Let Magic Happen

Newsletter by Dr. Larry Burk

January 2011

Car Accident Stress
Image from Chapter 6
EFT after MVA

Healing Stress after Car Accidents

Do you have stress-related symptoms after a car accident or does anyone you know?  Over 2 million serious accidents happen in the United States each year.  Survivors of crashes may suffer for many months with debilitating symptoms such as anxiety, flashbacks, insomnia and fear of driving which can be successfully treated with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and other mind-body spirit approaches.

In reviewing the various techniques I have included in the 17 chapters of Let Magic Happen for the purpose of initiating this newsletter, I realized that I incorporate many of them into the protocol I use routinely with clients in my private practice.  This approach is taught in a stepwise fashion in the Let Magic Happen Blog including video demonstrations using generic phrases. It is also summarized in the EFT tapping handout with additional imagery and color reframing components. In the newsletter, I will offer a different clinical example each month illustrating the use of this approach with customized language for each situation. Upcoming newsletters will feature shoulder pain, weight loss, phobias, performance anxiety, infertility, and attracting abundance.

I begin this month with car accidents because my first clinical use of EFT was with a Duke student in my stress management class who had acute stress disorder and hives after surviving a serious car accident.  That first opportunity to test EFT came in 2002 just after downloading a free manual from the Internet, so if it worked for me that easily, you can learn it just as quickly here. The full story is published in my article in the May 2010 Energy Psychology Journal.

I have used this approach successfully any time after an accident from the scene of a crash to an accident that had happened 29 years previously that was re-experienced during a flashback.  EFT sometimes yields instant results in only one session, often referred to as “one minute wonders” on the EFT websites. These rapid results represent a dramatic improvement in comparison to conventional treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy which may take eight to twelve sessions.

To start the process, you need to temporarily ENERGIZE an effective reminder phrase as detailed in the January Blog.  My Duke student’s phrase was “scary, thought-I-was-going-to-die, car accident” with a Subjective Units of Distress (SUD) score of 8/10.  She then repeated the self-acceptance statement, “Even though I had a scary, thought-I-was-going-to-die, car accident, I deeply and completely accept myself” three times while rubbing the sore spot.

For survivors of severe trauma who experience significant anxiety about the memory, a safe way to begin is to ask about the first time they felt secure after the accident and work from that place of strength as detailed in the 2001 Crash Course book by Diane Poole Heller, PhD. From there, a gentler way to proceed with EFT is to dissociate from the trauma using the “movie technique,” starting with the name of a movie about the event and then proceeding frame by frame at a safe pace.

Using the handout, the second step is to DESENSITIZE the phrase by repeating it while tapping on each acupoint in the sequence with the middle finger, six to seven times or just long enough to say the phrase once at each point.  Start with the left Eyebrow point and proceed downward to the Under Breast point, then finish with the Top of Head point.  At the end of this first tapping sequence, take some deep cleansing breaths to let the negative energy drain back into the ground on expiration.

The third step is to AWFULIZE the issue by digging as deeply as possible into the emotions.  Start with the original phrase at the right Eyebrow, then tap through the points using a series of phrases such as the following: “It was worse than I remember; it was a terrible shock; the noise still haunts me; it makes me anxious to drive; I worry about another accident; it is stuck in my body; I can still feel the impact.” Finish with the original phrase at the Top of Head followed by cleansing breaths.

The fourth step is to NEUTRALIZE the energy by alternating between negative and positive phrases.  Start with the original phrase at the left Eyebrow, then tap through the points using a series of phrases such as the following: “I’m completely healed; that is bullshit; maybe I do feel a bit better; I’m skeptical about tapping; my crash memories are fading; I can’t heal this quickly; what if it actually works.” Finish with “that would be great” on Top of Head and breathe again.

The fifth step is to VISUALIZE what you really want to be true using all positive language. Start at the right Eyebrow saying “I have emotional freedom now,” then tap through the points using a series of phrases such as the following: “I am healed from the crash; my body memory is cleared; I can drive comfortably now; I will be safe; my confidence is back; I am calm; I can handle anything on the road.”  Finish with “it feels good to be free” on Top of Head and breathe again.

This time continue breathing deeper and more rapidly than before with eyes closed to INTERNALIZE the healing process.  Keep the energies moving by breathing in your favorite healing color and blowing out any remaining trauma in your body as a different color. Once the energies are circulating effectively, start to shake your arms and legs to REVITALIZE your body until your inner healer tells you that it is time to rest.  These seven steps make up EDANVIR to immunize you to stress.

While resting with your eyes closed you can go to your favorite vacation spot, or somewhere else that is safe and secure.  Use all five of your senses to get comfortable in that preferred place asking yourself: “What am I seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and tasting?”  Look down at your feet in this place and pick up any small objects that you find such as stones or shells. Place any remaining traumatic memories into the objects and throw them away as far as you can.

Image how you wish the events of your accident day had unfolded instead of what actually happened.  Give yourself permission to rewrite history and allow yourself to see a better outcome.  Put a colored frame around this picture.  Breathe this color throughout your body.  Return to your preferred place.  Notice a gift box that you hadn’t seen before.  Open it and pull out whatever is inside. Accept the gift and the lessons you learned from your accident.  Come back refreshed and ready to drive.

Please review the other related materials on the Let Magic Happen Blog.  Feel free to post any comments you have on the Blog regarding the use of this approach to healing the stress-related symptoms of motor vehicle accidents.  I am planning a sequel to the book based on readers’ experiences with the techniques, so if you share an interesting story, I may ask you for permission to reproduce it.

Drive safely and let magic happen!  Larry Burk, MD, CEHP

Image of the Month from Chapter 6


Drumming Up the Spirits:

My Jaguar Power Animal

This chapter describes the founding of the Duke Mind-Body Medicine Study Group in 1993 which brought together faculty and community practitioners with a common interest in alternative medicine.  The first year was marked by the untimely death of one of my co-founders, George Phillips, Jr., MD, and the initiation of an annual memorial lecture in his honor.  This event was preceded by a horrific dream that led me to explore shamanic journeying as a path for healing and guidance.  A large turnout for the lecture resulted in significant growth of the Study Group which laid the foundation for the eventual establishment of the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine in 1998.  During this period, we sponsored the first lecture on spiritual healing in an academic setting at Duke, and two Duke research groups performed groundbreaking studies on the effects of prayer and religious practices on health.  The chapter concludes with a drumming technique to facilitate shamanic journeying.