On phobias and the importance of seemingly unrelated issues - and persistence!


A recent post on the Emofree site on a height phobia that wouldn’t move until a seemingly unrelated issue was cleared reminded me of my very first experience of using EFT with a volunteer during my training in 2005.

Looking over my notes and with the benefit of four more years’ experience using EFT with a lot of people, I see clearly that all the clues we needed to achieve our goal were actually there in the first session - I just didn’t have the necessary experience to spot them at that time!

In brief, Barbara (not her real name) had had a fear of being underwater, particularly strong-tasting water, since she was a child. This was now limiting her ability to join in the fun with her family and friends on their annual snorkelling holiday - she just had to sit on the boat and watch!

Over the course of five sessions we had cleared all the memories she could raise of being pushed in the water, being held under water, feeling she was drowning, having her fears dismissed and her feelings denied and hating the strong taste in her mouth.

From the very start I had asked her to keep a question at the back of her mind: ‘What does this feeling remind me of, when have I felt this way before?’. This had led us to tap on the feeling that she had been ‘ducked as a witch’ in a previous life, and also on the immense rage and anger she had felt at having her feelings denied as a child, which resulted in her being labelled ‘the naughty one’ amongst her siblings and peers. We cleared several highly charged specific events in that area and she felt much lighter.

But the fear of water had not diminished and I was ready to give up, thinking ‘I just can’t make this stuff work, maybe I'm not cut out for it’. Happily for me, Barbara was a good friend who wanted to support me in my efforts and who also had a great determination to finally free herself up from the phobia.

The fear of water was still high but it had become much more specifically about the strong taste of salt water and the rubbery feel of a snorkel in her mouth making her gag and panic, when her husband had encouraged her to give it a try once. We were out of time at that point but decided that at the next session we would use a bucket of salty water and a snorkel mask as triggers.

After just a few minutes of working with these props, we had a ‘bingo’ moment (what a relief - I was so ready to give up!). That wonderful question ‘What does this feeling remind me of’ triggered in Barbara a vivid and highly charged memory of being five years old, having just started school, hearing all her classmates outside having fun on the playground, while she was kept indoors with a huge plate of liver and onions (definitely NOT her favourite food!) and an even more enormous dinner-lady towering over her, insisting that she eat the lot before being allowed out to play.

Now the strong salty taste and rubbery-in-the-mouth aspects made complete sense! But who could have made that connection at a logical level with the fear of water?

Suffice to say that we eagerly applied EFT to that memory and all those aspects and by the end of the session Barbara was able to put the mask on/taste the salt water/feel the rubbery feel in her mouth and still feel completely relaxed and at ease.

I learned a lot from this early experience and am so grateful to Barbara for her courage and persistence in pursuing her goal. Yes EFT is wonderful and yes at times it can work miraculously quickly - but don’t give up if it doesn’t work in the manner and timescale you’re expecting. Your client has all the answers - clear a space for their answers to emerge and be patient. The rewards are incalculable.

For my part I thank my lucky stars for Barbara’s insistence on persistence - without which I might not have continued to pursue my career as a practitioner (and now trainer). Barbara’s happy too - she loves swimming alone and is a very keen snorkeller!

Linda Anderson
AAMET Practitioner & Trainer

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