Today I will complete an accredited practitioners’ course in Emotional Freedom Technique with advanced EFT Practitioner and trainer, the talented and inspirational Helena Fone - which, by the way; I can highly recommend to anyone who is interested in understanding emotions and their physical effects - I would like to share my initial experience of EFT with you. There have been many eureka moments throughout this course, but there is one in particular that I'm keen to share.
For anyone who may be unfamiliar with EFT, it is a leading energy therapy that can be used to effectively reduce the impact of a wide range of physical and emotional issues including but not limited to; fears and phobias, performance anxiety, bad habits, pain and insomnia.
During one of the initial exercises, our varied group of therapists & counsellors were asked to choose a fictional scene from a film or a book that had a negative emotion for the individual. Helena had provided a list of movie scenes; 'Bambi's Mother died from the Disney film Bambi' just one of the examples on the list provided, or if we preferred, we were free to choose a scene of our own that had a negative emotion attached to it.
I don't watch an awful lot of TV, especially not these days and couldn't really call to mind a film or a fictional scene that had any negative emotion attached to it for me personally. I am sure if I thought about it long and hard enough, I probably could come up with a couple but in that moment, nothing came to mind.
As I looked down the list of examples, the only one that stood out for me at all was a scene from the film 'The Shining', where Johnny (actor Jack Nicholson) puts the axe through the door. Sure enough, just thinking about that particular scene - Johnny's wide eyed, crazed expression peering through the gap hes made with the axe in the door; a kind of nervous sensation fluttered in my chest and stomach, and so this was the scene I chose to use in the exercise. The film itself, which I have watched only parts of once or twice, doesn't hold any significance for me. I am not a horror fan and so its not a film I would choose to watch for entertainment purposes.
We were put into pairs for the exercise, and given instruction to ask our partners to briefly describe their chosen scene; each of us had chosen a different scene. When I came to describe that particular scene in 'the shining' and describe the feelings that accompanied it, I suddenly felt an intense rush of emotion and even a sense of panic and shortness of breath. As comes natural to me, I attempted to conceal these inner emotions from my fellow student, who calmly and gently guided me through the exercise. Suddenly, the image in my mind was no longer the fictional image of Jack Nicholson playing the part of crazed, axe wielding Johnny, but a real memory of an abusive, out of control ex-partner breaking through the back door of my home with a ten-pound lump hammer. At the time of the incident, I was overwhelmed with panic I was unable to get the key for the front door out of my pocket quick enough to escape with my child before he came crashing through the door.
Never before in my life have I made any connection between The Shining, and this incident that happened 26 years ago and that was suddenly now being brought to life in technicolor right before my eyes. I felt my chest and throat tightening, as I remembered the sheer panic that I felt at the time. Unlike at the time of the incident; my fellow student talked me through the emotions as instructed, reminding me that I was safe and this was a memory from a past experience and was not real. It was the strangest thing! I was feeling the emotions while I describing the memory - but I felt calm, safe and completely in control throughout.
By the end of the exercise, the initial vivid red and black colour's that I could see in my mind had drained of all colour! The image that had started out positioned in front of my eyes, was now somewhere behind me and off to my right-hand side! It appeared much smaller than before and appeared away in the distance. When I was asked if I bring the image back into focus, I really struggled to see it at all. The intensity of the emotion that I felt when focusing on the image had gone from an 8 out of 10 down to a 1, as I tried but struggled to feel anything at all when I thought about the original image of Johnny peering through the broken door which now looked and felt very different.
I was taken aback.
I was astounded by how incredibly simple yet powerful and effective this experience was - I still am. If a person hasn't experienced a traumatic event, it may be difficult to appreciate how significant this is, as survivors of trauma - everything is judged by how it makes the person feel.
I reflected on the experience for some time later! I had inadvertently chosen a movie scene, that despite my not being consciously aware, it had held some real significance for me. Buried in my subconscious, a memory and the emotion still attached to it, and it was still very raw. After the exercise, the emotion I felt had completely disappeared.
The following day I rang my daughter, feeling the urge to apologise to her. As her Mum, it dawned on me that years ago, due to my own ignorance and unwillingness to accept the things I did not readily understand, I have unintentionally taken away her opportunity to open her mind to the things that she too may now not understand - she is more likely to dismiss some things out of hand as nonsense, because of my attitude towards some unexplored aspects of life while my children were growing up. It has occurred to me albeit later in life, that all things are possible and nothing that can be thought about should ever be dismissed out of hand - all things are worth consideration at least.
The truth is, if someone had suggested to me in the past that negative emotions were stored in the body and impacted negatively on physical and emotional health and well-being, my cynicism would have prevailed and I would have undoubtedly scoffed, labelling it ridiculous or silly, pointless 'hocus-pocus'.
There was a time in my life when It wouldn't have even occurred to me to check whether there was any truth in a thing! If my initial feeling was one of awkwardness, embarrassment or lack of understanding, my decision would have been purely based on automatic assumption, generated from my own core beliefs, thus preventing my children and potentially my grandchildren from having access to solutions or any kind of wisdom that I, through my lack of understanding, would have dismissed out of hand.
While learning to feel & understanding what emotions felt in the body actually means is a subject I now teach in my workshops- dismissing something because it feels awkward or embarrassing without further consideration prevents us from learning. Understanding the difference between a negative emotion because something is wrong for us and dismissing it because we don’t understand-so decide it’s silly is extremely important for growth.
Thankfully, my life has led me on a journey which has forced me to take a long hard look in the mirror at the individual I am which has had a profound effect, eventually resulting in me trusting my body, my emotions and myself.
Prizing open a previously bolted shut door to a whole new world of understanding. I am now able to recognise and accept the importance of keeping an open mind, especially when the first thought is one of dismissal or resistance.
Rather than resisting, I am able to stand back and consider what that feeling of resistance feels like and explore what that means for me. What I have found is, when you are prepared to break down your own barriers; listen with the aim if understanding - you tune in, rather than responding automatically judgmentally & dismissively, you push the boundaries of your comfort zone which is how we grow and evolve.
I am not entirely sure what led me to Helena or to the study of EFT, it wasn't a subject that I was familiar with prior to enrolling on the course, and it wasn't a course or discounted course offered through social media as is so often the case. I intentionally searched for an accredited course that would help me provide support for my clients with trauma and I came across the EFT & Mindfulness Centre. Although I have Diploma's in CBT and in Mindfulness through online study courses, and while mindfulness and CBT certainly have a place in counselling - I decided to look for alternatives after recognising how both can be triggering for some of clients. I was drawn to EFT because of its gentle, client-led approach.
While I may not fully understand why I came to find Helena and EFT, I am grateful that I did.
If you are interested in learning more about the Emotional Freedom Technique or any of the services provided by A Positive Start CIC please do not hesitate to Get In Touch.
Deborah J Crozier Dip Coun Registered M.ACCPH
is an accredited Person-Centred Counsellor who specialises in providing trauma informed support of survivors of abuse. Founder at A Positive Start CIC.