Relax and Swim

Phobia Help With EFT: Tam’s Story

Tam’s Water Phobia Case Study

This is a transcript of successful EFT given to a water-phobic person, Tam Llewellyn-Edwards, in 1999, during a weekend EFT course. This report is available to us with his kind permission.

Tam, a 60-year-old at the time of this story, had a fear of water, the effects of which he had learned to live with. He was able to swim but preferred not to. He tended to swim with his head clear of the water. He could put his face under water “if really necessary,” and could even dive in. In effect, Tam was using willpower and bravery to handle his fear of water.
He also reported that he tended to hold his breath when in the shower, making himself consciously breathe when under the spray.

Identifying the problem

A SUDS reading was not strictly relevant to this case, as Tam 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 used the Set-up and Reminder phrases designed around “This fear of water.” The SUDS reading was lowered to 6, but further rounds failed to cause any more movement.

A SUDS value that refuses to fall after a point indicates that the tapping is based on the wrong aspect of the problem. Specifying the problem can require trial and error.
As different aspects of a problem are tapped on, each round of tapping taking about a minute, the SUDS value is thus checked for a significant reduction.

At this point one course team member intervened, suggesting that the phrases used were insufficiently accurate to isolate and identify the problem. Tam was quite clearly not literally “afraid of water.” In fact, when offered a glass of it, he simply reached for it! Another observing course attendee reached for the water, saying, “I will see if he is afraid of it.” Now Tam feared it would be thrown on him and reported a SUDS score of 10 (or more)!

Tam need not have mentioned this, as all those present saw the physical reaction and the body language and knew the score.

Tapping and the results

The therapy then continued. In this phase, tapping was used without a reminder phrase, but then Tam’s attention was kept on the problem by the use of the water splashing in the glass and then being dabbed onto his face by the therapist. The SUDS score moved back and forth, gradually settling to a 0. The course team suggested that Tam might be prepared to go to the nearest men’s room and get really wet.
This produced a slight reaction but some further tapping returned the SUDS to 0.

The session adjourned to the men’s room where a bowl was filled with water and Tam splashed with it. This produced no return of the phobia, and he happily placed his head under the water in the bowl a number of times.

A partially returned memory

This could have been the end of the therapy, but then Tam disclosed that while his head was under the water he’d had the thought that it was like “apple dunking.” He could not even remember apple dunking, but was able to describe the game – which involved attempting to catch apples floating in a bucket of water using only one’s 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.

Recovered memories play a role when receiving EFT.
Memories surrounding one’s fears are traced and addressed by tapping on the same points as the 9-Gamut Procedure, the same method used when identifying the original fear.

The therapist or the clients themselves – it makes no difference – tap on the client while focusing on the fear’s hidden memories or the gaps in the memories already recovered. Tapping a full round takes about a minute.

The recovery of memories is by no means essential to successful EFT treatment, but if a memory surfaces in the process, it is recognized as an aspect of that person’s fear and is addressed by tapping.

Assembling another memory

More vague memories surfaced, regarding cattle drowning, which, at the time, seemed unconnected to apple dunking.

A round of tapping based on the Set-up phrase “Even though animals have been drowned, I fully accept myself” did not produce significant movement, but by then the fear of water had been largely overcome. However, since by this time the therapy session had ended, Tam was encouraged to continue with the therapy in a self-help fashion. Continuing on one’s own after a session with a therapist is natural. In fact, it’s not really necessary to have a therapist present, since clients usually learn to tap on themselves anyway. Therefore, EFT’s procedures are the same regardless of circumstance.

That evening in his hotel room bath Tam was able to fully submerge his head in water without undue emotion or “bravery.” However, he was still unable to breathe easily in the shower.

During that evening, memories of the drowning cattle returned piece by piece until practically the whole story was clear. The earlier tapping had produced delayed results, delays being a natural feature of tapping.

The memory came back

Tam, 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 wetgear on.

Not surprisingly, Tam went to the river, which had flooded, and hid in a tree to watch the farm hands pull a number of drowned cows and sheep out. This scene raised some emotion in him, as it still does now, but the main emotion was sparked 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 aside, these words would not have been in English, as at 4 years of age Tam spoke only Welsh and few on the farm had any English. Now after a lifetime of living in England, he has no Welsh, but his subconscious appears to have provided an adequate translation.

The identity of the male speaker who frightened Tam was not clear. The returned memory did not initially include a face. It was not Tam’s father, as the memory put him at some distance while supervising. 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, Tam subsequently tapped to recall this person’s identity and now had a clear face to put to the speaker, but he could not identify the face. (This remains a loose end, but it may simply have been a farm hand, whom Tam no longer remembers.)

In a case where the facial features but not the complete identity of a remembered person are recalled, one can deduce that there eventually was no more of that memory to recover. It’s up to the client to decide how long to continue trying to clarify a memory.

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

How it all ended up

More than a month after the therapy Tam has completely lost his fear of water. In fact, he is happy to go swimming as often as 3 times a week, and enjoys it. He usually swims with his face underwater.

The breathing problem whilst in the shower remains, but this doesn’t distress him so much.

Drama in Malaysia

In March 2001, some 18 months after his EFT treatment, Tam was on vacation in the jungles of Malaysia and had the opportunity to go rapids shooting.

Since losing his water phobia, he had always fancied trying this, so he eagerly took up the offer. If you don’t already know, rapids shooting involves an exciting ride down a rock-strewn, fast-flowing river. It is typically done in a very buoyant inflatable boat, with plenty of anchorage points, wearing a crash helmet and a life jacket. At least that’s what Tam thought.

However, this is not so in the Malaysia jungle. The boat was a flimsy wooden canoe with no extra buoyancy and there were no crash helmets. There were lifejackets, but these were needed for use as cushions. There was, however, plenty of fast flowing water and rocks.

Prior to EFT, Tam would have been horrified at the planned trip but, despite the difficult conditions, he eagerly jumped onboard. No tapping was necessary and there was not even the slightest return of the phobia.
A couple of hours later, Tam returned to the jungle wharf – soaking wet and delighted. There had been no fear of the water as it crashed into the boat soaking the occupants from head to toe.

The EFT treatment had held, allowing Tam to enjoy another waterborne aspect of his Malaysian adventure. This is a further confirmation that phobias cleared with EFT do not return once the initial driving incident is dealt with.

Again, many thanks to Tam for allowing to reproduce this material.

Email This Page

SUDS is a scale allowing a client to estimate, on a scale of 0 to 10, the discomfort of a particular problem.
The scale’s value is estimated before and after therapy. This gives the therapist a way of estimating the client’s progress.