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Nancy Gnecco's cases: sleeping disorder, separation anxiety, school phobia, wetting pants, soiling pants

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By Nancy Gnecco

First, some background...

I have connected with a children's therapist (Beth) whom I have trained in EFT, and we are working with families. The parents meet with me alone first at no cost - just the parents, no kids - and I show them the EFT 13 minute video, discuss EFT and answer their questions. I teach them how to do it using their anxiety about their child's problem as an example. Usually by the time a family has a child in therapy the anxiety has spread throughout the family, so it's easy to get their SUDS up, and then bring it down with EFT.

The second session is with the other therapist (Beth), the whole family, including child/ren, and me. We talk about the problem, and about how the child is a "good kid" even with the problem, and we talk about how 'Magic Tapping" might be able to help them with "the problem". Beth then takes the child/ren to a separate office where she incorporates "Magic Tapping" into her play therapy session. She tells stories about fictional characters who have the same problem as the child, and together they tap for the character. She has a doll and a stuffed cat who get tapped on, and she eventually gets the child to tap for himself.

Meanwhile, I work with the parents setting up a tapping schedule for the whole family, encouraging the parents to treat themselves first. We then work on the parents' aspects using EFT to neutralize them. Follow up is in 1 to 3 weeks, and the format is the same. Beth and I meet together with the family to see how things are going. Beth takes the kids, and I work with the parents. After that, the family can decide whether or not to continue to to see either Beth or me or both of us together.

So here is our first story....

The oldest is a boy, who is 9 years old, ADD, open adoption, has never gone to sleep without his mother or father lying down with him. Second child, a little girl, age 6 is adopted as well, and is of a different race. She is just starting school and has acute separation anxiety, and school phobia. She can go to sleep at night, but gets up in the night and goes into her parent's bed. They, consequently, get very little sleep. Dad can't get back to sleep after this happens between 3 and 4 a.m. Mom is depressed, overwhelmed and exhausted - desperate from lack of sleep.

So Beth and I meet with the family, and she takes the kids off for "Magic Tapping" while I work with the Mom, who is very compliant. Dad's skeptical. Doesn't want to participate, but is willing to for the kids' sake, particularly after seeing EFT work so well in the demonstration with his wife. We set up a schedule of tapping that includes both Mom and Dad tapping with the children at different times of day, and Mom agrees to tap for her own issues.

They miss the follow-up appointment, and forget to reschedule, so we chase them down. They come in, and here are the results. Remember, we have done one session with them, and we have only dealt with the presenting sleep issue. We have done nothing (at least directly) with the separation anxiety, except to suggest tapping on that before school. The focus has really been on sleep patterns.

Son #1 proudly reports that he has slept by himself since the first night he tapped, and has spontaneously started using it for things that upset him. "This weird stuff really works." he proudly announces dancing around the office.

Child #2 won't make her own report, wants her brother to do it. She's shy. (I, of course, want to tap for the shyness but, remembering their sleep agenda, decide to wait until a more opportune time.) He tells us that his sister gets up every night now and goes to the bathroom, and she doesn't turn the light out, but she goes back to her own bed. She has slept with her parents only twice since they started tapping. When I ask about the separation anxiety and school phobia, they look at me as it I have two heads, "What separation anxiety? What school phobia?" They have forgotten she even had it. This is all just 3 weeks after the initial visit.

Now the only problem the family reports is that Mom is so used to getting no more than 4 hours sleep at a time that, even with the kids sleeping, she is only able to sleep for about 4 hours. I ask her if she has thought to tap on that, and she hasn't, but is willing to try it. Two weeks later she calls to report that she is getting full night's sleep regularly for the first time in 9 years.

And our second story....

Father is a behavioral psychologist who was diagnosed with a medical condition a year ago. Mom stays home with, we'll call him Michael, who is an only child, August birthday, so, with the cut off date for school entrance in our state he would be one of the youngest in his class if he were in school. Michael reached all the developmental milestones at appropriate times, including toilet training. Concurrent with his father's diagnosis he became both enuretic (wets his pants) and encopretic (soils his pants). Although too young to be identified by the schools yet, as a former kindergarten teacher, I am certain that this is a highly gifted child, who is also developmentally young. Parents decided to try him in a private, and very traditional Catholic school in the fall, but removed him after a couple of weeks because of "the problem", and because he refused to do the work. When asked why he didn't do the work he responded that he had done the first paper and that he didn't do the rest because they were the same thing, and he already knew how do it.

Following the protocol outlined above, on the first visit I met with Michael's parents. Before even showing the video I told the father that the theory behind EFT was exactly the opposite from what he had been taught in behavioral psychology. I acknowledged his skepticism, and he said that he was willing to try anything at this point. We watched the video, and then I taught the EFT, Dad couldn't come up with any emotion, but was willing to tap along with his wife so that he could get the idea. Mom brought up her feelings of guilt, and we quickly neutralized them with EFT. She was amazed. I asked Dad if he wanted to try it for anything for himself - not necessarily for feelings about Michael's problem. He got really shy and revealed that he had actually been doing it along with his wife for a problem at work which he did not want to talk about, but which was at a 4. I suggested we get rid of the rest of it, and he was willing. We tapped for, "Even though I still have some of this problem at work...etc." and he came down to a 0 almost immediately.

I checked in with the parents by phone about a week later, and Mom reported that it was going "Okay, but wasn't a 100%" I asked for clarification and found out that Michael hadn't wet his pants once since they had started tapping, and that he even asked his teacher at his karate class if he could go to the bathroom. He also "hadn't had a mess in his pants all week." I told her that was great, and what would 100% be? She told me that 100% would be Michael taking care of his own bathroom needs without her even having to remind him.

At the follow-up session Mom reported that Michael had stopped using the "Magic Tapping" . When asked why he stopped he responded that he knew it worked for him, but he already knew how to do it, and so he didn't want to do it anymore. We used the analogy of Mom knowing how to make chocolate chip cookies. Just because she knows how to make them doesn't mean she never makes them again. It means that the next time she makes them it's just easier. Michael went willingly with Beth, and I worked with Mom. Dad was not there, but Mom reported that he had been finding the EFT "amazing". Mom and I spent the rest of the session with her issues, and discussing ways to modify the wording of the affirmations so that they were even more specific. I suggested that she use Michael's exact words, and encourage him to be creative about what he says. "Even though I would rather pee in the bushes than in the toilet, I am a great kid." "Even though I don't want to stop playing to poop in the potty, I'm a superhero." When he returned with Beth he had a big smile on his face, and reported that he had helped Fluffy the Cat with his tapping so that he wouldn't poop in his pants anymore.

Follow up by phone this weekend found Michael 5 days without an "accident," and complying happily with the protocol. Mom reported that they had started using it for other things.

Blessings,

Nancy


Case #3--so far, an unsuccessful case (submitted a few days later)....

Dear Gary,

Here's the next installment, another case of encopresis (soiling pants). I'm hoping you can attach this with the two others so that people will understand the format that we are using - Beth working with the child while I, simultaneously, work with the parents.

Karen is 8 years old, and she still messes her pants. Although she reached all other milestones at the developmentally appropriate ages, she has never been toilet trained. Doctors and specialists have repeatedly told her anxious mother and angry father that there is nothing physically wrong with their little girl. Karen was adopted at 9 months of age from an orphanage in South America, and her mom wonders if the problem could be genetic. They have no medical history of the biological parents.

Karen has an erratic pattern of bowel performance, having a true big bowel movement only once in three weeks. She never complains of the pressure and cramping associated with constipation. These major events often, but not always, happen in the toilet, but in between she has a regular succession of "stinky poops" in her pants. She refuses to wear "pull ups", but does wear a menstrual pad in her underpants to catch most of the mess, and she is learning to clean up after herself. When asked if she knows she's doing it (making the "stinky poops") she nods yes, and is, otherwise uncommunicative when we all meet together.

Having gotten nowhere with the doctors or specialists, laxatives, or behavior modification she has been brought in for therapy, and her folks have agreed to try EFT with her, although her father is very skeptical.

Karen has been promised a new bike if she corrects this behavior.

Karen was not present at the first session during which I showed the parents the 13 minute introductory EFT video, answered their questions, and taught them the protocol. Mom was willing to try it for her anxiety about Karen's problem which was at a 7 when we started, and came rapidly to a 0 in a single round of EFT. Dad was not willing to try it, even to "help out" his wife so that she wouldn't feel "so stupid" doing all that tapping. He sat silently and watched.

Mom, typically, was amazed at the effectiveness of EFT, and wanted to try it on her anger at Karen, which we did easily and effortlessly. Both parents agreed that trying EFT with Karen's problem is what they would like to do, although Dad was clear that he would do it for/with Karen, but not for himself. He continued to be skeptical even after witnessing his wife's success, and he was reluctant to participate further in the conversation.

Both therapists (Beth and I) were present with Karen and her folks one week later. Karen was reluctant to talk about the problem, or anything else, nor was she able to make eye contact with any of the adults. After naming the problem, and discussing all the avenues that have already been explored, we talked about how "Magic Tapping" might help, and how Karen is a really good kid, even though she poops in her pants.

Then Beth took Karen to another room to work with her, and I did EFT with the mom. Again, the dad watched and did not participate. At one point Mom expressed her frustration at feeling like she was in this alone, and wished her husband would be more supportive. His response, "I just don't see how this can help." was received with a resigned sigh from his wife who remained clear about wanting to continue for herself, and, by the way, could she borrow the EFT intro tape to show to her sister. We then established a schedule for tapping which included Dad tapping with Karen in the evening.

When Beth came back with Karen we were told that she responded very well to the session and was able to do the tapping both by herself and with Beth. Beth reported that she had said to Karen, "Perhaps you don't want to get over this pooping in your pants." and Karen had responded vehemently, "Oh yes I do!" She also reported that when asked who gets the most upset about the problem Karen had responded, "Daddy gets really mad."

A week went by, and I called to follow up and make sure the family had no questions. We changed some of the wording on the affirmations, and dealt with some concerns Mom was having about construction on the house and a sick pet. She was having trouble following through because of these things, but she said that the best part was that she was telling Karen often throughout the day what a good kid she is, and how much she is loved. She put it this way, "Not that she doesn't know that she's loved. She does, of course, but I realized how much of our conversation with her has become negative. It feels really good to be telling her how much I love her."

She reported that the EFT seemed to work for other things, but wasn't working yet for the encopresis. She also said that Dad was tapping with Karen at night before she went to bed. When we met together again Beth did not take Karen off by herself because we were unclear about whether the parents wanted to continue with EFT. Mom reported that the tapping had worked for some things, particularly relieving anxiety, but that, because of the construction and the sick pet she had been having difficulty following through with the schedule we had set up. Dad expressed that he would like to see some more direct correlation between the treatment and the problem. When asked, Karen shared with us that the tapping worked best at bedtime when Daddy did it with her. Dad reported that he was not using EFT for himself, and was very resistant to even discussing the possibility of using it for his own issues. He stated, "It's not my problem. I don't need therapy." Beth explained that it had really become a family problem because everyone in the family, including Dad was effected.

We established that Karen knew when she was holding it in, and she agreed to do the tapping on her own at those times with the affirmation, "Even though I know I am holding it in, and don't want to leave what I'm doing to go to the bathroom I'm a great kid." She was able to demonstrate how she would do this. We also discussed using the following affirmations, "Even though I don't like to make my Dad mad...", "Even though I'm afraid Dad's going to be mad if he finds out..." Mom expressed her frustration again at her husband for "giving lip service to EFT, but not really giving it a chance." Because things were escalating between the parents in front of Karen we ended the session by listing all the options available including referral to another psychologist, driving 100 miles to Boston Children's hospital for group therapy twice a week, family therapy with Beth, continuing with EFT with either or both of us, or to going into family therapy.

So, there you have it. Not a major success with this family yet. It's clear to us that the father is the key, and he is not willing to work on it. The family has set up a couple's session and an individual session with Karen to do talk therapy with Beth.

Blessings,

Nancy

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