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an introduction to Emotional Freedom Therapy (EFT)

EFT – also known as Tapping – is a healing technique that can be used to help clear emotional wounds and has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and promoting a more positive outlook.

Tapping is best learned with the support of a professional EFT practitioner, who will walk you through the steps and offer practices that you can employ by yourself after learning the fundamentals.

Keep reading to find out more about this incredible healing technique and how it can support your wellbeing!

As energy healing is getting more and more mainstream interest, EFT is becoming more recognised as an effective therapy – although it is by no means a new modality. Tapping was first discovered in the 1970s but has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity as new scientific research as well as anecdotal evidence emerges that supports this unique holistic practice.

The history of EFT

In the 1970s, psychologist Dr Roger Callahan, who used a range of different techniques in his practice, made a breakthrough while working with a client that had a severe phobia of water.

The client described that when she thought of water, she would get a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. Because of his studies of acupuncture, Dr Callahan had an insight into what might be happening and asked the client to tap on the end of the stomach meridian – an energetic channel used by acupuncturists –located just below the eye, to see if it would ease the sensation in her belly.

It did, and when they went to the edge of a pool to test if anything had changed in the client’s feelings, the client noticed the fear and anxiety was gone – and it stays like that until this day.

Callahan went on to patent his discoveries and the therapy he developed was called TFT, Thought Field Therapy. TFT transformed his psychology practice completely, and it was highly effective but also overly complex and only accessible to therapists going through intensive training.

One of Callahan’s students was Gary Craig, an engineer and master of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), who simplified Callahan’s technique by adding some key NLP concepts, used fewer tapping points, and made it less complex. And so Emotional Freedom Techniques was born.

Craig was also the first to introduce EFT as a self-help tool and his method remains largely unchanged until today.

Emotional Freedom Techniques

Emotional Freedom Techniques is a method that involves tapping on the acupressure points of the face and upper body, along the meridian lines of Chinese medicine. It is a mind and body tool – an acupressure technique – that turns off or deregulates the stress response (flight or fight) that a person might experience when addressing issues, feelings, sensations, or thoughts that provoke a fearful reaction. This stress response can present itself as physical pain, anxiety, anger, tension, overeating, etc.

Emotional Freedom Therapy

EFT, as in Emotional Freedom Therapy, is a talking therapy between a practitioner and a client, in which the tapping tool and other EFT techniques are used to work on general and specific issues such as anxiety, stress, confidence, fears, phobia, chronic pain, emotional eating, etc.

​In an EFT session, you tune into the negative patterns that we create around uncomfortable feelings, thoughts or troubling memories. While bringing these emotions or thoughts into consciousness the client taps on specific pressure points, which helps clients to find relief, relaxation and promotes healing around the emotional or physical issues that could be holding them back.

How does EFT work?

When we experience a negative event, thoughts, emotions, and sensations are triggered in the amygdala, which are then sent to the central nervous system (CNS).

The amygdala is a set of neurons in the medial temporal lobe (centre) of the brain and its key roles are:

  • Processing emotions

  • Survival instinct

  • Memory

  • Sexual activity and libido

The CNS is the part of nervous system that consists of the brain and the spinal cord; it controls most functions of the body and the mind, and is:

  • The centre of our thoughts

  • The interpreter of our external environment

  • The origin of control over our body movement

Through tapping, you clear blocks that are stuck in the nervous system, switch off or deregulate the stress response, and restore the energy balance in your body.

A simple EFT practice you can do at home

Tapping is an amazing and easy tool that can help you to take better care of yourself, anytime and anywhere. You do not need extensive knowledge or massive amounts of time to get going; you can simply start small by practising the points while gently addressing your feelings around issues that you are dealing with.

Step 1

Tap on each point about seven times, starting with the side of the hand – known as the karate-chop point. While tapping here, you create a ‘set up statement’ depending on what you want to address, for example, “Even though I feel stressed, I accept myself and how I feel.” Repeat this three times. You do this to expose the problem and set your intention to clear it.

Step 2

After setting up the tapping session, you tap continuously through the rest of the points while repeating any feelings or sensations that come up as you are thinking about or expressing your problem out loud, for example: “I feel so anxious”, “I feel out of control”, “I feel a knot in my stomach”, “I feel tension in my shoulders”, “This situation is so overwhelming”.

Do this for about three rounds, then take a deep breath and see if there is any change in how you are feeling – and acknowledge these changes.

Step 3

Continue with another round of tapping, if necessary, to clear whatever else has come up until you feel some relief and relaxation.

When you begin to feel better, finish with a round of positive tapping, such as: “I know I am strong and will get through this”, as a means of affirmation and to cement the positive work you have done.

Why do we include negative words and feelings while tapping?

A question that I often hear is why we use all the negative words/feelings while we tap, and if that might put more negativity in our minds; after all, the self-help space is usually all about affirmations and positive thinking. But just think of when you need to clean your kitchen: you would have to see the dirt first to know where to clean, right?

Well, it’s the same with EFT: you have to see which negative responses are being triggered to be able to switch them off, deregulate them or calm them down with tapping. This way the feelings and sensations will be released and will not stay stuck in your mind or your body.

You can, however, finish with one round of positive phrases while tapping in your self-practice, as it will leave you feeling powerful!

What can you expect from Tapping?

Honestly? Try not to expect anything specific but trust that you are working to make yourself feel better. When the body starts to shift negative energy, there is a possibility that you will have to yawn, stretch, laugh, move, shake, yell, pee – but often you will just feel a sense of calmness.

Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel a shift or a change straight away. Sometimes you will feel the change later, or you will need to do some more of the work to be able to discover what it is, exactly, that you are feeling as we often bury things deep inside ourselves.

Always approach it in a gentle way and be kind to yourself!

Karen :)


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