In Search of Emotional Freedom
21st October 2019
Article by Joanna Hazelton
Emotional freedom technique (EFT) is an ‘energy’ treatment system for physical pain and emotional distress. It’s sometimes referred to as Tapping or Psychological Acupressure.
The psychologist Roger Callahan is probably the individual who brought EFT to public notice in the 1990s, even though a form of EFT was being used before then. He discovered a relationship between acupressure points and the limbic system. Gary Craig later simplified Callahan’s technique, developing a sequence of tap points that are now used for many different situations.
There have been many systematic reviews and meta-analyses demonstrating the effectiveness of EFT for both physiological and psychological symptoms. These reviews cover a wide range of conditions and people, including students, veterans, pain patients, obesity patients, hospital patients, chemotherapy patients, athletes, healthcare workers and phobia sufferers. EFT has been found to be an effective therapy for anxiety, depression, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Recent research has shown that EFT significantly increases positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreases negative emotional states, including anxiety.
The question is often asked, ‘How does EFT work?’ Studies have shown that the action of focusing on the problem and tapping on the specific acupressure points helps regulate the genes that contribute to the overall health of the body by lowering the stress genes and encouraging the stress-reduction genes. MRI and EEG studies show that EFT appears to reduce beta brain waves, which produce a heightened state of alertness and stress, while strengthening alpha, theta and delta waves, which create deep relaxation and light meditation states.
The technique used for EFT is a simple tapping pattern over certain acupressure points using the fingertips. Depending upon the issue being addressed, the therapist will ask their client to focus upon a term that begins to address or describe their problem. It may be a specific kind of pain, an addictive desire for something specific, a fear of something, sleep problems, symptoms of stress resulting from either from a hectic pace of life or a traumatic experience, or a desire to be able to reach peak performance. The therapist then begins to ‘tap’, while at the same time verbally expressing the clients’ chosen word[s]. This helps the client to focus into the emotional centre of the brain, the limbic system, which relates to our deep emotional responses, to survival instincts and memory. It allows the brain to find a more stable and calm neurological state around the specific issue being addressed.
Perhaps because of EFT’s success with trauma, it is sometimes overlooked when parents are looking for something to support their child’s emotional needs. It is a useful tool to help children overcome anxiety, sleeping problems, stress related to examinations, dealing with bullying and the resulting stress, and the many issues, large and small, that sometimes seem to overwhelm a child.
EFT can address many different emotional and physiological problems; it is a gentle tool to help anyone towards health and wellbeing.