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Just what is EFT tapping all about?

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a.k.a tapping, is a form of intervention that draws on various theories of holistic medicine including acupuncture (minus the needles),neuro-linguistic programming (re-programming), energy psychology and Thought Field Therapy - TFT (founded by Roger Callahan, psychologist). It operates on the premise that no matter what part of your life needs improvement, there are unresolved emotional issues in the way. Even for physical issues, chronic pain, or diagnosed conditions, it is common knowledge that any kind of emotional stress can prevent the natural healing potential of the human body. The more unresolved emotional issues you can clear, the more peace and emotional freedom you will have in your life. Although it is known as pseudoscience and has not gotten enough support in clinical psychology, some medical health centers and schools are slowly opening up to accepting and adopting EFT for clients and students.

So what is EFT in a simple term?

It is talk therapy incorporated with a physical component (tapping). Tapping helps to calm the amygdala - limbic system (where the fear and stress response sits - fight, flight or freeze). Often times, stress or certain intense emotions can be carried over without ever finding a release. Just like a traumatic event, when left unprocessed will continue to remain in the body (more on this below) and continue to be triggered by events or people, if not now, in the future. Animals respond to stress by running away and then shaking off the excess energy, releasing stress/fear. Humans however, react differently. Often times we can't run off or fight back. The stress continues to sit within the body without finding a release. This may eventually affect our physiology - cortisol levels go up, high blood pressure, headaches/migraine, back ache, neck ache, etc. Our physical being is connected to our emotions and our thoughts, hence the mind body connection.

So, what happens at an EFT session?

  • The session begins with identifying an upsetting issue.

  • A subjective unit of distress (SUD) is used to gauge the intensity of the state of distress / upset / fear of the client, with 0 being not at all, and 10 being very intense.

  • The set up phrase will include the issue, followed by a statement of acceptance of self and the situation one is in. The tapping begins by using your finger-pads to tap the side of the palm of the other hand - the area used as a karate chop (it doesn't matter if you are using your left or right hand). The tapping in itself, fires up the neurons in your body to your brains - this helps to calm the mind and body whilst allowing the mind to look into the cause of the issue and eventually rewires / reprogram the mind. The tapping goes somewhat like this "Even though (negative feeling + issue) I am feeling very upset when I was scolded by the customer this morning, (followed by a positive statement) I choose to sooth and calm myself now".

  • The tapping sequence. We then move on to the next tapping points: the (beginning) side of the eyebrow, side of the eye, below the eye, below the nose, below the lips, below the collar bone, below the armpits (4 inches below), ending with the top of the head. As you tap about 7 or more times in each section, you repeat the issue - scolded by a customer, the emotions - feeling upset, and sensations that you feel - anger in my chest - maybe? Repeat the whole round sequence two or three times.

  • Check in with the SUD - intensity again. It would usually fall lower than when you first begin, if not keep going until the intensity lowers.

When can EFT be used?

EFT was first used to test on war veterans who suffered post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and has been found to significantly reduce their psychological stress. EFT has since been used to decrease anxiety, depression, overcome fears/phobias, improve work / sports performance, manage physical pain, increase positive thoughts and feelings, manage weight loss issues and other problems.

Dr Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist, wrote a book on "The Body Keeps the Score" and how trauma is stored in the body. The body remembers the feelings the person experienced in a traumatic situation (when something happens to fast, too soon and too much for the mind to process and understand what is happening - assault, war, etc), the mind is stuck with the same memory like a broken record without being able to move on. The movement therapies he has suggested in his book (Yoga, EMDR etc) has helped trauma patients to process these events and allow them to move ahead.

In a similar way, EFT by tapping certain parts of our body- the meridian lines where the energy moves - helps with calming the mind, processing the event and moving ahead in a gentle manner without re-traumatizing the person. Although there is yet more research to be done on explaining how EFT and energy movement helps, EFT practitioners have experienced and seen how this technique has helped clients become a better version of themselves, become more positive and calm. The only issue we practitioners face is when clients come in to work on something and after tapping, doesn't attribute EFT tapping to their own healing, mainly because EFT is a really simple, and easy technique that rapidly decreases the emotions/issues. However, that is ok for us, because the main work we do is to see our clients walk out lighter, calmer and brighter - because of the clarity they have received.

What next?

When you work with a practitioner, you will be guided to look into where all these intense, distressing, upsetting emotions first begin that may has caused the recent trigger within you. The work that we do by going back to the past, helps to identify the beliefs you held all the years; these beliefs were seen and experienced from the eyes of your younger self (perception) and are usually no longer helpful or useful now, eg " I am not good enough, I am not smart enough, no one wants me, I can't trust anyone, I am not safe etc..."

Carl Jung once said, "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves". No one likes to be triggered but it is a gift; a gift of knowledge, a gift for healing and a gift for strength. EFT is a safe and gentle therapy as it seeks to calm one down before looking within. Find a licensed practitioner that you are comfortable with to begin your healing work:


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