I worked with Sharon (not her real name), an incest survivor, who was sexually abused by her father till age 11. She suffered from severe GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux Disease) symptoms. She had been taking depression tablets for 10 years; finally left them and started taking interest in alternative treatments.
She came to me to work on her traumatic past.
We worked on her GERD symptoms, which towards the end of therapy sessions were greatly reduced. She was struggling with a lot of anger and guilt related to the traumatic incidents from her past. We worked on a number of incidents and released the emotions attached to them.
In the session described below, while tapping on her feeling that ‘she was acting like a victim’ (as she expressed it), we explored and tapped on the many aspects that made it difficult for her to let go of her past. She was unable to let go of the ‘frustration for having lost so many years in trauma and pain’, and she felt that she needed to hold on to the memories of the past and be the ‘record keeper’.
She said, “Laws are so much different now. Records are gone; nothing to show for it. I’ve been holding on because no one else did. I’ve been the record keeper.”
We tapped on –
Even though I have become the record keeper, as no one else is there to do this; there is nothing to show or prove what happened with me, I accept myself.
Even though I have refused to move on so that at least I can show, he was at fault and he should be punished, I choose to let go of this record keeping now for my sake. Letting it go does not mean that I have to delete all the memories. It will not mean that I will be letting him off the hook. It will only mean that I choose to be unaffected by those memories.
After tapping on this, she felt sad and lonely for not having a family anymore.
In incest cases, there is often a loss of immediate family especially upon the discovery of abuse. With EFT, this sense of loss can be released and attention can be re-directed towards the importance of self-care.
We tapped on
Even though I feel lonely as I don’t have a family, I accept how I feel.
Even though I feel lonely, I would like to take care of myself. I cannot neglect myself because I don’t have a family. I choose to understand my worth and I deserve to be happy with or without a family.
Her sadness reduced from 8 to 4.
Then we tapped on –
“My body and mind are tired” “I’m afraid – what have I done to my body?” “I cannot start a family at this age.”
After tapping on all this she said, “I cannot let go of my past as it is my identity.”
We used the following setup –
Even though it’s difficult for me to release my past as its part of my identity, I accept myself with compassion. And choose to give myself the permission to heal.
Giving away my power
At this point she felt that by releasing her past she would be giving away her power to her abusive father.
We tapped for this.
Even though by letting go of my past, I would be giving away my power to my father, I want to bring healing to this. I would like to feel better, find more peace.
The feeling that she was giving away her power to her father reduced from 5 to 3.
We tapped one more round, while using a positive choice statement, “I choose to retain the power within myself”.
I’m stronger by letting go
Then I asked her to keep tapping on the cognitive shifts that were occurring, and she was verbalizing and tapping on, ”I am stronger than before by letting go of my past because I make choices here and I have the strength to make choices here.”
Reframing I introduce reframes in sessions based on the client’s perspectives and beliefs. I also make a mental note of the reframes that didn’t land and ask my clients’ what they felt about them, as reframes can give a lot of information about core beliefs and resistances.
I suggested her to tap on, “My past does not hold me. I hold my past. I have the power to release it.” The feeling that she was giving the power to her dad reduced from 3 to 1. She wondered aloud, “How can it be so easy to let go … how can someone get off scot-free?”
This slightly increased her intensity.
This gave us another opportunity to tap on –
Even though I feel that letting go of my past is like letting my dad go scott free, I accept how I feel. The truth is that by letting go, I do not change my past. Past remains the same, but I know that I can feel more peaceful by letting it go. I want to heal by letting it go. I deserve to heal. I deserve to let it go.
I asked her what she felt about ‘her dad going scot-free’. Her intensity was negligible. She said that, “I could understand the difference as I was saying that. I can let it go. I have tried to change the past and I can’t do that. By letting go, I can free myself.”
In the later EFT sessions, she was able to release her feelings a lot more easily. I explain to my clients that when we tap on ‘letting go of the past’, our aim is not to change it, but to release the emotions that tie us to the past.
EFT does not change what happened – it does not change the past; it only changes the way we feel about our past.