Swimming Phobia Successfully Treated Using EFT and TAT
“Yes!….Yes! ……Yes!” I yelled and jumped into the air with one arm up”.
I have worked with quite a few swimming phobias. The case listed below is interesting for several different reasons:
- Depression was also present
- We had such a good laugh (who says therapy has to be so serious- all that really matters is the result)
Husband’s cruel joke and the Swimming Phobia – A tale of black eyes, and scaring people in swimming pools Consultation and Session One (1 ½ hours) It’s interesting how something as simple as a swimming phobia can turn quite dramatically into something quite different. As a therapist you really need the ability to think on your feet. As I sat listening to the client’s story I couldn’t help notice that she was overly down on herself over the issue, “I’m disgusted with myself”, she said, “I should be able to do it”. She had indicated on the phone that she had other problems and guessing from her demeanour I guessed there was a significant level of depression. As she went further into her story it became apparent that the break-up of her 20 year marriage was still affecting her. She was now in a happy relationship. With a phobia, one of the ways of dealing with it is by tracing it back to the initial event when the problem developed. Surprisingly this can be very easy to do. “If you were to guess an event in your life that is the cause of this problem what specific event would you choose?” Even if the person is not consciously aware of the event that caused the problem, at some level within them the knowledge is there. Each time they have a phobic response their unconscious mind is connecting with the initial event, to do a threat assessment. Generally the reaction is so fast that the memory of the initial event does not come into the conscious mind. The client guessed that her problems stemmed from experiences she had with her ex husband. He had on several occasions dragged her under the water whilst tying seaweed around her ankles. He’d found it really funny, the client didn’t. Discussing what I thought would be the best course of action, I said to the client that I really felt she needed to deal with her feelings toward the ex husband. I felt that he was part of the reason she was so, “disgusted” with herself about not being able to swim. For most people this kind of issue would not provoke that level of emotion. I also said I really didn’t feel it would take long as she really didn’t have that much interaction with him now as the children were grown up. She has a good relationship with her new husband. I suggested we use the EFT Technique. In fact, we used an advanced form of this technique. When a marriage break-up occurs there can be a lot of unresolved issues. The break-up had affected the client’s self esteem and she still felt anger toward the ex. Note, if you are angry or resentful, the other person still has a hold over you and more than likely they are just living their life blissfully unaware, enjoying themselves. The session was scheduled for an hour, so we set to work on resolving these issues. Forty minutes later, we were finished. She physically felt totally different as if a weight had been lifted. In fact the client was in hysterics, laughing, thinking about her ex. It is quite common at this point for the client to say they wished they had done this years ago, which again is a negative feeling of regret. The other point is you can’t change the past, you can only change how you feel about it. Feeling regret is still connecting you to the problem. We dealt with this within a minute. The rest of the session was focused on the swimming phobia. At this point I switched to the TAT technique, (variety is the spice of life so they say). With the TAT, you get the client to place their hands on certain acupressure points and focus their mind on the problem, which in this case was “falling”. As she began, her breathing became very high and rapid in her chest, indicative of anxiety and panic, it subsided within thirty seconds. TAT is a very simple technique that fires off the visual centers of the brain. It allows the brain to process information it was unable to process before, because the brain was in survival mode. In survival mode the more primitive parts of the brain are in control. Think about it, what is the point in having the ability to play chess if your just about to be eaten by a lion. Makes sense to put all of your efforts into running as fast as you can, which is the fight or flight response. (Fight or flight response is the name given to the normal survival instinct which activates the moment we are under threat, whether that threat is real or just perceived). Great if there really is a lion about to pounce, not so good if you are in three and a half foot of water, with a life guard watching you. We then went to step two of TAT which involves reprogramming the brain, or putting in new information, which basically is “those events happened, I’m OK”, whilst you are in the TAT pose. We went through the other steps and finished the session. We scheduled the next appointment to take place directly after a swimming session so that we would have real world feedback. Post Therapy Feedback “First time I left …(I)…felt I was attached to a balloon, I didn’t feel I was so heavy any more” The feeling of getting lighter is very common when emotions lift Session Two (1 hour) Feedback I start all sessions after the initial one with feedback, because we need to know what is working and what needs to be worked on. The client said that the work we did about her ex had made a big difference to her life. She felt totally different about him and she was much happier. Her swimming was 70% improved. She had been able to swim over to her current husband. This was quite important to her as it signified her trust in him. We started work on the remainder of the swimming problem, using EFT and TAT Session Three Feedback The client reported how amazed she was as after the 2nd session she hadn’t noticed the massive shifts she’d experienced at the first session and yet she’d just been swimming and swum a length. In fact we were both in hysterics as she told me what had happened. “Yes!….Yes! ……Yes!” I yelled and jumped into the air with one arm up. There was a man near by who was swimming lengths with goggles on, he was so taken by surprise that he nearly went into the wall. He looked at me like I was a lunatic and took off swimming again. He now hurries away whenever he sees me. Another interesting point was that the client turned up with a black eye! Laughing she told me she had got so carried away using EFT, she’d bruised herself. Note EFT uses gentle percussion tapping on acupressure points. I emphasis again, gentle. Still it showed how determined she was to get a result! In fact her comments were: “Couldn’t care if I looked like a panda as long as I could swim”. We now needed external feedback. Phone Conversation about one week later “I couldn’t believe it…..(swimming) is becoming automatic……before it was an effort…..what astounded me was I was swimming, I turned around and I was stood in the middle of the swimming pool and I just took off, shouting to my husband, “look at me”. Previously I was always clinging on to the side, even after I’d done an expensive swimming course, the day after which I was terrified in the water. . I’m 63, now, I really think it is brilliant (that I’ve learnt to swim). Note: many people at the pool have noticed her change in confidence in the water and have been asking her how she did it. Case Added 30th August 2003