Since learning about Inner Theater through a series of classes conducted by Betty Moore Hafter and Jade Barbee, I have truly embraced this highly visual EFT approach. I have even found that it takes EFT to a whole new level, and opens the doors for healing. Inner Theater provides me with a way in which to approach highly emotionally charged memories that is non-threatening to the client and is less traumatic than some more traditional approaches.
With inner theater, a client creates a safe place in their mind/imagination — an inner sanctuary of sorts in which they have total control. Nobody can enter that sanctuary without their permission, and nothing can happen in that space that they don’t wish to have happen.
Clients are encouraged to give their imagination free reign, and to “go with the flow”, and not try to analyze what happens as this imagery plays out. If a client can trust in the process, they will find EFT and Inner Theater to be powerful tools for change and healing.
I have found Inner Theater to be particularly effective for doing parts work. For those of you who may not know what this means, we all have parts of us with beliefs we have usually carried with us since childhood, not necessarily rooted in reality, but based on the writing on our walls.
One common belief is that we are not good enough. This could be based on messages we got from our parents, siblings, teachers, friends or anyone else when we were growing up. We may not consciously be aware of the belief, but at some level that message continues to replay in our head, undermining confidence and leading to self sabotage.
I had a particularly frustrated client I was working with, who badly wanted to stop smoking, but had been unable to do so on her own. Although she had no prior experience with EFT, this client was hoping that EFT would provide the means by which she could free herself from cigarettes.
As we chatted, my client referred a number of times to “the part of me that has to keep smoking”. I briefly explained Inner Theater concepts to her, and asked whether she would be willing to give it a try. She was open to doing so, and I had her relax, close her eyes, take several deep breaths and create an inner safe space. For her safe space, she chose a horse drawn sleigh. To access her safe space, we moved into her barn where she felt she had to hitch up the horse to the sleigh.
As she worked on hitching up the horse, I asked her where that part of her that had to smoke was. That part was there in the barn, dressed all in black, scowling and looking very unfriendly. I asked my client how she felt about inviting that part of her into the sleigh. There was strong resistance on her part, so we tapped on:
“Even though I don’t like that part of me and really don’t want her in the sleigh…”
“Even though I don’t think I can trust that part of me…”
“Even though this part of me does things that I don’t like…”
The client’s level of resistance to having that other part of her in the sleigh came down, to the point where she invited her in, but made her sit in the back seat, facing backwards. With a snap of the reins, the horse and sleigh were off through the snowy landscape.
I suggested that the client start a dialogue with that other part of her, and ask why she wanted to smoke. The client was resistant to doing that, because, in her words, “I can’t trust that part of me.” We tapped on her lack of trust until the other part of her was able to turn around and face forward in the sleigh. At this point my client asked her why she wanted to smoke, and the response was that “she needed her nerve pills”.
We spent some time tapping on stress and anxiety in the client’s life, and ways that she might cope with it, other than lighting up a cigarette. Now the smoking part of my client was smiling and conversing more easily.
We next did some tapping around the issue of the client not liking or trusting that part of herself.
“Even though I really don’t like that part of me that thinks it has to smoke…”
“Even though I feel like that part of me is weak…”
“Even though I feel like I can’t trust that part of me to not pick up a cigarette…”
“Even though that part of me can’t seem to get through a crisis without a cigarette…”
My client was becoming much more accepting of the smoking part of her, and when she next turned around in her seat to talk (remember, that part was in the back seat!) she found that her clothing has changed from black and witchy looking to normal clothing.
Next we worked on acceptance of the other part of her, tapping on:
“Even though the smoking part of me keeps lighting up cigarettes, I recognize that she really is trying to help me…”
“Even though I don’t like that smoking part of me, I know that she’s helping me to cope with stress by smoking…”
Once the client fully realized that the smoker really was just helping her to cope with her day to day stress, and that cigarettes were the only coping strategy that she knew, she moved on to feeling grateful for the help.
“Even though the smoking part of me tries hard to help me handle stress by smoking, and I don’t really want to smoke, I appreciate her for wanting to help me…”
Now the client was smiling at the other part of her, who proceeded to climb over into the front seat and sit down next to her. They happily rode through the snow together, enjoying the ride.
Back in the real world, the client and I did a bit of brainstorming about strategies that could help her to stop reaching for a cigarette. She agreed to keep her cigarettes in a place that was inconvenient, so that she couldn’t just grab them, and to always walk outside to smoke. When driving, she put her purse in the back seat, again so she couldn’t just grab a cigarette.
Two weeks later, when we had our next session, the client reported that she was down from a pack of cigarettes a day to 5 or 6 cigarettes. She continued to use the strategies that we had discussed, and to tap on a daily basis, and by our 3rd session, she was no longer smoking.
It has now been 3 months, and while I continue to work with this client on other issues, she has not started to smoke again, and finds that she can calm herself and cope much more easily when she taps daily.