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Fears And Phobias


Finding the REAL issues behind two (presumed) phobias

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

In my experience, when EFT doesn't appear to work it is almost always because we haven't found the REAL issue yet. This article by Chip Engelmann helps us all dig deeper under these circumstances and discover the true core issues. Spend some time with it. It contains many helpful ideas.

Hugs, Gary

By Chip Engelmann

We all know EFT works for phobias, right?  At workshops, it’s easy to use a phobia to demonstrate the power of EFT.  I ask for a volunteer who has a phobia and pretend that EFT may or may not work, but of course I feel pretty cocky about it.  It has not failed yet.  Lately, however, a couple of clients have given me pause.

The first was a 14 year-old girl who came to me with depression.  Like many, she did not know why she was depressed.  She told me the death of her grandfather made her sad, and we worked through that sorrow fairly quickly.  I asked her what she was afraid of, and she said her mother told her the family was in debt.  We worked through that insecurity rather quickly as well.

Then she told me she was afraid of balloons.  I like working with phobias early on in my client relationship for a couple of reasons: (1) they are typically easy to clear and (2) they often have a big influence on a person’s life.  When a client witnesses the release of a phobia, on a gut level they understand the power of EFT.  But that type of quick success was not going to be the case with this young lady.  On short notice I only found a single balloon to test our success.  We tapped on:

Even though I’m afraid of balloons...  And we got the level of intensity (scale of 0-10) to zero.

But we couldn’t bring the balloon near her.  I asked her to tell me why she thought she was afraid of balloons, and she told me that her brothers and friends used to tease her with balloons.  They would chase her and pop them all around her.  She told of one time when she hid in the closet and they were outside taunting her.

Even though they teased me with balloons...

Even though I’m afraid of the popping noise...

Even though I’m afraid they’ll sneak up on me...

Even though I’m afraid of balloons behind me...

Even though I’m terrified in the closet...

Each time, we brought the level of intensity to zero out of 10.  By this time we had made enough progress that she was able to hold the balloon in her hand, although she did so as if she were going to get cooties from it.  We set the goal of breaking the balloon with a mechanical pencil to test whether she was over her fear.  We tapped and explored.

Even though I don’t like the way balloons feel...

Even though I’m afraid when the balloon is too close to my face...

Even though I’m afraid of the air that comes out of the balloon when it breaks...

Even though I’m afraid of the noise when I break the balloon...

Oddly enough, each time we took the level of intensity to zero and she would feel she was now ready, she couldn’t bring the pencil closer than an inch from the balloon.  It was harder and harder to find aspects of the fear of balloons to work with.  She was no longer afraid, but still she could not bring herself to pop the balloon.  Then it hit me. Something else was going on here.  I tried to look at the big picture, at everything she had told me.

Even though I’m afraid that if this works for my balloon phobia, I’ll have to deal with what’s really scary, my depression...

It worked.  She took the pencil and struck the balloon - but it wouldn’t pop.  She hit it again, and the balloon bounced away, but wouldn’t pop.  She hit it again and again, even with my razor knife, and it wouldn’t pop.  Laughing, she gave up.  When she did, the balloon brushed the knife and exploded.  She jumped a little, then laughed.  The fear was gone.

Another client was a woman in her sixties who came to me with a cleanliness compulsion so severe that she moved in with her mother.  She also told me of her fear of heights.

As I like to have quick success with a client, I decided to work on the fear of heights first.  My office is on the fourth floor and the fire escape has an open steel grate that you can see through. If a person is afraid of heights, we tap on it and then go there to confirm success.

We worked on a general fear of heights until she was comfortable about going down the hall to the exit door.  She did not experience any fear until she looked outside and saw the grates.  We worked on clearing the fear of the open grates, and she was able to step outside for a very short time.  We worked on the fear of being up high, and the fear of being exposed.

She told of a time when she encountered an open grate stair when she had to transfer trains quickly, and that she managed to do it only by sitting down and sliding from step to step.  We worked through this and she was able to go out on the steps for 30 seconds or so before she became “uncomfortable.”

Although she could not distinguish her “uncomfortable” feeling from her fear of heights, it was obvious that something else was going on.  She guessed it had something to do with her older brother’s death.  The event had occurred when she was between one and two, and she had no memory of it other than what she was told by her family.  

The boy was born as a twin, one of which was believed to have been stolen by the doctor at birth and sold.  The remaining twin (the aforementioned boy) accidentally drowned at the age of 10 while playing with friends.  My client’s mother was devastated to the point of being emotionally disturbed for years.  What emerged was that my client was all about protecting her mother.  She was the survivor about whom her mother thought, “If anything happened to you, I would just die.”

This was the key to her discomfort on the walkway.  By exposing herself to the danger of heights, my client was putting her mother at risk.  Here was another case where a phobia was not just a phobia, but was tied to and expressing a much deeper issue.  The deeper, core issue needs to be addressed before the phobia and other expressions of the core issue can be eliminated for good.

However, she has not yet felt ready to go further with EFT. But when she is ready, we have likely discussed the REAL issue.

Chip Engelmann


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.