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Finding the trauma behind the trauma

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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,

Trauma is often surprisingly easy to clear with EFT. When it isn't, however, there is usually a deeper issue that requires detective work to uncover. Read how Pamela Bruner uncovers such an issue in her well written article. She says, "Sometimes it’s not the presenting trauma, but a secondary trauma covering the first, that keeps the clearing from happening completely."

Hugs, Gary

By Pamela Bruner, CLC, EFT-ADV

Martha (not her real name), a client that I had worked with briefly before, asked me to help her clear a childhood trauma.  She had worked on it in other therapy, telling the story over and over until she thought that it had cleared, but she had started to have doubts about that.  

When Martha was nine, her mother developed psychosis, had locked Martha in the room with her, brandished knives, spoken terrible things about Martha’s father and said that she didn’t love Martha any more.  Although the mother had apologized later, Martha never again believed her when she said ‘I love you’.  Also, Martha reported that her sister had suffered much more emotionally from this trauma than she (Martha) had, and Martha continually felt guilty about her sister’s emotional problems.  Martha reported crying while watching a movie that mentioned childhood memories.

During the first session we used the Tell the Story technique, stopping at literally every sentence, checking for intensity (which was quite high), and tapping each sentence to zero.  At the end of 90 minutes all of the statements in the story had been neutralized; however, both of us could tell that there was still unresolved negative energy around the trauma, so I suggested that we work the next day to clear it out.

At the second session, I asked how she now felt about doing more work on the trauma.  She replied that she had felt ‘euphoric’ after other EFT sessions we had completed prior to yesterday’s session, but after the trauma session she had just felt drained.  Nevertheless, she wanted to proceed.

I asked her to begin the story, and she immediately had intensity, although at a much lower level than the day before.  We tapped on each sentence again, and after a few rounds, I said “It’s really hard to tell this, isn’t it?”  Martha agreed, so we tapped on:

Even though it’s really hard to tell this story, it was a long time ago; I choose calm and peace now.

She said, “I remember … I’d forgotten this! - when I was 11 they investigated my mother.  I was at summer camp, they came and interrogated me, I didn’t want to tell about it, and it was so intense that I fainted.”  So we did two rounds of tapping.

Even though the interrogation was so intense that I fainted…

Even though I didn’t want to tell this story…

The level of intensity of these was 8+ on a scale of 0 to 10, and each dropped to 0 in a round.  This was the key!  She reported ease, the euphoria that she had felt in previous EFT sessions, and kept saying, “I can’t believe it.”

Apparently the trauma of ‘telling the story’ to the investigators at age 11, compounded by the years repeating the pain in talk therapy, had added another layer of complexity to this issue.  Even getting the individual parts of the story down to a 0 level didn’t bring relief, until we cleared the issue of the trauma of TELLING the story.  Strangely, this didn’t appear when we started the first session – I had asked how she felt about telling the story, and she said that she just wanted to tell it.

I had her return to the beginning, and she easily went through the story up to that point, reporting a completely different energy.  She felt no intensity about the events in any way!  Then we got to tapping for other events, each of which went from a level of intensity of 10 out of 10 to zero in two rounds.

Even though my mother tied up my sister… This had several aspects.

Even though I feel guilty that I didn’t help my sister…

Even though my sister suffered much more in later years from this than I did…

Even though I should have helped her, I was just a kid, I was doing the best that I could…

She said that she felt clear about how she had behaved regarding her sister in the past, but now sometimes her sister would annoy her, and she would look into her eyes and see the eyes of a child, and feel guilty.

Even though I feel guilty now every time she annoys me…

Even though I look into her eyes and feel guilty, I choose to release this guilt, I choose to love her instead.

Euphoria again!  She felt clear about her sister.  The rest of the story went easily, one or two rounds on each sentence.

At the end I had her repeat the story – she remained at zero the whole way through.  I asked how she felt about her sister – great!  I said ‘You mentioned that you never again believed your mother when she said that she loved you’.  She paused and said ‘That’s gone!’  We hadn’t even tapped directly on that issue - I suspected that when the story went to zero, that would go as well.

What I learned from this:  Sometimes it’s not the presenting trauma, but a secondary trauma covering the first, that keeps the clearing from happening completely.  Martha now reports that the euphoria continues, and that she feels a peace that she has not felt in years.

Thanks, Gary, for EFT!

Pamela Bruner, CLC, EFT-ADV


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