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Fears And Phobias


The impossible phobia--how did you do that?

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated.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

by Gary Craig

Hi Everyone,

This one may show up on national television--The Discovery Channel.

It is also an important case because it illustrates three vital points regarding EFT and a stubborn phobia....

With EFT, it doesn't matter how long the client has had the phobia or how intense it is. What does matter is how complex it is.

The value of persistence. It often prevails when we are unable to apply a more artful delivery.

After a phobia is cleared with EFT, some clients still exhibit above average caution regarding the feared object. This is normal BECAUSE THE CLIENT IS LACKING EDUCATION with respect to the item that they have spent a lifetime avoiding.

About 6 weeks ago I was asked by The Discovery Channel film crew to fly to Phoenix, AZ and apply EFT to an "impossible snake phobia." It was considered impossible because it was extremely intense and the client had had it for nearly 40 years. As it turns out my efforts were quite successful even though the road to success wasn't exactly a freeway.

Upon arriving in Phoenix I was escorted by the film crew to a desolate ranch where the temperature was over 100 degrees and where there was nothing but a horse corral, a few acres of corn, a building or two and dusty land for as far as I could see.

And...oh yes...Byron Wilkerson was there, too.

Byron is a professional cowboy....a rodeo star with the handsome ruggedness of the Marlboro Man. He has a cowboy "twang" in his speech that accents his heroic western persona. He could walk right out of an old time western movie.

Like other heroes, he walks and talks with an invincible air of confidence and fearlessness. And all this was real....until....

he saw a snake...
or saw a picture of a snake...
or heard about a snake....
or even had a thought about a snake.

And then the macho stuff disappeared as his "walk tall" gait wobbled under his rubbery knees. His hand twitched, his stomach tightened and he felt panic all over his body. A true phobic response.

After Byron and I spent a few minutes getting acquainted, the cameras started rolling and I began applying EFT to him for his general fear of snakes. I was purposely being global here because he was already nervous and I wanted to take the edge off.

"Even though snakes annoy me...."

"Even though I have this unwanted reaction to snakes..."

He had absolutely no belief that this process or ANY process would work for him. To him, it was impossible. He was only there because he promised the film crew that he would give it a try. Within the first 2 minutes he began laughing out loud at me. He thought this whole tapping thing was ridiculous (even though I had tried to explain it to him up front). Fortunately, he had agreed in advance with the film crew to stay with it. That, plus my congruence about the process, kept him around. Otherwise, he would have been long gone.

I then shifted approaches and used the Tearless Trauma Technique on two specific snake related events in his past. One was when he woke up from a nap with a rattlesnake crawling on him and the other was the memory of his cousin allowing snakes to crawl around his (the cousin's) neck. These were easy. Two rounds each of EFT and those previously intense memories were neutralized.

Ahhhh...this was going to be easy, I thought. Just decimate his various snake memories and we will collapse the foundation under the phobia. However, upon asking for more memories he said he "couldn't remember any more." That's odd. Here's a guy who has been deathly afraid of snakes for nearly 40 years and he could only remember two specific events? Hmmmm.

I prodded for more memories but ran into a blank wall. I suspicioned that his snake phobia was a metaphor for some intense childhood memories and, if we were alone and not on camera, I would have pushed until I found them. However, this macho man did not agree to such probing on camera. I had to respect that.

Sooooo, since I couldn't address what I thought was the bulls eye, I was left with straight EFT and persistence.

As it turns out, the film crew brought a book filled with pictures of snakes and, even though we had collapsed two of Byron's specific snake memories, he still could not go near that book. His hand was twitching at the mere presence of it and he was about ready to run out of the corral. So I had the book placed on the ground about 30 feet away and tapped for his present fear....

Even though that book scares me....

Even though my hand is twitching....

Even though it is only ink on paper and there is no real snake....

A few rounds of this and he was calm. He was amazed at his lack of fear and said....

"How did you do that?"

Then we brought the book about 5 feet closer (to 25 feet) and his fear response resumed (although it was only 50% of its former self). A few more rounds of EFT and he was calm again. Then 20 feet...then 10 feet...then 5 feet....

And so on it went until Byron had the book in his lap and ran his fingers over the pictures with no fear response whatsoever. He was impressed and, once again, said...

"How did you do that?"

Next, the film crew brought out a computer with a movie of snakes on it. These were nasty, slimy, crawling, attacking, fang-filled snakes that would have put the snake scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark to shame. Byron watched this movie with very little fear--only an occasional grimace when a snake coiled up and attacked. But a few rounds of EFT with Set Up statements like....

"Even though I'm afraid of a computer screen...."

"Even though I know those computer snakes can't harm me, I'm afraid of them anyway...."

....and Byron was calmly touching the computer screen right where the open-mouthed fangs were. Once again he said....

"How did you do that?"

That was the end of day 1. He still had not seen a live snake (which is the ultimate test for our procedures) but that would come tomorrow. Please note that I think I could have collapsed this whole thing in 15 or 20 minutes if I had been able to play detective and find the big issue(s) underneath the phobia. As it was, the first session took over 2 hours of non-stop EFT'ing. This is important to keep in mind for those who think 10 minutes is adequate persistence.

On day 2, I asked Byron to re-visit the memories we had previously collapsed and he reported that he had no intensity about them whatsoever. Success. No pieces to pick up here.

I then had him hold the book and run his hand over the pictures. Again, no problem. We were apparently thorough enough to collapse all the aspects around both the book issue and the memories. The computer screen wasn't available so I couldn't test that part of it.

So, onward to the ultimate test. The film crew hired a snake expert to bring two caged snakes into the corral....a dangerous rattlesnake and a harmless boa constrictor. Byron knew this was going to happen and, despite all our previous work, he became very nervous at the sight of the snakes. There was, apparently, something about live snakes that wasn't present while we were addressing the memories and the pictures.

The snake expert held the glass cages (with the snakes in them) about 50 feet away and gradually brought them closer as I persistently used EFT on Byron. Incidentally, they ONLY came closer with Byron's permission. At all times I told him he was in charge regarding how this process progressed.

To Byron's amazement, he actually touched the glass cage without his hand twitching and without feeling he had to run. However, he was still a bit nervous and this experience, which was clearly a dramatic improvement for him, was still not his favorite thing to do. He even announced quite convincingly....

"But I ain't touching no snake."

I accepted that and our session drew to a close.

At this point one might conclude that EFT had failed to give the ultimate relief...namely...Byron touching at least the harmless snake. However, that would be a false conclusion. You see, Byron has heard that some snakes are harmless and some are dangerous. But, deep down, HE DOESN'T TRULY BELIEVE IT. As far as he is concerned ALL SNAKES ARE DANGEROUS and are to be avoided. Why take chances? That is his belief.

Byron and I spoke about this at length and I offered the following metaphor, to which he emphatically agreed....

Suppose someone shows you a pistol and demonstrates that it isn't loaded. Then he stands a few feet away and points it at your head. Are you just going to sit there and let him pull the trigger? Or are you going to be prudent and move? Just because the gun appears not to be loaded doesn't mean it isn't loaded. Why take the chance if you don't have to?

And that is how Byron sees snakes. They are all dangerous. That is his education on them. So, until his understanding of snakes changes, he will treat all snakes as dangerous and isn't about to start petting them. Given his beliefs, neither would I. This is normal caution on Byron's is not part of a phobia. This is very important to understand. Otherwise, we may think we failed to "get it all" when all that is needed to "finish it off" is proper education.

The really good news here is that 15 minutes after we finished our session, the snake expert put one of the snakes on the ground...outside the the film crew could video tape it. Byron was standing about 15 feet from it and was completely aware of its presence. He carried on a normal conversation, had no rubber knees, no twitching hand, no panic reaction. In short, he had no phobic reaction whatsoever. Just the normal caution that his beliefs required.


About 3 weeks later, Byron called me on the telephone to report that he had seen several snakes in the interim and at no time did he have a phobic reaction. This is unheard of for him. After we both acknowledged how strange this procedure is he said...

"After the results [I experienced] I don't care how idiotic it is. You made a believer out of me."

Hugs, Gary


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