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Fears And Phobias

Water / Swimming

From extreme water phobia to swimmer with EFT ... "I wouldn

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Here is an excellent article by Julia Williams from the UK that should be helpful to newbies and professionals alike. She takes us step by step through many, many aspects on the road to collapsing this long standing fear on her own.

Hugs, Gary

By Julia Williams

I hope you might be interested to hear of the results I have had with EFT on dealing with a longstanding (35 years), very extreme water phobia.

Let me first explain where I think this phobia came from.  When I was 7 years old my father took me to a local leisure center and dropped me into the deep end (7 feet deep) of the public swimming pool, because my mother wanted me to learn to swim, and as a non-swimmer himself he thought that this was the best way to do it!  He then left me there alone for 45 minutes while he went shopping!  I was a non-swimmer and had never been in a pool before that day.  I clung to the sides of the pool and screamed for the full 45 minutes.  Everyone ignored me; the pool was packed with big kids who splashed around with a giant beach ball, terrifying me.  Not surprisingly I developed a water phobia which got worse and worse.

Aged 10 at public school, swimming lessons were compulsory for a full year.  I spent each lesson locked in the rest rooms at school with the teachers trying to get me to come out, whilst the school bus went to the leisure center without me.

My phobia developed to the extent that I couldn’t use a shower (as I couldn’t stand water coming at me powerfully from above), I had to cross the street if walking past a leisure center that had a pool because the smell of the chlorine would trigger a panic attack.  I couldn’t cross bridges over water without a panic attack.  I had to avoid parties and social events where the host had a swimming pool in his garden, as I couldn’t risk going near it.  Just seeing a pool at a distance would reduce me to helpless tears. 

A friend tried to help me learn to swim in the sea when I reached my early twenties.  I got into the water until it was just below my knees and then I blacked out.  My friend told me that whilst in the process of fainting I had struggled with him and punched him very hard in the face.  I had no memory of this, but from his bruised face it was clearly true! 

About 18 months ago I decided to try to get over this phobia once and for all.  My partner Mark helped me into the children’s pool at a lovely local leisure center.  The pool was empty apart from us but I couldn’t get more than knee deep in the water and started to panic, clinging to him and clinging to the side, unable to move.  Gradually over a few months I managed to get my body fully into the shallow water but couldn’t think of swimming or of letting go of the side of the pool.  

Then I discovered the EFT DVDs and decided to apply EFT to the problem.  This is how I used EFT to help me get over this stage of my water phobia.  First I sat quietly at home and meditated on my fear of water.  I observed the thoughts that arose in my mind.  This took around 10 minutes.

The first thoughts that arose were long forgotten memories of how my mother used to wash my hair when I was a small child aged between 3-5 years old.  Her method was to sit me in the bathtub and pour large quantities of water over my head from a pan, in order to rinse my hair.  I remember not being able to breathe when the water cascaded down over me and of feeling terrified.

On recalling this sensation I felt a great deal of anger arise at my mother, so I tapped with the following wording: 

Even though my mother shouldn’t have done that to me…

Even though she was stupid to do that to me…

Even though I could not breathe…

The level of intensity of these were all in the range of 9 or 10 on a scale of 0 to 10 and I got them down to a 1 or zero after about 4 or 5 rounds of each.  The one about not being able to breathe was by far the worst one. 

Once these were dealt with I moved onto the next most significant fear which arose, which was the fear that water was somehow glutinous and sticky like syrup and would suffocate me.  I tapped as follows:  Even though water seems like glue to me…  This one cleared up after 3 or 4 rounds, but was a level of intensity of 10 out of 10 to start with.  I got it down to zero out of 10. 

The next fear that arose was the fear of having water swirling around my body – the fact that it seemed to move of its own accord scared me.  I tapped with Even though the water is moving…  This one started at about 8 out of 10, and went down to zero in 2 rounds. 

Next came quite a bizarre fear – that the water was alive and somehow evil.  I tapped with this phrasing, Even though I think the water is alive and trying to kill me…  This was 9 out of 10 and went down to zero in 2 or 3 rounds.

I realized that the incident when I was 7 years old of being dumped in the pool was the next significant water-based event which had scared me, after the hair-washing incidents.  To deal with this event I decided to do the movie technique, starting from my initial excitement at walking to the leisure center, right through the traumatic incident itself, through to getting home and my incomprehension at my father telling my mother afterwards that I had done well in the pool.  I did the movie technique alone, speaking out loud as if I were telling someone else in the room what had happened to me.  I had to stop after practically every sentence to tap and this took me about 45 minutes, until I could narrate the whole sequence out loud without registering any fear.

Next came some specific emotions.  I registered strong anger at my father, and tapped with the following phrase, Even though I don’t understand how he could have done that to me…  This was a level of intensity of 10 out of 10 and took several rounds to get down to a zero.

The next significant frightening event to occur in my life had been the weekly school swimming lessons when I was aged 10.  I did the movie technique on this.  The movie started with the sleepless nights I suffered every Sunday (in anticipation of the Monday afternoon lessons), right through to the confrontations at school when I locked myself into the school rest rooms to avoid getting on the school bus to the pool.  On these Sunday nights I always experienced panicky asthma-type attacks which lasted most of the night. 

My parents always refused to help me avoid the swimming lessons by writing a letter to the school and did not take my fears seriously.  So there was also some anger with them that had to be addressed during the movie.  I worked on the movie technique alone, speaking out loud.  This was surprisingly quite an easy subject to make progress on and took only about 10 to 15 minutes to deal with completely.  I didn’t have to stop too many times to tap. 

Next I moved on to work with the emotions around the incident on the beach when I attacked my friend and blacked out in the water.  Again I used the movie technique, stopping where necessary.  This was quite a tough event to deal with because there had been a period of a few moments when I had been unconscious in the water, so I wasn’t 100% sure of how to deal with that, as I had no knowledge of what had happened during that short period.  Nevertheless I was able to narrate the story out loud with no emotion after around 30 minutes of tapping. 

So, having dealt with all of the above points I went with Mark to the pool again.  On coming out of the men’s changing rooms he was astonished to see me floating quite happily on my back in the middle of the children’s pool, alone! 

Over the following months I made good progress but I was still scared of swimming on my front.  I couldn’t get too far away from the edge of the pool.  I was however OK to stand in the adult’s pool (5 feet deep) as long as I didn’t go too far away from the edge. 

I had been doing some work at home, reading a book on swimming and I had been practicing doing all the right moves for the breaststroke, in hopeful anticipation that I might one day actually be able to do it in water!  Strangely enough it hadn’t occurred to me to do EFT again.  This went on for a few months until I decided to do some more EFT work.

I started my EFT session by sitting quietly and meditating on the thoughts that arose in my mind relating to water.  The first fear to materialize was the fear that I would lose control of my arms and leg in the water so I tapped with, Even though I am scared of losing control of myself…  I did 3 rounds, getting down from a level of intensity of 8 out of 10 … to a 3 … then to a 1.

Next was the fear of being too far from the edge of the pool.  When I thought about being too far from the edge I felt a strong shock of fear in my chest, which I rated a 10 out of 10.  I tapped with, Even though I am scared of being far away from the edge...  This fear went down to zero in just 2 rounds.

Next arose the fear of putting my face near the water so I tapped with, Even though I am scared of putting my face near the water…  This started at 10 out of 10 and went to 3, then right down to zero after 2 rounds.

Next was a surprising emotion – a feeling of being ashamed that I couldn’t swim.  I tapped with Even though I am ashamed that I cannot swim…  This went from 9 to zero out of 10 in two rounds.

Finally I uncovered a fear of there being strangers in the pool at the same time as me, probably linked back to the time when I was left in the pool aged 7 and the big kids were splashing around and scaring me.  So I tapped with, Even though I am scared of strangers in the pool with me…  This went from 9 out of 10 to zero in 2 rounds 

This tapping was carried out one Saturday.  That same afternoon we went back to the pool … and what can I tell you except that I got straight into the children's pool and submerged myself under the water to see what it felt like.  Then I tried floating horizontally face down in the water and finally I was able to actually do the breast stroke - after a few attempts I went the whole length of the pool (about 10 meters).

Next I got straight in the big pool (5 foot deep) and was able to swim several widths with a perfect breaststroke technique, without any fear at all, much to Mark’s total amazement.  My face was actually going right into the water and I wasn't afraid.  I felt that this progress was totally abnormal and impossible, but I was delighted and victorious!  I felt no fear at all, not even a 1 on the scale of 0 to 10, and can’t wait to attempt a whole length of the big pool next time I go!  In fact, I wouldn’t mind having a go at snorkeling, and next year when we hope to go on vacation to Florida I might have a try!

Interestingly, I bought the EFT DVD’s to help me with the effects of stage fright (I am a professional singer) and have had a lot of success with this too – but that’s another story!  I had used NLP and Human Givens techniques (do you have this in the US?) to eliminate the mental fears involved in stage fright, but the physical symptoms such as dry mouth, palpitations, upset stomach, did not shift permanently until I discovered EFT.

I hope to train further with EFT and pass on the techniques I have learned to my singing students and colleagues in the business.  Please feel free to quote or use any of the above, if you feel it would help others and thank you for giving me this great tool which is making such a big difference to my life!



Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.