Tapping

As a practising psychotherapist, I am constantly seeking out new techniques and methods to help my clients make the best progress possible. Often the usual pathways of NLP, CBT or Clinical Hypnotherapy, simply are not enough when used on their own. Which is why I have added to my list of skills and qualifications accreditation in the methods of EFT.

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique, often referred to as ‘tapping’ and involves a physical action (light finger taps) accompanied by conscious use of linguistic affirmations (statements relevant to the client) bringing about changes in thoughts and behaviours. What I love about this particular therapy is that it is simple by design and can be used for a wide variety of issues. It basically deals with the stresses incurred and built up through life events or emotions experienced by the client. If you imagine that every time you encounter stress you build up negative charges you are beginning to see the ‘bigger picture’. These charges will eventually disrupt your immune system, have a real impact on how your body and mind deals with situations and will eventually effect the way your brain functions. If you have ever used the phrase ‘it is getting on my nerves’ then you have probably suffered the type of stress that causes you whole system to unbalance. The very nature of EFT is that it restores your balance, neutralises negative energies and focuses attention on positive changes.

Although EFT has existed for about five thousand years, it wasn’t until the 1960s and the birth of kinesiology that it began to be recognised as a positive treatment. Current training courses also include the use of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) which is a wonderful therapy in it’s own right but research suggests that it consolidates the EFT whilst securing change within the brain’s neural pathways. Sounds difficult, but believe me it is a wonderful technique which has produced significant results.

The structure of the physical tapping sequence has similarities to Oriental medicine and the belief that the human body contains a peripheral and central nervous which can be stimulated in a variety of ways. These meridian pathways connect cells and organs. The most common treatments used to connect with the meridian lines are acupuncture and acupressure which facilitate the stimulation of sensory nerves which obviously providing signals to the brain. The stimulus produced is then processed by the brain and clinical changes occur. EFT combines traditional Chinese medicine tapping (on the acupressure points), self-acceptance (affirmations), and dual awareness (through the tapping sequence) alongside EMDR. This technique can be used with people of all ages and is successful with children, who enjoy the process, but is particularly beneficial for those diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, Aspergers, etc., who connect well with the overall technique.

What can EFT be used for?

EFT is something, once learned, can be used at home or anytime it is needed to remind yourself of the changes you are attempting to make. It is particularly useful for dealing with:

Breaking old habits/creating new habits

Eliminating phobias/fears

Increasing performance (sport, driving abilities, public speaking, self confidence)

Overcoming sadness and grief

Sleep issues

PTSD

Weight Management (eliminating cravings, establishing healthy choices, increasing exercise regimes)

Motivation and self improvement

Raising self-esteem

Pain relief

For many clients, there is a desire for increased feelings of happiness, general feelings of calm and or being able to relax in our busy world. This is particularly true as an aftermath of our recent crises which affected everyone – albeit at different levels. Consider the principal that we all have a ‘window of tolerance’ which enables us to cope with what life throws our way. Sadly, when in stressful situations, the window begins to close and our tolerance of even the simplest of stresses reduces. Tempers are quick to flare and we enter a state of hyperarousal…muscles tighten, panic attack frequency increases, we become emotionally overwhelmed. Fear, anxiety and outburst become more common. This, in turn, can cause a change in sleeping habits, the body physically hurts as it maintains a constant state of flight, and stress manifests in periods of hostility. We literally become a volcano ready to explode.

During our recent period of uncertainty, during the pandemic, lockdowns, etc., we all began to feel the psychological effects of our ‘window’ closing. Incidents of road rage, domestic violence and extreme behaviours increased. However, EFT acts as a mechanism to reopen this metaphorical window, it helps build resilience and to control frustrations. It enables people to survive and tolerate minor stresses encountered daily without involving damaging physical and mental impact.

What does the research say?

Research on the use of an EFT programme has confirmed that it is a none evasive therapy that promotes mental health and overall wellbeing. Physically, it reduces cortisol levels (a hormone released in times of stress) and helps neutralise excessive adrenaline. Studies have shown that ‘stumbling blocks’ which prevent change or the ability to overcome illness, are removed by EFT because it creates new neural pathways which are quickly established – leading to more positive thinking and eliminating negativity.

Comprehensive studies of emotional stress (anxiety, fatigue, unresolved thinking, etc.) and physical stressors (pain, migraine, PMT, IBS, vertigo, respiratory distress, etc.) show that the processes involved in EFT have a positive impact on clients even during the first session.

This is particularly true when EFT is used to address PTSD which can be suffered by anyone who has endured a traumatic event within their life. Researchers monitored EFT sessions and found that those receiving EFT reduced symptoms of psychological stress by 50% within one month of treatment. They recorded that symptoms of anxiety were significantly decreased and those receiving EFT were no long fit the criteria for PTSD at the end of a programme of treatment.

What does an EFT session look like?

  1. Identify the problem.

A typical EFT session always begins with a discussion between therapist and client. The therapist uses questioning techniques to identify the problem (or problems) needing to be addressed and to ensure that this techniques is the right one to use. The client’s problem may be based on a worry, fear or physical issue. Many people use EFT before exams, public performances or to overcome personal problems which are causing disruptions in their life. If the client presents with multiple problems it is essential that the therapist focuses the client on one main point and it is often the case that other issues will disappear once treatment begins

  1. Recording the level of Subjective Units of Distress (SUD levels).

Reputable therapists always ask the client to score their problem, confidence level or discomfort. I personally use a range from -10 to +10. This is done at the beginning of each session but, once the EFT/EMDR is completed, I usually ask them to score their feelings, pain, etc., again. In most cases there is a clear shift from the original benchmark and the subsequent one…with many clients moving from the minus range to positive in just one session. This allows the client to express their level of distress (many people feel they are not listened to) but also to see a marked movement or reduction after the session.

  1. Establish EFT objectives.

Before you start the ‘tapping process’ you must clarify the client’s issue so that they recognise what the problem actually is. This is placed within a phrase or sentence so that both I and the client have set the intention of the session. In addition to this, a second objective is created which focuses on acceptance – acknowledging that there is an issue but allowing the client self-forgiveness/acceptance. Basically, it enables the client to learn how to manage their problem themselves rather than ignoring the issues raised.

  1. Preparation for the session.

I always begin each session with a simple meditation exercise combined with breathing techniques. I think this is fundamentally important for the client as it ‘sets the stage’ for the treatment but also calms both the mind and body in preparation for the next part of the session. This literally takes five to ten minutes and is usually accompanied with music based on binaural beats. This type of music allows the brain waves and heart rate to slow into a relaxed state. Blood pressure lowers and the client is more able to achieve a calm state of mind whilst undertaking the meditation. This creates an openness and readiness for change.

  1. Phrasing.

A series of relevant phrases are selected and assigned to the tapping points. Each phrase is said out loud three times allowing sufficient time for the tapping to take place. These phrases may reduce or change accordingly in subsequent sessions to really emphasise the change or development required.

  1. The EFT sequence.

There are nine main tapping points (using the fingertips) that I use in EFT sessions.

  • karate chop (KC): small intestine meridian
  • top of head (TH): governing vessel
  • eyebrow (EB): bladder meridian
  • side of the eye (SE): gallbladder meridian
  • under the eye (UE): stomach meridian
  • under the nose (UN): governing vessel
  • chin (Ch): central vessel
  • beginning of the collarbone (CB): kidney meridian
  • under the arm (UA): spleen meridian

We then focus on using the fingers and thumb of one hand to reinforce our original objectives.

In addition to the ‘tapping’ sequence, I then complete the session using EMDR – eye movements combined with tapping and vocalising positive affirmations. This is multi sensory and engages the brain in bilateral stimulus e.g. it alternates left-right stimulation to help change neural connections. This is particularly useful if the client feels ‘stuck’ in a particular mind set or train of thought and important if the client has been involved in a stressful event.

  1. Finally.

When you consider that this method of treatment does not involve the use of synthetic medication, that it is none invasive and used by thousands of people including celebrities such as Fearne Cotton, Prince Harry, Lady Gaga and Kate Garraway to name a few, you can see why it is becoming increasingly popular and – given it’s success rate – is now being considered as one of the most important techniques when supporting mental health and wellbeing.

If you want to learn more or have a tapping session yourself, don’t hesitate to contact me via New Day Therapies either through Facebook, Instagram, email (newdaytherapies1@outlook.com) or text/phone on 07775429575.