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Working with the Body's Energy to Remove Self-Sabotaging Beliefs

by Sarah Bird(more info)

listed in eft, originally published in issue 84 - January 2003

You can have anything you want if you just give up the belief that you can't have it (from Gary Craig's Emotional Freedom Technique website)


Laura was thinking of canoeing. This is not remarkable in itself, what is remarkable is that at the time she was having radiotherapy and 24 hours earlier this was a frightening prospect that was ruling her every thought. The ordeal of having to wear a plastic face mask for protection, the fear of "are they hitting the right spot", "the nurses are different, is the dose I'm getting the right one", "has all the cancer been removed" are just some of the negative thoughts that were chasing through her mind.

The evening before, I had helped Laura address these self-sabotaging beliefs and fears using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), which removes the disruption in the body's energy field allowing the positive in. Laura had used EFT on herself at the hospital and she had remained calm and positive throughout. She was amazed at herself when she realized that all those negative thoughts had gone and she was thinking of her passion, canoeing.


The author working with a client using TAT and EFT techniques
The author working with a client using TAT and EFT techniques

This was a turning point in her life and treatment. She started to have more energy and the deterioration that the radiotherapy was causing in her mouth stopped. She started to heal, even though she still had half of her treatments to go. She is now well and still uses EFT when she needs it to help herself with any problems in her life.

A Brief History.

We are made of atoms; atoms are made of energy in the form of positive and negative electrical charges. The work of Einstein, who coined the term 'subtle energy', leads us to understand that physical matter is made of energy. So even though our bodies look solid, our foundations are made of energy. Working with the body's subtle energy system, we can correct the imbalances that cause us to have and hold these negative and self-sabotaging beliefs.

Energy Psychology works with the body's energy while tuning into the problem you wish to treat.

The first psychologist credited with this discovery was Dr Roger Callahan back in the late 70s. He had been studying the Chinese meridian system and the energy field that surrounds us all, when one day he experimented while working with a woman with a severe water phobia. He leaned over and tapped her under the eye (an acupuncture point on the stomach meridian) with his fingertips. To his astonishment she immediately announced that her phobia was gone. It never returned.

Energy psychology was born from his discovery and Callahan developed a method that later became known as Thought Field Therapy. Other methods of working with the body's energy have been developed from this.

Gary Craig, a student of Callahan's, has developed Emotional Freedom Technique based on a similar principle that "the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body's energy system". He likens it to putting a screwdriver into a TV set and getting a zzzzt in the set as you disrupt the flow of energy. In the same manner when our energy systems become imbalanced, we have an 'electrical zzzzt' going on inside. Remove this zzzt by tapping on the relevant meridian points and the negative emotion is removed, allowing the body's energy to flow freely.

It sounds so simple. It is and that's why it works.

Acupuncturist Tapas Fleming, has developed Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT) based on similar principles. TAT is an easy process for ending traumatic stress, reducing allergic reactions and freeing yourself of negative beliefs. TAT is a new, simple and effective technique that delivers inner peace, relaxation, more vibrant health and empowerment in minutes.

TAT works by holding areas around the brain's vision centres and focusing on the problem. The energy charge that has been held in place is removed from the past event, allowing integration of that thought which in turn, creates harmony, peace, unity and connectedness.

Psychologist Larry Nims, another student of Callahan's, has developed Be Set Free Fast (BSFF), a descriptive acronym for 'Behavioural and Emotional Symptom Elimination Training For Resolving Excess Emotion: Fear, Anger, Sadness and Trauma'. BSFF eliminates the negative emotional roots and self-limiting belief systems that create and maintain the psychological and physical symptoms which can result in life adjustment, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual problems, including medical and health problems. Unlike many of the Energy Psychology approaches, BSFF does not involve working with the meridians or chakras, but instead, issues a direct command to the subconscious mind.

There are many, many applications emerging in this new field, all with their own individual merits, and I am only referring to those in which I am personally trained. At Oxford University in August, presenters and delegates from all over the world attended the Second Annual European Energy Psychology and Energy Therapies Conference. Workshops as diverse as compulsions and addictions, trauma, anger resolution, Therapeutic Touch, TAT, BSFF, EFT, EmoTrance (developed by UK-based trainer and researcher Silvia Hartmann), counselling excellence for non-counsellors, muscle-testing and treating allergies all drew rave reviews. More information about this and next year's conference can be found at the end of the article.

What are Negative, Self-Sabotaging Beliefs?

They are thoughts, fears and values, beliefs that stop you from achieving, doing, or being what or who you truly are. These are often in your subconscious mind where you are unaware of their existence. By using Energy Psychology methods, you heal them at this subconscious level. Beliefs come from real or imagined remarks, usually from someone in authority, a parent, teacher, priest, some other relative or employer, who is looked up to.

Beliefs have the power to create or destroy. If you as a child were told that you were 'stupid', 'no good', "you're the cause of...", this sticks with you and you identify with this. This thought is frozen into your energy system and is held in place affecting the way in which you live your life.

Whatever thought was going through your mind at the time of a trauma is likewise locked into the energy system, along with the circumstances associated with it. It could be the screaming of brakes in a car accident, which then causes you panic whenever you hear that sound in the future, or it could be a thought "I'm no good, or this wouldn't have happened to me", which freezes and creates a point of view that is specific to you. You then re-live this and filter your life experiences to validate it.

Dr Roger Callahan also discovered that we can become Psychologically Reversed. This means that our energy system literally flows the wrong way, so however much we try to do something, we never achieve our goals. We go back to our old habits and never make the change. This condition is familiar to many people. Perhaps you procrastinate, never get round to those little jobs that need doing, or know someone who will always see rain even when it's a glorious day!

Not only do we have problems but, how often do we then add insult to injury by beating ourselves up for having them in the first place. The internal dialogue, negative self-talk that we all do so well i.e. "You stupid idiot, how could you do that" or "it's my fault I always get it wrong", responds instantly to this kind of treatment.

Psychological Reversal is like a battery put into a torch the wrong way round so however many times you press the button you never get a light. Turn the batteries around the right way and 'hey presto' you have light. Well reverse the body's energy and yes, you get positive energy. This is done in a simple procedure during treatment with EFT and other modalities.

There are often many aspects to a problem and you have to make sure that all these aspects are treated to be sure that the problem does not return. Fear of flying, for example could involve heights, not being in control, taking off, landing, falling out of the sky and many others. When all these have been resolved there is no fear remaining and you can enjoy your flight. I suffered from this myself but, after treating it last year, I flew for the first time and really enjoyed myself even when the plane dropped a thousand feet in turbulence!!

Energy psychology works quickly, gently, and effectively, and the best bit is that you can learn to use it on yourself so it is a tool that you have with you at all times for life. It can help with anxiety, depression, cravings and habits, fears (including public speaking), enhancing self-image, peak sports performance and post traumatic stress, to name but a few. Here are some examples.

Case Histories

Relieving Pain

Mr M collapsed at work with a serious back injury and was air-ambulanced to hospital. After four hours he was sent home to rest for six weeks. No x-rays or scan were carried out, he just received painkillers and advice.

I offered to go and see if I could do anything to help. He was in severe pain and bedridden, so I suggested that we tap to lessen the discomfort. He was very sceptical but was in so much pain he "would give anything a try". After the first round of tapping he experienced a rush of energy through his body that still amazes him today and after 15 minutes working with his pain and the fear of the injury he was able to get up and take a shower. I worked with him over the next couple of days and he applied the procedure himself between times, until he was able to get in a car and get to a chiropractor, as I had felt, both intuitively and as a bodyworker myself that his problem was in the pelvis and not the spine. Since he had his alignment corrected, this very sceptical man has had no recurrence of this injury and still uses the tapping to lessen his stresses, which were a contributing factor to the back injury.

No More Fear of Dogs for Young Tom

Jenny brought her nine-year-old son to see me for his phobia of dogs. This had come to a head when Tom had jumped out into the road to avoid a dog and Jenny was worried about his safety. We had two sessions using the tapping. The first reduced his fear but did not completely eliminate it. On the second visit the tapping freed a forgotten memory for Tom of a time when a dog had jumped at him baring its teeth. This he had forgotten, but it was still in his subconscious mind. We worked on this memory and Tom then reported that he felt fine. I have recently received this email from Jenny: " Tom continues to do really well with his past dog problem. He came across a few dogs on the beach the other day and appeared completely unfazed. It's great."

Job Confidence Restored by Weight Loss

Mark, a senior manager in a financial services company, came to see me because of losing his confidence after gaining weight. Working long hours, often away from home, had taken their toll on his waistline. Work patterns had made it difficult for him to follow a diet and he had started to eat compulsively. This in turn affected his self-esteem and his work had started to suffer.

Following a short EFT treatment, his desire for snacks, chocolates and fast food disappeared and allowed him to maintain a healthy diet without effort. He lost a stone, which made him feel better about himself, improved his self-esteem at work and improved his performance at work. He says: "Being able to use EFT on an ad-hock basis allows me to tackle other situations as they arise, whether it be public speaking, stress or similar problems which effect my contributions at work".

No More Fear of Thunder and Lightning

Wendy came to see me about a fear of thunder and lightning. We uncovered a frightening childhood memory and once we had cleared this up her fear disappeared. She says: "I had a fear of thunder and lightning, if a storm was around I would have to hide away from windows and doors and I would just shake. Under the stairs was a place I would go! After working with Sarah using EFT I was able to walk my son to school with thunder going on. I have also been able to sit in a window and watch the lightning, My husband is amazed! I still use the EFT and it has surprised me on what it can help with."

I would like to close with this quote from Marianne Williamson.

"We ask ourselves. Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who am I not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world."


I would like to thank all the leaders in the Energy Therapy field who give of their knowledge so generously, thus enabling us to become good practitioners.

I would also like to give my thanks to energy psychology trainer Susan Courtney. Without her friendship and encouragement I would not be where I am today.

Photographs are courtesy of Paul Savage, R&P Photographic Services, Taunton.

Further Information

For more information about energy psychology, meridian energy therapies and the European Energy Psychology Conference, visit the website of The Association of Meridian Energy Therapies at where there are many articles, free downloads and e-books to purchase.
For specific information about Gary Craig's EFT see;
For Tapas Fleming see;
For Larry Nims BSFF;
For Silvia Hartmann's EmoTrance see;

Recommended Reading

Hartmann Sylvia. Adventures in EFT. Available as an e-book from
Durlacher Dr James. Freedom from Fear Forever. Also available from the AMT website.


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About Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird has been working as a complementary therapist for more than 20 years. She brings to her work expert training and experience in aromatherapy, reflexology, spiritual healing, psychoneuroimmunology and counselling. She is an AMT-licensed Meridian Therapies practitioner and has done advanced training in BSFF and TAT with the Institute for Meridian Based Psychotherapy and Counselling and Tapas Fleming. Sarah works with intuition and sensitivity in the caring and supporting way that is her great strength. She works in Marlborough House (a lovely Georgian house, which provides a tranquil and secure environment and offers other supporting therapies) Therapy Centre in Taunton, where she offers individual appointments and also workshops and training. Corporate development as well as workshops throughout 2003 can be arranged by consultation. Sarah can be reached at Tel: 01823 272227;;


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