The Emotional Freedom Technique, Therapy, and Creativity

Jilian Medford (IAN SWEET) found a way to break through trauma and make Show Me How You Disappear.

I found out a lot of things about myself while in outpatient therapy. I learned how stubborn I am (maybe I already knew that… I am a taurus after all). But it was a new type of stubborn — I wasn’t being stubborn or defiant against anyone else but myself. Even though I wanted so badly to get the help, I was cautious to do the work. What was the worst thing that was going to happen to me? Maybe I’d actually feel good for the first time in god knows how long. Maybe I’d actually be able to be present with people for the first time in god knows how long. Maybe I’d be able to just sit with myself without wanting to crawl out of my own skin for the first time in god knows how long. So yeah, I was stubborn for no good reason.

That was until my therapist started talking about tapping, or emotional freedom technique (EFT). It seemed super weird to me at first, and I’m always a skeptic, but my therapist kept telling me that it truly helped people heal from some of the darkest trauma, habits, and illnesses. I felt so helpless at that point I wanted to try anything to feel some sort of release from trauma and the anxiety/depression surrounding it.

Tapping has become my holy grail. Something clicked with me the first time I did it; I immediately felt like I was floating. I’ve never been one for meditation, it’s always been hard for me to focus and stay present. Tapping is a form of meditation, one that you walk yourself through. You are guiding yourself through it, repeating mantras, phrases, goals, hopes, dreams, things you’d like to forgive yourself or others for. It is truly all encompassing because it can be whatever you want it to be. While you recite these mantras or phrases you “tap” the pressure points on your body: the sides of your nose, below your eyes, your temples, above your lip, right below your collarbone, your bra line, and to end, the top of your head. You use both hands and both your index finger and middle finger to tap, and as you tap you repeat the phrases, the mantras, whatever it is you need a little bit of healing with that day. This practice takes me completely outside of myself even for just a brief moment. I am able to connect with my body and mind and align them so they can help each other work and function and keep me healthy. 

I wrote a lot of my record while in treatment — I took the mantras that I recited during tapping and inserted them as lyrics. Sometimes I would even start to sing a melody as I was tapping and keep the tempo while my finger tapped on my skin. My songwriting has transformed and progressed in ways I didn’t expect. The entire process of making this record was different than anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve never felt more confident in my songwriting than I did on this record, because it was happening in real time, in the real moments of healing. Every song is a new discovery, and the more I would sing it and repeat the phrases over and over and over it felt like a meditation. Things were clicking. Usually I find it difficult to write music when I am in my darkest moments, it almost feels TOO much. But I knew that I needed to write to heal, or to begin the process of healing. 

I continue to learn new things every day about what I was feeling and going through in the moments of making this record. I would have six-hour days in therapy and then head to the studio after to record all night — real-time processing every emotion, which made it hard to actually have perspective or time away from the feelings. That’s why I am so proud of this record and think it is my best work: I’m trying to figure things out with each word, with each new chord that hits. I’m begging for an answer and I’m not shying away from the fact that I have nothing figured out. But as each song was getting completed I was piecing the puzzle together… Of course I have the puzzle box that comes with like four missing pieces and there’s no conclusion or finale to finishing the big puzzle. It’ll always have those missing pieces, but it is MY puzzle and that’s why it is the best, most spectacular, weird looking puzzle.

(Photo Credit: Lucy Sandler)

Mesmeric and kaleidoscopic, shimmering with electrified unease, Jilian Medford’s new Show Me How You Disappear is both an exercise in self-forgiveness and an eventual understanding of unresolved trauma. Medford’s third record as IAN SWEET unfolds at an acute juncture in her life, charting from a mental health crisis to an intensive healing process and what comes after. How do you control the thoughts that control you? What does it mean to get better? What does it mean to have a relationship with yourself?

(Photo Credit: Lucy Sandler)