Why Emotional Freedom Technique Work for Anxiety

So often, for those experiencing anxiety, depression, or PTSD, there is a feeling of helplessness and despair.  Mind over matter is such a comforting prospect, except to those whose mind IS the matter.  When you are able to find a way — not out, but through — your struggle, there is a healing process that simultaneously targets your issue as well as your inherent wholeness and worthiness while healing you.  It is known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).


Why Choose to be helped by EFT, a wonderfully helpful technique from the burgeoning field of ‘Energy Psychology’


Just recently I was in my doctor’s office for an exam and he asked how I’ve been.  I explained that there was an incredible amount of stress for me at that time and he said “And are you tapping to reduce it?”  I looked at him incredulously.  I realized immediately that energy psychology was spreading to even the science guys.  Where in the beginning where I was a pioneer in that I was receptive to this remarkable solution, it is no longer considered thinking outside the box, it is now part of the box—the tool box.


There are as many different tools available to a therapist as there are types of people who come to therapy.  No one tool or approach will work for everyone, but certain tools have both scientific and evidential support that warrant their use, even for those who are skeptical about the method.


Just like people who have a preferred learning method, i.e. auditory, visual or experiential, they also have a preferred way of relating to information and experience.  For example, when dealing with a therapy method, one client might simply focus on how it makes them feel, i.e. “I feel better, that’s good enough for me!” while others will want to know why it works, why it’s used before even starting.  Others may try it, find that it works and want to know more, not so much to prove that it really worked, but out of curiosity to better understand oneself and the brain.


EFT is just such a method that can invite skepticism at first exposure and a curious awe after feeling its’ effects.  It is much easier to question a tool that is so visible, so outward, and so, well, awkward than say mindfulness.  Whether it works or not, being aware of one’s experiences and sensations will rarely elicit a response of, “You want me to do what?”


While the only way to truly understand EFT is to experience it, perhaps a better understanding of why it’s done and how it works will allow certain skeptical patients to approach it with less apprehension.  The actual process of EFT is outlined in a handout and taught during actual therapy sessions, but in brief, it is a process of tapping certain meridians on the body while repeating a phrase that represents the issue at hand.  For example, in the previous post about EFT and flight anxiety, the key concern may have been “turbulence”.  None of us want to feel foolish and when looking for solutions to pressing emotional issues or traumas, someone may feel even more vulnerable to not only feeling foolish, but doing so in vein.  And yet the experience brings an improvement to the fear, the trauma, or the issue at hand.  Which is often all it takes for someone to incorporate EFT into their process of self care and healing.


But for the curious or the more vehemently skeptical, there is the science behind EFT.  A fellow named Nick Ortner is often associated with tapping in today’s psychology/self help community with his website thetappingsolution.com, and a book of the same name.  EFT has been around for quite some time though, introduced to many by Gary Craig in the late 90s with The EFT Manual and now through his site emofree.com.  There you’ll find many archived trainings to help even the most unique maladies.


Regardless of whose book or website you are referencing, it is all based on the same combination of acupuncture points (energy meridians) and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).  Different methods use perhaps a different sequence of points and some may include more than others.  All include the basics through tapping on the crown of the head, the inside of the eyebrow, the outside of the eyebrow, under the eye, under the nose, under the chin, the collarbone, the ribcage and the side breastbone.


Rather than using needles to stimulate these points, the fingers are used, thus making it something that can be used easily and anywhere.  The premise is that there is an information blockage in the meridians sent via messengers in your energy meridian or blood/lymph pathways, and is being released via the stimulation of these specific points.  It’s interesting to note how we can be much more open to physical pain solutions such as management and relief through acupressure, as an example, which is known to help arthritis or headaches! but when the pain is of an emotional nature, it is still so new that it is less believable.  However, Candace B. Pert, Ph.D., wrote a book entitled Molecules of Emotion, The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine where she demonstrated that frogs produce endorphins which has lead to a broader understanding of how every feeling we have generates a corresponding molecule inside of us, which may be why tapping also is effective for breaking up those pesky clusters of stuck feelings.


The role of self-acceptance combined with the empowerment brought by freeing oneself from the burden of your fears cannot be underestimated in the efficacy of EFT.


While it may feel silly at first, there is a reason behind the points chosen, the sequence, the phrases and the processing.  Of course there is always the patient (CLIENT?) who says, ‘I don’t care why it works, IT WORKS!’ And if that’s you then by all means, stop reading, and tap away.  For more information contact Pam Goodfriend, LCSW, CAC III for personalized training and a technique that helps you to measure and resolve your issue with her guidance.  You can make an appointment by calling 303.269.1191

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