Donna and David have been actively working on their relationship book, The Energies of Love, for the past three years. Actually, they've been working on it during all 36 years they have been with one another, figuring it out from the trenches. The book draws on both Energy Medicine and Energy Psychology in presenting a program to help couples thrive.
The last two chapters focus on the themes of "conscious partnering" and "your relationship is a shared spiritual journey." If all goes well, The Energies of Love will have its official release at IGEEM 2014. They have just completed the first draft and are sending it to the publisher this weekend.
In celebration of that milestone, we wanted to share with you one of the cases from the book. It shows how Energy Psychology was successfully applied when a man became insanely jealous about his wife's first husband:
Jeremy was 36 when he married Melissa. He was eager to help raise her 7- and 9-year-old sons. He had gotten to know them quite well during the year prior to the marriage, brought them to baseball games, zoos, parks, and other local attractions, and he had participated in their hobbies. The boys liked their stepdad and the attention he was giving them, and the new family was blossoming within an atmosphere of affection and promise.
Melissa's ex-husband, Steve, the boy's biological father, had not been particularly eager to spend time with his sons during the marriage, but he also loved them. He had moved to another town several hours away after the divorce but had been reliable in taking the boys for the afternoon every other Sunday.
During his courtship with Melissa, Jeremy had never met Steve. But now that Jeremy had moved in with the family, the twice-monthly visits became a fixture in his life. He was civil enough toward his new wife's ex, but he avoided having much contact with him when the boys were being picked up or dropped off.
During the first Christmas vacation after the marriage, Steve arranged to take the boys for a week, and the three of them flew to Orlando for a Disney marathon. The boys were so excited about it that they seemed to talk of little else for the week prior to and for weeks following the trip. When Steve came for the next Sunday visitation, Jeremy could hardly look at him. He began to criticize Steve's parenting style to Melissa, point out his culpability in the divorce, and generally paint an ugly picture of the man who had fathered her children.
At first Melissa acknowledged the truth in some of the observations, but over time Jeremy became increasingly vehement in his criticisms. This grew into a loaded theme in their interactions on the weekends when Steve would be arriving, and Jeremy began questioning the boys about their visits with their father, as if looking for more fodder for his rants. He was eventually unable to hide from the boys his disdain toward their father.
Jeremy's jealousy toward Steve continued to escalate, and the acrimony was seeping into other areas of the family. As Steve's visits approached, tension would descend onto the household. The boys were confused. Melissa began to judge Jeremy harshly. She had more than once called him a "spoiled brat."
This was the state of things when they scheduled a couple counseling session with David. Jeremy knew at some level that his reactions were not rational, but this knowledge did not hold a candle to the strength of his emotions. When Jeremy was triggered, Steve was an evil man sabotaging all of Jeremy's fine efforts with the boys and the family, and there was no other reality to consider.
After hearing both of their renditions of the problem, David spoke to the part of Jeremy that knew his reactions to Steve were extreme. David explained that when intense emotions are triggered, they are very real, whether rational or irrational. He suggested tapping to take the edge off the intensity of Jeremy's responses to Steve.
Neither Jeremy nor Melissa had any experience with Energy Psychology, but the couple who referred them had worked with David and described the method—so they were game for whatever could help, however strange it might look. While Jeremy was not open to considering that his assessment of Steve might be wrong, he was interested in feeling less consumed by his reactions.
They proceeded, following essentially the same steps you learned as the "Basic Recipe" in the previous chapter. The scene that Jeremy chose for his Subjective Units of Distress (SUD) rating was from the previous Sunday, watching as Steve's car pulled into the driveway. It was a 10 on the 0-to-10 scale. After four rounds of tapping, it had gone down to a 7, but even after further tapping it seemed to be stuck there.
David asked, "How do you know it is a 7?" Jeremy said that he felt pressure in his chest and tightness in his throat. David asked him to explore the feelings in his throat. Jeremy said it is almost as if he were trying to hold back tears. David asked if he could recall one of the first times he had that feeling. Jeremy immediately recalled being 10 when his parents brought a foster boy into the family. It was to be a temporary arrangement until a permanent placement could be found, a favor for a relative of the boy, but it changed everything for Jeremy.
As an only child, Jeremy had enjoyed his parents' full attention and affection. Suddenly that was history. The foster boy had many problems, both of Jeremy's parents held full-time jobs, and the limited time and resources they had available shifted from Jeremy to the new boy. Jeremy, at 10, did not have words or concepts that could help him come to grips with the loss. He felt emotionally abandoned by both of his parents, could not fathom why they had brought this troublesome person into their home, and he hated the foster boy. He began starting fights and creating acrimony wherever he could.
This strategy seemed to eventually work. After about a year, the agency found a permanent placement for the boy, and Jeremy never saw him again. All of this was buried in the recesses of Jeremy's psyche. He hadn't thought about it for years, and no other circumstance in his adult life had triggered his unprocessed feelings around that chapter from his childhood. He had never thought to mention it to Melissa, but the parallels between the foster boy and the situation with Steve became immediately obvious to all three of us.
We tapped on every aspect of the memory we could identify, staying with each until it was down to a 0: Jeremy's loss of his parents' attention; his many times having held back his tears when he felt lonely and abandoned; his confusion and puzzlement about what he had done wrong to deserve having all the attention withdrawn from him; the invasion into his family; his hatred for the new boy; the fights they had; his being punished for starting them and feeling like a bad boy after 10 years of being a good boy; and even his confusion when the new boy suddenly disappeared.
Fortunately, each round of tapping takes only a couple of minutes, so all of this was accomplished within that first session (David schedules two hours for initial sessions with couples). Jeremy was by then able to talk lucidly and calmly about the foster boy and the boy's invasion into his young life. And he could reflect on how Steve's visits with the boys were bringing up feelings that traced to his experiences with the foster boy. He was entertaining the possibility that his sense of Steve purposefully trying to destroy the family Jeremy was building had something to do with this earlier scenario.
Focusing again on watching Steve's car pulling into the driveway, Jeremy gave it a SUD rating of 3. A couple more rounds of tapping, and it was down to a 0. We then briefly focused on Melissa's horror and sense of betrayal about Jeremy's shift over the recent months from an apparently ideal stepfather to an angry, jealous, irrational force in her home. Witnessing Jeremy's work had already put all of this into a welcome new light, and by the end of the session, she was able to review the strange course of their young marriage with no emotional charge.
On a follow-up session two weeks later, the issue had vanished. Jeremy was not triggered by Steve's next visit, the strong relationship Jeremy had established with the boys and with Melissa was back on track, and David had lost customers who could have easily spent a year or two in counseling. Such are the risks a therapist takes when bringing an energy approach into the consulting room.
(Compiled from the forthcoming Energies of Love book by Donna Eden and David Feinstein, Ph.D.)