EFT Cured a Storm Phobia

Accepted “Wisdom” is that Phobias are Difficult to Alleviate

In the “psychology world,” it’s often said that phobias are really difficult to change. Usually, phobias are really entrenched. For people with this kind of anxiety, when they’re faced with what they’re afraid of—spiders, heights, small spaces, flying, test taking, and any number of other anxieties—they often feel they’re going to die. For the rest of us who aren’t afraid of these things, it seems like no big deal, so it’s hard to understand why someone would be so terrified. But for the person who has the phobia, it just IS and it can’t be argued away.

For a description of how phobias work in us, affecting our nervous system and causing emotional pain, see my article on Examiner.com, Phobias Often Disappear after Using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques).

EFT is Effective With Phobias

Interestingly, I’ve found that, using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), a phobia can disappear with relatively few sessions. A while ago, I had a client who had a phobia, huge anxiety around thunderstorms. It would start when she saw the black clouds massing. She’d have a horrendous feeling of dread. Then, when she saw lightning or heard thunder, panic overcame her and she would run to a room in the middle of wherever she lived—this was often a bathroom with or middle room with no windows—and cower there until the storm was over. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get over the fear. It had been going on for over 20 years.

EFT Tapping on the Storm Phobia: Dread

I started by asking my client detailed questions about her specific reactions to specific parts of storms to get at the different aspects of the phobia, and the incidents in her life and/or childhood family patterns that were the origins of what caused anxiety. We used EFT Tapping on these specific incidents and dissolved the connections between the incidents and negative childhood family dynamics. The dread that accompanied seeing dark clouds massing was completely gone after only a couple of sessions. This was connected to two areas:

  1. Childhood abuse that happened again and again and the tension and dread that would build up waiting for the abuse to happen.
  2. Her husband was in the armed forces fighting a war. Whenever she heard the door bell ring, there was dread that it was officers coming to tell her her husband had died.

EFT Tapping on the Phobia: Healing the Terror of Lightning

The panic that sent my client hiding in a central, windowless room whenever she saw lightning and hear a boom of thunder was more difficult to alleviate. But, using EFT, the emotional pain was finally gone completely. This was related to:

  1. A shocking assault on her as an adult; the feeling of helplessness
  2. The violence and forcefulness of recurring physical abuse during childhood
  3. The suddenness of being attacked by her parent.
  4. The feeling of helplessness when she was being attacked by her parent.

After having worked on all these aspects surrounding the panic, one day, she was in her kitchen looking out the window when she saw a flash of lightning. She noticed later that it didn’t even register. A few days later, she was outside when suddenly heard a thunder clap. She calmly finished what she was doing in the garden before going in the house. This was huge!

EFT for the Feeling of Not Having Control

The final thing that we were left with was that, even though she realized she wasn’t afraid anymore those two times, she didn’t trust that she would always feel that way if a storm would come. She felt she needed to test it. She said “part of me wants a really close lightning and thunderstorm so I can be sure. It turned out that, unconsciously, she wanted a feeling of control. She wanted to be able to bring it on to see how she would react. This related, again, to her parent’s sudden attacks. Just like many abused children and adults, she learned that she couldn’t control the fact of the physical abuse, but she could, to some extent, bring on the attacks to get the fear and tension over with. With thunder and lightning storms, she had no control—she couldn’t bring them on to get them over with. At this point, the season for thunderstorms was over. There was no way to test it. We did some EFT Tapping for inability to control the timing of thunderstorms . Through this, she suddenly accepted she has no control.

EFT Healed the Phobia Around Thunderstorms

Some months later she wrote that one day she was having dinner, a giant bolt of lightning “lit the whole world in front of me. It was so close that the thunder clap followed before I could even think one-mississippi.” She stayed calm and continued eating. “Maybe the whole show was just for me,” she wrote, “so I wouldn’t have to wait until next spring to see if the EFT worked. Which-ever, work it seems to have done!”

Getting that note really touched me and gave me a feeling of gratitude. EFT works with phobias and many other issues. If you need help, give contact me at zoeric@comcast.net or call me at 303-444-1195. Check out my website for more information, especially my pages on EFT and EFT Case Studies.

Wishing you a free and joyous life!

Zoë

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Zoe: What is PTSD and How Do You Work with It?

Jeanine recently asked, “What is PTSD and how do you work with it?

healing-stress-healing-traumaWhen most of us experience a threatening, scary or painful event, our energy systems and nervous systems are zapped and, almost inevitably, emotional and/or physical symptoms automatically begin. Usually, they don’t subside until we do specific work to alleviate them. The complex of emotional and physical symptoms that start happening after one of these scary, threatening or painful events is called PTSD—Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

I’ve been trained in various ways of working with PTSD symptoms: Process Work, a trauma method similar to Somatic Experiencing and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). In my over 25 years’ experience as a psychotherapist, I’ve found EFT to be the most effective, by far, in resolving the emotional pain that often follows painful experiences and painful childhood family patterns–in other words, PTSD. So that’s how I work with it. PTSD creates a painful “charge” in the nervous system. Clients often find that, where before they would be overwhelmed by emotional pain and even physical pain, after a short time using EFT, when they think  about a traumatic incident or painful family pattern, it’s like it’s far away or like watching a movie.  There’s no painful emotion attached to it anymore. They also find that their lives and relationships become much freer, too.

If you’d like to know more, read my past blog posts, EFT Helps with PTSD and  EFT Helps With PTSD, Part 3    .

Wishing you a free and joyous life,

Zoe

CreatingTherapeutic Fairy Tales: Here’s Another One

I’m always amazed how working metaphorically helps evoke what’s deep inside clients to unearth solutions. It almost feels magical sometimes. For a while now, I’ve been excited as a new way of using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) has been creating itself for me and my clients.

Here’s What We Do

It works really well with long-term patterns that have created emotional pain over the years, but it also works with just about anything. Often, these patterns developed because of negative childhood family dynamics.

I ask my clients to describe what happens when this pattern occurs in their lives, and to describe their experience when it happens. As they’re describing all of this, I watch out for images. If the image that strikes me also seems important to the client, we start to create a metaphorical story—more like a fairy tale in that it uses images and metaphor rather than literal events.

At the beginning, there’s just the original image. We use EFT Tapping on that. As a result, more and more of the story emerges and finally a solution to the problem emerges in the form of a metaphor. From that, clients frequently realize how they can manifest the solution literally in their lives. We continue with EFT Tapping until it’s really anchored in. Then, often, changes start to happen!

Client With Painful Childhood Family Dynamics

The story below was co-created with a client (identifying details changed) who was subjected to repeated physical abuse and emotional abuse and who had seen her siblings beaten, too. She felt powerless to help her siblings and to stop the abuse. As a result, in her current life, she often went through times where she spiraled down into depression.

Here’s the Therapeutic Story That Emerged:

Whirling

There is a powerful, murky swirling whirlpool in the middle of a deep river. It pulls in everything that comes near. Swirling and roiling in the whirlpool are jagged shards of broken glass; twisted pieces of metal sharp as knives; huge broken tree branches; poisons from a hundred factories and—a tiny baby boy, arms flailing, unbelievably keeping his head above water—just barely.

His mother, wanting to be rid of him and not knowing who he was, threw him into the whirlpool, thinking that would be the end of him. But the baby woke up suddenly, gasping, drowning, totally panicked. He had barely started life and, as happens with babies, it now seems that this IS his life: this gasping, drowning, whirling and swirling amid broken glass, knife-sharp twists of metal, huge logs of wood and murky brown poison sludge. And the noise! The roar of the water drowns him even more than the water itself.

He swirls so quickly that soon he begins to whirl around his own axis, like a tiny flailing world inside the whirling of the water-galaxy. Soon even the contents of his head are whirling and swirling inside his skull. He realizes that his mother threw him into this whirlpool and that he is meant to be dead. But “HAH!” he thinks, “I’m not dead! I’m still here.”

With this thought, even though he’s still whirling in the roiling water along with everything else, the inside of his head is no longer spinning. Although his whole universe is still a giant roaring whirlpool, he’s no longer whirling around his own axis like a tiny world in a water-galaxy.

Suddenly, his glance is caught by something in the distance, something outside his universe: a huge, 200-foot tall tree, with many branches thick as giants’ legs and leaves luscious green, the tree solid and deeply rooted into the earth beside the river. The baby is riveted by the sight of something so solid, so REALLY THERE.

“Oh, how I wish I could be there!” he thinks. And with the thought, the tree bends one of its long branches to the middle of the river, and, as the baby rushes by, he reaches out his arms and grabs hold of the branch. At the same time, the tree raises its branch and lifts the baby out of the whirlpool and sets him safely into the crook of a branch, and holds it in its tree-arms.

No longer deafened by roaring water, the baby hears an amazing new sound. It’s coming from tiny birds sitting on the tree’s branches: warbling and tweeting and chirping.

“Wow!” thinks the baby. He’s totally charmed.

The birds check out the newcomer and, finding him harmless and rather cute, gather twigs as a community and build a nest around him. It takes a whole bird community because babies are way bigger than birds.

He also hears a chittering and looks up. Squirrels are running up and down the trunk of the tree. They gather nuts and berries and fruits and lay them in the baby’s nest. The birds and squirrels can tell he’s pretty useless when it comes to feeding himself, so they do it for him, dropping things into his mouth. He laughs whenever they do that.

Eventually, the baby learns to crawl along the branches of the tree. Whenever he misses a handhold and starts to fall, the tree catches him with its branches and lifts him right back up to his nest. After a while, he’s a limb-crawling expert, and he’s peering through the leaves and branches way, way down to the bottom of the tree.

“I wonder what’s down there,” he asks no one in particular. He’s noticed the squirrels seem to be able to make it all the way down to the ground. He jumps carefully from branch to lower branch, spiraling all the way down and with a thump lands on his feet on the ground at the bottom of the tree. The ground feels really solid and HUGE. It seems to go on and on forever.

The squirrels and birds, knowing what was coming, have made him a knapsack out of a huge leaf. It’s stuffed full of nuts and berries, and soon so are his pockets.

He throws his arms around the tree and gives it a giant hug. He pats the tiny heads of the squirrels and birds, gives them a big wave and strides off into the world. As he fades off into the distance, suddenly, several boulders in the river shift their position, and the river runs swift and clean.

© Zoë Zimmermann, 2012

Wishing you a free and joyous life,
Zoë