By Dr. Patricia Carrington
Patient with scleroderma responds to EFT with a surprising improvement in symptoms and a sense of empowerment.
Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease of the body’s connective tissue is characterized by the formation and accumulation of scar tissue in the skin and organs of the body. It can be seriously incapacitating. Baerbel Froehlin, is an EFT Practitioner who specializes in acute crisis management for complex emotional issues and for the physical symptoms that often accompany them. I think you will find her account of her recent work with a scleroderma patient to be informative and unusually exciting.
Here is what Baerbel writes:
“I’ve been working with a client from Germany, who has systemic, progressive Scleroderma. This means that the disease is all over his body – attacking organs, making his skin hard like leather and inflexible. His hands are tight, hard, and bent into claws. Progressive means the disease is progressing rapidly. He has problems with the overall blood supply in his body, especially to his extremities. At every doctor’s visit, he gets heart and lungs checked for symptoms of the disease.
Right now he is having problems mainly with his esophagus. Obviously, it too has hardened and become inflexible, so he has considerable difficultly and pain when he needs to swallow food.
We had our first phone session for just one hour. I only addressed his disease in, using tapping phrases such as:
Even though I have this illness….. I am okay
Even though I am afraid I will never get over this illness … I am okay
Even though I am afraid to deal with this problem …
Even though I can’t believe there is any help for me … I am okay with me and my poor, sick body
Even though Baerbel tells me there might be relief… I am afraid to have any hopes…
because it’s painful to be disappointed again … and because all doctors told me it’s incurable…
and I have to live with it…
I choose to be open to participate in the therapy… and I’m still okay
Even though it’s hard for me to trust… that there could be positive changes in how I live with this illness…
and here she comes and tells me so… it’s hard to believe… I am afraid of being disappointed again…
and even though she represents hope for me… and I just feel her confidence about me being able to make
positive changes in my disease… I am still okay
Even though I might not be able or willing to do everything to lessen my problems… I am still okay…
Even though I have this illness… I am okay just the way I am… and I accept my body the way it is…
(Notice that Baerbel is using “I’m okay” instead of the traditional EFT self-acceptance phrase, “I deeply and completely accept myself” an interesting variation)
On our second session he was very excited to tell me the following:
He has had an open wound on his finger for more than one year. This wound would hurt, be inflamed and not heal at all, no matter what the doctors tried. So again, they told him he had to live with it! On the morning after our first session the crust on the wound broke open and started to discharge a lot of puss. Then it closed, cleanly, without any discomfort whatsoever.
That experience is not only good for his health but most of all it was a great motivator for him, to hope again. This made him believe that there still is power within himself, that he still will be able to accomplish positive changes for himself. It will help a lot, because it changed his mindset, he now strongly wants to go forward.
Wow! I do like my job – you know!
I’ll keep you posted on this ongoing work. I just can’t help feeling very positive about possible improvements, always have.
In the meantime, I thought I’d add a few ideas which are good to know in general, maybe even before therapists start working on severe cases:
I believe the most important thing for therapists is to have (see Core EFT Principles) a strong, solid rapport above all. This allows the clients to work with you, even when they really don’t feel like it.
Tapping can be hard work for both client and therapist! An excellent rapport will carry both of them through tough times of not being able to believe that the client will get better or onsets of depression, which are common in many cases of serious illness. Good rapport enables the client to trust in whatever the therapist comes up with, to make it possible for that client to again go another step forward. I often also find that, as a woman I cannot come “from Venus” but have to “be from Mars” (thank you, John Gray). It is different working with women than with men who have chronic diseases.
There is a certain unpredictability in how clients with serious diseases behave over time. This is caused partly by how painful the impact of their physical symptoms is. In addition, they will have emotional instability from depressive thoughts – from the awareness that this will take ongoing work for a while and that the physical limitations will still be there, at least to a certain degree. Therefore it is crucial for the client to see and acknowledge even the slightest improvements on a daily basis, and that’s where the creative work of the therapist comes in. For the therapist him/herself, EFT will help to release uncomfortable feelings about his/her own skills.
I have my clients fill out symptom charts, in which they answer different questions about how they feel about their symptoms on the particular day they work with me. I do that before and after the session. It is enormously gratifying and assuring for both client and therapist to see the much lower levels of physical and emotional symptoms on their chart after the session is over. As a hypnotherapist, I do work with what I call Relaxation Therapy, and this always provides solid relaxation of body and mind. It will carry the client through many hours of the day with major relief of pain, even if there is not a direct response to the EFT part of the session. This may be of great help especially in serious diseases that may come later, or may come suddenly in a bundle.
(A somewhat similar strategy that I (Pat Carrington) find very useful is to have the client keep a daily chart of their symptoms, never skipping an entry. I ask them to create a list of their symptoms as the headings of a series of vertical columns, and in the very left hand column to list the dates of their daily entries. Each symptom is then rated horizontally each day on a 0 to 10 point scale according to its severity (10 is the most severe form of the symptom, 0 denotes the absence of the symptom on that day). These records can be enormously encouraging as they allow the person to notice improvement imperceptible to them before – we all tend to notice what is troublesome and neglect what is working, and this strategy helps right that balance.)
Update: The Client’s Physical Improvement Continues
Six weeks passed and I continued to work on the phone doing EFT across the Atlantic with my Scleroderma client in Germany. Improvements so far were quite numerous – both physically and emotionally. He cut his meds dramatically, lowering the Cortisone that he used to take in very high doses. He was able to do that because the inflammation in his body is decreasing.
His doctor did a blood test recently to measure inflammation in his body. Before, his numbers were always somewhere between 40 and 70. Now he is at 20; 10 would be considered a normal, healthy number. This is the first time he has been at 20 since he has been diagnosed and tested. This is medical proof of his progress. Due to his much lower pain, he now needs less and less medication; during the last two weeks he only took 2 doses. Before, he needed a big dose 3 times a day.
Swallowing was getting painful for my client when we started working together because of the hardening of his esophagus. It seems he can now swallow without problems.
Because of the hardening of the skin on his hands, shoulders and face he has needed massages twice a week. The massage therapist mentioned to him the other day that the skin on his hands, which used to be extremely tight and tough, now definitely is becoming smoother, more elastic, and flexible. It also has improved in thickness, especially on his knuckles. Before, the skin there was paper thin; you could see the bone underneath.
The emotional improvement is also amazing.
I am still coaching him through the practical changes he needed to do in his work (he has his own business). He needed to turn his life around quite a bit and he did!. He now takes times out during the day for himself, to rest, to pause, to do some exercise. He has taken up swimming again and started running at a slow pace. This is the man who couldn’t do any exercise previously because his body was hurting too much.
We have done a lot of tapping on his anger and frustration, on his grief and despair. He hated his body, because it refused to do what he wanted it to do; we tapped on that and we’re still not finished with this aspect, but are making real progress with such tapping phrases as:.
Even though I hate my body… I can’t do anything any more…
all the things my body used to do so well for me… and I always could rely on it…
I can’t do it anymore… it’s a joke… I can’t even hold a pen anymore…
I can’t do the work I love any more… it took it away from me…
Even though I am being punished… I don’t know what for… everything that was ever important to me is being taken away…
my body refuses to do what I want now… I now choose to accept my body…
it is my oldest, very best friend… just the way it is! I now choose to understand it…
I have to learn how to treat my body… like my oldest, very best friend!
Right now it looks as if the progression of Scleroderma has been arrested. It has even started to reverse in some areas. His immune system seems to work for him now, instead of against him like earlier.
My client has always been an “overachiever.” He has constantly pushed himself over his limits, and that could be one of the reasons he got this illness in the first place. The good thing is that we can now turn his ambitions around and use this extreme commitment for his own benefit!
Even though he has come a long way, there is much more to do in his case. Stay tuned for further follow up.
Baerbel Froehlin, EFT Adv