Combining EFT & Process Work Heals Pain
I have a long-time background in Process Work (created by Arnold Mindell, Ph.D.), as well as a kind of body-centered trauma work. “Clarissa” had severe pain in both ovaries that occurred for 3 days each month with the start of her period. Her doctors were unsure of the cause, and suggested exploratory surgery if the pain did not lessen. She was reluctant to do this, and so wanted to try EFT first, to see if it could heal her pain. We did three EFT sessions, using, at the beginning of each session, a technique from Process Work.
At the beginning of the first session, Clarissa said that, every month before her period, she looked like she was 6 months pregnant and, during her period, there was so much pain that it buckled her over. Because of this, she became irritable, exasperated, exhausted, and felt hopeless. We couldn’t schedule the session during the time when the pain occurred.
I had her describe what the pain itself does (this is the Process Work part). She said it squeezes. I had her show me with her hand how it squeezes; then I did it in the same way, so that she could see it from the outside. She said that it looked like milking a cow, stating that cows have nutrition and the pressure builds up and they need to be milked. I asked her how this relates to her own life. She said she is the source of stability and nourishment for everyone around her. Everyone relies on her, which is an immense pressure on her, especially in her work situation.
We started with “Even though I’m the source of stability for everyone, and it’s a lot of pressure on me…”
This brought on sadness: “Even though I’m sad, and have been for so long…
I asked about the first time she had ever felt this dynamic. She remembered when her parents separated, and, at a very young age, she was the main source of stability and support for her mother.
“Even though my mother relied on me to take care of her and I held everything together…
Then she went to the image of being in her father’s little apartment:
“Even though I was scared and confused and trying to hold everything together and not knowing how, I love the little girl in me that did her very best to hold everything together. Even though a part of me is still living from that scene, I love that little girl who was doing the best she could.”
Then she became very angry, and we did a round where I had her say whatever came into her mind. “They all rely on me for everything and want me to do everything and solve everything and I’m sick of it. Do it yourself, take responsibility for yourself!”
Now, fear arose, and an identity issue: she felt she didn’t know who she would be if she wasn’t the rock, the enabler, the one who takes care of everyone and everything.
“Even though I don’t know who I’ll be…
“Even though I’m afraid of being all alone…”
When the fear decreased, she felt more matter of fact about things: even if it meant being alone, she had wanted to be free of all the responsibility for so long. There was still some fear left, so we continued:
“Even though I’m scared of not being the rock and the enabler and the stability and I’ve wanted to be free of it for so long, I love both these parts of myself.
Then she felt spacey and her vision became distorted (a sign of a trauma state):
“Even though part of me just wants to sit in a corner and space out and not do anything about all of this…” This cleared the spaciness and she was grounded again.
At this point, she realized that she has a part in keeping the dynamic going:
“Even though I keep it going, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway and forgive myself. I consider the possibility that I’ve always done the best I could.”
“Even though I was taught to be this way, way back when I was a little girl and have been living from that reality all this time, I accept myself and let my body know that that was a long time ago. Things are different now. I can start to let go.
She realized that her own needs must be her priority and when others want something of her, she should check in to see if what they want matches her needs. If yes, she does what the other person wants, if not, she doesn’t.
She felt strong and calm.
The next month, she had experienced pain only on the right side, for a much shorter time. The session was again not during the time that she experienced the pain. Again, I had her describe the pain. She said it felt like someone pushing aggressively inside her right side and then one deeper push. I had her show me and then did it myself so that she could see what it looks like from the outside. She said it looked like someone pushing down on the accelerator and then pushing all the way, that it looked like danger and needing to go all out. I asked her where in her life this fits, and she again spoke of taking on other’s responsibilities and that this is truly dangerous to her and she needs to go all out to change the dynamic. Again, there was an identity issue at the center.
“Even though I feel guilty even thinking about letting go of responsibility…”
“Even though I’ve always done it and am afraid that if I don’t, everything will fall apart and no one will love me…”
“Even though I don’t know who I would be if I stopped, I consider the possibility that letting go would help others and help me.” Tapping on variations of this, and “if I let go of other’s responsibility, they may become stronger.”
There was a period of dizziness and floatiness (trauma symptoms again):
“Even though a part of me wants to float off and not deal with this and space out…”
Tapping on this brought her back to the ground.
In between, we did a non-EFT session where she realized she needed to quit her job—which she then followed through on quite quickly. Almost immediately, several opportunities for work came through, and she was making more money in a partial workweek than she had been making “killing herself” at her previous job.
After this, she came in during the time when she normally would have been in pain. This time, there was just a vague warm feeling and a kind of pulsing in her right ovary.
I asked her again to describe the symptom. She said it was like a rat in a cage, every now and then throwing itself against the bars. She showed me the pulsing with her foot, tapping her foot and every now and then a stronger tap. Then I did it, and she said it actually looked like a heart beating from having run too much. She realized she gets overwhelmed not being responsible for everyone. We worked on letting go of that.
This brought up a part of her that is afraid of letting go and holds back. We acknowledged that part and tapped on accepting all parts of her: the energetic, creative, inquisitive part and the holding back quiet part.
At the end of the session, there was no more pain.
Contact Zoe Zimmermann, MA, LPC, Certified EFT Practitioner
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