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An EFT Formula for Specific Trauma

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

In this two part series, EFT Master Maggie Adkins gives us many useful details for working with trauma.

Hugs, Gary

Part 1
Part 2

By Maggie Adkins, EFT Master

Part 1

This is Part One of Two on using EFT on a specific trauma. Part One concentrates on the situations and methods that are involved in using EFT on traumas. Part Two will focus on particular traumas and the words and phrases that were instrumental in bringing about EFT’s incredible gifts of emotional relief and freedom from the sabotage of old traumas.

A trauma, such as a car accident or being betrayed by a friend or lover, can have impacts that reach deep into our subconscious, sometimes causing behaviors or fears   many years later. Those behaviors or fears may at first seem unrelated to the old trauma that is actually driving them; however, when we look for core issues to current behavior, those old traumas can show themselves as being huge saboteurs in our lives.

EFT surpasses anything else I know for releasing the negative emotions and resultant behaviors from a specific trauma. In my experience, the biggest obstacle to success in resolving traumas with EFT is people’s lack of specificity about the details or aspects of that trauma.

Sometimes, we just don’t know the specifics. If that’s true, we use EFT by working with what we do know, even if that information is very general. When we start off with general issues, sometimes that wonderful EFT journey will include remembering more specifics and sometimes it will not. We just work with what we have. When we do know specific details, it is best to do EFT on those details.

What follows is a formula for working with a specific trauma or event when you DO know specifics. This article does not cover situations wherein the client is overwhelmed at the beginning. If my client is overwhelmed, I would start off with very general phrases. The formula I share with you here is for those times when the trauma is still a major thread in our life, but we are not incapacitated by it.  

Central in using the technique is remembering to work with only one trauma at a time and not move around from one trauma to another. It is useful to incorporate different aspects of a trauma in a single round of EFT, however be careful not to switch to another trauma.  I often use more than one aspect of a trauma in a single round of EFT when using the free flowing language method. (The free flowing language method is found on many of Gary Craig’s DVDs and consists of rounds where the phraseology includes more than one aspect.)  If there are multiple traumas, the first question may be:

“Which is the most intense trauma?”


“Which one happened first — which trauma from the past may be overloading
            the more recent trauma?”

If there is more than one trauma I find it is helpful to write them down. Then, consciously choose the one that you feel is the most pivotal in your healing at this time.

Making an Aspect List

Once the particular trauma is chosen, I like to make a list of all the aspects of that trauma, in as much detail as possible. The aspects are what make up the whole, collective trauma. My favorite analogy of how EFT works is Gary Craig’s image of a table top being the issue and the legs being the aspects that hold the table top up. Knock out enough of the aspects and the legs collapse, leaving perhaps a memory, but no more trauma. You don’t have to knock out all the aspects for the issue to collapse, just as you don’t have to get rid of all the legs of a table in order for the table top to collapse.

What follows are two examples of traumas and what might be the various aspects to work on with EFT. The first example relates to betrayal, the second relates to a car accident.

Sample aspects of a Betrayal trauma:

  • He lied about me, said I cheated her.
  • I feel like such a fool.
  • I trusted him — how can I ever trust anyone again?
  • I chose him as my friend/lover/whatever —can’t trust myself to choose again.
  • I can’t believe he actually did _________ .
  • I can’t believe he actually said __________ .   
  • When I tried to counter the allegation, he lied again about me.
  • When I told mom about it, she just said, “Get a life! .No support there.”
  • They will think I’m a liar, a cheat.
  • This keeps happening to me — must be something wrong with me.
  • I feel so lonely — there’s no one to share this with.
  • I don’t know what to do.
  • I’m embarrassed to face the others again.
  • I must be unlovable or people wouldn’t keep doing this to me.

Sample aspects of a Car Accident trauma:

  • Saw that truck coming toward me and knew it was going to hit me.
  • Woke up and smelled gasoline and couldn’t open my door.
  • The car could have burst into flames any minute and I would have died.
  • Had to wait a long time smelling gas before anyone got there to help me.
  • What would my five-year-old son have done without his mother if I had died?
  • I WAS going too fast — it was all my fault.
  • The police didn’t even test the other driver’s breath for alcohol and I’m sure he was drunk

This issue may remind you of something in your past

The above aspects may all be for a trauma that happened recently and you may automatically do EFT on that trauma. .However, it is a very good thing to ask the core issue question, “What does that remind you of?”  

If a similar trauma happened long ago, it may be that the first experience that is not healed is stockpiling into the more current trauma and we may have to heal the first trauma before we can get great results with the more recent one. If there are multiple similar traumas, I get the best results by doing EFT with whichever trauma has the most intensity. Most often, the first incident has more intensity.

I determine intensity by using the Intensity Meter – 0-10 with 10 being the worst intensity. Clients rate how they feel before we work on the issue, then again during the work.

The Movie

Once you have decided what you want to work on and the aspects are written down, I ask a client to run the movie through his or her mind. After they have run the trauma movie through their mind, they may have more aspects to record. You can do EFT on the general movie name. Examples are: that betrayal, the car accident. However, faster healing normally occurs when you work with one of the most intense aspects rather than the entire trauma.

Which aspect is most intense?

If my client is in overwhelm or extremely emotional, I wouldn’t go immediately into the most intense aspect. However, if my client is calm, I would work with the most intense aspect first. Do several rounds on that aspect. Check the Intensity Meter to make sure the intensity is going down. If it does not go down, it is probably because  there is a much greater core issue that must be addressed first. If this happens, keep asking questions and probing to discover the appropriate core issue.

If the Intensity Meter does go down with the first aspect, keep with that aspect as long as you’re getting improvement. I like to get issues down to a zero, but often we have to work with more than one aspect before any go down to zero. Because all aspects are interconnected — like pieces of a puzzle — they may not release until more than one aspect is released.

After working with the most intense aspect first and bringing that intensity down, I’d then ask which of the remaining aspects is the most intense and do EFT with that aspect as long as I continued to get improvement.

Has an emotion come up?

After working with one or two aspects, several rounds each, I like to check in with my client and ask if an emotion has come up. I ask this even if my client is not showing any indicatory signs of an emotion. If an emotion has come up within the context of working with the specific trauma, it is a part of that trauma.

At this point, combining the emotion with the trauma can be more powerful than doing EFT on one or the other separately. An example is, “Even though I have this car accident sadness, I deeply and profoundly accept myself.” In this case, we are combining sadness and the car accident — two aspects of an issue in one round of tapping.

The emotions that present themselves most often are sadness, guilt, grief, anger, rage and shame. I have found that shame is the emotion least likely to be mentioned by my clients — it is important it be acknowledged if it is present.

If the client gets overwhelmed at any time, I use the protocol for overwhelm first. This protocol includes continual tapping — no words — starting with the karate chop point, then going through all the other tapping points and beginning again at the karate chop point, continuing through all the points — until the emotion has subsided. The protocol also includes keeping the eyes open until the emotion is gently released or has subsided.

After an emotion has come up and been tapped on, I would ask what Intensity level the person is now experiencing on the original issue and see if it has shifted.

Continue with original aspects/emotions/or ask if a body sensation has appeared

What is the most appropriate aspect to work on next with EFT? We can either go back to the aspect list and ask which is most intense now, or if any new aspects have come up, we can ask if any other emotions have come up. OR we can ask if any body sensations have arisen.

If a body sensation has come up when we are doing EFT on a specific trauma, I consider that body sensation as being part of the trauma. It becomes another aspect of that trauma that we want to release. If a body sensation arises, I might tap on something like, “Even though I have this car accident nausea in my gut, I deeply and profoundly accept myself.”  Or, “Even though I have this betrayal tightness stuck in my throat, I deeply and profoundly accept myself.” Sometimes the body sensation will move and then there is a choice as to whether to chase it through the body or go back to the aspect list to see which is most intense now. If the body sensation gets down to a 2-3, I have found it most helpful to go back to the aspect list and see if other aspects are higher than the 2-3.

If you’ve worked on an emotion or body sensation

If you have tapped on an emotion or body sensation, go back to some of the original aspects you tapped on and check their Intensity Meter. Sometimes aspects will shift after releasing an emotion or sensation.

Continue until you are satisfied with your results

This formula reminds me of a dance – moving back and forth between aspects already known, emotions, body sensations, and any new aspects that arise, until the trauma is no more than a distant memory. 


Be sure you use the Intensity Meter on all of the aspects mentioned below. This is an important benchmark and helps you to determine what to do next.

  • Tap on one or two of the most intense aspects — doing several rounds for
  • Ask if an emotion has arisen.
  • Ask if a body sensation has arisen.
  • Tap on emotion or body sensation or, if neither has arisen, keep tapping on the most intense aspect.
  • Continue to go through this list until you have great improvement.

And remember to be as specific as possible.

When you are satisfied with your results, I suggest a round of positive affirmation tapping such as the following: “I am deeply grateful for these healings in my body, mind and spirit and I give thanks.” You can, of course, choose your own words.

If your trauma is a complicated one, or if you mix up similar traumas and have difficulty getting results, you may want to work with a skilled practitioner for a session or two. Sometimes we can’t see our forest for the trees….

Maggie Adkins, EFT Master

Part 2

In Part One of “An EFT Formula for Specific Trauma,” we looked at the basic methodology of how to examine traumas using EFT. After determining whether any previous traumas might relate to the current one, we looked at identifying the different aspects of a trauma, using the Intensity Meter to determine which aspects to work on first, and how to deal with overwhelm by tapping without words until the client could again address the issues directly.

This basic overview is now extended in Part Two to provide more details about using the formula for working on specific traumas. Here we will take an example of a car accident and go into how to be as specific as possible so that all traces of the trauma can be released.

List all the aspects you can think of

As discussed in Part One, the best way to make sure you’re getting all the aspects is to make a written list, as shown below.

  • My husband told me not to go out on such a cold and wet night for the treat I promised our son. I went out anyway.
  • I was driving a little too fast for the slippery road.
  • A child ran onto the road and when I slammed on my brakes, my car slid into a ditch.
  • When I awoke I smelled gasoline and couldn’t open the car door to get out.
  • I was trapped – the car could have exploded with me in it.
  • No one was around to help and I started to scream and beep the horn.
  • When a man came to help, he took one look at me and said, “Oh no.”
  • I could have died — what would my son have done without his mother?
  • All for a stupid treat that I forgot.
  • My husband is furious that I went out against his wishes.  
  • I feel foolish and ashamed that I had the accident for such stupid reasons.
  • It’s just like all the other stupid things I’ve done — I’m just so dumb and worthless at so many things.

Ask which Aspect is the most intense on the Intensity Meter

Ask which of the listed aspects is the worst - which is the biggest on the Intensity Meter of 0-10?  10 is the worst, 0 means it isn’t there anymore.

For this demonstration, we’ll say that “I could have died - what would my son have done without his mother?” is the most intense and it is a solid 10.

Please note:  I use the Short Cut version of EFT. Start by doing the SetUp on the Karate Chop point. Then continue with the reminder phrase at all the other tapping points: top of the head, eyebrow, side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose, under the lip, collarbone, under the arm.

At the Karate Chop point say,

“Even though I could have died – what would my son have done without his mother? I deeply and profoundly accept myself.” 

At the rest of the tapping points, say your reminder phrase,

Could have died – what would my son have done without his mother?

Do this for several rounds – until the intensity comes down to a 4 or less. This is merely a guideline – if you are stuck at 5 or 6, stop and go to the next most intense aspect or an emotion or body sensation.

I like to bring the intensity down to a zero; however, with so many aspects, we may have to do EFT on several of the aspects before it all collapses to a zero.

If an Emotion or Body Sensation has arisen, shift to that now

If no emotion or body sensation has arisen, go to the next highlighted paragraph in this article.

If an emotion has arisen, incorporate that with the aspect you were working on. For instance, if sadness has arisen, you would say something like,

“Even though I am so sad I could have died – what would my son have done without his mother, I deeply and profoundly accept myself.”

When you combine the emotion and the aspect you were working on when it arose, that combination can often create more release from both the emotion and the original trauma. Do rounds on this until the emotion subsides.

If a body sensation has arisen, incorporate that into the aspect you were working on when it arose. For instance, if shoulder tightness arose, you could use wording similar to: “Even though I have this could have died tightness in my shoulders – what would my son have done without his mother, I deeply and profoundly accept myself.”

Do rounds on this until the body sensation subsides.

Which Aspect is NOW the most intense?

Choose the aspect that is now the most intense.

We’ll say that the fact that I was going a little too fast and I could have hit a child is the most intense now. That is a 10 on the Intensity Meter also, but it wasn’t as big as the first aspect we worked on.

Tap on the Karate Chop point with the following SetUp:

“Even though I was going too fast and could have hit that child - never would have forgiven myself, I deeply and profoundly accept myself.” 

At the rest of the tapping points, use your reminder phrase:

Was going too fast - really stupid - could have hit that child. 

Please note I have added “really stupid” in the reminder phrase as an example of how you can change the wording a bit and include another aspect. Feeling really stupid is another aspect and it may or may not need specific rounds of its own.

Do several rounds on this until the intensity comes down to a 4 or less. This is just a guideline - if it is a 5 or 6 and you feel stuck, go to the next aspect.

Has an emotion or body sensation arisen?

If either of these has arisen, proceed as described above for emotion or body sensation.

Which Aspect is NOW the most intense?

Choose the aspect that is now the most intense. Let’s say the next most intense aspect is, “My husband told me not to go out on such a cold and wet night.”  Let’s say this aspect has an intensity of 7 — it may have already gone down because of the work we have done on other aspects that were stronger.

Do the SetUp at the Karate Chop point:

“Even though my husband told me not to go out, he’s still angry with me, & I’m angry at me too, I deeply and profoundly accept myself.” 

At the rest of the tapping points, use your reminder phrase:

He told me not to go out - I’m furious at myself that I was so bullheaded and he is too.   

I have again changed the reminder phrase a bit to encompass a bit more and show how flexible EFT is.

Continue the Dance

Continue to ask yourself if there is a most intense aspect left.

Has an emotion arisen?

Has a body sensation arisen?

Work with whichever of the above is present.

When you have worked with three to five (I can’t tell you the exact number for your trauma) aspects/emotions/body sensations, go back to the first aspect you worked on and see if the intensity has decreased. Check each aspect and see if any have gone to zero.

Continue with this process until the intensity has reached zero for all aspects, or you’re feeling enough relief to stop.

When you are satisfied with your results, I suggest a round of positive affirmation tapping such as the following: “I am deeply grateful for these healings in my body, mind and spirit and I give thanks.” You can, of course, choose your own words.


The above formula is meant to be a guide. I can’t tell you exactly how you - and your client, if this is the case - will respond. I have witnessed the effectiveness of this formula many times. If you do not have success with this or if you are not comfortable working with a complex trauma on your own, be sure to choose a competent EFT practitioner and allow yourself the freedom that releasing a trauma can bring to your life.

Choose the EFT practitioner who is right for you rather than the one who might be closest geographically. A good way to find a practitioner is through short telephone interviews, where you can ask questions that relate to your situation. You will be able to tell from their responses who among them has a perspective that meshes well with yours. Perspective, simpatico - whatever you want to call it - is far more important than where a practitioner is located. For example, approximately 95% of my client work is now done via phone consultations. Choose your practitioner as carefully as you would choose a physician, a friend, or a teacher in a discipline you care about.

Maggie Adkins, EFT Master



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