EFT offers trauma recovery victims control of the recovery process right at their fingertips
When I first started my stress relief and coaching business with EFT I didn’t focus on Trauma. I liked to be around people like me– happy and carefree, right? My plan was to help people move ahead on their goals by uncovering and address the issues (stress/anxiety) blocking them from successes. However, it didn’t take long for me to learn that the majority of time, like 99.99 percent of the time (I’m holding out for the one time this isn’t the case) the “reason” clients came to me had nothing to do what was currently bothering them. More often than not, through EFT the client discovered a trauma that was still driving unwanted behavior or beliefs.
I don’t know why this should have been such a surprise to me. The very reason I quit my career and became a coach with EFT is because of a personal trauma. I am just like my clients; however, I’m just on the other side of the trauma. Wow, how far I have come that I didn’t see the same connection. Or maybe I was trying to create some distance with denial. Either way, my work has brought me back around to one of the gifts of EFT – lowering anxiety.
I also learned that people are resistant to “go back and tap on the trauma”. Often times they would say, while blinking back tears, “that was a long time ago and it really doesn’t bother me”. Or “I went through counseling a long time ago and I am over it” Really? Well that’s curious since you’re nearly crying and telling me how this past trauma created your fear or anxiety around something you are currently going through.
Beyond the Talking Cure
According to trauma specialists like Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D. and Peter Levine, Phd, the greatest tool in helping clients understand and heal from a traumatic event is the body. Like these preeminent researchers, I have seen over and over again that words alone didn’t help my clients heal from a known or unknown trauma. Sometimes these were large traumas like abortion, rape and abandonment, and sometimes they were what we in EFT like to call small “T”’s (also called by some sub traumas) – these are things that wouldn’t affect an adult, but when you are younger they adversely influence your life without you even knowing it.
If you’re interested in learning more about subconcious T’s, check out my blog “The Small T.” Either way, my clients did not sign up for Trauma work. So they really don’t want to address it.
“Geez, I just came to you because I was stressed with the new promotion at work and you are telling me that it has to do with me when I was 8 years old standing up to my dad when he was raging at my mother?”
Actually, I never told them that. That little bit of trauma came up through innocuous tapping on the work promotion. Hence I quickly ran into people not wanting to “go back there” and face the trauma again. I soon learned that EFT was an ideal tool to lower anxiety around trauma while keeping people from becoming too flooded.
Trauma Informed Care best practices extol that early client trauma work should focus on establishing a sense of safety, and help the survivor build confidence on their ability to stay safe to discover, self-regulate, and promote healing, while preventing further harm from hyper- or hypo-arousal. This reduces the odds that reviewing the trauma will cause emotional flooding and retraumatization.
For these reasons, using Emotional Freedom Technique is fast becoming a “go to tool” for TIC (for more information about the benefits of using EFT for TIC read my blog on Tapping & Trauma Informed Care.)
Below are the steps I use to ease the anxiety around EFT when working with trauma survivors. I also added a couple more points to help agency workers.
Five Steps to Ease EFT Anxiety
1.Assure your client that they don’t have to do anything they don’t want and the goal is to not re-traumatize them.
2. Ask if they would be open to learn a little about the research on Trauma Relief. If yes, give a very short explanation about why it is necessary to address the trauma as it is trapped in the bodies to heal. Survivors don’t have to go back to the event, but how the emotion is trapped within their body. For more on this, see Bessel Vanderkolk’s “Beyond the Talking Cure” and Peter Levine in his book “Healing Trauma,” or click here for my explanation in my blog post: “Trauma Healing and the Body.”
Research also suggests that education of study on trauma relief and the process helps with a client’s openness and acceptance. Additionally, offer a couple testimonials of people just like them who are survivors who have recovered from all of their trauma triggers.
If you don’t have your own testimonials from clients you can use mine.
3. Describe the process that you personally recommend for Trauma work. (Read the SAMSA TIC Guidelines here.) Including EFT as the first step being the least intrusive emotionally as possible. Personally, my first step is to create a name for the Trauma (a.k.a. “Trauma Name” (TN.)) This is a word or super short statement that identifies the trauma incidence: It can be something like “that day”, or contain slightly more details like “The attack“ or even a date “September 11”. If you’d like to learn more about creating Trauma Names, read my blog “Aiding Trauma Relief with Trauma Names.“
Depending on the client, we may not start with a TN because even that is too emotional. We may just tap and breathe until they are able to talk. Other times we tap on the fact that they don’t want to do this or talk about this because it’s too emotional. Conscious or unconscious resistance to the process is a huge stumbling block. Even if a client has verbally said (and they actually believe) that they are ready and willing to address their trauma, I still start with trauma recovery resistance tapping. Phrases like: A part of me wants to get over this and a part of me is resistant.
I also have had people that were just angry to have the trauma still intruding on their lives. We had to work with the anger or rebeling first. For example, “Even though I don’t want to be here, I am angry that I still have this trauma running my life. I choose to give a voice to this feeling,” (and so on).
4. If they still choose not to move ahead right now, offer to give them a phone number of an advocate who is willing to share their trauma relief experience with EFT (maybe someone in your agency or former client who advocates publically somewhere). Either way, awareness is the first courageous step and something to be acknowledged.
5. Give them the gift that keeps on giving: Teach them basic EFT to lower their anxiety anyway. My motto is “Some help is better than no help.” I have found that over time with the confidence my clients have gained in the ability to self regulate their emotions and lower every-day stress, many of them have become more open to revisit the trauma event. They become empowered with the knowledge that they can regulate ALL of their emotions and oftentimes come back ready to address the trauma.
*Photos used found on www.thetappingsolution.com and www.helpguide.org