Transforming Trauma: A Case Story

Case Story: A teenager witnesses a murder—and twenty years later finds relief in one EFT session.

Do you (or someone you love) still have flashbacks, nightmares or chronic pain from an auto accident, rape, house invasion or other traumatic event that happened many years ago?  Maybe that trauma is still stuck in your mind/body/energy system and gives you symptoms such as depressed feelings, anger, guilt, addictive behaviors or just plain worry and stress. You may think, “Well, it happened so long ago; I hardly remember the incident.  Besides I’ve talked about it enough.”   If you’re still experiencing symptoms, maybe talking about it hasn’t really been quite enough. Let me share Joe’s story.

Several months ago, I met with 35-year-old “Joe” who has had a serious, immobilizing neck pain for over a year.  In this particular session, he finally had the courage to process a brutal murder he had witnessed at close hand when he was 15 years old.
In order not to re-traumatize him, I guided Joe to fully re-create the scene as a past event. (This session was not about Joe in the present where he sat with me perfectly safe and calm.)  We created the scene for young “Skateboard Joe”—the time of day and year, what this 15-year-old boy saw, smelled, heard and felt as he warmed himself around a fire under a Portland bridge with some street people.  Joe and I then imagined entering this scene together in order to help Skateboard Joe. We did EFT acupressure tapping for young Joe through the entire event—moment by moment.

Together we “surrogate tapped” young Joe for his frozen fear, his nauseous stomach as he witnessed the brutal killing. We tapped for his inappropriate joking and his cold, sleepless night afterwards huddled against a wall. We tapped for his telling his story at school—and not being believed. We tapped for young Joe’s guilt at being immobilized, unable to prevent the murder. We then tapped while imagining a sort of chat with the victim, telling him that we were sorry for all that happened, asking his forgiveness for not being able to save him, and then wishing him well as he took his after-life journey.

During this entire process, the adult, present-day Joe was not re-traumatized as he tapped—and cleared—the entire event experienced by his young wild self.  When Joe and I finished, he said that the trauma was finally laid to rest.  And he added in surprise, “Look!  I can move my head to the left!”—clearly something he’d not done for quite some time.

Last week I called Joe to see if this specific trauma had indeed been resolved. He said, “Hey, it’s just another event.” And he added (news to me!) that the most significant relief for him was when we “talked” with the victim—resolving the guilt that Joe had carried all these years.

Although we were able to completely release this particular traumatic event, Joe has lived a lifetime of trauma, so our work continued for a while longer.  Happily, he confirmed my EFT experience that when a person has cleared a certain number of traumas, there is enough commonality among the events that the remaining traumas just collapse on their own. Though Joe is still recovering from some physical pain, his traumas no longer intrude and he is emotionally free to live in the present.

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