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Other Emotional Issues


Nancy Morris walks us through a complex childhood molestation/abuse case

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Some cases are very intricate and require exceptional skill and detective work before they can be successfully unraveled. Nancy Morris takes us through some sessions with such a case that are loaded with insights and useful ideas. Please note that everything was done over the phone between California and Australia.

Hugs, Gary

By Nancy Morris, EFT-ADV

This is a very intimate case with many sensitive issues.  I want to sincerely thank Sarah (not her real name) for giving her permission to submit it.  Her courage in exploring these issues so honestly may encourage others who’ve been abused to seek help in freeing themselves from past traumas.  I use quotation marks to denote what is being said; it may not be exact wording but it is very, very close to what was said.

This is a long write up and is only the beginning of collapsing many events and aspects with Sarah.  It is offered as a sample of the complexity that can lie behind a current issue … an issue that as an adult one might not even associate with childhood trauma.

Session #1:  Sarah contacted me from Australia wanting to work on her sexuality and not feeling comfortable as a woman.  (As I’m in California and we’ve never met in person, this case is an excellent example of how well EFT can work over the phone with someone you’ve never met.)  Sarah said that she felt like she “had a brick wall around me”.  (Notice as this continues how we work to dismantle the “brick wall” without really referring to it.)

Sarah began by explaining that she’d had a difficult upbringing:  her father was physically violent with Sarah’s mom, and Sarah felt, even as a child, that she had to take care of her Mom.  She learned that it was “not safe to be a woman”.  We tapped this from an intensity level of 10 down to a 2 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Then a specific event where her Mom was finally leaving this bad situation and her father yelled “Don’t you dare leave this house” and pushed her Mom hard against a door handle.  Using the movie technique we got this from an intensity level of 9 down to one-half.

Sarah realized that she was afraid to be a female; her mom was cute, tiny, soft and feminine, sexy and liked to flirt, (and she allowed herself to be abused).  As a child Sarah was embarrassed by her mother’s behavior; we tapped on all these specific aspects and the intensity level went from 8 out of 10 to 0.

Besides being embarrassed by her Mom’s femininity AND learning it was not safe to be a woman, Sarah was also bombarded with messages directly to her to “stop showing off” and “don’t be a hussy” when she tried to look good as a teen.  Her mother would meet Sarah’s efforts to look her best with put downs and sarcasm.  This had an intensity of 11 on a scale of 0 to 10 and we tapped it down to 0 using her mother’s specific phrases.  Sarah asked for EFT homework and we came up with:

Even though I’ve had a brick wall around me, I choose to feel beautiful and sexy as I am.  This statement felt really good to Sarah when we developed it together.

Session #2:   I asked Sarah how her EFT homework had gone.  She reported that she’d tried to do the homework (Sarah was an experienced EFT user) but she found she could not say:  I choose to feel beautiful and sexy as I am and she gave up.  However, she was able to report two things the homework had brought up:  (1) Anger at her ex-husband who had cheated on her.  (2) Sexual abuse by her grandparents when she was 4-5 years old.  We decided to work on the earlier and more intense issue of sexual abuse.

As a child Sarah would stay at her grandparents’ place quite a lot.  I suggested that we use the Tell the Story Technique.  (NOTE:  There are many difficult aspects here and I am revealing them in the order in which Sarah revealed them during her story; I did not ask her for the crescendo ahead of time sensing that it would be too difficult for her.)  The story starts with 4 or 5 year old Sarah lying on the floor at her grandparents’ house with both her grandparents touching her naked body.  As a child this was very confusing because Sarah hated that they were touching her in this way, she knew it was wrong, and yet she liked the body sensations that she felt.  This produced a great deal of shame.  We tapped on the shame aspect and on the story up until this point.

Even though Gram and Gramps were touching me and I knew it was wrong to enjoy it, I was a good girl anyway.

Even though I feel all this shame…

Reminder phrases: Gram and Gramps (Sarah’s names) touching me … It felt good … All this shame … All this embarrassment … I was just a child … They shouldn’t have done this to me … All this shame … My body just responded … It was natural for my body to respond …It’s not my fault …It’s just natural.

After a few rounds of tapping Sarah’s level of intensity dropped from a 10 to a 6 and another aspect came up.  I simply followed her lead.  Sarah said she remembered her grandparents laughing at her responses, as if they thought it was cute that her body was responding.  To make matters worse, there were other people there who Sarah’s grandparents had invited over to their house for this event.  Sarah’s intensity was understandably a 10+ on this aspect.

Even though Gram and Gramps laughed at my responses…

Even though I responded to their touch and they laughed at me, I love and forgive myself.

I purposely varied these setup statements making sure each included the aspect of her grandparents “laughing” and concluding with “forgiving” herself for her response.  We tapped several rounds with reminder phrases such as:

I was on the floor … Gram and Gramps were touching me … They could tell it felt good to me … They laughed about my response … They laughed at me … In front of all those people …My responses were natural … They should not have been doing this to their little granddaughter …They were bad grandparents … It wasn’t my fault … They were laughing at my response … I was at their mercy … I was a good kid … They were bad grandparents … It wasn’t my fault … They are the ones who should feel shame … I love and forgive myself.

Sarah’s intensity went from a 10+ down to an 8, then a 0.

At this point, we returned to the previous aspect (shame) which we had gotten down to a level of intensity of 6 out of 10.  I asked where in her body she felt the shame, and she said it was in her chest and it was a 10 out of 10.  We were able to quickly tap the feeling in her chest down from a 10 to a 0 and Sarah immediately reported that now what she felt was anger.

This sounded like excellent progress to me!  Anger seemed like an appropriate response once the shame subsided.  The anger was a 10+.

Even though I feel so angry that Gram and Gramps abused me…

I encouraged Sarah to interject her own words whenever she wanted to and asked if she was averse to a little rough language.  She laughed and said “Not at all”.  So we began tapping the basic points with reminder phrases:

Gram and Gramps abused me … How could they? … Damn them … All this anger … It affected my whole life … Just for their selfishness … Damn them to hell (her words) … This Anger … All this anger … It’s been with me so long … I want to let it go.

We were often shouting together.  Sarah walked around her house with her phone as we tapped on the anger; this helped her release a lot of energy.  Sarah then interjected that she’d been afraid of their power as a child.  I assured her she was correct in being afraid of their power; she’d been left in their care and was only 4 or 5 years old, she was dependent on them for her survival and felt she had to keep them from being angry with her.  We tapped on this fear aspect until it completely cleared.

At this point, I suggested that we go back to the “Tell the story” technique and asked Sarah to start from the beginning.  I told Sarah to stop the minute she felt any intensity.  (NOTE:  I’ve found that clients “hear” this instruction and they agree to do it, but then always seem to go further in the story without reporting that they feel intensity.  I interrupt when I sense they are overreaching where they are comfortable and ask for their intensity level.)

Sarah began:  “I was at my grandparents’ house, there were people there, they had me lying on the floor and they were touching me…”    Here I interrupted and asked Sarah her intensity level and she said it was an 8.  So we tapped some more on the story up to this point with these reminder phrases:  I was at my grandparents’ … There were other people there … Gram and Gramps were touching me … I felt ashamed … I was afraid.

After two rounds of EFT the intensity went down to a 5 (from an 8) and another round brought it down to a 1.  (NOTE:  Since this was a pivotal event in Sarah’s life AND it had many aspects to it (Fear, Embarrassment, Shame, Anger, etc.) it made sense to me that we would have to work in two steps:  (1) Reduce the intensity of each emotion as it came up and then (2) return to the overall story to reduce the intensity of the entire “moving picture” in her memory.)

At this point in the story, Sarah said she had felt so confused during these events, she’d hated what they were doing but liked the body sensations.  Again some shame came up.  Sarah rated the confusion/shame at a level of intensity of 10 out of 10.  We tapped this down to a reasonable level and Sarah was able, very bravely, to say that she felt “dirty, worthless, like a piece of meat, not human”.   My heart went out to her and I appreciated her for her courage in admitting this out loud.  Sarah rated her intensity on this at a 10+.  We tapped.

Even though Gram and Gramps made me feel worthless, I know it wasn’t my fault.

Even though they made me feel dirty and not human, I love and forgive myself.

Even though I felt like a piece of meat, I was only a child and it wasn’t my fault that they did that to me.

We tapped several rounds going from a 10+, to a 6, to a 4, and then 0.

I asked Sarah if she felt ready to continue with her story and she was.  She said there was still the most intense part to come and that she’d never said this aloud before.  I encouraged her to do what felt right to her and she said she wanted to go ahead.  I asked her to begin back at the beginning, and Sarah began her story as before:  “I was at my grandparents’ house, there were people there, they had me lying on the floor and they were touching me; then Gramps put his fingers in me and he was moving them around…”  I interrupted Sarah and asked her intensity; it was a 10.  We stopped here and tapped at length on this new piece of the story until the intensity was reduced.

Sarah continued her story moving on to the fact that what he was doing to her felt good to her so she started moving around and they laughed at her.  At this point she had no intensity on these aspects because we had worked on them before.  Sarah was able to repeat the entire story without intensity and ended by saying that after all this happened, the whole group would then go into the kitchen where food was ready and they would eat.  Sarah realized she had connected food with being rewarded, being a good girl, and it was a relief of her fear and stress.  Sarah understood how this affected her overeating now.  We would do more work on this in further sessions.

I can report that by Session #4 (this write up covers Sessions #1 and #2) Sarah no longer felt that “brick wall” around her and was noticing changes in her overeating.

Big thank you to Gary who is such a wonderful and thorough teacher.

Warm hugs, Nancy Morris, EFT-ADV


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