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Other Emotional Issues


Using EFT for a Broken Heart

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Please study this first class article by Lindsay Kenny. She skillfully details a very difficult and intense grief issue for "Dr. Dave" and takes us through some useful EFT language patterns along the way. She also displays quality approaches for (1) finding a core issue and (2) testing her results.

By Lindsay Kenny

Hi Gary,

I wanted to tell you and your readers about a very rewarding session I had last week with a dear friend of mine. He is a brilliant psychologist, a best selling author, and wonderful lecturer. "Dr. Dave" has the appearance of being a really together man. He's successful, well known and respected, has a beautiful wife, two bright daughters, and is himself a creative, caring, and sensitive, man.

Deep inside, however, "Dr. Dave" has been heartbroken for many years over the death of his brother, "Dean", who was buried alive in an avalanche 10 years ago. Even though I've been close friends with Dr. Dave for almost 20 years I've never known exactly what had happened because Dr. Dave couldn't even say his brother's name without tremendous emotional pain. He would break out sobbing at the mere mention of the incident or his brother's name, or the words avalanche, Tetons, or cross country skiing. Furthermore he didn't like being around snow, and couldn't talk about his brother, even in the abstract, without crying.

Although it was clearly a painful memory for him, his pain seemed a bit extreme after all this time. So I've been dying to do EFT with him for years. For starters, I knew it would eliminate his pain so he could talk about and remember his brother without crying, and also because I knew he would be a big supporter of EFT once he experienced it. Plus, I knew how skeptical he was of EFT and I love it when those types come around to believe in it. This week our families were vacationing at Lake Tahoe so I had the opportunity to see him several times and have a couple of sessions with him.

Because this was such a painful subject for Dr. Dave, I wanted to use the Tearless Trauma Technique that Gary so skillfully developed and utilizes. However, I found out quickly that there would be no "sneaking up" on this issue. Dr. Dave started crying before we even started the session. No matter how I approached the subject, even as vague as saying "this incident" he broke into a pain-racking, body shaking, ugly bawl. So I just started tapping on him, including the setup statement, which he was unable to say himself.

"Even though this incident is so painful for me I deeply love and accept myself."

"Even though I can't even think about it without being sad...."

"Even though I'm still broken hearted...."

I used the reminder statement of just "this incident".

My heart was breaking for him and I wanted the tapping to work fast to ease his pain. After one round the sobbing did stop. However, as soon as we would start another set-up statement, no matter how innocuous, he would start crying again. I started thinking that even if we had said, "Even though I like peanut butter..." he would have still cried. So we tapped, and tapped, and he cried and cried. With each round he was getting relief and seemed to be getting better. But he still couldn't say his brother's name or any of the trigger words. Nor could he imagine a painless 2-minute "movie" about the accident without getting extremely upset.

Then out of the blue he mentioned that what was even more painful (I didn't think that could be possible) was that his mother had committed suicide when Dr. Dave was 22. Without going into details of that incident, I'll just say that because of that traumatic death, he had vowed that someday he'd be more of a sensitive, aware, father and loving husband than his father had been. I think he then took on the role of protector of the family and became ultra sensitive. Anyway, we left the issue of his brother for a moment and seemed to move through his mother's suicide rather quickly.

"Hmmm". I thought, "What's going on here?" He said his mother's death was more painful, yet he overcame that in just a couple of rounds. Yet he was still struggling with his brother's death. So as I often do when things seem to stall, I asked him if he really actually wanted to get over the pain of his brother's death and he replied weakly "Of course". I muscle tested him on that statement and found it to not be true. Bingo. He had a reversal on wanting to get over this trauma. Subconsciously he was holding onto the pain as sort of a penance because he felt responsible in some way for his brother's accident. I explained that this had become a "secondary benefit" to him, which as a psychologist he got right away. However, he didn't really think that was true for him. Nonetheless, I had him tap the karate chop point while saying "Even though I don't want to let go of this sadness over Dean, I love and accept myself anyway" (A slight variation of the normal reversal statement, but one that always works for me.) After saying that 3 times, for about 10 seconds, we started the regular sequence again.

This time we used a set-up statement of

"Even though I'm still holding on to this grief and sadness over Dean's death, I deeply and completely accept myself." (He started crying again)

For the reminder statements I used some different phrases at each point such as "Hanging onto this grief", "Not wanting to let go of this sadness", "Attaching mother's death to Dean's", "I haven't suffered long enough", "I'm just so sad", "I miss my brother", "it was probably my fault", etc.

This time he calmed down very quickly and rated his distress at about a 3. So we moved to a choice statement, developed by Dr. Pat Carrington.

"Even though I've been hanging onto this sadness about Dean's death, I realize it wasn't my fault, and I choose to let this grief go and remember my brother painlessly."

There was a lot of free-flow, so I may not be remembering the exact phrases or all of them. I just went with my intuition and watched his wife for visual clues that I was on the right track.

We did the set-up 3 times with slightly different variations of that theme.

Then for the first round of tapping we used different reminders at each different point such as....

"still hanging on to this grief", or

"this remaining sadness (or guilt, or sorrow, or pain, etc.)", and even

"he died doing something he loved".

The second round we alternated the negative with the positive such as

"this remaining sadness" on one point then

"choosing to overcome this sorrow" at the next point, then

"letting this grief go", and next point,

"choosing to remember Dean with happiness", etc.

We finished with the third round with all positive phrases like "choosing to let this incident go." "Choosing to be guilt-free", "choosing to think of Dean only positively", "feeling good about remembering Dean", "completely overcoming this incident". etc.

At the end of those rounds there were no more tears, and Dr. Dave assured me he was feeling great. So I asked him to tell me what happened to his brother. He said very clearly "My brother, Dean, was killed in an avalanche 10 years ago." And as he said it with no emotion at all, he was amazed. However, I still felt there was still a little there. But he was exhausted to do another round so we quit for that day.

A few days later we went on a hike together and I did one final round with him just using the reminder statement of "All this remaining sadness, sorrow or grief over my brother's death." At the end of that round Dr. Dave was able to tell me the whole gory story of how his brother was buried alive under 40 feet of snow and wasn't found for 2 days. How Dean was out blazing a trail so Dean could take Dr. Dave cross-country skiing, and how he (Dr. Dave) always felt responsible for his brother's death, etc. He was able to tell the story without any pain, sorrow, sadness or guilt. We were both thrilled. But I wanted to test him to make sure it was ALL gone, so I said rather heartlessly "It must have been a horrible way to die, just laying there in the snow and suffocating". I knew this was a big risk and sounded just awful for even me to hear. But Dr. Dave just said "Yeah, I'm sure it was awful, but I don't have any feelings about it whatsoever." "Lindsay", he said "this is amazing!! I've never, ever, been able to say any of that about Dean before. Now I can enjoy his memories again. And now I'm a believer in EFT!" Later, he actually cracked a joke about his brother and commented how he could have never done that before.

And I was a happy girl. Dr. Dave is such a great man, and I loved being able to facilitate some joy for him with EFT.

Lindsay Kenny


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