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Working with extreme trauma using a variation of the EFT Movie Technique

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

Dr. Shoshana Garfield from the UK shares this interesting approach.

Hugs, Gary

By Dr. Shoshana Garfield, PhD

Dear Gary,

I was inspired to write in by Stewart Robertson's article, Stepping back from the movie in the EFT Movie Technique.  I also use a process to make dealing with trauma safe and possible, and then do the movie technique.  I also tend to sandwich the movie technique with additional healing.  Here is a summary of the process:

1) The 'pre-flight' check list,
2) Container: I have the client imagine they put the experience(s) as a movie onto a DVD or video, and then I ask them to imagine putting those imagined DVDs or videos in a container.  I ask them to describe the container in rich detail, we then tap to neutralize initial intensity about the container contents (note this is one step removed from tapping on intensity about what is on the imagined recordings).  Once this gets down to rated intensity of 0 or 1 out of 10, then,
3) Do the movie technique, and then,
4) Parts work: Do healing work with any parts that may have psychologically split off inside the person.

1) Pre-flight checklist

Before we can begin tapping directly on what the client wants to have addressed, I sometimes need to work extensively on what I call my pre-flight checklist.  I was first alerted to the need for such foundational work by EFT Master Jacqui Crooks, at an EFT conference in London, 2006.  She shared that many people, myself included at the time, often need to tap on deserving to heal before deep healing could be done.  Here's a short list of the most important things I have found to test or check for:

  • Deserving to heal
  • Guilt about healing
  • Having spirits in the energy system, freeloaders, or energetic parasites
  • Any vows, oaths or curses (as per the quantum technique healing EFT DVD with Stephen and Beth Daniel, the accumulation of vows and oaths about *not* healing or vows/oaths that block healing)
  • Knowing who they are when they heal.

Without addressing these issues thoroughly, healings may be given away, simply slip away, or just not make much progress.  An example of language would be:

Even though I am carrying (spirit, energetic parasites, freeloaders, all of the above)…

Even though I've been such an unconditionally generous host, I know I have been well intentioned…  I can better support myself if I let them go, I deserve to let them go, and they are better supported if I let them go.  I now choose to let them go.  I now give myself permission to permanently release all entities from my energy system.

Reminder phrases:
I've been carrying these things
It's time to let them go
I've given too much of myself
This costs too much to give
I allow myself to release these entities
I choose to let them go
I send them away to (Creator, God, love energy - whatever suits their belief system)
I send them all away now
They go to peace and light
I allow myself to keep my energy for me
I seal my energy system so I keep my energy for me
I am grateful for being able to let these entities go and seal my energy system.

2) The Container:

Sometimes our experiences are so intense that we need to distance ourselves from them to make coping with them and healing them more manageable.  One way to effectively get this safe distance to enable healing, is to ask the client to imagine putting either their one experience (e.g. getting mugged) or a series of related experiences (e.g. every time they were bullied, abused) on a DVD or video for each incident, and to put all those 'recordings' into a 'container' of their choice. 

Most people imagine a box of some sort while others get more creative.  Client 'constructions' have ranged from a shoebox (grey, no markings or writing) to two huge black skyscrapers (no windows, shiny, reflective, hard).  When the client describes the container, they are empowered - they are in control of the process, they are the ones creating what they need.  

The more detail the better and you can ask questions to elicit details.  How big is the box?  What is it made of?  Are there hinges, or a lock?  What does it look like?  What might it feel like, what is its texture?  Does it look new, used, or worn?  Does it have any markings on it?  Make sure the container does its work!  If there are any leaks, ask the client to fix them in any way they wish before continuing.  And you need to remember the detail, because you will be reflecting it back to them.

You can approach the container contents safely in different ways, and I just choose what feels right for the client.  Here are a few ways:

You can ask the client to imagine that if someone else had gone through this, and felt the same way you do, what would be their level of intensity on a scale of 0 to 10 about the contents of that container.  Describe the container back to the client as richly as possible to keep the 'reality' of the container and create a multi-sensory experience.  And then tap on that until it is 0 or 1 out of 10, and then continue with the movie technique.

If it feels safe enough to do so without triggering an abreaction ask your client, “While keeping everything tightly, safely, completely inside the richly described container, how intense might you feel about the contents of the (describe container again)?”

Or, you can assume a level of intensity of 10 out of 10 if you have evidence from previous discussion and just talk with the client to get enough of their language to feed back to them while tapping, and then ask for a level of intensity rating after the first round or so.  Again, once the level of intensity gets to 0 or 1 out of 10, you can proceed with the movie technique.

Part of this technique is a way of bundling intensity from multiple yet similar traumas.  Despite the enormous bundles people can make, the tapping away of the container intensity can be remarkably rapid.  For the client who made the shoe box, when we peeked inside, we found there were no DVDs or videos, but a black hole!  I always go with what the client presents, so in this case, I tapped on, Even though I have this black hole in the grey shoe box…

Sometimes tapping on the intensity of the container neutralizes all of the contents.  In the skyscraper example, the buildings got smaller and smaller with each tapping round and eventually disappeared.  Testing on the trauma yielded a level of intensity of 0 out of 10, so there was no need to do the movie technique.  More often, when the intensity about the container gets to 0 or 1, we then work on the worst 'recording' and make our way through the contents.  This can take multiple sessions, so it is a good idea to make note of the container description.

3) The movie technique

Sometimes, clients spontaneously start the story technique; both that and the movie technique are just so brilliant!

4) “Parts” work

Once you've done all the above steps and the entire event or set of events is neutralized, there's often a bit more to address, and this can be really powerful and fun.  Trauma, especially severe trauma, sometimes causes fracturing of the person psychologically.  In other words, some part of the person becomes stuck at that age, and that part needs some extra care beyond the wonderful gift of releasing trauma. 

So, I check in with different 'parts' of the client and ask them what they need.  I'll ask the client if they could tune in to see, hear or feel that younger you who experienced this trauma, what would she or he need or want?  Sometimes, people don't know, so I ask them to imagine or pretend that the part could tell us or show us what she or he needed or wanted.  The first answer is often something like comfort or love, and there is usually some residual guilt for leaving the issue for a long time.  Here's an example of the language I would use for tapping:

Even though I've abandoned this child for so long, and I feel so bad about it, and guilty…  Now I know how to take care of her, so I can do this now.  I now choose to release myself from this guilt and feeling of badness inside over leaving her alone.

Reminder phrase:
I'm terrible for leaving her.
I feel so guilty.
I wish I could have taken care of her sooner.
Maybe I was doing the best I can.
My best now includes taking care of her.
I can choose to take care of her now.
I choose to take care of her now.
I so enjoy being able to take care of her now.
I am so grateful for being able to take care of her now.

This (for example) 7 year old inside me wants love, and she deserves it, and I give unconditional love to her right now.  Even though no one gave her unconditional love at that time, I give it to her now.

Reminder phrase:
You deserve love, and you are such an amazing kid for waiting so long.
I give you unconditional love right now, all you want.
You are such a wonderful kid, just for being you.
You have all the unconditional love you want, right here and right now.
This love is yours always, it was always yours.
I love you, ever so much.
Thank you for holding on so long to so much, you can let go now and be loved.

Sometimes all the child wants is a hug, or a favorite teddy, or a promise to remember him or her.  Sometimes they want integration and that can take longer; it is always the choice of the person or part - never the practitioner.  This is especially important for very severe splits, as is the case with what is commonly known as multiple personality, and each time you work with a part, it is fresh - an entirely different decision may be made.  If there is some confusion or ambivalence about what that part wants, then tap on that first until the request becomes clear.  There's usually something.  Just keep tapping until the child conveys that he or she is complete.  Often, they will demonstrate this simply by running off and playing.


So, the parts of the sandwich are: pre-flight check, container, movie technique, check in with parts (often they appear as children so adjust your work to the age of the part).  You can check with something appropriate, such as, “OK, that experience made you feel dirty inside, and you will never feel clean again.  How did you feel when I said that?”  If there is any remaining intensity, I would ask for a rating, and do more work.  Often, at this point the client may just laugh at how ridiculous the idea of never feeling clean again may be.  I tend to end with some work on gratitude to lock in all the yummy good feelings and sensations.

Additional bonus of container technique:

If someone is having panic attacks and can't wait until they see you as a practitioner, or, if you are having panic attacks yourself but don't have the time in that moment to address the issues, you can put all the trauma into a container right away. 

If you are a practitioner, you can give the client a few minutes of NLP-based comfort in the initial consultation, telling the client that everything in that container can and will be dealt with, and it can, and will be healed without pain or distress. 

Following is an example of things I generally say, softly, slowly, gently, lovingly (and it has to be really, truly, loving, or the client will detect insincerity), in a lower tone of voice that dips further down at the end of sentences … that as you are speaking with me at that moment … feeling the phone in your hand … feeling yourself sitting down and relaxing more and more during the phone call … you may also already be aware that your healing process had begun … that you may already be beginning to feel safer … and that you may even know deep in your being that your are safe enough for that safety to begin to permeate your life (I wouldn't say 'the panic attacks may stop', because the client's mind would have had to connect to the panic attacks to then comprehend the idea of them stopping).

Just by doing this in the free consultation stage (20 minutes total), I have had the experience of panic attacks stopping (hurray!).  The client knows that they have appointments scheduled; it is as if the conscious mind is making a contract with their unconscious: Unconscious mind, you chill out and step back, and I'll make sure you get healing, loving attention.  It's a deal, is it not?

Dr Shoshana Garfield, PhD


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