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- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Peeling away the layers of sexual abuse
Note: This is one of 3,000 articles written prior to the updated Gold Standard (Official) EFT Tapping Tutorial™. It provides practical uses for EFT Tapping and most EFT'ers should find it very helpful. However, if your benefits are temporary or a more in-depth approach is needed, you are urged to explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT, by reading our free e-book, The Unseen Therapist, and/or (3) get help from a Certified EFT Practitioner.
Betty Moore-Hafter gets to a core issue regarding sexual abuse. I include my own comments to augment her message.
by Betty Moore-Hafter
I continue to be amazed at how EFT often 'peels the layers' and gets to the heart of the matter where deep healing can occur. In a recent session, my client, a young woman, told me she had worked through her childhood sexual abuse issue in therapy, but still felt that fears and other emotions got in the way of intimate relationships. She said she 'keeps people at bay' and 'loses her center' when she gets involved, so relationships have always backfired.
GC COMMENT: I learned something very important early on with these procedures. That is, when a new client (who hasn't done tapping before) says something like, "I worked through my childhood sexual abuse issue in therapy" THEY ARE ALMOST INVARIABLY WRONG!!!!! They're not lying, mind you. What they mean is, they have learned to cope with it, to repress it, to change subjects when the item comes up. But they haven't resolved it.
"Working through it," to most non-tapping clients, means they have talked about it repeatedly in therapeutic sessions to hopefully gain "insights" and thus "feel better about it." But ask them a pointed question that gets to the heart of the matter and you will often get cringing, tears, physical upsets and other symptoms of a still unresolved issue (in which they have invested years of effort and a wad of money). Betty's client came in the door with sexual abuse issues unresolved, as is indicated by her difficulty with intimacy.
BETTY CONTINUES: I asked how she felt talking about all that, and she said it affected her stomach. "My stomach feels gurgly and gassy, it's holding onto something, not letting go. Something is not being processed the way it should be." So we started tapping on "Although there's something I can't digest and process..."
GC COMMENT: Superb! The creative turning of a physical symptom toward an emotional issue. This pays dividends as you will see below.
BETTY CONTINUES: Her stomach calmed down with the tapping and I asked, "If your digestive system could say what it is that it can't digest and process, what would that be?" The answer she got was "Too much excitement. I just can't process it. I get overwhelmed." We then tapped on "Although I get overwhelmed" and she said, "yes, part of me hates that feeling... but another part of me craves it, it's like teen energy, I love the excitement."
I asked her to just close her eyes and be aware of what that does inside: "It must set up a tension, an anxiety, to have these two opposing parts." She said she wanted to learn to contain it all, to enjoy excitement without being over stimulated. So we tapped for "although I tend to get over stimulated"... and she began to get images of herself as a child.
GC COMMENT: This is a perfect example of how tapping for broader issues such as "overwhelmed" and "over stimulated" often uncovers more specific items. EFT has a way of unearthing more important issues by "clearing away the protective debris."
BETTY CONTINUES: She became aware that as a child, if she felt good about anything, she couldn't contain it, had to 'go out and burn it off.' This had been true in adulthood too. Feeling good made her 'want to go out and party.'
Gary, I thought of what you say about addictions - that there's always underlying anxiety driving the compulsive behavior. I suggested that she close her eyes and think about feeling good. "And what does that do? Does it give you a calm feeling? Or does feeling good give you anxiety?" It was as if a light went on in her head. She realized that this was the core of her inability to have successful relationships -- whenever she would get close to someone and begin to enjoy the pleasure of that, the anxiety would be so strong that she would have to sabotage things.
GC COMMENT: Sabotage things??? Why? There's an experience, an event, a core issue behind this which, if you can find it (or them), you can achieve true resolution. Read on.
BETTY CONTINUES: So we tapped for "Although feeling good makes me anxious..." And tears welled up. She realized that, as a child, at times "the sexual abuse felt good but it was bad." And so she was still carrying that strong inner message that it wasn't ok to feel good. We tapped for "Although I learned that feeling good was bad..." and "Although my child believed that feeling good was bad, I deeply & completely love and accept my child and I know she was a good girl and it wasn't her fault." This was all very moving, the first time she had truly felt compassion for how confused that part of her had been. We tapped on "releasing this belief that feeling good is bad".
GC COMMENT: Sexual abuse is among the leading issues that drive people into therapist's offices. While I'm not a therapist, I have certainly had my share of consultations with this segment of the population. When I ask them what emotions they have about it, I almost always hear fear and anger. That's understandable. But do you know what term I have RARELY heard them use (at least at first)? Guilt. The sexual abusee rarely brings up guilt until I prod them about it as the session unfolds.
Of course there's guilt. Of course. Of course. Sexual abuse involves our pleasure zones. Sex is nature's greatest feelie and it is very likely that at least part of the sexual abuse feels good to the abusee. This is not always the case, of course. I certainly recognize that. But if you ask probing questions and have the proper rapport, you will find a majority of such cases have GUILT as the primary issue--not fear or anger. "It feels good but it's not supposed to. I liked some of it but I shouldn't have." All this shows up in Betty's client as "feeling good is bad" and it is affecting her everyday behavior--especially intimacy.
Guilt and sex often go hand in hand but yet our social pressures are such that abusees would rather work on their fear and anger rather than their guilt. They don't even want to face the guilt. Who would? Fear and anger are directed outwardly. With fear and anger we get to blame someone else. It's easy to do. Guilt, however, can only be an "inside job." People resist working on their own guilt. However, with many sexual abuse cases it is THE issue to address and complete resolution will not come about it is handled.
BETTY CONTINUES: There was more to the session as we tapped on the pain of how there was no one to tell (about the abuse) and no one to help her... grief for all she had lost by not being able to bond in relationship with others during adulthood. Then, at a certain point, she got in touch with some very positive childhood memories, feeling great about her body while excelling at a certain sport, really in the flow, 'feeling good and calm at the same time.' We 'rubbed in the positive' using the EFT points, rubbing in 'the feeling of being fully alive and not over stimulated, just calm and in the flow.'
When I spoke with her a few days later, she said she really felt different. "Connections with people feel different. I feel an easiness being with people. I just feel closer. It's like the anxiety all went away. There's a part of me that feels really peaceful now. And I've been really energetic!" It's so wonderful how the positive life energy flows when the negative that has been weighing it down is removed.
I can't tell you how grateful I am for EFT. Over and over, I have clients who say, "Therapy helped but..." And then EFT takes them to a new level. This work does accomplish breakthroughs and profound healing - quantum leaps!
Love & hugs,
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