Emotional Freedom Technique
Acupoint Tapping Therapy
What is EFT Tapping therapy?
EFT was developed by Gary Craig in around 1993, based on techniques he had learned from an earlier form of tapping therapy, which drew on Eastern understandings of meridian points, which respond to pressure. Tapping therapy combines focus on a problem, which is stated in brief phrases, the emotions associated with the problem and stimulating the nervous system by tapping on acupoints on the head, upper body and hands. The aim of the therapy is to bring together the thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated with the problem and process them in a physical way to reduce the overstimulation of the nervous system and lower anxiety.
Does it work?
EFT, as defined by Dawson Church (student of Gary Craig), has been validated in trials which have been accepted by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the British National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an effective evidence based therapy.
As with all psychological therapies, it is not possible to predict whether a specific therapy will be experienced as therapeutic by all clients for all problems.
An example meta study on the efficacy of EFT:
Clinical EFT as an evidence-based practice for the treatment of psychological and physiological conditions.
What type of clients and problems can it be applied to and are there any side effects?
Tapping therapy is applicable to a wide range of problems: general anxiety, PTSD and trauma, eating disorders, compulsions, obsessions and addictions, phobias, social anxiety, lack of confidence and low self esteem, depression and many other issues.
Beyond occasional slight sensitivity in the areas tapped, it is regarded as a safe therapy, however a small number of clients may find facing their negative experiences difficult and anyone who has been experienced relationships with coercive and manipulative others may find building trust with a therapist and effecting change more challenging. For some clients, long term talking therapy may be allow slow and gentle exploration of the issues at the pace that feels manageable, prior to undertaking other techniques.
What is the procedure?
The therapist will discuss the issue that the client is experiencing and explore the thoughts, feelings and behavioural aspects of the problem. The level of distress or emotional disturbance is rated by the client on a scale of 0 – 10.
Past medical and psychological history and any medication taken will be recorded, together with an exploration of past experiences, particularly childhood and early family conditions and current life stressors, to get a full picture of the factors influencing the issues.
The therapist may teach soothing rhythm breathing, to induce a sense of relaxation and safety, she may discuss the visualisation of a ‘safe place’ (a real or imaginary location and scene where the client feels safe) and may use a guided relaxation technique, focusing on and relaxing each part of the body in turn.
The acupoints will be explained and demonstrated (top of the head, top of the eyebrow, lower end of the eyebrow at the outer point of the eye, below the eye, the mid-point between upper lip and nose, the mid-point between lower lip and chin, the point where the collarbone meets the sternum, the sides of the chest under the arms, the karate chop point on the edge of the hand, the gamut point and between the two lower bones in the hand and the points where the upper edge of the nails meet the fingers). Tapping can be with one, two or three fingers and maybe on one side of the body, both sides simultaneously or alternately. Tapping is usually for approximately 6 – 12 taps on each point. The therapist may also demonstrate eye movements to reinforce the processing.
Once the problem has been explored, the initial setup up statement is then discussed and takes the form of:
“Even though (problem), I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Where ‘problem’ may be, for example:
I sometimes eat food I don’t need and then make myself sick
I waste hours cleaning the house unnecessarily
I lose my temper over small things with my family
I procrastinate over replying to emails
I leave my assignments until a few hours before the deadline
I don’t act my natural self when I’m socialising
I won’t apply for jobs which suit my abilities
I am afraid of getting on a plane to go abroad
I’m afraid of being assertive with others in case they don’t like me
I check everything I do multiple times
I think back over every small disagreement with others for hours
I can’t stop thinking about everything I get wrong
I stay awake thinking
Relaxation with soothing rhythm breathing, body relaxation and visualising the safe place.
Tapping acupoints in a sequence while focusing on the emotional disturbance and sayinth e initial phrase.
The level of disturbance is reassessed.
Processing continues until the level is acceptable.
If the level remains high, further exploration of the problem is required to understand the emotions, thoughts and beliefs which underlie the problem.
New statements are then formulated, such as:
I believe that others don’t like me
I believe myself unlovable
I’m useless at my work
I’m incapable of being a good parent
All my relationships go wrong
I often feel angry at myself
I never feel good enough
I’ll never get over my depression
I can’t control my actions
And new outcomes are also formulated:
I’m trying to keep myself safe
I’m changing my behaviour
I can face this challenge and change the way I feel
The client will continue tapping on a regular basis between sessions and may choose to address other issues and emotions as they arise.
What is the principle behind EFT tapping therapy?
Tapping therapy combines focusing on facing the negative thoughts and self-beliefs, emotions (e.g. anxiety) and behaviours (e.g. compulsive repetitive habits) with physical relaxation techniques – soothing rhythm breathing, visualisation of a safe place, tapping and statements made with use of a compassionate voice (and a slight smile!).
This is a form of desensitisation to triggers (internal and external) and repetition will build new neural pathways to replace the habitual responses over time.
If the anxiety isn’t reducing, sometimes there are underlying unrecognised negative thoughts, self-beliefs and emotions which haven’t been addressed, so it can be necessary to explore uncover the deeper issues.
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