The Work is not done after one session

The Work is not necessarily done in one single session...

The Background

Brandon is a 72 year old man who sounded a bit unsure of himself when he called the first time. I ask my clients to complete an Intake Form and email it back to me, so I have a little bit of time to read through their background. He arrived in my office having filled in his Intake Form only that morning, so I didn’t have time to study it. Now that I had a chance to look at his answers, it confirms the extent of his inability to “feel his feelings” throughout his life.

His answer to the question “What is your most pressing challenge – why do you need healing support?” is “Setting up own income generating activity”. He rated it on the “problem scale” only as 3 out of 10 –not very high.

During the 1st half an hour, it became very apparent to me that he heavily underestimated (suppressed is a better word!) the extent of his fear about NOT being able to do that.

Brandon turned out to be a client whose mind runs away with him. He was almost unable to “feel” his feelings, he was constantly explaining, justifying and defending his “stories” (I’m saying this with non-judgement) and it proved to be a challenge to keep him “out of his head” and “in his body”.

He has had a really rough ride and has managed all his traumas by just “keeping the lid on”, as he mentioned late in the session. His wife of 44 years was addicted to alcohol, they got divorced 4 years ago under very messy circumstances and he is still not free of her and her demands. They have a mentally challenged daughter (of 40) and are together responsible for her care in a home. His ex-wife is institutionalised, and she keeps trying to draw him back into her life with manipulations and dramas.

Furthermore, he’s had numerous health challenges. He had a very serious depression in 1998, when he could not work for several months. In 2000, he suffered total hearing loss in one ear, which caused 8 months of a loss of balance. He had very serious malaria in 2000, after which he spent 4 months in a wheel chair. A year after that, he was diagnosed with constant petit mal seizures, which led to him not being able to drive for 4 years. The loss of independence was enormous. Then, in 2006, after an ultimatum about alcohol abuse to his ex-wife, things turned really ugly. He served divorce papers on her after a series of traumatic events and fled the country for almost a year.

He returned to South Africa in 2008, not letting anyone know for fear of Kerry getting hold of him. In short, the last 10 years of his life passed in a blur. Some of the dates that events occurred on, are “engraved in his mind” as he put it. I took it as a sign of the severe trauma he’s endured.

Brandon admitted that he is now suffering from enormous anger, fear of the future and a loss of confidence. His ex-wife constantly put him down, and submitted him to emotional abuse by telling him “how useless” he is. (This lack of confidence was apparent to me over the phone already).

All this by itself is an enormous load to deal with. Add to that the fact that Brandon is now 72 years old, and cannot find employment. His divorce cost an enormous amount of money and in his words -  he has to “catch up” financially. The pressure he feels is enormous.

Complicating his case even further, is that he has very little money at this stage and could only afford to pay for this one session. I normally point out to clients that a series of sessions is far more beneficial than one single session. He arrived explaining that his financial position makes it really hard for him to commit to any more.

He also mentioned that on 31 December, he had a really good think about his life and decided something drastic will have to change. He wants to enjoy his remaining years. He started writing about his life and wrote for pages and pages. He said that it was the 1st day in all his life that he actually admitted to feeling angry and afraid. He “lifted the lid” that he’d been keeping on so tightly.

After this whole history, my heart did sink a little, I admit, when he hopefully added “So when I leave here today, I’ll have total confidence, no fear and be free of anger, right?”

The Work

I had the sense that a lot of the session was taken up by Brandon just needing to unburden and have a sympathetic ear. I allowed him to talk for about 45 minutes before I interrupted gently. He had told me so many traumatic events that I wasn’t quite sure which the worst event was. Because everything he’d told me seemed traumatic, I asked him to imagine that his life was a movie and to project it on the wall in front of us. I asked him to pick the scene in that movie that felt like the one that caused him the most distress, or that makes him the angriest.

He misunderstood me at first and started telling me his life from a different angle again, using words like “The worst is when people are inconsistent” and off he went, jumping from example to example. I asked him to pause right there and think for me of the WORST time when someone was inconsistent. He came up with one event quickly and hurriedly started telling me about it.

His mind was so quick, he was in such a habit to rush over it and possibly this is one of the ways he prevents himself from really feeling the pain. Again, I asked him to just pause there, keep the movie of that event on the wall, close his eyes and take a deep breath. I asked him where in his body he felt anything right now. He could feel a pressure in his right forehead and a twist in his gut. Both were at about a 2. He mentioned he used to feel that pressure in the forehead often in his life, and that it used to be a ‘red flag’ – it often accompanied his depression.

So we started tapping:

Even though I have this pressure in the right side of my head…
Even though I have this twist in my gut…

Since this was the first rounds we did, and I had the sense that because of all the abuse by his ex-wife “deeply and completely accept myself” would not sit well, I changed the set-up to “I deeply and completely WANT to love and accept myself anyway”. I asked how it felt to say the words of acceptance and he was quick to start telling me how he’s been working towards this himself.  We almost got drawn into another chapter of his life. I had to bring him back to what we were doing very gently.

When I noticed he was slightly calmer, we gently brought in some reminders about the movie on the wall:

Even though just thinking about that day, gives me this pressure on the right side of my head…
Even though this pressure in my head is an old, old friend and it’s here to visit me again when I think about G’s birthday….
Even though this twist in my gut starts when I just think about that terrible day…

We did quite a number of rounds on each set-up group (sometimes I mix the set-ups).

After the above rounds, I asked Brandon to take a deep breath, (which he did with his eyes closed), and tune in again to that twist in the gut and pressure. It was gone. Then I asked him to open his eyes to “look” at the movie on the wall and tell me what happens. I could see him trying to find the same sensations and a little perplexed, he reported that he could find nothing. I was also surprised that it was seemingly gone already because we had not yet touched on any of the details of the event.

I asked him to close his eyes again and run through the movie in his mind and to stop if he finds anything upsetting. There was nothing. I explained that I would not be doing my job properly if I didn’t make sure we’d really dealt with this properly, and asked him to run through it again, this time exaggerating all the pictures and sounds. Again, he could find absolutely nothing and also said that it’s like the movie on the wall is disappearing.

I was really quite surprised myself that it disappeared so quickly after only a couple of general rounds. I mentioned something like “What I’m hearing, Brandon, is that just now you said this was the WORST of all the events you could remember, and now, you’re saying to me that event doesn’t upset you at all?”

His answer was priceless. He proceeded to explain how much work he’s already done on all of the traumas he’d endured, and that he really thinks he’s carrying very little baggage about everything.  The apex problem in all its glory! I could only smile. A few moments ago he told me all his woes, and now he suddenly had very little baggage.

At this stage, I explained the Table Top Model to Brandon. I often find it’s a great tool to explain to my clients WHY we go digging in the past in such detail. This made enormous sense to him – in fact, at the end of the session he said how much it helped him to understand that he’s not just dealing with “an anger issue” – he actually has to deal with each little event that made him feel angry.

Now it was easier for him to come up with a specific event when I asked him to find one. The title was “The Day I lost my Independence”.  It was the day he was diagnosed with epilepsy and his doctor told him he would no longer be able to drive. I asked him how it feels now when he thinks about just that title… the trembling sigh and raised eyebrows was enough answer. I asked for other body symptoms and he mentioned the pressure in his head again, this time at a 4.

Even though this pressure in my head is back….
Even though this pressure in my head is always a red flag to watch out for depression…
Even though my old friend is here, maybe I can welcome it this time….

The pressure feeling had come down to a 2. Some words he used now were “The Dr was just doing his job, he had no choice”.  I had the sense that he was really still suppressing the anger he felt when this happened. Even though he sounded like the charge was less, he had been so used to suppressing his emotions – I didn’t think he was 100% in touch with what was really there. I tried to get him “tuned in” again by asking him to close his eyes and saying “That dr WAS doing his job, yes, Brandon, and how did it make you feel?” He got some intensity going again and we proceeded:

Even though that day meant the total loss of independence…
Even though that loss cost me financially and emotionally….
Even though I hated being dependant on a driver…
Even though I just gave up….
Even though the driver bashed up my car and I was so angry about it, but I just gave up….
Even though this loss made me feel incredibly disappointed with myself….

I paused at certain intervals and had Brandon fill in the gaps. For instance “Even though that day meant …..(pause)…..”  and he would fill in the words. I made sure we used as many of his own words as possible.

By now, the pressure in his head had completely disappeared. I asked him again to check in with the movie on the wall. Again, there was no emotion re-appearing. I asked him to vividly imagine that day, the doctor’s face, how he gave Brandon the news and to stop if there was anything upsetting.

Again, no charge. He said again the picture was receding. I asked him to close his eyes and check in the body about what was going on. He reported some interesting colours in the insides of his eyelids. (A side note –it was really interesting to observe how Brandon was trying every trick he knew NOT to feel). I asked him to feel what was happening in his gut. A couple of seconds later he said “Nothing. Just a word popped into my mind. Disbelief”.

That’s all he could manage… a part of him didn’t want to acknowledge that HE was really feeling the disbelief about how these events were disappearing. I guess, in retrospect, it was possibly threatening to his whole identity that all these events with their dates etched in his brain, were disappearing with a few rounds of silly tapping.

By now our 1.5 hours had almost run out and I was concerned with running over the allotted time. I had the sense that he could easily stay for 3 hours to talk about his history and I had to be firm, because I had other appointments after him.

He then suddenly came up with his biggest concern – how to handle his ex-wife and her tantrums and attempts to pull him back into her life. I thought this could be the perfect place to bring in some choices because we needed to finish off now.

I got as many words out of him as possible about his concerns and explained to him that we don’t necessarily need to know HOW we’re going to do it yet, but we can ask for help to get some answers.  So we tapped:

Even though it’s incredibly challenging to handle Kerry, I choose to believe that there might be a surprisingly creative way of dealing with her.

His eyes lit up at this… he said “I’d never thought of it that way…”

Even though Kerry drives me mad and I really don’t have the answer right now, I choose to ask my Higher Self and God to bring me creative solutions that are kind to everyone, including myself.

He had a “look” on his face and I just had to stop there and ask…

Brandon, how long have you been putting yourself last? “Oh – as long as I can remember!” he said.

Even though I’m always putting myself last, I choose to begin to do things differently so I can have a future that‘s different from the past

His eyes lit up again and he added “a future that’s VERY different from the past!”

I asked him how that would feel, to have a different life. He was emphatic in his answer with a big, big smile, a big sigh of relief – I could really get the sense of how this thought had never even occurred to him. He was truly in a little prison and had been there for a long time.

We finished off with a couple of rounds tapping all over all the points, with some of the reminder phrases from the above set-ups.

At his last deep breath in, he looked relaxed, peaceful and hopeful.

Sadly, I had my work cut out. When I asked him how he felt now, he felt the good feelings for about 10 seconds and immediately went back to the stories of all the other things that were still a problem. My heart sank slightly – and then a flash of inspiration came. “Brandon, these events you’re describing now are PERFECT candidates for the Personal Peace Procedure. Have you heard of it?”

He hadn’t. I started telling him about it and said I’d email him the details. I needed to finish off now before the next appointment, so I assured him of email support.

Core Issues

A core issue arose quite close to the end of the session. He seems to be a “rescuer” – always taking care of other people’s needs before his own (and boy, do I recognize it because of my own tendency!)

It surfaced so close to the end of the session when we were already busy with Choices and reframing that there was no time to go back and work with this in detail.

I regret this was the case. There is an enormous amount of work still to be done on this particular core issue (putting others first).

The issues he presented with (anger, low confidence and fear of the future due to financial concerns) also need a lot of work still. If he could return, I would work with every specific event he could still remember that made him angry, eroded his confidence. I’d also do some future tapping around his worst fears around money, finances and ability to look after himself instead of taking care of others again.

Brandon is a gentle soul, not wanting to hurt a fly. If we did reframing, I would go with words like “putting myself first for a change, while being kind to everyone else, too…” The kindness really seemed to resonate for him.

My Insights

Writing up Brandon’s story got me thinking in depth about the session and how I could have handled things differently. It also helped me to reflect on this category of client, who loves talking and will take charge of the session with stories if I don’t steer it gently.

I am more aware than ever, about the fact that the client is paying me to help them get past their issues, not to just come and talk to a friendly ear. The talking part they can do with any friend, for free – and it doesn’t lead to resolutions. I have a responsibility to support them to break their normal pattern and get to the core issue, so that their life can be different after the session.

Last night as I thought back to his session, it struck me what a very brave man he is! He is my Dad’s age. My Dad will never, ever in a million years go to a therapist/facilitator to seek help for depression, anger or lack of confidence. In my experience, that generation did not admit to needing help. They just got on with life, suppressing, ignoring feelings, fighting on. I am actually in awe of how much courage it must have taken for Brandon to phone me in the first place, then to come and tell a complete stranger his life story especially after he’d never even admitted to being angry until a month ago.

Our clients are indeed perfect, BRAVE, whole, resourceful and complete.


Liesel Teversham (EFT Cert-1)


Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers. -- Anthony Robbins

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