After being referred to me by her G.P. due to persistent worries surrounding emotional eating, I met with Else at my clinic for an appointment. She explained to me that all of her family were obese, and that she herself she had been diagnosed as being obese as a child. She had long fought battles surrounding weight and weight related issues. During this appointment Else singled out constant daily cravings to consume sweet and sugary foods, especially white chocolate, as her biggest concern. By taking part in a highly structured and medically administered weight loss program, she had significantly reduced her weight, and was no longer classified as obese for her height and weight, though was still overweight. Despite this she was afraid these continued cravings could bring her undone and she could gain back all or some of the weight she’d lost. An additional issue was Else reporting she always felt exhausted and also took naps in the middle of the day.
Read some of Peta Stapleton's Case Studies
Emotional Freedom Techniques were not something Else was familiar with, or had ever been exposed to, so I introduced her to the practice. I explained EFT, or Tapping, has been referred to as psychological acupuncture – though without the use of needles. I told her EFT is an effective strategy allowing us to think in a calm manner about any issues we may be facing. Else was extremely open to this concept, and providing her with a demonstration and tapping handout, I took her through the eight points on the body which together make the Basic Recipe for EFT, as well as taking her through the Setup Statement and the process of combining these two elements.
Following this we talked about using these techniques to tackle an issue such as emotional eating, food cravings, even exhaustion. Now Else always carried white chocolate, and keen to give EFT a go, I was able to apply the process to her specific issue on the spot. Unwrapping her chocolate, Else breathed in the smell of it as well as touching it to her mouth. This allowed her to experience a strong craving. At this point Else graded her desire to consume the chocolate as being 10 out of 10, the highest it could be. She described the sweet smell and her own mouths salivation as being the most compelling feature of this craving.
Next, we began the technique with the Setup Statement, “Even though this chocolate smells so sweet and amazing, and I am salivating right now, I deeply and completely accept myself.” We used, ”smells sweet”, as our Reminder Phrase. After completing three unbroken rounds of tapping Else reported her craving level had been reduced to three out of 10. Understandably, she was astounded. When she next smelled the chocolate, at my request, she reported it as having, “a distinct chemical smell.” During this time no feelings, thoughts, memories or other sensations were experienced and Else’s focus remained on the aspects of the chocolate that had caused her cravings. To speak to the lingering sweet smell she experienced, we said,
“Even though I have this remaining craving for white chocolate, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“This remaining craving,” was the Reminder Phrase. Following only a single round of tapping Else announced, “I don’t want to eat this is all!” After having a laugh about this, I requested Else give the chocolate one more smell test. Her longing to eat it had fallen to zero! This was a successful end to our session and we now scheduled a follow up appointment for a few weeks later.
After a week I contacted Else to check in with her progress. Else hadn’t touched chocolate at all! Though we were expecting it, this was a fantastic result, but that was not all. Else was no longer feeling the need to nap during the day. She reported feeling a huge difference day to day and a radical rise in energy levels. She planned to further increase her energy levels and reduce her feelings of being exhausted by tapping on these issues.
(Originally EFT Resolves 6-Year Chronic Fatigue, By Sarah Marshall)
SM had suffered with myalgic encephalomyelitis (known as ME, or commonly CFS in the UK) for going on six years, four in which she was unable to work due to her condition. After reaching age 27 SM was suffering relentless dizziness, felt constantly flu like, was unable to concentrate on even the simplest of tasks (such as preparing a cup of tea), and had very little energy to do anything more than wait for it to pass.
SM reported feeling as though, “a plug had been pulled and all of my energy with it.” She further said what she was experiencing didn’t feel like normal tiredness and that she was scared. Unfortunately, despite being desperate for answers and support, the advice she received for her GP was simply that she couldn’t expect to have the same level of energy she’d had at 17. SM recalled having several unrepeatable thoughts, but also, “I might believe you if I was 87, not 27!”
This experience became just one of many to elicit a strong feeling of anxiety, a familiar state of being for SM, who had suffered from anxiety for most of her illness. This anxiety was caused by the confounding symptoms she experienced, along with various doctors seeming inability to either be convinced she was ill, or make any kind of diagnosis. These trials with the medical profession served only to make the situation worse, just as SM — feeling “helpless and panicked about the unrelenting fatigue,” — felt everything she had tried doing to resolve the issue over the past years had made her condition worse.
Looking back SM says she now sees that her feelings of anxiety and panic were infact the two main factors causative of many of her symptoms, including breathlessness, visual disturbances and dizziness. For SM, these symptoms were even more debilitating than her physiological symptoms, such as tiredness, and joint and muscle pain. The anxiety caused from not knowing why she was experiencing these symptoms — only that over 10-15 minutes of exertion, physically or mentally, left her feeling worse off —, feeling insecure in regards to her future, as well as concern about how she would manage if her financial support disappeared. SM had become afraid of life and her capacity to handle it. As well as this she had lost all faith in her body and its ability to maintain health.
It is here that EFT comes in. To begin with, SM began using EFT on her worries surrounding her symptoms, and successfully reduced her level of anxiety. Her symptoms also lessened as she concentrated on the emotional component of her issue. By tapping on her past emotional experiences of being active and feeling all the worse for it afterwards, she now began to work on her fears for the future, of overdoing it or “doing too much”. Moving on to her concerns about possible future events and their effects, and always following her memories back to the first event to elicit each particular fear response, she further reduced the anxiety she experienced regarding trying something again in the future. In this way, SM reported she was gradually able to do more.
Follow-up after SM’s continued use of EFT:
“I am fully recovered and have been for around seven years. EFT is the technique that ensured I fully overcame the condition.”
Patricia, a 40 year old female, had been driven to go to bed wearing earplugs every night bed for the past seven years. Her aim was to be able to sleep without earplugs, though she was very afraid sleep would evade her if she tried this.
Patricia was already familiar with EFT after using it in her own personal development business, though was unable to conquer this earplug issue using tapping methods by herself.
The need for earplugs had come about after Patricia married a snorer, seven years earlier. The couple had even had the issue medically investigated to see if a solution could be found but this was unsuccessful. It wasn’t until the birth of their daughter, two years into the marriage, that this need for earplugs to sleep came about. Patricia believed since then she had become a lighter sleeper. She could not recall sleep issues prior to this and this was her only issue with sleep.
Though Patricia reported sleeping better with the earplugs in, she would wake with tender and painful ears and this was her major complaint. Overcoming this discomfort was her main focus regarding the issue.
After singling out the main issue we prepared an appropriate Setup Statement. Currently Patricia was rating her subjective units of stress (SUD score) regarding her tender ears as being a nine out of 10 (10 being the most pain and 1 being no pain at all). Patricia told me she was still able to feel the soreness in her ears and she tuned-in to this for our session.
Using the Setup Phrase, “Even though I can feel the soreness of the earplugs in my ears when I wake up every day, I completely accept myself,” we completed one round of tapping using the seven points of basic EFT. The Reminder Phrase was, “sore.
Following this single round of tapping Patricia’s SUD level fell from nine to four, however, she felt rising anger as she tapped. This anger came about, she said, due to her husband’s snoring waking her during the night, leaving her awake while he slept on. This anger was experienced in the solar plexus (a physical response) and Patricia scored it a seven on the SUD scale. We used the Reminder
Now we tapped on the anger, “Even though I feel angry with XXX when his snoring wakes me up, and then I am awake for hours, I completely accept myself.” After two rounds Patricia described her anger as being related to the fact it was difficult to get back to sleep once she had been woken, though her SUD score had dropped to a three. This difficulty getting back to sleep was another aspect to this issue. She said she’d experienced a similar pattern before, whilst breastfeeding her children during the night. Again, after a feed it would take her a long time to fall back to sleep, only to have to get up again soon after for the next feed. This caused exhaustion and feelings of anger. Patricia rated this issue of not being able to return to sleep for a long time as an eight. We tapped on, “Even though I take a long time to go back to sleep if woken in the middle of the night, I completely accept myself.” We used, “takes a long time,” as the Reminder Phrase.
After tapping one round on the getting back to sleep issue, Patricia rated the issue as a SUD three, however, the physical discomfort she was experiencing in her solar plexus had risen to a six. We now focused on this, saying, “Even though I have this feeling in my solar plexus right now, and I am not sure what it is, I completely accept myself.” For three continuous rounds we used the following Reminder Phrases:
- This feeling
- This feeling in my solar plexus
- I don’t know what it is
- This feeling of tightness
- This red feeling (Patricia specified the colour)
- This weird feeling
After another three rounds Patricia reported the sensation as having lifted and its SUD was now a two. We refocused on her ears. Patricia said she believed this unpleasant sensation in her solar plexus may be related to her father, as a picture of him came into her mind as she was tapping. While completing the last round thoughts of her dislike of criticism or harsh words arose in her mind. Although she had an overly critical mother, her father was not overly critical, but was not one to offer many compliments or praise.
Despite wanting to focus on her father giving her little praise, she could not bring to mind one specific memory, so instead we used a broad statement, “Even though I hated not getting any praise from my Dad when I was little, I completely accept myself.” Her SUD score here was five. Following one round, Patricia recalled how her father had HATED loud noises and recounted how he would yell at her oldest daughter “to be quiet,” when she would run around squealing at around 12 to 18 months of age. Patricia communicated she was also fairly sensitive to noise generally.
Using the particular memory involving her daughter and father, we tapped on the issue while Patricia ‘played’ the memory like a movie in her mind. To begin The Movie Technique we needed a title and settled on, “Dad Yells a Lot,” tapping on this until Patricia’s SUD level was down to a two. We chose a neutral section of the movie, tapping through it little by little, addressing each aspect but always returning to the same neutral section of the movie. We continued to do this until Patricia felt no emotional response to running the whole movie.
We started with this Setup, “Even though Dad used to yell at B when she was little to be quiet, and he couldn’t handle the noise, I completely accept myself.” We created different versions of this Setup as well, “Even though Dad used to yell at B to be quiet, and maybe he also yelled at me when I was little, I completely accept myself,” as well as, “Even though Dad might have yelled at me when I was little because he couldn’t handle noise, I am okay with noise.”
We created Reminder Phrases, including:
- He can’t handle noise
- Dad can’t handle noise
- I can’t handle noise
- This is his issue
- This is Dad’s issue, not mine
- This feeling in my solar plexus related to Dad [it had returned]
- This feeling of Dad’s
- This issue of Dad’s
- My issue with noise
After three tapping rounds Patricia’s SUD score was a four, so we shifted our focus to the solar plexus issue after it had risen again to three out of 10.
These were our phrases:
- Releasing Dad’s issues
- Dad’s issue with noise
- This is not my issue
- Maybe I could be fine with noise
- Maybe I could sleep soundly with noise
- This remaining issue with noise
To establish the response to all these aspects we again replayed the movie from beginning to end.
The SUD level was now a two, so we started another round with, “Even though I have this remaining issue with noise and my ears, I completely accept that I can be fine with noise.” Our Reminder Phrase was “this remaining issue.” The SUD score was reduced to zero after one round.
Next we assessed the complete issue. I asked Patricia to tune in once again into how her ears felt. She was not experiencing any pain or tenderness. Then we focused on the movie in which her father had yelled at her daughter for making noise, and tested Patricia’s reaction to this by running this specific event again. Patricia no longer exhibited a physiological or emotional reaction, but instead described it in words. She said, “There wasn’t really any noise, you know.” Her SUD level was now at zero.
Now feeling pretty good, Patricia was keen to return to her home and see how sleeping would go. We visualised a future typical night sleeping in bed with her husband. Patricia now felt returning to sleep after waking would be easily accomplished and so imagining future nights caused her no distress and was easily pictured. At the end of another round of tapping, we finished it off with, “Even though I might wake with a noise, I know I can easily return to sleep, and maybe I could sleep through mundane noises.” Mentioning sleeping through mundane noises was particularly relevant to Patricia as it was still key to be able to wake for her daughters if they became unwell, or for any other emergency. Using this affirmation she rated her belief in it as a six out of 10, this caused us to use the Choices Method (www.mastereft.com) of EFT to raise her level of belief, “Even though I don’t quite believe I could quickly and easily fall asleep after being awake in the night, I choose to believe it might be possible.”
- I can easily return to sleep
- I can quickly return to sleep
- If I awake, I can go to sleep quickly sleep comes easily to me
- I get solid, restful sleep every night
- I always awake feeling refreshed
- I trust my unconscious to wake me for important things
- It is safe to sleep deeply
Patricia’s belief in the Setup statement rose to an eight SUD, though one of the Reminder Phrases stuck out to her, “it is safe to sleep deeply.” This was due to the fact she felt the need to be able to wake if needed. It wasn’t only her daughters’ Patricia may need to help, but also her husband, who suffered with epilepsy and oftentimes had seizures in the night causing him to fall out of bed. His epilepsy was undiagnosed until after their marriage and there were no warning signs precipitating his seizures. Patricia hypothesised the combination of needing to wake and feed babies throughout the night, coupled with her hypervigilance surrounding her husband’s seizures, had caused her to become a light sleeper and in this way contributed to her use of earplugs when sleeping.
As this realisation of cause and effect dawned on Patricia, she became aware of why she began wearing earplugs at night – because she was incredibly tired. The exercise proved partially fruitless however, as due to her existing hypervigilance surrounding her families potential needs through the night, she would be woken by snoring even with the earplugs in! Patricia laughed at this, though recounted that her sleeping problems arose after marrying, and that she’d experienced no trouble sleeping when a child or as a younger adult. I asked Patricia to tune into any physical sensations and she now reported that the sensation in her solar plexus was no longer present.
Overview of Techniques used with Patricia
During my session with Patricia we moved through many aspects of her issue. It began with a physical sensation (ears), which progressed to her feeling angry about her husband’s snoring (aspect). This resulted in another physical sensation, this time in the solar plexus region (physical response), and further revealed memories of her father yelling at her child for being noisy (Movie Technique). Although unable to recall being yelled at for being noisy herself, Patricia did become aware of she was also fairly noise sensitive. When focusing on her physical response, which Patricia denoted with the colour red, she underwent a shift cognitive change regarding this memory of her Dad. Patricia was feeling good at the stage, but we tested the theory by running through a future pacing exercise regarding sleeping with her husband’s snoring. To increase her faith in her ability to sleep through ordinary, routine noise, we made use of the Choices Method. Though marginally successful, this now raised the issue of her husband’s epilepsy diagnosis. Patricia had not previously linked the issues of sleeping and noise with hypervigilance and needing to be aware in the event her husband suffered another seizure.