my journey through EFT Training Brighton Course reviewed
It’s the last day of the course and I’m sitting with a crisp in my hand!
I bring it up to my face and smell it, sour cream and chive. The woman to my right is trying not to eat her segment of chocolate, I look around the room, lots of people have chocolate, and I can see another person cradling a packet of cigarettes. There’s someone at the front with a bottle of unopened beer. One woman is devouring her strip of Green and Blacks - this was strictly forbidden.
There’s a feeling of hilarity and mischief in the room, out of forty or so people there’s only one person who says there is nothing he craves (and I don’t believe him!). I ended up with a single crisp because it was all there was left (I forgot to bring my own) but I’d be holding chocolate, crisps, cheese, beer, wine, and possibly half a cigarette (I’m an occasional smoker) if I had my way. Karl insists we have to choose. We can only work on one thing at a time.
We begin tapping as a group:
“Even though I have this craving, I still deeply and completely love and accept myself. Even though I really want to eat this crisp, chocolate, drink this beer, smoke this cigarette, I still deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
Immediately there’s a feeling in my chest, and as we tap around the points I know I have the wrong thing. I’m eyeing up the beer that is in the hand of a man across from me. The crisp is not cutting the mustard. I could take it or leave it. The craving for alcohol has muscled in and jumped the queue. I’d really love to drink that cold beer, the sun is shining, I’m by the sea – what could be the harm in that? And as we continue with the set up I wonder, do I really have a problem?
I’m not a heavy drinker, I don’t drink every day and rarely at home on my own. But I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been out with friends and binged, then felt like hell as a consequence. It’s much less now than when I was younger but I know it’s an issue that I’ve ignored, and I still crave a drink on a regular basis, still drink more than I know is good for me. As we continue to tap I’m getting an aching in my heart, an acute feeling of grief which takes me by surprise. There has been ambivalence to alcohol running through my ancestry for generations. Both sets of my grandparents were religious teetotallers, and my Irish Protestant great grandmother was a ferocious activist within the Temperance Movement. My parents found in one another a liberal bon viveur desperate to break free from such ascetic parental chains: they both loved a drink. My dad became a wine merchant and for three decades lived in a world where the glorifying and glamorising of alcohol were central to the work culture, a hedonistic culture that ultimately triggered his depression. My mother drank in the evenings after their split in order to cope with bringing up three children alone whilst holding down a demanding career. And the ambivalence of both generations seems to have found a single home in me. I swing from reckless over indulgence to guilty abstinence.
As we all sit and tap as a group, a few hazy yet unsettling memories are beginning to form when I’m distracted by a minor furore that has broken out. Karl has been making his way around the room, asking participants how they feel when one woman, Florence, who is clutching a packet of cigarettes, lets him know, without mincing her words:
“Right now, and please don’t take this personally, but right now I just want to tell you to fuck off!” She says and she looks furious, her face has coloured.
“Don’t you dare try to take these away from me, these are all I have to help me deal with my life. What right have you to tell me I shouldn’t do this? I just feel like I want to tell you to fuck off and leave me alone!”
I’m impressed by her fierce honesty, it’s incredibly brave. I look at Karl – he is unruffled. He hears her out and then calmly asks her if this is something she wants to work on. After a brief and loaded pause, she says it is. She takes the plunge, and follows him to the front of the room.
He explains that he is going to use the ‘Gentle Techniques’ such as ‘Sneaking up on the Problem’ and the ‘Tearless Trauma.’ These are techniques that help the client to work with strong emotions or disturbing trauma without becoming overwhelmed. After a couple of rounds to take the edge off, Karl asks Florence if there is any particular memory that comes to mind. She nods vigorously, and a wave of emotion passes over her face. He asks her to put the disturbing memory or trauma into a bag and points to a handbag on the floor belonging to a lady on the front row:
‘Visualise your memory going in there, and it’s going to stay in there for now.’ Then he asks Florence not to feel, but to imagine what her SUDs level would be, and she replies without hesitation that it would be a ten.
He begins to tap with her, and we tap along as a group. Within seconds Florence explains that she has this feeling that perhaps she is being inauthentic, she seems confused, she says that she feels bad, ‘What if it’s not real? What if I’m making it all up?’ Karl encourages her to trust her emotions and her subconscious, ‘There’s something there’, he says, ‘causing these intense feelings,’ and he asks her how old she was in the memory. ‘Three,’ she replies.
Karl begins to ‘chase the pain’ and Florence begins to talk figuratively, using colour and texture to describe the emotion, but then she begins also to use literal language, as flashes and details come back to her. Karl reminds her again that she doesn’t have to talk about it, ‘It’s in the bag,’ – but it’s too late, the scene – a deeply traumatic memory of abuse – seems to have gripped her. I observe as her panic seems to mount, and as Karl taps on her there is a real sense of collective concern for Florence. She seems to slip right back into the memory, those intense feelings of terror are right here in the room, almost palpable, her breathing becomes restricted, she grips her throat and makes a rasping sound, “I can’t breathe,” she says “I can’t breathe!” and a ripple of alarm spreads through the room. Karl remains entirely calm, and continues to tap on Florence, he tells her to open her eyes, to breathe through her hand on her heart, he reminds her of where she is now, that she is entirely safe, and her distress reduces again. We all breathe a sigh of relief but then, just as suddenly, another aspect emerges and she begins to retch, as if about to vomit, and Karl continues to tap over and over while reassuring her that she is safe now. He seems totally confident, I guess he’s seen this kind of abreaction before. I’m slightly overwhelmed – I knew EFT was effective but I never expected this. As he talks her through the feelings, using Florence’s own words, as well as positive reframing and consoling phrases, she begins to settle. But a residue of the emotions that Florence has confronted lingers, and as she shifts, we do too, and it feels to me like a sense of communal catharsis. By the end, Florence’s levels are down to three and her face has changed - there an expression of deep release, and softness. She says that it’s the first time in her life that she has even been able to look at this memory. I feel grateful to Florence for allowing us to witness this. For her trust and her courage. It’s been a hugely moving experience and a potent demonstration that none of us will forget in a hurry. When she returns to her chair, we all cheer and clap. There is a lot of love in the room. And I don’t think I’m the only one to shed a tear.
At the end of the day we go up one by one and collect our certificates, give Karl a hug, and applaud one another. It’s a wonderful feeling. I leave the Thistle Hotel with a purse full of phone numbers for swap sessions, a head full of new knowledge, and a huge desire to go and tap, on myself, my friends, anyone. But more than anything I have a real sense of how life changing this therapy can be.
I’m looking forward to completing the final leg of the journey, Matrix Reimprinting, which you can read about here next week.
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