I recently overheard a fellow EFT practitioner remark to someone, "I've never worked with children." I didn't think anything of it at the time. Most Tapping practitioners have experience or preferences that lead them to specialize in certain areas or with certain types of clients or to work on particular issues. It's also important that we know where not to go, what not to work on. Perhaps it's an issue we are aware we haven't cleared in ourselves. Perhaps it's a matter of not feeling confident we have acquired the skills to maintain the safety of clients presenting with issues involving serious trauma.
And, certainly, working with children presents a special set of challenges, even though we are taught how to do it in our training. But those overheard words, pinging casually around in the back of my mind, collided with reality the next day as...
...I wrapped up a client session that had been quite typical. As happens 98% of the time, the specific events we uncovered and dissolved in the session had taken us directly to the client's childhood. I suddenly realized that for all intents and purposes, for most of the session, I had been working with -- a child!
That might have been an adult sitting there in front of me on my computer screen but the client within was a child. Actually, make that plural. Children - at various ages and stages. There was a baby who had been left alone too long in a dark room, crying. There was a four year-old who had gotten lost in a supermarket. There was a seven year-old who had studied for the wrong test at school and was being yelled at by the teacher.
The client, in her 40s, tapping into her unconscious stores, vividly recalling these upsetting events, cried and raged and trembled - not with the intensity of a troubling memory but with the intensity of an event being experienced in the NOW.
It often surprises people new to tapping how emotion they didn't know they had or thought they'd "dealt with" in other ways, can surge so unexpectedly and with such force.
When this happens, their emotional state is the same as it was at the time of the event - and at the age they were - because from the perspective of the brain, it hasn't stopped happening. It's never stopped happening. The event has simply been shoved down into the body, via the unconscious, as though shutting the door to a room that has a loud TV on in it. As the client continues to physically grow and mature, a part of them is trapped in that room, replaying that scene over and over like their own personal Groundhog Day. And that part of them remains as the child they were when it happened.
When we start tapping, the doors to those rooms can open and when they do, the baby is still crying in the dark room and the 4 year-old is still wandering the aisles of the supermarket desperately calling for her mother and the 7 year old is still trapped in that desk, red-faced with shame and fear as the teacher's eternal yelling plays over and over.
I had an image once, during a session, of the two of us - the client and myself - rappelling down from some high-tech chopper, Navy Seal-style - into a labyrinth of closed doors. Using our awesome tech (Tapping), we approached the doors one by one and, depending on what we could hear coming from behind each of them, we'd either bust it down or gently whisper through it. Inside each room was a child, in a situation, trapped and needing to be rescued. And we were the ones for the job! (Well, actually, my client was. I was just there for backup support, like 'the guy in the van' in all those action movies).
My client's job was to get the child out of the situation without scaring him further. The number one way to do that? Give the child someone to talk to about what was going on. Be that ear, that heart that cared, so that the child could leave the room behind and be taken to safety in the Present where adulthood and all its relative resources and power awaited claiming.
Ever since that image, I've had this sense that the goal is to rescue as many children as we can during a session. Sometimes it takes several sessions to get one child to safety. Sometimes we can do three, four or more in only one hour. It depends on how slowly we have to open the door and how many aspects we have to resolve before the child is freed from the event. And as each child is brought to a place of peace and caring at last, the adult in front of me claims more of him or herself, more of his or her power, and heals.
So, now, when I hear someone express trepidation or intimidation about working with children, I remind them that we are always working with children in this way. Even when a client can't remember childhood events, as sometimes happens, and we can't find that labyrinth to rappel into, we can work through walls. But we're still working with children. Our inner children that need to be convinced that it's safe to come out of the dark now.