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Afraid of Blood Tests: Healing a Phobia

The Girl Who Learned to Love Needles








Emergence Techniques Used: Allergy Testing; Visual Dialogue; Direct Emergence
Personal Skills Age (estimated age at the time of the original injury): 6
Key(s): sitting, while seeing a hypodermic needle come toward her arm, this while holding her right arm out and up

the "Distraction"

Stacy and her mom had come to talk. They were having a hard time getting along. Nothing unusual here. Kids and their parents often struggle. What was unusual, though, was how Stacy kept getting distracted by the paper clip I was playing with. The "paper clip?" Let me go back a bit.

Everyone has little habits. I have a habit of fiddling with small objects while I work, things like paper clips and pens. Not always. Sometimes. Mostly when I have yet to see the point of a session emerge. More so when people I care about are struggling with each other. For me, playing with these small objects seems to function a bit like the prayer beads some people carry. Thus, at times, I use paper clips and other small objects as my "focusing beads," as in, fiddling with them helps me to stay focused.

In this session, then, as we began, and as I tried to get a sense of what Stacy and her mom were struggling with, I leaned down and picked up a paper clip from the small wooden box I keep on the lower shelf. As I did, I noticed Stacy's attention briefly but suddenly shift to my hands and to the paper clip I was picking up. This, in turn, caused my attention to shift as well.

"Hmmm. What was that?," I wondered. After a moment, though, I simply dismissed it as nothing important. I then simply let it go and continued to listen to Stacy's mom.

As her mom continued, I heard her say something about how Stacy had not been responsible. "Again," she said, softly, and with an odd mix of concern and frustration.

Stacy's mom is a very loving woman and was handling her frustration rather well, I thought. Actually, so was Stacy, as, at this point, I can picture Stacy anxiously squirming in her seat, respectfully waiting her turn so that she could rebut what her mom was saying. Me? I was smiling and thinking to myself that Stacy must have some loophole for what she had done. She always does. What a kid!

Then, at one point, the tension between Stacy and her mom momentarily eased as Stacy's mom briefly digressed into telling me that Stacy was scheduled to get a blood test later that week. Together, they both smiled at me, as Stacy, half laughing, half terrified, recounted yet again how she "hated" getting needles. Stacy's mom then refocused back to the problem at hand; Stacy's not having been responsible.

At this point, I leaned over and put the paper clip back. As I did, I again noticed Stacy's attention shift abruptly to my hands and in particular, to the paper clip itself. Clearly, she was getting distracted by my hand movements, I thought. No big deal though. Even so, as I put the paper clip back, I vowed to leave it there. After all, the last thing I wanted to do was to distract us all.

"Parallel Processing"

I continued to listen. As I did, though, I found myself drawn back to what I had just seen; the way Stacy had stared so intensely at the paper clip. As I pictured this, it occurred to me that perhaps there was some connection between what they had just mentioned; Stacy's fear of needles; and her having been distracted. I decided to try to parallel process the session; meaning, to continue to guide and process the difficulty Stacy and her mom were having while at the same time, allergy testing Stacy with the paper clip.

Now for those who have never done this, meaning, "parallel processed" a conversation, let me explain that I, in no way mean I was shifting my attention back and forth between two things. Parallel processing is more like being a watcher and a doer in the same moment, like being in your body connecting to those speaking and out of your body watching all three of us from above. Admittedly, this skill is not an easy one to acquire and in fact, may not be an acquired skill at all. In fact, the more I read Temple Grandin's writings about autism, the more I realize how so much of what I do may stem from my having grown up in a house wherein my mom could not tolerate any noise at all, including the sounds of people talking. I guess I grew up in a deprivation tank of sorts. And deprived of normal noises, perhaps I grew to be especially sensitive to sounds, in particular, peoples' words.

Whatever the case about where this skill comes from though, my point is, I wanted to see if there was something important here about Stacy and the paper clip. And I wanted to explore this possibility from the side lines; meaning, while I kept the focus of the session on the problem at hand.

Doing the "Allergy Test": the Paper Clip

Stacy's mom continued.

"And when Stacy... "

At this point, still listening intently, I deliberately leaned over and again picked up a paper clip from the little wooden box next to my desk. As I did, Stacy again abruptly turned away from the conversation and stared at my hands. In fact, at this point, I could see quite clearly that she had stared very directly at the paper clip itself.

I said nothing. A moment later, I saw Stacy again refocus her attention back to her mom and to what she was saying.

"Is she being keyed?," I thought. Obviously, yes, she was. But by what? Certainly, something about me holding the paper clip was setting her off. But what? Then it dawned on me, "Could it be the paper clip's resemblance to a hypodermic needle? It certainly seems to be."

At this point, I had an urge to interrupt the session and to explore what I was seeing, but I knew I needed to do more allergy testing before redirecting the session. After all, this was their session, not mine, and Stacy's problem with needles was not what they had come to address.

I continued to parallel process. While listening intently, then, I again leaned down and put the paper clip back in the box. This time I saw Stacy completely stop hearing her mother as she abruptly turned to watch the paper clip. By now, I was so certain she was being keyed that I knew I needed to address this before going on. I began by asking them both if they had been noticing what I had been noticing; that Stacy was getting very distracted by my playing with the paper clip.

So you know, Stacy and her family had been working with me for years. By this, I mean, they had both Stacy and her mom had had previous experiences wherein I had helped them to discover keys. Thus, when I asked them if they had noticed Stacy's reaction to the paper clip, they both knew what I was asking.

Stacy's mom said she had noticed Stacy's distraction but not what had distracted her. Stacy said she had noticed and in fact, displayed the tell tale sign of having had an emergence just from my having asked her this; she briefly had the look of joyful surprise as she, for the first time, consciously recognized her behavior.

We now agreed to switch the focus of the session to Stacy's being distracted by the paper clip, and at this point, I began to do direct emergence with Stacy. I did this by asking her to watch her reactions as I picked up the paper clip.

Sure enough, as I picked it up, she again stared very intensely at the paper clip itself. Very intensely.

I asked her if she had noticed anything, and with a mildly surprised look on her face, she admitted she had. More evidence that something was emerging in Stacy. I then continued the allergy test, by unfolding the paper clip and then asking her to again notice her reactions.

Same thing. In fact, Stacy's reactions were getting even stronger now after my having unfolded the paper clip. Each time I picked it up or put it back, Stacy stared intensely and directly at it, but only while the hand holding the paper clip was in motion.

I then asked Stacy to try to not stare at the paper clip. Then, I picked it up again. Not surprisingly, Stacy found she could not keep from staring at the paper clip no matter how hard she tried. In fact, she openly admitted she could not keep from staring at it, this while she smiled at her newly acquired self awareness.

the Significance of Being "Unnaturally Drawn to Look"

As a side note, please try to understand the significance of Stacy's reaction; being unnaturally drawn to look at something. This reaction is one of the more important tools a healer can know about as it always indicates a "key." And for those new to Emergence as a Therapy, please know that my use of the word "key" here is not the logical sense of it, as in "the key to understanding" but rather the literal sense of it, as in "a hypnotic cue created during a wounding scene." These cues are incredibly valuable in that a guide can use them to reveal the exact nature of the person's wounding scene and more; the precise location of the painful charge present in these scenes.

Discovering "keys" is the best and most direct way to begin healing. With them, a guide can use Direct Emergence to help the person to regain a normal reaction to this key, meaning, neither an over reaction nor an under reaction to this person, place, or thing. More important, by a "normal" reaction, I do not mean simply that the person no longer over or under reacts to the key. In fact, the only proof of healing Emergence Practitioners accept is that the person has come to be wonderfully drawn to the key. In other words, the person comes to love the key.

This idea, that healing is not simply eliminating symptoms, is one of the most important ideas in Emergence as a Therapy. Without it, what we call healing can be misconstrued to mean people have simply become behaviorally immune to the key, or in other words, that they have learned to no longer suffer in its presence.

This idea is simply not the case, nor is it ever the goal in Emergence as a Therapy. Why? Because there is an enormous difference between a person who has "no reaction" to something and a person who loves something. And in case you did not notice, I sub titled this story, "the Girl Who Learned to Love Needles." Please note, my use of the word "love" is deliberate and meaningful.

Now back to the story.

"Setting the Stage"

Looking to gather more props from the stage of her wounding scene, I used Visual Dialogue and asked Stacy how old she felt. "About six," she answered. Not surprisingly, within minutes, she saw a scene emerge from her age six, one in which she was about to get a needle.

Many would now ask, "was this the source of Stacy's fear of needles?" If this is you, I would now answer, I have no idea. More important, I am certain it does not matter if this was the scene and in fact, it never does matter.

How can I be saying this? Because what Stacy saw in this scene might have been the actual wounding scene. Or it might have been a composite of several, similar and related scenes.

It also might have been a scene in which Stacy had simply witnessed on television. Or it could also have been something she had simply imagined at some point.

Finally, it could have been some mix or any and all these things.

My point is, all these kinds of experiences can wound a person. The person need only have experienced the "sequence of three"; the life script underlying all human wounding. Very simply put, this script is entirely comprised of just the following three things, experienced in this exact order: [1] the person needs to have become hyperaware (entranced), [2] the person needs to have been startled while in this hyperaware state, and [3] the person needs to have abruptly gone into shock (gone blank inside.)

This is it, the entire nature of scenes in which human being incur injuries to their personalities.

Too simple to be true? Hard to believe? Too much to take in?

If so, for now, please just set your reservations aside. Believing this script is truly as important as I am now claiming has taken me years and years and years of research. Further, this research has included me having personally witnessed many, many healing scenes, most of which I witnessed while feeling enormous amounts of skepticism as to the true nature of what I thought I was seeing.

Believe me, it's there. This script, the one I call the sequence of three's, is always there. Know, however, that it is s not at all important that you believe it's there for healing to happen. Healing happens no matter what you initially believe. In fact, the more skeptical you are at the start, the deeper the awe and wonder you feel after healing. In fact, perhaps this why I still feel this awe and wonder whenever I witness this sequence, this even after years of seeing it.

Whatever the case, what I did next was to begin to set the stage for Stacy's healing in and around needles. I did this by asking her to describe to me the details present in scene which had just emerged. I did this knowing I would later use these details to set the stage on which I would try to help Stacy to heal.

Now, to be brief, the essence of what Stacy told me was, she saw herself sitting in a chair and about to get a needle from someone standing to her right. I then helped Stacy to experientially step onto this stage, by asking her to continue to describe the details she saw.

I then moved into the next phase; literally setting the physical stage.

Doing the "Direct Emergence"

I now began to physically set the stage in order to do the Direct Emergence. I did this first, by asking Stacy to move to another chair and then, by having her mom sit in a chair to her left. I then asked Stacy if it would be OK if her mother held her hand. Another OK.

Then I asked her if it would be OK if I stood to her right.

Finally, I asked Stacy if she would be willing to lay her right arm, palm up, on the right arm of her chair.

When all this was in place, I then began the Direct Emergence process and asked Stacy if it would OK if I moved the unfolded paper clip toward her arm. Clearly, even the thought of this made her cringe. Bravely, she told me to go ahead.

Slowly and carefully, then, I began to move the paper clip toward Stacy's arm, stopping inches away from her skin. I then moved the paper clip back and out of her sight. Then I asked Stacy how she had done.

"It was hard," she said, and in fact, it was hard for all three of us. We could all feel how Stacy was obviously suffering even at the thought of the paper clip touching her arm. I don't think she could, at this point, even keep her eyes open nor her face from scrunching up.

Next, we tried this "needle in the air" process again, this time with me gently reassuring Stacy that I was not going to touch her arm while at the same time, slowly moving the paper clip toward her.

"It was a little bit easier that time," she said, this without being asked and with a bit of surprise. Here again, the person's pleasant surprise is the evidence some healing has occurred.

We then tried it again.

This time, Stacy responded with even more surprise, as she felt noticeably less frightened by my moving the paper clip toward her arm.

Again, we each say the telltale signs that healing was occurring.

Finally I went for the big one. I asked Stacy if I could touch her arm with the paper clip, and again, she bravely but nervously replied, "OK."

Are you picturing the tension in the room? Can you picture the anxiety I was feeling at the time? After all, here I am, deliberately hurting a little girl in the service of her healing. Despite knowing this, though, and despite having done this very thing to an even younger girl previously, I still felt bad.

Why mention this? Because I have come to understand that seeing my reluctance and coincident suffering as a part of the person's healing process IS a part of how the person heals. How? When people consciously witness my reluctance during the Direct Emergence process, they seem to attach new feelings to the person whom originally hurt them. And no matter whom or what happened in the original wounding scene, having the person attach these new, more loving feelings to the person who wounded them is a good thing.

What makes this a good thing?

Because adding loving to a wounding scene is a necessary and important part of the healing process, no matter who wounded you and no matter what they did. And because without this added love, the wounded person will continue to suffer whenever they are again in the presence of this person, event, or thing, or anyone or thing who reminds them of this person, event, or thing.

Stacy seeing my reluctance was important. After I was sure she had seen it then, we continued.

We now began to go through the scene more deeply, this time with me actually touching Stacy's arm with the paper clip.

At first, when I did this, Stacy struggled to stay present, especially as the paper clip came closer and closer to her arm. Finally, though, she was able to stay present as touched her arm, this even when I gently pushed the paper clip into her arm a bit.

At this point, I was done.

Done with Stacy and her healing?

No, done with this particular part of the process. Why? Because I had hit my limit as far as how much I could hurt her in the service of healing.

This was my limit though. What about Stacy and her limit?

Over the years in which I've been doing this process, I have found that no matter whose limit I focus on, whether this be the person's limit or my own limit, that either works fine as far as being a good gauge. This is true, however, only as long as I make connecting to the person during the healing process my priority. In fact, I find it easier to focus on my own limit as I can sense my own limits pretty well by now. How? By simply focusing on how alone I feel during the process or in other words, by how disconnected I feel from the explorer.

I had felt pretty alone in that last round of Direct Emergence, that is, until Stacy felt better. After this, then, I asked Stacy and her mom to return to their original seats so that we could then process what we had all witnessed.

As we did, I noticed that even during this part of the process, Stacy was still continuing to heal, in that as we spoke, she repeatedly experienced the details of what we had just done with joyful surprise.

the Aftermath: Stacy's Blood Test

So how well did Stacy's session work?

Later that week, I saw the proof and in fact, heard about it from no less than three people, each of which told me the same thing in different words; that Stacy had not only been OK during her blood test, but that she had actually enjoyed it.

Imagine this! In each case, Stacy had asked the person to be sure to tell me how she had happily had a blood test! In fact, Stacy later told me this in person, smiling all the while.

Sound too strange to be true? Well, if you are skeptical, I can understand. After all, so much about emergence contradicts what is believed.

Still, from the way Stacy reacted to her blood test, I can certainly be sure of one thing: Stacy was now happy and excited about having a blood test.

Imagine that! Happy to have a blood test! This from a girl who had only days before hated needles and had hated them for most of her life. And if you now find yourself cringing at just the thought of this idea, please take note.

If you fear needles, you have a genuine reason to have hope. Further, you don't have to suffer with your fear forever. More important, given the time and the guide to help you, you can even come to experience the love present on these stages, the love of the care giver who is giving you the needle.

This love didn't occur to you? If so, I'd guess you were in the majority. In fact, I'd bet very few people have ever noticed the care these care givers have been giving?

Take a moment, now, to imagine this care. If you can't imagine it, know this is the proof you are wounded. But if you can imagine it, imagine how many other stages there are on which people experience the same inability to experience care from a care giver or worse, how many people feel only pain when receiving care.

Here, then is just a hint of the true importance of this story. This inability to see the love present in a scene wherein care is being given happens to an incredible amount of people. To more people, in fact, than I would bet has ever been realized.

Fortunately, noticing this "missing piece" is the beginning of healing this injury. And so, for anyone who can now even consider this possible, you can be sure, you have begun to heal yet another BLock in you.

Want to know more about the techniques used here?


A Quik Summary of Emergence as a Therapy
A Quik Summary of BLocks, Keys, and Healing
A Quik Summary of the First Six BLock Markers, including "hate"


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