‘Hi, please take a seat,’ I said to my new client, whom I’ll call Ellie, a retired librarian with a sad smile who had booked a one-hour session.
Ellie said, ‘No, I’ll stand thanks, I can’t sit down.’
‘Oh,’ I said., ‘Um…er… Sure.’
In my 35 years as an alternative therapist, this had never happened before. A moment later I realized this meant that I would have to stand too. How unusual.
‘Do you mind my asking why you can’t sit down?’ I said.
Ellie explained that for the last year she had been unable to sit because she suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and whenever she sat, she would experience discomfort she could not cope with, and probably would need to go to the toilet.
We discussed what a huge impact on her life this change had had, especially socially, and on her self confidence. She could not even go out for coffee or a meal with friends, let alone to the movies or a concert. To meet people, she had taken up walking with groups.
Ellie had not heard of tapping until that week when a friend who had been to a session had told her about it. She’d decided to try it, to see if it could help her high stress levels.
As we went through the Client Intake form, I learned that Ellie was diagnosed bipolar, suffered from depression, was now a part time carer for her daughter who suffered agoraphobia and couldn’t leave the house, and how Ellie constantly worried about her daughter’s children who lived for most of the time with another relative.
The tapping session
I suggested that Ellie choose some uncomfortable emotion we could focus on first– nothing enormous — to demonstrate EFT’s core stress release process.
‘For example,’ I said, ‘Perhaps you feel uncomfortable about not being able to sit down.’
‘Uncomfortable’ turned out to mean her frustration, embarrassment, sadness, and fear about this.
We began tapping on the frustration that she rated at 9/10. As her feelings of frustration began to melt away, she said ‘This is amazing!’ In a few minutes she reached zero. She shook her head, surprised at how the process had worked.
I explained how she would now be able to use tapping at a basic level for herself from a takeaway tuition leaflet, whenever she felt uncomfortable. Soon she was smiling.
Next we contacted the 9/10 sadness she’d expressed around not being able to sit down. This too went to zero.
Then we tapped away 5/10 fear of (the consequences of) sitting down.
I asked, ‘if you did sit down, what would be likely to happen?’ She described the ensuing body discomfort as ‘inflammation’. We tapped her fear level to zero. ‘This is amazing,’ she said again.
Now I asked, ‘Would you be willing to try sitting down for a very short time? Knowing you could get up if you wanted to? ‘
‘Alright,’ she said.
Very carefully, Ellie sat on the upholstered straight chair. She sank back, looking bemused by the unfamiliar sensation.
‘What’s happening in your body? ‘ I asked. She reported ‘inflammation’ in her colon area at 8/10, and it felt ‘tight’. I asked, ‘If you knew, what color would that inflammation be?’ She said, ‘Red. Anger.’
We started tapping away ‘this tight red colon discomfort’. When we got to four, as she realized that change for the better was actually happening, tears began to roll down her cheeks. They seemed to be tears of relief and gratitude for the process. We reached zero. ‘This is mind-boggling,’ she said.
‘It’s good for children too,’ I said.
She said, ‘I can’t wait to try it with my grandchildren.’
As she continued to sit, we continued talking and tapping and checking on the current calm in her body.
By the end of the session she (actually, we) had been sitting down for twenty minutes. For Ellie, this was the first time in a chair in a year. Her life was improving, unexpectedly. I reminded her that she had done this herself, I was just showing her how to do it – in case she thought I was a magician.
We discussed her further options to follow up this success. As she left she said ‘Thank you, I feel elated.’