I recently had the privilege of working with a young woman who was having some lingering physical symptoms after surgery, and I felt our session gave some excellent examples of the EFT core principles of valuing being specific whenever possible, trusting the process to do its own work, and handling aspects.
K. D. is a creative, bubbly woman who expresses herself with enthusiasm and a youthful energy. She told me her main problem was a stubborn case of “shy bladder” several months after a surgery. It disrupted her life as she kept close watch over when and how much liquid she drank, made her long commute to and from work stressful, and kept her frustrated about having trouble with a very natural bodily function. K described it as “so annoying” and put the level of annoyance at 5-6.
At this point I could have started tapping for the shy bladder or the different distresses it caused her, but I felt that starting out tapping directly on not being able to urinate could cause more emotional pressure if we didn’t get it resolved; it wasn’t a chance I wanted to take. So I asked more questions.
K worked backwards to the surgery itself, and told me how she’d had trouble urinating after the catheter had been removed in the hospital. In all, she’d had to be re-catheterized three times while recovering in the hospital, and still felt the trauma of all that. Bingo! We were at a specific event that needed to be cleared before taking on the shy bladder.
At this point the story was tumbling out dramatically and K’s emotions were being triggered, as she told about one of the incidents where a nurse was having trouble re-catheterizing her, and was being awkward, impatient and rough about it. K was crying and in pain, her mom was there holding her hand and also distressed, and we can probably assume the nurse was distressed as well. As K put it, it was as if the nurse was “digging for gold!” K held back tears as she told the story, and shared that she couldn’t tell it to anyone without crying.
As the story gushed out, I blurted “Stop right there!” Normally I’m more reserved in listening to someone in a session and try not to interrupt, but not only do I know K well, but I knew this was a crucial moment to work on and I didn’t want to lose that feeling state she was in.
Since I’d been with my mother after surgery earlier in the year, I was well aware of how much pressure the hospital staff can put on a patient to urinate within a set prescribed amount of time, or in goes the catheter again. It allowed me to establish a better rapport with K over the incident.
In addition to the heightened feeling state K was in, she’d used some very vivid imagery, such as the digging for gold statement and calling the nurse Nurse Ratched (the cruel psychiatric nurse in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest). I look for those statements and use them to the fullest. We used a Setup statement that incorporated K’s distress, the Nurse Ratched nickname, and the digging for gold statement,
Even though this horrible Nurse Ratched was down there digging for gold and it hurt, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
As we tapped around the points with a variety of reminders including “digging for gold”, “that horrible Nurse Ratched,” “she hurt me,” and others, K started adding her own statements with heartfelt obscenities like “that f***g b***h.” I incorporated these. I explained the process to her as we went along and pointed out that using profanity and obscenity often helps clear the anger more quickly than remaining polite about things!
I retested her on the catheterization scene after several rounds, and her intensity (SUDS) level was down to 3-4.
At that point she presented a new aspect: “I really should have told her to stop and asked for somebody else.” This made the SUDS level go back up to 6. It was a great opportunity to explain about aspects and point out that this was a form of self-blame which was adding another layer to the traumatic incident. My goal was for her to be able to recognize aspects and handle them separately when she was tapping by herself.
It’s a common experience to blame ourselves for not taking control of a traumatic incident regardless of whether we could have done so or not. Self-blame and self-directed anger is almost always going to crop up when you’re clearing a negative event. After I felt we had cleared the original pain, fear and anger enough, we went to work on the self-blame. I introduced a reframe for reassurance that she had not failed herself.
After tapping on the new aspect a few rounds, I retested the original incident and K said it was “just a stupid thing that had happened.” She said her intensity (SUDS) level was 2.
I always close a session with a choices round to lighten the person’s energy. I think it’s important to choose the choices statement carefully. My goal is to find a statement that the person can accept easily without triggering any reversal. In this session, I introduced the choice that K’s body could relax and take care of itself. I chose not to work directly on the shy bladder because K tends to put a lot of pressure on herself to perform.
About a month later, K and I were having lunch and I asked for an update on her bladder issue. She told me it was mostly gone, and added that the emotional reaction over the catheterization incident had been completely resolved with our one session. She said she has told the story many times since, with no tears or emotional anguish, including discussing it with her mother who was present. K is now tapping on her own and appreciates this new tool to achieve well-being.
I was elated to hear that news. Once again I was humbled by the gentle but complete resolution that can occur when we really listen to people, and help them find the most emotionally-loaded specific incident to work on, always watching for the various aspects that turn up and treating them separately. Trusting the process and the person, we have another EFT success to celebrate.
Ange Dickson Finn is an AAMET Accredited Certified EFT Advanced Practitioner. She is based in Houston, Texas, USA, and works with clients over the phone and via Skype. Ange has helped clients with issues including physical pain, health and well-being, work-related stress, equestrian sports and relationships. Visit her on the web at www.TapIntoYourself.com or www.RideWithoutFear.com.
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of AAMET International.
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