Like Acupuncture for the Mind
By Michelle (Miki) Butterworth
Having regressed to my life as a 4-year-old—crouched, screaming and fighting off imaginary blows—I was hospitalized for the second time in 10 years. The first time, I had been released after four days as the safety of the hospital had brought me out of abreaction (the reliving of events as if happening at the present moment), and my functions returned to normal.
This second time though, the flood gates opened and spilled over my years of insistent denial. The physical, sexual and psychological traumas of childhood poured forth.
Many devoted healthcare professionals worked with me over the next 20 years. Blessed breakthroughs did come in the way of integrating the past with the present and changes in the way I acted out that pathology.
However, after trying every new therapy for PTSD that came along—the night terrors, flashbacks and regressions continued.
After retiring to Sedona Arizona, and though living a wonderfully rewarding lifestyle, I still suffered from PTSD. Just seeing something familiarly violent on a television show might trigger days of dissociation, self mutilation (the act of inflicting pain on self by cutting) and regressions.
Having learned over the years that PTSD symptoms are never completely eliminated, I dealt with these episodes as they came by staying recluse for periods of time. After one recurrent triggering event left me suicidal, I again sought help from the mental health community.
I was introduced to a therapist who, after listening to my story, asked if I would be willing to try an unconventional therapy that involved tapping on points of the body while recalling the trauma. I politely told her, “NO!”
Spiritually devoted and as open a person as I am, I was not going to spend time and money on some ‘Sedona Woo-Woo’ technique.
I suggested we stick with regular therapy.
Two sessions later, she mentioned she would be out of town for the next month (doing her woo-woo in some other country). She asked if we could try one small bit of Thought Field Therapy—a sort of acupuncture for the mind. I felt silly tapping, humming and counting—then humming again as she instructed. But I did so.
To my shock, I immediately felt relief.
My whole body dropped the stress and distress.
She asked how I felt. Almost in tears, I said that I felt the first relief I had known in six weeks. Although overwhelmed with gratitude, I said that this was surely a placebo response and that I would withhold any applause till tomorrow.
Six years later, I am still free of being triggered and re-triggered over this childhood trauma. One by one, each individual incident was tapped away. I now remember these past events but am free of emotional reaction to them. No more days of dissociation and panic. When periodic new memories do arise, I tap them away. Although I thought TFT was to too good to be true, I now know that it embodies many truths.
Family and friends are astounded by the change in me, and say things like, “Remember how you were for days on end?” or “I used to be worried when we were out together that something would trigger you.”
I now have taken the Thought Field Therapy training so I can help others when possible. I also contribute financially and with personal efforts to promote TFT’s work in war-torn and disaster areas around the globe.
I am all too aware that victims of such atrocities cannot begin to help themselves, no matter how much money is poured into assistance, until the traumas are relieved and the people can function.
I now have a vision. I see a world where the cycle of abuse, passed from one person to another, reverses into a cycle of healing as people pass on the gift of TFT. I imagine the prison population dwindling, the traumatized homeless thriving, and men and women coming home from war able to function.
The implications of the good TFT can bring to the world are endless. It is my hope that all who have experienced or witnessed the effectiveness of TFT will work toward and see a day when it is a mainstream treatment.
I liken it to acupuncture which, once scoffed at as snake oil, is now giving relief from physical pain to so many—and it is so proven that it is now accepted and paid for by insurance companies and Medicare.
Thank you TFT.
Excerpted from Callahan Techniques’ latest book, The Tapping
Solution: Tapping the Body’s Energy Pathways