Often when clients come in for therapy, many of their presenting issues are rooted in past negative events or traumas. We all experience traumas – big and small; and some people experience many traumas. Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT (often known as Tapping Therapy or EFT Therapy), is a tool used by psychotherapists to help client manage stress and anxiety, as well as release negative emotions and past traumas.
Although most people refer to the non-clinical term “tapping,” therapists focus on the term “Emotional Freedom Technique” because the research and technique have a precise meaning. EFT is a tool used for physical, emotional and performance issues. EFT operates on the premise that no matter what part of your life needs improvement, unresolved issues are in the way. Any kind of emotional stress can impede the human body’s ability to heal itself. EFT works like emotional acupressure to quickly, gently, and easily release negative emotions and beliefs that are at the root of the problem.
According to The Association for the Advancement of Meridian Energy Techniques (AAMET), many scientific studies have validated the effectiveness of EFT and continue to shed light on the mechanisms that underlie the process. The meta-analyses of research for both anxiety and depression demonstrate how effective EFT Tapping is in symptom relief. In 2012, The American Psychological Association (APA) validated EFT as an evidenced based treatment. Additionally, numerous studies examine the treatment outcomes of EFT on individuals with PTSD, anxiety, depression, pain, physical performance, and weight loss. It is a growing area of scientific interest and many studies are being conducted at this time.
We are learning more about how EFT works and know that it impacts energy fields, improves neuroplasticity, changes cortisol levels, and impacts the limbic system and changes one’s brain waves. Researchers know that stressful and traumatic events can generate a chronic and persistent state of arousal due to the innate flight or fight response. Chronic stress states make people more vulnerable to stress and negatively impacts our brain and body impacting people emotionally and causing attachment issues.
EFT, as a form of psychological acupressure, focuses on the same energy meridians that traditional acupuncture has used to treat physical and emotional ailments for over five thousand years. Simple tapping with the fingertips inputs kinetic energy onto specific body meridians while you give voice to your specific problem. The technique combines exposure, cognitive restructuring, and physical relaxation while tapping on a sequence of meridian points and repeating key phrases out loud.
Fingertips contain points where the three main energy channels (Central, Right Main, and Left Main Channels) meet. Meridian points are certain points that can be mapped throughout the body where energy circulates through your body along this specific network of channels. You can tap into this energy at any point along the system but EFT uses specific points to help release emotional and physical trauma. This physical EFT tapping with the fingertips targets the acupuncture points on the face and body where the energy is stuck to help clear this out. The physical tapping is a piece of how EFT works to help balance and open the way for the energy traveling through these channels to flow freely throughout the body.
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 learn EFT to manage stress and promote wellness. When done in a therapy session with a licensed psychotherapist, EFT helps address clinical issues.
In a psychotherapy session, faulty beliefs and cognitions are identified and addressed through the EFT process. With the assistance of a psychotherapist, one is able to work through conscious and subconscious issues in a way that supports the release of stress and unforgettable feelings.
An EFT session isn’t like a typical talk psychotherapy session. With EFT, one taps on specific body acupuncture points or tapping points while following a “
Set Up Statement” that acts like a script.
First, you identify the issues or emotions you want to accent. Then, you give your emotions an intensity rating. Upon completion, you will rate the intensity again to measure your progress.
EFT requires focusing on a negative emotion at hand such as a fear or anxiety, a bad memory, or an unresolved problem. Simultaneously, you mentally focus on th
is issue and use your fingertips to tap three to five times each on nine of the body’s meridian points. The integration of physical and mental awareness creates an adaptive systemic effect helping you identify patterns in your responses to stressors.
With EFT, you tap along a series of specific meridians while making statements in an effort to address faulty beliefs and cognitions, stress, or other uncomfortable feelings. You can tap on one side of the body or both and the effect will be the same. The first “tap” occurs on the side of the hand (this is called the karate chop). While you acknowledge the problem, you also need to acknowledge something reaffirming. For example, “Even though I feel anxious, I deeply and completely love and accept myself”. You repeat the tapping sequence until you get the intensity rating down to a level where you feel comfortable. By tapping on these meridian points while concentrating on accepting and resolving the negative emotion, you access your body’s energy and restore it to a comfortable, more balanced state.
I recently used the EFT approach with a client who had developed a fear of going to sleep at night. This client was afraid each night that she would be unable to sleep. Just thinking about attempting to sleep while sitting in my office brought the intensity of the fear up to a 9 out of 10. We began tapping on the statement: ‘Even though I have a fear that I won’t be able to sleep at night and it’s a 9, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. After a few rounds of tapping the fear came down to a 3. With the intensity of the fear lower we were able to uncover additional issues around the fear of not falling asleep and after just two sessions the woman is able to relax into her nighttime routine and reporting better sleep as a result.
EFT focuses attention inward to bring awareness to an emotion or problem. The tapping restores wellness by releasing a stuck emotional experience or memory because the person can review the experience or emotion without reliving the experience and overactivation of the nervous system.
Emotions are the primary link to the subconscious and lead us to the energy block’s location. During the tapping process, information arises from our subconscious mind to our conscious awareness because we are creating a space for those emotions to release without reliving them. By tapping to release stuck emotions, people clear energy blocks. For some, these emotions create difficult to release physical issues, but EFT can release both emotional and physical expressions of trauma and negative emotions.
The “set-up statement” in EFT allows the emotion to simply be, without resistance or negative self feelings, which is very different than talk therapy. This acceptance, along with the “tuning in” that occurs when giving the problem an intensity rating, helps people connect to the present moment without being over activated. EFT brings attention to thought processes that contribute to stress and emotional problems. Under these conditions, the emotion can be safely felt and expressed because you are compartmentalizing your emotions while simultaneously calming the nervous system through tapping on meridians. Any internal conflict activated is supported by the tapping that coincides with the energy disruption helping to restore the balanced energy flow and internal peace through the release of the stuck emotion.
Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime.
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