Tapping Case Study: Turning Bullies Into Enlightened Leaders

Written by: Nick Ortner

Bullies are made, not born, and yet many of us, quite understandably, struggle to feel compassion for them. What then happens is that bullies lose their voice, often even their right to speak, except when they’re behaving like bullies.

So what happens when we go out of our way to give bullies a voice – and then, a chance to heal from the pain that is causing them to behave like bullies? It was the question The Tapping Solution Foundation got an opportunity to answer when we first began working with Shyla.

During her last year in middle school, Shyla had suddenly turned into a dark, brooding teenager. Now in high school, her grades had been on a downward spiral, and nearly every week she was being sent to the principal’s office for bullying.

Prone to rage-fueled outbursts, Shyla had become a source of disruption and frustration for teachers and administrators alike. Unfortunately, the ongoing negative attention she was getting – in the form of school detention, reprimands, and more – only seemed to worsen her attitude, behavior, and performance.

What few at her school initially realized was that Shyla’s transformation had taken place soon after a shooting had taken place at her former school. Forced to remain still and quiet in the dark for five agonizingly long hours of city-wide lockdown, Shyla, then a middle schooler, had huddled alone under a desk listening for gunshots while helicopters flew overhead and sirens blared nearby.

Although she had survived that day, all these years later Shyla was being haunted by the trauma of that experience.

To make matters worse, Shyla’s family life was unpredictable. Whether at home or school, Shyla felt she had nowhere to turn for support and guidance.

Understanding Bullies

Fortunately, one administrator at her current school looked into Shyla’s history. After realizing that Shyla had been caught in that shooting, the school reached out to The Tapping Solution Foundation, which is increasingly being recognized for the success of its trauma relief programs in schools nationwide.

Soon after sitting down with Shyla, it was clear to Lori Leyden, Director of The Tapping Solution Foundation at that time, that Shyla was suffering from untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) incurred during the school shooting.

After explaining how tapping accesses the amygdala in the brain and then lowers cortisol levels in the body, Lori asked how her body feels when she’s overcome by rage. Shyla described a burning sensation in her stomach, and an inability to think before acting out her rage.

Hoping to motivate her to do trauma healing work, Lori asked Shyla what her goal was. Kids who are labeled as “bullies” are often punished, but rarely asked what they want or how they feel, so giving Shyla a voice in the process was critical. “I want to improve my grades so I can transfer to the school I want to go to,” Shyla replied without hesitation.

While many of her teachers saw Shyla as an out of control problem student, it was clear that Shyla had done extensive independent research about attending this one specific school. In order to attend that school, however, she had to maintain a higher grade point average and receive positive reviews from teachers.

How Tapping Can Help

With that long-term goal clearly in mind, Lori then asked Shyla to focus on a petty annoyance she’d recently experienced. Before diving into trauma healing work, it’s important to experience some kind of results from tapping, as those initial results make people more invested in the process.

Shyla’s petty annoyance had happened a few days earlier, when her sister had borrowed Shyla’s favorite shirt without asking. Using that event as a starting point, Lori led Shyla through a few rounds of tapping. Within just a few minutes, Shyla could recall the event without feeling any irritation. She also shared that her body felt more relaxed.

Over a period of several weeks, Lori had weekly tapping sessions with Shyla, focusing on clearing the emotional intensity of her memories of the school shooting. When the focus turned to Shyla’s bullying behavior, it became clear that she, like many kids, had only begun bullying others after being continually bullied by a small group of students at her current school.

Her bullying was a coping strategy, a way to appear tough so that she herself would no longer be harassed.

There had been one especially traumatic day when a student had called her fat, and then ripped her shirt and pushed her into a nearby crowd to be publicly mocked. Just recalling that day, Shyla could feel rage burning in her stomach before racing up into her head. With that memory fresh in her mind, it took just two rounds of tapping to get Shyla’s rage from a 10 out of 10 down to a 2.

After releasing the emotional charge from these events and others, Shyla once again became a different kid. This time, however, the transformation was a reflection of her positive mental and emotional well-being. The next time she was bullied, instead of lashing out in rage, she stayed calm. She also reported the bullying to school administrators.

Her goal of getting into the other school was so important to her that, for the first time ever, Shyla was willing to risk being called a “tattle tale.”

From Bully to Leader

Since then, Shyla has become a leader at her school. Teachers and administrators alike now see her as an example of the transformation they want to see in other students.

Once she’d used tapping to heal from the trauma of the school shooting she’d survived, Shyla no longer needed to use bullying behavior to defend herself. Instead, she can rely on positive forms of leadership to move her life and school community forward.

By giving Shyla a chance to heal and reclaim her voice, Shyla could see that she didn’t have to be victim to others’ bullying. Nor did she need to use bullying behaviors to protect herself. What a difference!

I’m thrilled to share that The Tapping Solution Foundation is doing this kind of work at a growing number of schools around the country, helping students, teachers, and administrators to heal from trauma, and to support them all in fostering a positive environment for learning and social/emotional development.

Just imagine what could happen if all children everywhere had easy access to the kind of healing that Shyla and her school community received.

Well, here’s a start! We’ve compiled Tapping resources for parents, teachers, kids, and teens that you can use at home and in the classroom. And be sure to reach out to The Tapping Solution Foundation if you need assistance.

Until next time…

Take care, and keep Tapping!

Nick Ortner

Do you have a similarly inspiring story about bullies and trauma healing that you’d like to share? If so, we’d love to hear it in the comments below. 🙂

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9 Comments on this post

  1. Name (required) says:

    I had tears. I so appreciate Lori’s work and the power of tapping to bring solace to mind and heart and completely change the trajectory of someone’s life. Kudos for the school administrator who connected the dots and opened up a new future for this traumatized child to realize her dreams.

    • Nick Ortner says:

      It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Just think of what we could do with more compassion and understanding. 🙂

  2. Linda Birmingham says:

    This should be shared with those that have the resource to help millions. I’m thinking of Dr. Phil, and/or his son, Jay McGraw who researched this problem and wrote book(s) that delves into exercising solutions for both those who are being bullied and for those who are the bullies.

    I hope you’ll reach out to them, and others, who are in a position help get this much needed information to the masses.

  3. kd12 says:

    Thanks for a very inspiring story. It is a great approach for youngsters who are bullies, rather than punishment being the only option.

    But does this model work with what has become a national bully crisis in the form of a president who bullies women, the poor, minorities, immigrants, disabled people, gays, etc.?

    Every day children and adults in this country are exposed to an incredible level of bullying tactics by the country’s top leader, from his speeches filled with put-downs to tweets and tv interviews. This engenders so much anger and rage, which then gets disbursed via social media, the news media, etc.

    It’s as if we, as a nation, are being collectively bullied. How do we handle a bully at such a high level of government?

    Maybe there is no definitive answer, but I believe many in this nation are struggling with increased mental health issues of anxiety and stress because of the current state of political leadership (or lack thereof).

    If you have any advice, many would love to hear it. Thanks for everything you do to promote Tapping as a beautiful healing modality.

    • Nick Ortner says:

      Those are great questions! I think modern politics has done very well at creating a division of “us vs. them” mentality, which creates a lot of angst and frustration within societies. But no matter what we each may believe about politics, the same principles of sending love and compassion still apply. If I would ask the same questions to my dear departed friend, Wayne Dyer, I can imagine him saying to me, “Just send him love.” 🙂

  4. Mistea1 says:

    Well, I finally identified the feeling in the pit of my stomach!! It wasn’t whatever weakness I or other ‘helpers’ thought it was. It was rage pure and simple. Thank you!! Now I know how to work it out if I even need to now.
    May you all be blessed in your wonderful healing work.

  5. verica says:

    So nice. I am very happy to find you. Many blessings.

  6. Ingrid Hassani says:

    A heartfelt “THANKYOU!” for granting this comprehensive glimpse at the astounding healing power of *TAPPING* . . . Immediately after becoming acquainted to Nick Ortner’s important work, I ‘knew’ that he had been divinely chosen for the role he is now playing out in this world of ours, now, just before our changeover into the next higher evolutionary round, into the next higher Dimension of Beingness. What an absolute Blessing this means for present-day humanity, becomes clear when we consider the impossibility for trauma-laden Souls to freely rise up into the next-higher Dimension.

    With utter gratitude, I am now looking forward to viewing the promised first two chapters of Nick Ortner’s book . . . feeling the BLESSINGS accompanying this entire development . . . Congratulations to presentday humanity – and ultimate gratitude to Nick Ortner for his openness to The Divine ORIGINATOR of A L L T H E R E I S . . . . . . . . . From Berlin, I.ngrid Hassani

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Over 17 Million Tapping Meditations Played in Our App!
Get Instant Access to our "Releasing Anxiety" and "Sleep Support: Quiet The Racing Mind" Tapping meditations.
Yes, I agree to receive email messages from The Tapping Solution & understand that I can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.