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Water Phobia EFT Treatment

The client, a 60-year-old male we shall call Tony, had a water phobia, but had learnt to live with it and it was not adversely affecting his life. Tony was able to visit the swimming baths and could swim - but preferred not to.  He tended to swim with his head clear of the water, but could put his face under the water "if really necessary" and could even dive in.  In effect he was using will power, or being brave, to overcome the effects of the phobia.

By Pam Thiyagarajah

Introduction

This case was taken during an EFT Practitioners Course held by the Association for Meridian Therapies (UK) at Gatwick in 1999.

The client, a 60-year-old male we shall call Tony, had a water phobia, but had learnt to live with it and it was not adversely affecting his life. Tony was able to visit the swimming baths and could swim - but preferred not to.  He tended to swim with his head clear of the water, but could put his face under the water "if really necessary" and could even dive in.  In effect he was using will power, or being brave, to overcome the effects of the phobia.

He went to the swimming baths only on the odd occasion - only once or twice each year, and when visiting the seaside he generally avoided entering the water or if he did he avoided swimming.

He also reported that when taking a shower he tended to hold his breath and had to consciously breath while he was under the spray.

This phobia was under control and the restrictions it placed on the life of a 60 year-old were not significant.  Under normal circumstances he would not have sought therapy, but he volunteered his phobia for an exercise while on the course.

Treatment

The treatment was given by another course attendee, but was under the overall supervision of the Course Team.  Initially, it took the strict form of the method taught on the course - being the basic EFT method including the 9-Gamut procedure.

A SUDS reading was not strictly relevant to this case as the subject as not particularly upset by the idea of water as he knew he could deal with his phobia - if he had to.  A nominal reading of 8 was assumed based on how he would feel if there was a suggestion that the class would retire to the hotel swimming pool for a quick dip.

An initial round of tapping with the Set-up and Reminder Phrases designed about  "This fear of water".  It lowered the SUDS reading to 6, but further rounds failed to cause any more movement.

At this point one course team intervened with the suggestion that the phrases used were insufficiently accurate to isolate and identify the problem.  The subject was quite clearly not literally "afraid of water". In fact when offered a glass of it he simply reached out for it!  Another course attendee, who was acting as an observer, reached for the water and said, " I will see if he is afraid of it".   The client feared it would be thrown on him and reported a SUDS score of 10 (or more!).  He need not have made the report as all those present had seen the physical reaction and the body language and knew the score.

The therapy then continued.  In this phase tapping was used without a reminder phrase, but the subjects attention was kept on the problem by the use of the water in the glass - splashing it in the glass - wetting the subjects face with it.  Tapping continued while the therapist dabbed water on Tony's face

The SUDS score moved about, but gradually settled to a 0

The Course Team suggested that the subject may be prepared to go to the toilet and get really wet.  This produced a slight reaction but some further tapping returned the SUDS to 0 and the session was adjourned to the toilet where a bowl was filled with water and the subject splashed with it.  This produced no return of the phobia and the subject happily placed his head under the water in the bowl a number of times.

Returned Memories

That could have been the end of the therapy but the subject disclosed that while his head was under the water he had had the thought that it was like "Apple dunking".  He could not ever remember apple dunking, but was able to describe the game - which involved attempting to catch apples floating in a bucket of water using only ones teeth - to the therapist, who had no idea what the game was.

Helped by one of the Course Team the therapy continued in an effort to recall the incident more fully, but no memories returned.  However, some vague memories regarding cattle drowning surfaced which, at the time, seemed unconnected with apple dunking!  A round of tapping based on the Set up Phrase "Even though animals have been drowned I fully accept my self" did not produce significant movement, but by then the problem had been largely overcome.

Further Returned Memories

The time allocated for the session had then expired, but the subject was encouraged to continue with the therapy in a self-help fashion.

That evening in the bath in his hotel room the subject was able to fully submerge his head in water without any undue emotion and without "being brave".  However, he was still unable to breath easily in the shower.

During that evening memories of the drowning cattle returned piece by piece until practically the whole story was clear :-

The subject, as a child (his age at the time must have been less than 5) had unexpectedly been forbidden to go anywhere near a river, which flowed near to the farm on which he lived.  This was unusual as he had not previously faced any such restriction and everyone else seemed to be going to the river with their wet gear on.  Not surprisingly, the subject went to the river and hid in a tree to watch the farm hands pulling a number of drowned animals - cows and sheep - out of the river, which was in flood.  This scene raised some emotion in the subject at the time (and still does now), but the main emotion was when someone in wetgear saw the child and said, "If you go too near the river, that's what will happen to you".

As an interesting sideline the words actually spoken would not have been in English as at four years of age the subject spoke only Welsh and few on the farm had any English.  Now, after a lifetime living in England, the subject has no Welsh, but his subconscious appears to have provided an adequate translation.

The identity of the speaker who frightened the child was not clear.  The returned memory did not initially include a face.  It was not the subject's father, as the memory put him at some distance supervising the operation from horseback.  Nor could it have been his mother or nanny as it was a man. (and no women were involved in the river incident). His grandfathers were both dead, and there were no other significant males in his family. Encouraged to do so by one of the course team the subject has subsequently tapped to recall this person's identity and now has a clear face to put to the speaker, but cannot identify the face.  This remains a loose end, but it may simply have been a farm hand, who the subject no longer remembers.

The link with apple dunking also returned.  The subject now remembers apple dunking and thinking, while he had his head was under the water trying to grab an apple, "This is what those poor animals must have felt like".

Conclusion

More than a month after the therapy subject has completely lost his water phobia, and in fact is happy to go swimming as often as three times a week and enjoys it.  He can swim with his face under the water - and usually does.  The breathing problem whilst in the shower remains, but the holding of ones breath when the face is wet is not unusual in many animals, including man, and is known as the diving response.

This case is probably not completely cleared, and probably did not need therapy in the first place, but the results are satisfactory to the subject and have enabled him to enjoy swimming - a thing he had never enjoyed previously.

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