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EFT used instead of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) on severe trauma with impressive results

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Baya Salmon-Hawk of the UK professionally applies EFT for a victim of severe auto accident trauma case. This is a particularly interesting case because of the way the various aspects and issues unfold ... including physical symptoms such as stomach disorders and shivering. It may have particular appeal to those involved in the academics of research because EFT was used instead of the recommended several weeks of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Baya says, "I find it quite interesting that EFT, at least in this case, took 20% of the time as might CBT and achieved results at least as good as I might expect with CBT."

By Baya Salmon-Hawk

In the late summer, the Community Mental Health Team in which I work, in the United Kingdom, received a letter from a General Medical Practitioner regarding one of their patients named "Michelle".

She had been involved in a road traffic accident in over a year ago with her son as a passenger. Her personal injury solicitors had called for a long and detailed consultation with a chartered clinical psychologist to take place. Although Michelle was not diagnosed with full blown PTSD, she was deemed to still suffer from residual symptoms of traumatisation and anxiety related to car travel. It was therefore recommended that she be offered some eight to ten sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a Chartered Clinical Psychologist.

It so happens that the waiting list for such treatment is approximately 4 months in our services and, in consultation with my CBT Specialist colleague and my manager, I contacted the GP with a view of offering the patient EFT Treatment. The GP, mainly encouraged by my lack of waiting list (!), agreed for me to "have a go" whilst the patient was waiting for the CBT intervention.

I saw Michelle for the first time and asked her to fill in the "Impact of Event Scale-Revised" [This is a psychological evaluation test used in the UK]. She scored 47 which indicated severe trauma.

She identified two memories of the accident that were still troubling her and she said she could not think or talk about them without feeling distressed and tearful. Both memories concerned her son. One was of remembering him stuck in the car and the other one of hearing his screams of distress.

I explained the theoretical background of EFT and she was very willing to work with the technique and was happy to proceed with treatment.

I asked her to focus on memory one and she immediately became distressed and tearful. We started with the set-up phrase "Even though every time I remember seeing him in the car, tears come to my eyes, I fully and completely accept myself." The 0-10 intensity was at a 10 when we started and went down to 5 after one round and then 2. We got "stuck " at 2. We then used the 9 gamut procedure and the idea came to her that actually what was hard was to accept that they had both survived. So she chose to say "Even though we have survived and we are ok and I fully and completely accept myself." This brought the intensity down to 0 after one round only. I then invited her to retell the memory again and she was amazed that there was no emotional resonance left in it. She said it was like coming from watching a full technicolor movie with sound surround to watching a black and white one with subtitles....

We then started working on the second memory, the one of her son's screams. She became much more anxious and tearful when talking about this memory and chose the set-up phrase "Even though I get really upset when I remember hearing his screams I...." She could not say "Fully and completely accept myself" so, having by coincidence recently watched one of Gary's videos in which he talks about that, I chose to say it for her and said it twice before she was able to say it herself.

Whilst I was saying the sentence, she tapped on the karate chop point ... and it worked. Saying this bit "by proxy" so to speak, worked for this patient. The intensity was at 10 and then down to 5 after two rounds. Stuck there. She then described having a "lump" in her throat and she tapped on that. The lump went in three rounds. Getting "smaller" each time.

When this had gone, she suddenly announced that she was very very cold and started shivering violently. I had never experienced such a pronounced physiological reaction to treatment. Nevertheless invited her to tap on "Even though I feel very cold..." this improved very quickly and her body temperature returned to normal in a couple of rounds. I invited her to think of the memory again and she reported some residual anxiety located in the top of her throat and she tapped on this with immediate relief.

At the end of the session, she reported having no longer any emotional reaction to the two memories and feeling a freedom in her throat that she had not felt for one year. I invited her to attend again three weeks later for a follow-up.

I saw her again three weeks later and asked her to fill in the Impact of Event Scale-Revised again. This time, she scored 14 (mild). Despite this mild report and although most of the questions within the test were at 0 and 1, she scored very high on "I avoided letting myself get upset when I thought about it or was reminded of it" and "I felt watchful and on guard". Overall, she described being free of emotional problems attached to the memory and was able to discuss this with her mother with no adverse effects.

However, the above relatively intense statements seemed to show up physically and she wanted to talk about those physical symptoms which were stomach related disorders and occurred every time she left the house to drive the car. She reported not feeling particularly anxious about driving but saw her body's reaction as an automatic reflex. We tapped on "Even though I get an upset stomach....." and this got reduced to 0. She then said that it was not about the accident per se but because her first thought once she knew she and her son had survived was that she was "letting everyone down at work". We tapped on this. She described the sensation in her stomach, then said she felt dizzy (another physiological reaction) and tapped on that. Having brought the intensity down to 0, she suddenly paused and exclaimed "my toothache has gone". She had not mentioned that, but due to the severity of her injuries to her face, she had been suffering from constant toothache for many months.

She carried on talking about her fear of letting people down and related it back to early childhood issues and she was able to identify that she did not know how to process anxious feelings. So she tapped on this to good effect.

She was very happy with the results and since she was going in holiday, we arranged to meet for another follow up session three weeks later.

Three weeks later, I asked her to fill in the questionnaire again and this time she scored 3 (a normal level) as compared to the original 47 (severe). She had had a lovely holiday. No physical symptoms, no toothache, no flashbacks. She also reported that work no longer dominates her life and that she was able to take a day off unexpectedly because she wanted to spend some time with her children. She was delighted to be discharged back to the care of her Medical Practitioner.

Keeping in mind that this lady was suffering from a reasonably mild reaction to an Road Traffic Accident and had no symptoms of depression or indeed of significantly serious mental health problems, EFT was very successful in treatment. It would have been a shame for Michelle to wait for several months to embark upon quite a long time in therapy when our method treated her very quickly and very efficiently. I do not present this as an example of EFT "against" CBT but rather as a valid and successful alternative in such a case. I find it quite interesting that EFT, at least in this case, took 20% of the time as might CBT and achieved results at least as good as I might expect with CBT.

Baya Salmon-Hawk


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