How can I use EFT to work on a fear or a phobia?

Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 18.

How can you use EFT to help someone who has a fear or a phobia? That’s what I’ll be talking about today. Let’s say that you have a client who has a fear of dogs. Here are my tips:

The question “When did this fear/phobia start?” can often provide useful information. However, don’t worry too much if your client doesn’t know or if it doesn’t seem to make sense. Maybe there’s a clear memory, such as “the time I was bitten by a dog”, or maybe there isn’t. Either way, it’s ok. 

Even if the person knows when it started, I wouldn’t start tapping on that memory right away. EFT doesn’t require us to go “hunting for memories”, and it tends to be safer and gentler to start with recent or future events. We can then trust the process, knowing that the relevant memories and connections will show up when they are meant to show up and/or when the client’s subconscious mind feels safe with you (and that might take a while).

In terms of how to come up with recent or future events, you could ask them: “How is this fear/phobia playing out in your life nowadays?”. For example: “I had a horrible nightmare last night, that a bulldog was chasing me”. Or “I saw a billboard advertising a brand of dog food the other day and I started trembling”. Or “Next week I’m going to meet up with my cousin and she has this German Shepherd that loves to come running towards me, and I feel very nervous thinking about that”. So you can start tapping on any of these future or recent events.

Then after each round you can ask them: “So again as you think about… (whatever you just tapped on) what is coming up for you now?”. That question can help you detect “shifting aspects” (when the client’s mind changes its focus towards another aspect of the problem after a round of tapping) and related memories.

Another useful question is: “What about dogs scares you the most? Is there any kind of dog in particular that comes to mind?” That can help you zero in on the “gold nugget” (the key aspect to focus on during a round of Basic EFT). Then maybe after tapping one or more rounds on that, there’s another aspect that she now finds the scariest. For example, first it was “the dog’s teeth”, and now it’s “how fast it can move”.

Something to keep in mind is that sometimes when it comes to fears or phobias, there might be underlying limiting beliefs. For example, I remember when I worked on my fear of heights, which showed up in my life whenever I would want to go trekking to the mountain, I would feel like I would be going against my father’s advice to always be cautious if I took that risk. So I had to tap on that.

Also, something else I noticed is that sometimes phobias or fears can remind you of something or someone else. For example, let’s say that you have a fear of wasps. Yes, it’s true that they are relatively dangerous (in the sense that their sting hurts a lot, etc). But maybe one of the aspects of the fear is that they remind you of a previous bully in your life, in the sense that they are unpredictable, they could retaliate if you attack them, and they feel entitled to your things (if you are eating a piece of cake outside, they might come and start eating it). So that means that you’ll probably have to tap on some of the memories around that bully in order to clear or diminish the fear of wasps.

Something else to keep in mind: sometimes it doesn’t feel safe for your client to no longer have the fear. For example, maybe there’s the perception that if they don’t have the fear of dogs anymore, they could expose themselves to risks that they wouldn’t otherwise (such as trying to pet their neighbor’s dog), and that might be dangerous. A way to enquire about that would be to ask them: “And so as you imagine yourself no longer afraid of dogs, and your neighbor’s dog approaches you one day, what is coming up for you now when you think about that?”. 

It can also be useful to tap on certain mental images. You could ask them: “What mental image comes up for you when you think about dogs? And how do you feel when thinking about that mental image?”. Then after each round you can ask them: “And what is most noticeable about this image now?”. As you keep on tapping with them, maybe the dog they are imagining becomes less ferocious-looking, or less angry, less scary, etcetera.

Another aspect you might need to tap on (somewhere down the line) could be “the fear of the fear”. In other words, what if they thought they no longer had this fear, so they go to visit their cousin who has a German Shepherd and suddenly the fear comes back? That would be a future event you can tap on.

Many of the aspects mentioned above will come up naturally as you peel the layers of the onion with each round of tapping and/or session.

That’s it for today. I hope this article was helpful to you. My name is Bruno Sade, and I’m a certified EFT practitioner with a mental health background as a clinical psychologist licensed in Argentina. I use EFT as a tool to help people (who speak English or Spanish) change their negative emotional reactions.

And, I’d love to know: How would you use EFT to tap on a fear of phobia? Do you have any questions or comments about the tips I shared? I’d love to know in the comments below. And remember you can click on my profile and then “follow” if you’d like to be notified every time I post a new article.

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