Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The 24-year-old war veteran looked at therapist Lucille York and said, “I’ve done some really terrible things.”
This vet wasn’t just another client to York. He was her grandson through marriage; he was family. After his three stints in Iraq, she said she noticed he was exhibiting signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. He sat through one session with York and was even scheduled to go to a clinic for more help, but it was too late.
He was tired, he said. He just wanted to rest.
He died after taking a deadly dose of medication, leaving behind a wife and two little girls.
“It’s really sad some of these young men who go to war. For some, their brains aren’t even fully developed yet,” said York. “If they just knew they could feel better. That it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Displayed in York’s workspace at Stillpoint Health Associates Inc. is a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh that says, “Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle, illuminating the way for the whole nation. If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war. And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.”
York has been practicing Emotional Freedom Techniques, a form of energy psychology and emotional acupuncture developed by Gary Craig, since the late 1990s. Her degree is in education and psychology, and she is certified in EFT and through the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology.
“I’d always been frustrated with the conventional treatment of psychotherapy,” said York. “Even as I studied the material [about EFT], I was working on my own issues.”
EFT isn’t just for veterans suffering with PTSD, she said; it’s for anyone with low self-esteem, performance anxiety or the inability to handle fears, anxiety and stress from day to day. The method works by focusing on the traumatic incident or problem while tapping on certain points of the body and face to discharge stress. York said clients don’t forget the memories because EFT is not hypnosis, but the method results in sedated memories that don’t include the angst.
Clients can start to feel relief from their anxiety and depression after just one session, she said. According to a press release from the Foundation for Epigenetic Medicine in Santa Rosa, Calif., recent studies have shown the EFT method to be very successful in study groups, one of which was made up of 59 U.S. veterans.
“An impressive 86 percent of those receiving the treatment dropped from the category of clinical [severe] PTSD to the category of subclinical PTSD. This is the best result for PTSD ever obtained in a clinical trial of any therapy,” according to the press release.
The release also stated that Veterans Affairs does not currently offer EFT to patients, but certain congressmen and senators are advocating for the method.
“There’s a concerted effort to have EFT be the drug of choice of the VA,” said York. “Professionals are trying to get this done to offer help for a problem that is just heartbreaking.”
Critics of the method prefer more traditional forms of psychotherapy, not yet trusting this “new” treatment method with its “strange tapping motions,” she added.
“People tend not to accept new things. Can you imagine when people started using blood transfusions?” York laughed.
To patients hesitant to find out more she would say, “Is anything working now? Why not give it a chance?”
York said she has worked with 15 veterans in the past and has seen six of those improve from using the EFT method. The others, she said, did not follow through with the treatment.
“I think innately we are all OK,” said York. “We just need to get to that. Patients have to realize they can feel better. It’s rewarding when they know they can overcome this.”