieve one or two negative symptoms and usually do this within a session or two using EFT, some come looking for more. They want a complete overhaul, not just a change in how they are feeling but also a change in how they are being in the world, a change in their very identity. Erica was one of those people. I think hers is an important story because it illustrates how EFT can be used as part of longer-term relational therapy to support and assist clients with very serious abuse issues to make significant life changes, including such crucial shifts in identity and core beliefs.
Erica was systematically abused over a long period of time by her father, a very powerful man with whom she identified strongly. Not only did Erica's father abuse her sexually, but also emotionally - he systematically programmed and instructed her in how she should be in the world. Her beliefs about self were tied to his memory and intimately connected to the abuse. Therefore, to confront these problems was to confront and challenge her very identity.
As Erica mentions in her letter, she was so challenged in confronting some of these issues that we often worked around them and tapped on completely opposing beliefs. Dr David Lake and I employ this approach often in our work, and find it particularly useful in dealing with disowned parts of self such as in Erica's case (since everything is reflected in its opposite).
Even though at times we worked from two-steps removed, the process required some courage on Erica's part as she became willing to confront any and all of her own personal demons on her way to exorcising the negative effects of her father's negative programming on her life.
In the process we applied EFT to many many specific events as well as the complex inter-related web of thoughts and feelings and beliefs that stemmed from these events. She had to work out what to keep and what to leave behind and in the end decide who she was going to be and how she would be in the world from now on.
As a result, she has been able to reconnect with the gentler, caring and compassionate parts of her self - even showing genuine compassion towards herself - a side that was almost totally suppressed by her father's teachings and subsequently disowned. By systematically and persistently applying EFT to her issues she has been able to achieve a level of balance and happiness in her life that is wonderful to see.
Some aspects of Erica's therapy would make entire case studies in themselves, she has addressed so many incidents and issues and beliefs. I'd like to say a lot more but for now will let Erica's excellent letter speak for itself and provide more information about the therapy in future emails.
I record my experience in the hope that it may provide solace for anyone in a similar situation and to encourage them to use EFT. I grew up in a medium sized country town in post World War II Australia. My father, a returned serviceman, became a prominent and highly respected professional businessman in our town. My family was the perfect family all children desire - loving parents with two children, financial security, summer vacations by the sea, private school education.
We wanted for nothing - our house was cleanest in the neighbourhood, our clothes the whitest and immaculately pressed, we were politely spoken with precise diction; we were too spotlessly clean, proper and pure to be real. My parents never argued, never raised their voices at each other or us. If you could go back in time and visit our town, people would tell you I was very lucky to have had such a privileged upbringing.
I, too, would have told you this myself until recently. I am mid fifties in age and several years ago began developing symptoms of various complaints, none of which could be verified despite extensive medical tests. The most persistent and pervasive of these was the feeling of choking. I lived in fear of not being able to breathe - I continually coughed, cleared my throat, swallowed, all to ensure my throat was clear. After extensive testing and examinations by an ear, nose & throat specialist my doctor suggested I should see a psychologist. He duly made me an appointment with a clinical psychologist in my local area and I attended on six occasions.
Shortly after these appointments I began to recall childhood occurrences, which I found disturbing and unbelievable in the family in which I grew up. I now know that my father sexually abused me over an extended period of time, a fact, which was known to my mother, who has confirmed several of the events I remembered. She denies others could possibly have happened as my father received psychiatric treatment; however, my younger sister remembers events, which confirm that continued abuse occurred. My father, who passed away 15 years ago, was persistent, calculating and devious in the manner in which he abused me, both sexually and emotionally.
After several months of confusion and denial I sought help from Steve Wells, whose workshops on EFT I had previously attended. During those months I had used EFT regularly to ease my growing unease and to help me decide what I should do with this new knowledge. I feel truly blessed to have met Steve for without him and EFT I know I would not be here now. It took me some time before I had the courage to seek his help and right up to the time of knocking on his office door I was shattered by even the thought of saying out loud what I needed to say. At this point in time I hadn't spoken to anyone, not even my husband or my mother. I remember standing at the door, tears in my eyes, knowing that I was about to betray my father.
The choking problems reduced immediately with repeated rounds of EFT. All the audible symptoms (coughing, throat clearing, etc) stopped after the second session. The high 0-10 intensity at the thought of possible choking have reduced from intense to almost non-existent - now any time an event triggers any fleeting thought related to a throat issue, I sit and tap rounds of EFT until I'm down to 0. I have been doing this occasionally for over a year now and the feeling and fear of choking is no longer a concern for me. This relief was a positive outcome for me for I had had this problem for several years before using EFT to solve it.
Overall, however, this was to be the start of a distressing journey. Over time, working with Steve, I unearthed many disturbing aspects of my upbringing. My mother taught me that you must always please your father. My father who was my mentor, my guide, my first teacher and my friend taught me most of the guiding principles of life - now I found myself questioning these principles, many of the beliefs on which I had been living my life, and even my own identity. I felt differing emotions - anger, fear, deeply hurt, sadness, guilt, betrayal, to name just a few.
I spent countless hours cocooned in a quilt on a recliner rocker tapping just to survive through the day. It was a very confusing time - every time I felt I had reconciled one aspect another, sometimes more dramatic one would evolve. There were many times when the despair was bottomless and I thought I'd never, again see the light of day.
Throughout it all, I visited Steve Wells with regularity and applied EFT, many, many times each day. During sessions Steve often teased out issues, by using humour or playing devil's advocate and then leading me, using EFT, to locate and defuse their aspects. These were often issues of which I was aware and needed to face but which I avoided and was afraid to address when using EFT between sessions.
Steve would sometimes use EFT during sessions by tapping on opposing beliefs and feelings, often with humorous outcomes, which may seem incongruous given the problems with which we were dealing; however the use of humour and EFT in tandem proved very successful in bringing to the surface aspects I was refusing to acknowledge or accept; giving and opening into many of the more complex aspects embedded in the problems.
I feel blessed for having Steve Wells to support me in working my way through so many devastating memories. His skill in guiding and pacing me through resolving each issue as it arose provided me with the hope and confidence that if I persisted using EFT I could reconcile the many conflicting ideals.
I, also, cannot overstate the importance of EFT in assisting me. I began to use EFT on very general statements (e.g.: Even though I have this problem) as the issues involved in my memories were so painful and distressing that I could not face addressing them more specifically. I used it then and still do now as a means of rooting out what is disturbing me. You can physically feel the tension relief in your body as you work through several rounds of EFT, so you have instant feedback of your progress.
When faced with problems of not knowing what was causing my negative feelings I would often start by using a statement relating to the body part (e.g. Even though I have this stomach feeling...) where I was feeling distress. Then I would complete several rounds of EFT until it aroused a thought or triggered memory of an event, when I would follow each thought with rounds of EFT allowing it to take me wherever seemed appropriate. I found it most effective to go with whatever arose - just let your body take you where it needs to go.
Later, as I grew in confidence I worked on aspects of the issues. When I was unsure or confused I would tap on opposites - this proved very effective when I was stuck and I couldn't either determine or face the truth. It was at times distressing, but I found it effective at isolating specific aspects. The short EFT sequence proved successful on most occasions, however, when stuck or feeling physical symptoms I often revert to the extended sequence.
I would not wish this situation upon another human being; despite that, I am grateful for the experiences and growth I have gained from this journey and given the opportunity to go back in time would choose to have it no other way. I would strongly urge anyone dealing with personal issues to try EFT, you will be awed, as I was, by it powerful effect.
Be aware that some problems, as in my case, are complex and have many aspects which challenge long standing beliefs and identity, and these may require longer term work and support from a professional who can pace you through the process. In my experience I can say that if you work with a skilled professional and persist with using EFT you will achieve positive outcomes. EFT will become an integral part of your life.