One of my coaching clients had been suffering for 6 months with pain behind her scapula radiating up into her neck and down along her rib cage. She was a stressed out single mother who had limited success with muscle relaxants and trigger point injections. As a health care professional the quest for relief led her beyond her expertise in conventional medicine to explore bodywork and craniosacral therapy along with acupuncture and chiropractic.
She intuitively knew through working with a somatic therapist that her symptoms likely had roots in longstanding emotional turmoil due to a traumatic family history of alcoholism. When we started working together her dreams revealed issues about fear of abandonment and repressed anger which pointed toward imbalances of the first and second chakras manifesting in inflammation and pain resistant to many therapeutic approaches.
Keeping a dream diary was a useful guide to her healing process, as the subconscious speaks through both physical symptoms and dream symbols. One of the resulting EFT tapping phrases we used was “I resent being stabbed in the back” as a metaphor for her sharp scapular pain. After a few sessions she came to realize that the pain was her body’s feedback mechanism which could keep her on track to release the trapped emotions and heal.
Traumatic events are stored in the body like malware programs that get downloaded into the acupuncture meridian system and uploaded through the nervous system into emotional memory storage files in the the brain. Tapping on the acupoints while repeating an EFT target phrase is like hitting the delete key to uninstall those unwanted programs through memory reconsolidation. Self-hypnosis can be used to install new programs after the tapping process.
Tapping targets and healing metaphors often arise from the Top 10 Tapping List that I have clients compile at the start of coaching as an inventory of the worst emotional events in their lives. It is derived from the Personal Peace Procedure, a process recommended by Gary Craig, developer of EFT. As we tap our way through the list I also suggest they watch Being Erica on Hulu which is the most therapeutic TV series I have ever encountered.
Erica is struggling to make her life work when she completely bottoms out and is fortunate to meet a mysterious therapist named Dr. Tom. He has her make a list of all the regrets in her life which is very similar to my Top 10 Tapping List. However, he has magical time travel talents and sends her back into the past for do-overs of prior traumas which result in changing her life in the present for the better. I recommend my clients tap along with Erica on her journey.
I also have clients do expressive writing about each of the items on their list which doesn’t result in actual time travel, but is a scientifically proven method of healing pain and other conditions. I combined all of these approaches in a successful pilot study for patients at the Duke Lupus Clinic in 2019 which included 5 minutes of meditation, 5 minutes of expressive writing, 5 minutes of EFT tapping and 5 minutes of self-hypnosis focused on pain and inflammation.
For a more in-depth exploration of these approaches I will be offering my annual Tapping into Health course at Duke Integrative Medicine in 2024 for the 7th time in a hybrid format with both in-person and Zoom options. In my online coaching program I offer 20-minute free phone consults to assess your situation and see if it is a fit for us to work together. If so, we can schedule 80-minute Zoom coaching sessions which involve EFT tapping, expressive writing, self-hypnosis, dreamwork and the Enneagram.