Patrick has served as a US Army soldier from 2002-2015, with 3 deployments to Iraq. He was brought up in a military household, his dad being a Drill Sergeant in WWII, so he was already prepared for a life in the Military.
He noticed differences in himself after 3rd deployment: hyper vigilance, looking for signs of danger everywhere, sitting always facing the door,... A strange fold in a rug could indicate an IED (Improvised Explosive Device), a hanging wire could mean danger.
His wife noticed changes in him that were very hard on the relationship. He was withdrawn, didn't talk, worked all the time. When they moved to LA to receive better care at the VA for both PTSD and TBI, they were supported by a great team of therapists that helped him understand the difference between symptoms of TBI (traumatic brain injury) stemming from a car accident in Iraq, and PTSD. ED (Erectile Dysfunction) can be a symptom of TBI, and they were given tools to understand this as a couple and try to find new ways to cope.
Reaching out was hard for him, but he encourages everybody to push through the resistance of asking for help, as they will be amazed how many people with real experience in the issues that a service member is dealing with are standing by.
How we can add to his healing with EFT:
There are many issues that can be addressed with EFT. Tapping on them can help the soldier overcome the resistance of getting additional help and feel the self respect and calmness needed to recreate a meaningful life in the civilian world.
Here are some examples of what might be helpful to address.
1. He was brought up by a drill sergeant.
This might indicate parental expectation to mental toughness and resourcefulness, which are obstacles to acknowledging the need for support. It is worth checking if his father might have been emotionally absent or struggle with PTSD symptoms himself, which might have put additional pressure on the family. If so, specific issues should be identified and tapped on with EFT.
If his father was emotionally absent, find a good example for this that indicates how this made the soldier feel. Add the age, specific memories as well as physical sensations that might come up when remembering the situation. Rate them on a scale of 0-10 to have a benchmark, and tap straightforward on these memories:
Let's assume there is tightness in the chest when remembering the energy around dad coming home for dinner
KP: Even though I feel this tightness in my chest when I remember the door opening and us having to be all straightened out and report for dinner, I honor the kid that I was, and my chest reactions to my dad's energy.
Then tap through the points, until the energy is released and the soldier can relax.
Dealing with childhood memories of this sort can be very helpful, as they might build the foundation of future trauma and how it's being handled.
So when working with veterans, don't just assume that war memories need to be tapped on, but always include childhood memories, especially when there was upbringing in a military household.
EFT takes the charge out of these and can be easily and respectfully applied.
2. The fear of IEDs under the rug or the trigger of hanging wires
Only well trained and highly skilled practitioners should approach these memories, as they require the use of the gentle techniques, here: the Tearless Trauma Technique:
The skill required is to keep the memory at a distance so that no re-traumatization occurs.
Start by tapping vaguely on
KP: Even though I have these memories but I will keep them at a distance - they happened a long time ago and not now, I honor what happened and what I have been through with respect and compassion.
Use your training of the Tearless Trauma Technique to support the soldier as he keeps the memories at a distance, yet addresses them in appropriate layers with EFT.
This is also a great place for the Chasing the Pain Technique, as focussing on physical sensations instead of memories and emotions can be an excellent way to keep someone safe while releasing energy blocks. Remember that it is more important to keep the soldier safe than to get to the heart of the memory quickly. One never knows the depth of a problem, so be careful and don't go to where you don't belong, don't work outside of your skill set and refer to mental health workers if mental health support is needed!
Remember that the IED experiences might also involve other buddies, which is incredibly hard to process. There might be guilt and shame, anger and rage, or any other emotion. EFT is an excellent tool to take the charge out of these emotions and memories, without judging, condoning or excusing what happened.
Look out for as many triggers and memories as possible, and take the time to release them with a straight forward EFT Tapping approach.
While this issue is based on physical injury, I have also seen great improvement by simply tapping on the symptoms of this. Ask for specific examples of things that can't be done at this time, and just create a setup statement around them. Make sure you include not just the symptom, but especially how it FEELS to live with the limitation: The frustration, anger, shame, guilt, discomfort, confusion, distance,... whatever the emotional reaction of the soldier to the traumatic brain injury might be. Just taking the charge out of these emotions with EFT might bring great relief and reduce the stress that might contribute to the intensity of the symptoms. I have seen that hand-eye coordination greatly improved by simply addressing the emotions behind the inability to control movement.
In addition, it makes sense to address with a simple tapping routine what exactly is happening for the soldier.
KP: Even though I can't remember what I ate for breakfast, and I hate how this TBI is impacting my short term memory - I feel like a fool - can't believe this is happening - I honor and respect myself.
Also remember to tap through the memory of the incident that has caused the TBI. You will need to use your "Tell the Story Technique" here, an advanced technique that you need to be trained in to be effective and safe for the soldier.
4. Addressing the relationship issues, not wanting to talk, being withdrawn.
With EFT, we can handle these issues very matter of fact. Don't offer advise, just remove the energy blocks by tapping on how they feel:
Even though I feel overwhelmed thinking about conversations with my spouse
Even though I just don't want to talk right now
Even though It's impossible to express how I feel. I just can't and don't want to do it
Even though I just want to go about my life and focus on work, there is too much inside my head to process and I need that distraction
Even though It's scary that I can't talk with her as I know she needs it and it's impacting our relationship
Even though I am afraid that I can't be the husband she needs me to be and I will loose her
Even though it's impossible for me to get back to the life and relationship that we used to have
Even though I don't want her to know what I have been through over there, and what I did
Even though this isn't my life anymore, the deployment has changed me and that's the simple truth...
There is so much that can be released here with simple EFT tapping. It is respectful, acknowledging and confirming and requires a compassionate heart. Remember that the man or woman you have in front of you has been through a lot to serve this country, and so has their spouse and family. Tap on al the aspects of this and help take as much charge out of them as possible, while keeping them safe.
5. Helping the spouse and the relationship
The same is true for the spouse of the soldier. Ask what bothers or scares her the most, and tap on every aspect of this. There is healing in helping both of them together, showing them how to use EFT for each other and empower the relationship by acknowledging each other's struggle and their commitment to finding a solution that will help them move forward.
EFT can be the missing link in the communication, as it shifts the energy between the couple and allows for necessary conversation to occur without getting triggered.
6. Specific relaxation exercises
Patrick talks about getting instructions on breathing exercises for the tightness in the chest. Here we can also use the "Constricted Breathing Technique." It is helpful in releasing the stress behind the tightness and allow for the breath to return to normal. Try to start a session with this technique ad bring it back as needed. Teach it to the soldier and the spouse so they have it as an additional tool in their toolbox as needed.
7: Getting ready to get more help through the VA
Most veterans struggle with reaching out for help. We can help with EFT to make that process easy and respectful.
As mentioned in the beginning, EFT is an energy intervention that allows to release energy blocks and take the stress out of a belief, a memory or emotion. This can be highly effective in helping a Veteran get more comfortable with reaching out to the VA and professional Mental Health treatment. Overcoming the hurdle of reaching out for help is essential in getting access to the resources needed and the support that is being provided.
So these are some examples how EFT can assist a veteran in releasing negative energy blocks, taking the stress out of memories and physical symptoms and getting the help they need.
It is an excellent tool that can support the care offered by the VA, Vet centers and other sources, and can be the missing link between knowing that one needs help and actually reaching out and being able to get access.
EFT and mental health work can complement each other. Combining the energy intervention of EFT with professional Mental Health Counseling can bring much faster and more lasting relief.