Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT (often known as Tapping Therapy), is a tool used by psychotherapists to help client manage stress and anxiety, as well as release negative emotions and past traumas. EFT is used for a variety of conditions but is most commonly used to manage stress, anxiety, and anxiety-related conditions.
Conditions EFT supports:
The amygdala and hippocampus, which are involved in your body’s flight or fight response, the CNS can react less strongly to stimuli. The amygdala and hippocampus have a major role in emotional regulation and stress responses and are part of the the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. When we are under stress, these brain structures, jump into action and prepare for crisis which triggers the fight or flight response. The amygdala overrides the prefrontal cortex when involved with the fight or flight system. The prefrontal cortex is the center for critical and rational thought while the amygdala commands our emotional reactions. Without good prefrontal control, the amygdala hijacks the brain and we react in less rational ways as the brain goes into survival mode.
Tapping Therapy, professionally referred to as EFT, is combines cognitive restructuring with tapping on meridians. This activity allows the brain and body to release stress through the process of regulating the central nervous system (CNS) and releasing negative thoughts and emotions.
EFT Tapping Therapy is clinically valid therapy and self-help technique that supports the brain and body to remove stress and anxiety, while restoring balance. Research supports that it is very effective in resolving issues quickly by promoting a deeper mind-body connection.
Tapping along specific energy points, or meridians, is an integral part of why EFT Tapping is so effective. , Research indicates that when energy patterns are disrupted due to stressful experiences the path of energy between neurons can be disrupted. When people release negative emotions with the Tapping solution, it may help the energy flow again.
While tapping meridian points with your fingers, you find it easier to talk through negative experiences, traumatic memories, and a wide range of emotions. This combination of tapping along meridian points to release the physical energy combined with cognitive restructuring techniques supports releasing negative emotions and memories that may be holding a person back or causing distress.
An EFT Tapping Meditation combines both EFT Tapping points with the active process of meditation. Through the action of EFT Tapping, one becomes mindful allowing them to enter into a meditative state. The goal of both EFT Tapping Therapy and meditation is to restore the body and mind to optimal functioning, which in turn reduces stress and promotes wellness.
Mindfulness techniques, like meditation, encourage and develop concentration, clarity, and emotional positivity that allow acalm view of the true nature of things. Meditation means ceasing the thought process or, in other words, stopping your thinking. This state of consciousness frees the mind of scattered thoughts and various patterns, but this takes time and practice to achieve. Meditation has clinical proof showing its impact on a broad spectrum of physical and psychological symptoms and syndromes, including anxiety reduction, pain reduction, depression minimization, stress diminishment, mood enhancement, and self-esteem improvement.
The daily practice of meditation and EFT Tapping Therapy is an an amazing tool in getting the nervous system to calm down to reduce racing thoughts, which helps the body self-regulate and promotes healing.
Not only is EFT a self-help tool, but when done under the care of a licensed psychotherapist, it is a therapeutic technique. As a self-help tool, one can use EFT for anxiety, stress management, and wellness promotion. When done in a therapy session with a licensed psychotherapist, EFT helps address clinical issues.
Many alternative and holistic healing therapists incorporate EFT to support anxiety and stress. Research demonstrates that EFT significantly increases positive emotions such as hope and enjoyment and decreases negative emotional anxiety and stress because it calms the CNS.
When someone is in a stress state, they are often in a constant state of overactivation. Overactivation is when the Central Nervous System is agitated. This agitated state makes the reasoning process in a traditional talk therapy session almost impossible because people can’t access their rational brains and think clearly. Feelings of stress and anxiety can be addressed safely and effectively with EFT.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The traumatic event that causes PTSD can be big or small. Researchers now know that trauma just doesn’t have to be from war trauma, natural disaster experience, or abuse, but can also result from medical experiences, grief, and a variety of other experiences.
PTSD symptoms can last for weeks, years, or even a lifetime if not addressed. The disorder affects how the brain and body function. Symptoms may include nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, heightened reactions, poor attention or cognitive functioning, behavioral issues, sensory processing problems, physical pain, anxiety, or depressed mood. Children and adults can experience PTSD.
While some individuals with PTSD experience extremely high levels of distress causing them to struggle with daily life and relationships, others learn to cope with high levels of anxiety. Since many things can subconsciously trigger anxiety, moving past the trauma becomes difficult. Moreover, exposure to one trauma can make you more susceptible to experience heightened stress responses leading to additional emotional trauma.
When someone suffers a trauma, their CNS becomes agitated. The neurobiological systems that regulate stress responses include certain endocrine and neurotransmitter pathways. Additionally, a network of brain regions regulate fear behavior at both conscious and unconscious levels. Although stressors generally activate the HPA axis, which results in increased cortisol, those in a chronic stress state due to trauma live in a constant state of overreaction. Chemical and biological imbalances in the brain can present after trauma impacting the amygdala, hippocampus and overall CNS regulation. The amygdala can become overstimulated resulting in a highly alert and activated looping state during which it seeks and perceives threat everywhere. Excess stress hormones in the hippocampus lead to less effective decision making causing people to remain in reactive mode. Constantly elevated stress hormones interfere with the CNS’s ability to regulate itself. This systemic chronic dysregulation causes a functional impairment leading certain individuals to be “psychologically traumatized.” In other words, they suffer from PTSD.
When under the care of a licensed psychotherapist, EFT is a highly effective and valid tool used with individuals with PTSD. The research shows us that individuals suffering from PTSD do well with EFT with 63% of cases remediated in 10 or less sessions of EFT.
Following the Sandy Hook tragedy on 12/14/12, therapist Lauren Wolfe sought out extensive EFT Training to help the community and children affected. Nick Ortner, Lori Leydon and other certified EFT Practitioners with the Tapping Solution Foundation provided this training because they recognized the importance of helping the traumatized community. Lauren tells us, “Using the specific EFT techniques for releasing trauma was incredibly effective for my clients then as it is today. Using it with such traumatized individuals, I realized how effective it was over straight cognitive behavioral therapy. I could bring clients relief within a short number of sessions”.
EFT teaches children to learn self-calming and process their emotions. In an increasingly anxious world, the average age of onset of anxiety disorder is now age six. Kids need tools to manage stress.
When children experience developmental trauma, addressing their issues as early as possible is imperative. Early intervention addresses issues before they spiral. A spiral often leads to increased behavioral issues, interference with emotional, sensory, and behavioral regulation, attachment issues, and later at-risk behaviors. EFT offers one solution to break the repetitive stress cycle and helps the child learn how to appropriately respond to stress and sensory stimuli in a regulated manner.
Children often respond quickly to EFT and enjoy the process because body tapping provides active kids a physical activity to go along with talking. EFT is highly effective method to calm the body and shift the emotional state and more importantly it is also a self-help tool that kids (and adults) can use as a coping mechanism. EFT helps children identify issues and put words to emotions, which is an invaluable emotional self-regulation tool. Children’s behaviors often signal their distress., All children are learning how to manage feelings and express themselves in appropriate ways, but this is even harder when they have experienced a trauma or under duress. When there is a significant issue, EFT along with a psychotherapist engaging in emotionally focused therapy aids brain and body to release stagnating emotions and negative negative experiences.
Many parents use EFT tapping with a child before they go to bed, as a way to decompress from the day to aid falling asleep. It gives children inner peace and helps address issues that can fester and become problems by giving them the tools to manage their emotions.
For example, after a 10 minute EFT session one 10 year old boy said, “My bad feelings used to wrap all around the world but now they just go to the end of this room.”
Lauren Wolfe is a trauma informed, AAMET certified EFT clinician. She specializes in working with anxious children and parents and incorporates holistic modalities in therapy. She is a member of AAMET International and a licensed counselor.
Dr. Roseann is a Psychologist who works with children, adults, and families from all over the US, supporting them with research-based and holistic therapies that are bridged with neuroscience. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and is a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS) and Epidemic Answers. She is also a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), Connecticut Counseling Association (CCA), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
©Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2019