Easing a Faulty Childhood Belief
A REMAP process Case Example
Using Acupressure “Primary Points” to Identify Optimum Meridians for Treatment
By Steve B. Reed, L.P.C., L.M.F.T.
Jill realized that she had an unhelpful and faulty belief that was leftover from her early childhood. Somehow she had developed the idea that if she would just hang on to things that were emotionally upsetting, that she would be magically immunized against another bad event. She knew that this did not make any sense. But she also knew that she feared letting go of that old belief. I asked her, “What would be the worst thing that would happen if you did let it go?” She said, “I’d die or someone close to me would die.” Even though she knew at a more rational level that this was not true, it nonetheless felt true. And, she functioned as if it were true.
This illustrates a classic conflict between the frontal cortex, the rational part of the brain, and the limbic system, older brain structures that includes the amygdala and hippocampal formation. It let me know that her belief was rooted in an experience of such intensity that it left an imprint glued into the more primitive part of the brain. The map of her mental terrain had been altered. To loosen the emotional glue that bound that belief so tightly and to remap her mental terrain, I knew that we would need to ease the emotionally charged memories that lead her to form and integrate that irrational belief in the first place.
Treatment with the REMAP process began by guiding Jill’s eyes slowly around the periphery of her visual field in order to help her access the issue more effectively. As she passed the 4 o’clock spot, she noted that the heaviness that she felt in her body intensified. By having her then look into that area she was able to tune-in to how her mind-body system had represented the experience. This allowed Jill to connect vividly enough that she could provide precise targeting information that would be more useful than the information that comes up when someone just casually talks about an event. In this case, she began to notice that she felt sad. She also observed that she had a visual scene in her mind of a little girl in a garage with white walls and a bare light bulb. The words that she associated with this emotional scene were “alone” and “empty.”
When dealing with events that fall along an emotional continuum of sadness, five acupressure meridians typically are involved: the Small Intestine Meridian, Large Intestine Meridian, Liver Meridian, Triple Warmer Meridian, and the Stomach Meridian.
While she continued to look into the four o’clock area of her peripheral visual field, I had her hold different acupoints, one at a time, that were along the meridians we wanted to test. If an acupoint felt worse or better then I would consider that point and meridian involved in her emotional distress. But if the point being tested felt neither better nor worse, I would view the meridian as uninvolved and not consider that point or meridian for treatment.
In the past, I would use the acupoints from Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) when trying to identify the involved meridians for treatment. These used to be what I called the starting points for the REMAP process. In this case, however, I decided to compare the starting points to a set of 12 points from acupressure called the Source or Primary points to see if there was a difference. The Primary points are used in some traditional Chinese methods as test points. Half of the Primary points appear on the hands. The other half are on the feet. Below I have identified the meridians, points, and a description of the locations that were tested.
Small Intestine Meridian (has 19 points)
Starting Point--SI 3 the side of the hand below the little finger knuckle
Primary Point--SI 4 the side of the hand just above the base of the wrist
Large Intestine Meridian (has 20 points)
Starting Point—LI 1 the side of the index finger facing the thumb, by the fingernail
Primary Point—LI 4 back of the hand, in the web between the index finger & thumb
Liver Meridian (has 14 points)
Starting Point—Liv 14 under the pectoral muscle on the lower front rib cage
Primary Point—Liv 3 top of the foot 1 inch above the knuckle of the big toe
Triple Warmer Meridian (has 23 points)
Starting Point—TW 3 back of the hand between knuckles of the ring and middle finger
Primary Point—TW 5 wristwatch area—toward the little finger side of the wrist
Stomach Meridian (has 45 points)
Starting Point—St 1 top of cheekbone just below the eyes
Primary Point—St 42 top of the foot between 2nd & 3rd toe bones an inch before bend at
For precise locations please reference the REMAP acupressure charts.
When testing acupoints to identify which meridians are involved, I use a + sign to indicate that the spot feels better when it’s held while the person thinks about their problem. I use a – sign to indicate the spot feels worse and the absence of either a + or – sign means that the point/meridian feels neither better nor worse. Here are the results from testing both points on the meridians that resonate with sadness.
Starting Point SI 3 LI 1 Liv 14 TW 3 St 1 -
Primary Point SI 4 - - LI 4 + Liv 3 + TW 5 - St 42 +
In this example, the use of the starting points would suggest that treatment should begin on the Stomach meridian. This meridian can resonate with sadness but plays a larger role in the emotion of fear. Given that Jill had a fear that she or someone would die if she were to give up her mistaken belief, the Stomach meridian seems to be a good choice. Yet, the emotion, kinesthetic sensations, and words that she accessed suggested sadness as the key emotion at that moment rather than fear. The Primary points were also more responsive (all were involved) and the point for the Small Intestine meridian registered the greatest negative charge (felt the worst). Based on this information, I decided to treat the Small Intestine Meridian first.
We began by treating the psychological block (reversal) at the Primary Point for the Small Intestine meridian, SI 4. Jill felt sick in her stomach, saw a black image, and reported a feeling of sadness coming up. Her level of distress was an 8 on the 0 to 10 scale (where 10 was the worst). The course of therapy also involved treating SI 2, SI 5, SI 6, SI 7, and SI 8. All of these acupoints were blocked (reversed) and required the use of statements of self-acceptance and other cognitive interventions to help them clear. As we ran out of time her distress had been reduced to a level 3.5. We agreed to continue work on this issue during the next session.
When we reconvened, Jill reported some sadness that she rated at a distress level of 5 regarding a related aspect of her issue: her mother’s death. We checked all of the starting points and Primary Points for sadness. The results were as follows:
Starting Point SI 3 - LI 1 Liv 14 TW 3 - St 1 +
Primary Point SI 4 + LI 4 + Liv 3 + TW 5 St 42 - -
Again, a Primary Point showed the greatest negative intensity. But this time it was directing us to the Stomach Meridian.
Several scenes emerged relating to Jill’s life when she was young and after her mother died. Each memory was of a time when Jill did not have a mother to help her in mother-daughter activities when she was a girl. We started by treating St 42, the Primary Point. We also treated the Sedation point (St 41) and the Tonification point (St 45). These points eased her sadness. Feelings of anger then emerged. Since the Liver meridian relates to both sadness and anger we shifted our treatment to that meridian. Those angry feelings dissipated after we treated three liver points: Liv 3 (Primary point), Liv 2 (Sedation point), and Liv 8 (Tonification point).
One final aspect then emerged which related to the fear of getting sick and dying young the way her mother did. Both Spleen 21 (starting point) and Spleen 3 (Primary point) felt worse when tested. Spleen 5 (Sedation point) also felt worse however Spleen 2 (Tonification point) was not involved. After treating those three involved points, the fear was gone. We rechecked the four o’clock spot in her visual field and it was clear. Her subjective units of disturbance scale had eased. It finally felt safe to let go of her old belief about hanging-on to things that were emotionally upsetting, so that she would be magically protected against another bad event. After this session, she felt resolved and complete with regard to her treatment.
Steve B. Reed, LPC, LMSW, LMFT is a psychotherapist and treatment method innovator who has developed the REMAP process. Steve provides training in the REMAP methods and individual counseling both in-office, by telephone, and video sessions.