A Self-Help Tool
EFT, also known as “Tapping” and short for “Emotional Freedom Techniques,” is an evidence-based self-help and clinical tool which can be likened to a psychological form of acupuncture, but without the needles. It combines traditional Western Psychotherapy with Acupressure and consists of tapping with your fingertips on specific acupuncture points called meridians or energy channels while talking through a wide range of negative emotions, beliefs, or thoughts. When these emotional issues are combined with physical stimulation of meridian points, the body and mind appear to work together to help heal many psychological and physical problems.
Restoring Energetic Flow
Research has shown that thought originates in the brain as a result of neuronal firing and this generates a measurable electromagnetic field (1). The theory behind EFT is that negative thoughts disrupt the body’s energy system. In turn, the body interprets such disruption as a negative emotion. EFT targets the intervening step, aiming to correct the energy imbalance by removing the emotional charge from the original thought, belief, emotion or memory.
Think of energy disruption like a TV with a short in a wire. The effect of this short is a ZZZZT (as described by EFT founder Gary Craig) on the image seen on TV. The impaired flow of electricity causes the problems with the TV image. When the flow of energy is disrupted in people, some parts of the body experience a shortage of energy and others too much. The physical EFT tapping with the tips of the fingers on acupuncture points clears this ZZZZT. In this way the energy travelling through these channels is balanced again and flows freely throughout the body.
(1) Sheth HC (2009) Mind, Brain and Psychotherapy Indian J Psychol Med 311 11–15
EFT is similar to Nutritional Therapy in that it empowers you to become an active participant in the management of your well-being and is particularly helpful for emotionally-linked eating.
EFT can help:
- With anger, guilt, anxiety, and stress associated directly or indirectly with food
- Unearth and clear underlying emotional issues associated with weight loss, emotional and disordered eating
- Change deeply rooted patterns of behaviour linked to weight gain, emotional and disordered eating
- Unearth and clear limiting beliefs which can underpin weight gain, emotional and disordered eating
Please remember that EFT isn’t a substitute for medical diagnosis.
Research has begun to establish an observable scientific basis for the subtle energy system on which EFT is based. Tiny threadlike anatomical structures called Bonghan channels have established a physical mechanism corresponding to the acupuncture meridians. Research has shown that radioactive tracers injected at known acupoints follow the meridian lines precisely whereas tracers injected at non-acupoints spread out concentrically with no lines evident. It also shows that with acupoint stimulation (such as tapping) pain relief can be achieved with or without needles (1).
EFT Mechanisms of Action
EFT has been validated as an “evidence-based” practice in research studies that meet APA standards- the most influential set of standards in the field of psychology, as set up by Division 12 of the American Psycho- logical Association (APA) (2). Please read here for extensive peer-reviewed research www.eftuniverse.com
So, how does EFT actually work?
It works by literally rewiring your brain’s connection to food and emotions. There’s a law called Hebb’s law which says that neurons which fire together wire together. If you have a recurring negative thought, the neuron, which carries the pulse of the thought, connects with other neurons and the bundle of neurons gets thicker and thicker. After you’ve repeatedly thought the same negative thought for years you’ve built a huge neuronal bundle to deal with that issue. When you do EFT you activate that neural bundle, and the body gets a different signal- namely that it’s safe. This then de-activates the conditioned neuronal stress response triggered by the negative thought, and replaces it with a neutral response instead.
A recent research review (3) suggests that tapping on acupoints while a presenting emotional problem is mentally activated rapidly produces desired changes in the neurochemistry involved in that problem:
“Bringing to mind an emotional trigger, problematic scene, or unresolved traumatic memory activates the amygdala (a part of the brain which plays a key role in the processing of emotions), arousing a threat response. Stimulating selected acupoints, according to Harvard studies, simultaneously sends deactivating signals to the amygdala.
Repetition of the physical intervention resolves these opposing signals by reducing the arousal while the trigger is still mentally active. The hippocampus (a region of the brain that is associated primarily with memory) records that the memory or trigger is being safely engaged without a stress response, and the neural pathways that initiate the associated stress response are permanently altered.
(1) Soh KS (2009)Bonghan circulatory system as an extension of acupuncture meridians. J Acupunct Meridian Stud 2 2 93-106
(2) Church D (2013) Clinical EFT as an Evidence-Based Practice for the Treatment of Psychological and Physiological Conditions Psychology 4 8 645-654
(3) Feinstein D (2012) Acupoint stimulation in treating psychological disorders: Evidence of efficacy Review of General Psychology 16 4 364-380
Before the Session-yYou will receive an EFT questionnaire (if you haven’t already completed a nutrition questionnaire) to get you focussed on thinking about the issues you think you most want to address. Sometimes clients find it difficult to pinpoint exactly what they want to work on, and this is no problem; issues don’t all have to be “figured out” in advance of your visit because part of the artistry of EFT is that by working on one particular issue EFT often shows us where we need to explore next.
Initial visit – An EFT session usually lasts 1 hour. It will start with an exploration of the issue(s) you would like to work on and you will experience EFT, its possibilities and effects. Each person comes to a session with his/her unique personality, personal history and issues.
Although some problems can dissipate within just one session, usually issues are more complex and present numerous different “aspects” to be worked through. Sometimes an issue arises during EFT which becomes more significant than whatever the client originally intended to work on. Sometimes problems that seemed enormous dissolve as a by-product of working on another issue. None of these factors can be predicted at the beginning of the session- they are part of the elegant simplicity and brilliance of EFT.
You are also encouraged to use the techniques on their own between visits, although it is certainly not compulsory. This can accelerate the process and is also very empowering because it allows the client to become an active participant in the management of their well-being, especially in times of need.
After your visit– you can expect to discover new insights and perspectives, feel lighter and more relaxed, and to have a new emotional first-aid tool you can use for the rest of your life.