A woman comes into the practitioner’s office and is distraught; she has been so frightened of driving for the last two years that her whole life has been organized around the fear. An hour later, she is hopeful and excited about driving, and a week later she comes back beaming, reporting that she has been driving all week, and feels wonderful.
What happened during that hour? A gentle, emotional regulating effective EFT session! Other stories tell of grinding panic, anxiety, fears, or chronic pain that go back to earlier trauma and may take many sessions to unravel.
Even in cases of extreme severe trauma, which may take years to address satisfactorily, the treatment length is dramatically rapid compared to traditional “talking only” therapies but no matter how challenging and intrusive symptoms may be, EFT may have great wonders to offer.
EFT can help you emotionally regulate by exploring and transforming your emotional reality – the thoughts, beliefs, and emotions you carry with you.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or “Tapping” is a body/mind self-help method that combines a gentle touch together with mindful and vocal attention to thoughts, feelings and emotions. EFT involves tapping with our fingertips on acupuncture points on the hands, face and body while focusing (temporarily) upon an issue we wish to resolve.
EFT helps transform self-limiting, self-sabotaging patterns, thoughts and beliefs linked to our emotional experiences. EFT allows us to release and transform the way uncomfortable feelings like hurt, guilt, grief, fear, or anger may be affecting us.
EFT works with the body’s subtle energy system – a network of energy pathways, called meridians in Traditional Chinese Medicine. However, with the development of more sophisticated medical technologies, the existence of the primo vascular system has been established. These documented pathways are accessible via specific locations on the body called acupoints.
Acupuncture uses needles on these points to release stuck, stagnant energy and rebalance the system while in EFT uses finger pressure. EFT has been called a ‘psychological version’ of acupuncture, as the simple process of tapping certain acupoints while focusing on an emotional upset has the effect of releasing the intense charge of troubling emotions.
When we are upset, and uncomfortable emotions like worry, fear, or guilt arise, it feels as if our systems are no longer in a state of peaceful harmony. In this case, what if our body is telling us that something we are feeling (or thinking) requires our attention?
We can think of EFT as helping reboot our personal energy system in relation to the issue at hand, similar to the way we reboot a computer, which has gotten stuck or has crashed. EFT can help us reset our personal energy system little by little at a pace that is right for us. Once our system begins “rebalancing” as we tap, we usually start feeling better – more relaxed, peaceful and serene – in relation to our specific problem or issue.
Our body, mind, and emotions are intricately connected. When we apply EFT to something that is bothering us, we can feel the shift in our thoughts, our feelings, and our bodily responses (i.e. stress or tension). Uncomfortable emotions have an energy pattern to them that we can feel (i.e. feeling bad), and we can be keenly aware of the change in the energy (i.e. feeling better). Using EFT, we may get noticeable relief and ease – quantum leaps of healing – with seemingly insurmountable problems, often where nothing else has worked in the past.
Another reason why EFT works so well is the effect that it often has on the brain. Scans of the brain, including fMRIs (functional MRIs), have shown that the stimulation of acupoints with needles sends signals directly into the “survival” parts of the brain where the fight-or-flight part of us lives. Words alone cannot reach these areas of the brain, which do not have direct neural connections with rational language centers.
It may be that EFT, which involves acupoint stimulation with tapping, reaches the survival-instinct mechanism of the brain and helps to reprogram our reactions at that level. This feature is not available in many modalities.
So why does it work? We’ve recently learned that it all has to do with an almond-shaped part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala manages your body’s stress response, and as such is responsible for your “fight-or-flight” reactions to anything that scares or threatens you. It alerts you to potential danger so you can respond accordingly. This is a good thing.
Here’s the catch: the amygdala cannot tell the difference between real and perceived danger. And for those of us who have experienced some kind of emotional or physical trauma in the past, the occurrence of something even slightly similar to what we encountered before can set our amygdala’s alarm bells ringing.
The result? When we are under stress, the pre-frontal cortex of the brain goes “offline,” and our body begins flooding with adrenaline and cortisol, known as “stress hormone”, into our nervous system that sets us on edge and can produce a whole variety of symptoms.
So, EFT intervention can help calm the amygdala, facilitate the release of calming chemicals, and bring us back to a more resourceful and balanced state.
Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes, as does people’s response to it.
Trauma influences our cognitive schemas at a profound level. It undermines our beliefs in both ourselves and our existence, and also our sense of reality as we know it. The resulting beliefs can seriously disrupt the every day running of our lives without us necessarily even realising it.
EFT’s effectiveness in working with trauma is extensive. Whilst it can bring immediate relief from traumatic memories, it is also a gentle tool for revealing the many layers and aspects that may be connected with trauma, working through them systematically and effectively until their emotional charge has gone.
There are many very gentle methods of working with trauma and EFT to keep the client safe from abreaction.
EFT and trauma should only be worked on with a qualified practitioner as to not re-traumatising the person.
In an EFT session we first identify the presenting issue/problem that is bothering you. We then bring somatic awareness to the body and mind by connecting with sensations, emotions and thoughts that are keeping you stuck in your connection to the issue. This is where we spend delicate time getting to the core, the triggering moment that started it all which can release the energy of the whole problem. Once we have accessed all the information, we prepare the ‘Setup’ statement to work on and proceed with the EFT process.
A little about the Setup: The Setup is the correction for psychological reversals or self-sabotaging as Kinesiology calls it. It prepares our energy systems for healing and change – a way of intentionally softening any internal objections to being wholly present to what we are experiencing. It creates a more positive energy or that speaking it whilst tapping allows us to step back more objectively – despite the problem, and it appears to trigger our issue in a safe manner, laying the groundwork for what is called “the disconfirming experience.” Hence, performing it helps unwire the neurological pathways between thinking about an issue and our distressed emotional response.
Let’s be honest, most people make strategies to avoid difficult feelings because they’re afraid of the discomfort of finally dealing with them; but this is the safest way to explore, acknowledge, and express the uncomfortable feelings being experienced right now. It’s time to let these emotions evolve and transform so you can feel freer and rebalanced again.
After just a few rounds of tapping, you may feel lighter and calmer and able to breathe more easily – almost as if you now have more space inside. Your thinking may have changed, you may have gained new insights or that you’re feeling better, overall. You may be unable to find that stuck feeling at all anymore! For instance, the fear may subside and now a new aspect is arises in its place like sadness or relief or embarrassment.
Alternatively, feelings may become more intense. This is a normal and all this means is that the numbing you may have been protecting yourself with is softening and easing.
The emotional intensity may rise which means that you are one step further towards resolving your issue.
Aspects of the emotion may change as you begin to notice what is bothering you – tone of voice, certain words someone said, a seemingly new feeling like shame, guilt, embarrassment, etc.
As we begin to notice, acknowledge, and transform how we carry our thoughts and emotions, we begin to see just how this may be contributing to pain, illness, or other personal challenges. By using EFT, we can reconnect with our innate sense of wellbeing.
Absolutely.For a child, a sick person, animals or anyone can benefit from EFT. EFT can be performed directly onto the person or via ‘surrogate’ which allows tapping your own body on behalf of the other person when they cannot be physically present.
Absolutely. Both methods of delivery are very effective and most people enjoy the comfort of their own space and find it created a common inner space of listening, which feels very healing. EFT can be done from anywhere around the world!
EFT is not a magic pill and every person and issue is treated as uniquely different. Remember, there are a variety of aspects that have contributed to an issue, and it can take multiple sessions to resolve it. The amazing thing about EFT is that profound shifts and positive changes can occur immediately and you will feel it at the very core restoring calm and balance.