What Is EFT? (Emotional Freedom Technique)
By Arthur Cronos, BA, member American Board of Hypnotherapy, and author of "How to Find Love — the Five-Date Method" (fivedatemethod.com)
I'm a therapist in Mt. Shasta, California, specializing in rapid clearing of emotional baggage, and coaching people how to find love.
In my practice, I use a combination of hypnotherapy, biofeedback assessment, coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and Eugene Gendlin's 'Focusing' method. And more and more I've been finding new and powerful ways to employ the 'Emotional Freedom Technique' (EFT) developed by Gary Craig in recent years.
The first time I tried EFT, it worked... but I wouldn't believe it!
It just seemed too "woo woo" for my background (engineering, hypnosis, a degree in mainstream psychology). EFT consists of tapping on certain points of the body while saying various phrases. How in the world can that clear emotional problems?
Further, can it really clear physical difficulties?
But as I've used it more and more, it becomes obvious that it does work, works well, works quickly In fact it often uncovers deep-rooted problems, and appears to clear even long-standing issues that psychologists might call "deeply engrained."
And, surprisingly, it often clears them amazingly fast, and the change appears to be permanent.
Have we found the "Holy Grail" of therapy?
Well, maybe not, but it sure works better and faster than many conventional psychotherapy methods, at least in the clients that I've worked with.
What does an EFT session look like?
Let's say that the client's stated difficulty today is "an argument with a neighbor."
The EFT processing cycle will typically have two parts:
A) The "Set-Up" — The client will rub on a certain spot on the chest (called the "sore spot" because it's slightly tender, where a lymph node is located in the body), while stating an affirmation, something like "Although I've had this argument with my neighbor, I totally and completely love and accept myself."
B) The "Tapping Cycle" — The client will tap on certain acupuncture points on the body, while speaking a "reminder phrase," something like "my argument with my neighbor." There are three points around the eye, one below the nose, one upon the chin, one point on the upper chest, one under the arm, and one atop the head. It doesn't matter which side of the body is used.
While doing this process, additional phrases will arise spontaneously, and there are some guidelines which will lead you as the therapist to ask certain questions that help to evoke these additional phrases.
Note that although I use the phrases "therapist" and "client," one of the beautiful things about EFT is that it can be used by pretty much anyone, because even learning the simplest form of the process enables anyone to begin using it to clear their own emotional upsets, and to help others in their family or among their friends.
Of course, training and practice lead to greater skill and mastery, but even a novice can usually get rather good results, and the process is quite benign: It would be difficult to make any condition worse by using this technique, and you are unlikely to trigger any raging upset, because the "client" sets their own safe gradient. That is, only that which the client can confront fairly easily is going to arise, and the process will uncover earlier charged incidents naturally, and in a manner that the earlier incidents can be handled in their turn.
As you go along, you ask the client to estimate his or her "level of emotional distress." This can be done in several ways, but an easy method is you simply ask the client to rate his or her emotional distress on a scale of zero to ten.
As you repeat the tapping cycle, you will observe that the emotional distress level comes down, usually to zero or near zero.
As you run this process, you'll discover two things frequently happening:
1) The client will spontaneously offer up additional phrases, and as the current phrase(s) become less emotionally charged during the process, you can process some of these related phrases; and
2) The client will frequently offer up memories of specific incidents earlier in time. Usually a generalized complaint (like "low self-esteem") will be found to be based upon specific incidents earlier in time, and the more you focus on and clear the specific incidents, the faster the difficulty clears for the client.
How does EFT work?
I've noticed that some people are more materialistic, and others are more spiritual. Some people like western medicine, and others prefer acupuncture and herbs. Some people believe in "energy fields" and other folks, not so much.
Although I grew up in a medical household, and began my life thinking in a fairly materialistic, "scientific" manner, I've been reluctantly forced to admit of alternative ways of viewing our life on this planet. I personally now think there is such a thing as an energy body or an energy field around our physical bodies. Now this isn't such a wild theory in western science, because the voltage differential can be measured fairly easily, and the "kirlian" type energy field can be photographed around the body.
Now EFT works and works well, regardless of what kind of theory you might use, but I find it easier to understand something when I have an idea of how it works, and maybe you feel that way, too.
So I'm going to pass along two different theories I've found. One is very eastern, or "new age" ... and the other theory is very western, or "scientific."
You can just choose whichever one you prefer. Either one explains how EFT works so powerfully and quickly, and understanding either theory allows you to comprehend how EFT is working it's "magic."
The "Eastern" theory
Some 5000 years ago, Chinese medicine somehow mapped out what they call "energy meridians" that run through the body, and they postulate that "chi" (life energy) runs along these meridians. Further, that various ills were associated with blockages in the free flow of this chi energy along these meridians. And further, that stimulation of points along these meridians by means of needles could restore the flow of energy, producing an improvement in the body's problem condition.
Acupuncture was poorly regarded by western science, because it didn't fit the western notions of anatomy, but enough experiments have been done within the scientific community to give grudging acceptance to the idea that those acupuncture needles do seem to improve this and that condition.
Some years ago, a Chiropractor named Callahan was reading about acupuncture, and also treating a woman with a long-term disorder, but without much results. On an impulse he tried tapping on some of these acupuncture points while she was discussing her difficulty. Suddenly and surprisingly, the woman stopped talking, and then announced that the long-term difficulty was completely gone.
Dr. Callahan did further experiments, and developed a type of "energy psychology" called Thought-Field Therapy, which consisted of locating specific points to tap upon. The theory is that some upset happens, and somehow causes a blockage in the body's energy field, and this blockage persists.
The therapeutic concept is that the "blocked energy" can easily be stimulated merely by having the patient say related words. (Like "argument with my neighbor" in the above example.) And that tapping on the appropriate acupuncture point will cause a flow along that meridian, and that this is often enough to "clear" the stuck point.
An engineer named Gary Craig was using Callahan's method, and discovered that the most difficult part was to determine which acupuncture point to tap upon, and then he had a brilliant idea: Why not just tap on *all* of them?
It does no harm to tap on a point where there's nothing stuck. And if you tap all of them, you'll surely get the one that's stuck.
And ... it works.
Gary Craig called his development the "Emotional Freedom Technique" or EFT, and it has been refined further by health-workers and therapists since that time.
So the Eastern theory is —
An upset causes something to go wrong in the energy body, or along the acupuncture meridians, and this causes a stuck energy point, and this stuck energy point then becomes the trigger that causes unpleasant and automatic emotions on this subject for the rest of our lives.
That asking the client to activate this particular stuck energy point merely by saying related words is enough, and that tapping on a set of the acupuncture points then "frees up" the stuck point, and when the stuck point is gone, then so is the upset.
If you use this theory, you'll see it work, exactly as predicted by this theory.
The Western theory
The folks in the EFT community have now managed to get several hundred well-formed experiments done, and many listed in scientific journals, and here is the Western, scientific theory —
In mainstream psychology we have the concept of "counter-conditioning."
We assume that an unpleasant experience can cause us to become "conditioned" to re-experience unpleasant emotions when something in the present environment reminds us of the unpleasant experience in the past. (If Aunt Mabel who kept her hair in a tight black bun used to pinch your cheeks real hard, you may find it difficult to like people named Mabel in the future or to like people with that hairstyle.)
But this automatic emotional response can be "de-conditioned" by evoking the response and then replacing the emotional response with something pleasant. For example, there's a classical experiment about a young boy named Peter afraid of animals, and the psychologist first had Peter speak about animals and relax, and then when that was comfortable, a rabbit was placed far away and Peter learned to relax, and then the rabbit was moved closer and closer, and Peter learned to relax, and eventually Peter could pet the rabbit. The process was called "counter-conditioning."
Now we know from measured experiments that needles or tapping on acupuncture points releases certain substances in the body, including GABA and serotonin, and that these substances then cause a reduction in stress — slowing of heart rate, perceived calm, etc — from a resulting structural change that happens in the mid-brain.
(And just for completeness, we have experiments that show that needles or tapping on false points on the body, which are not acupuncture points, do *not* cause this triggering of chemicals, and does not produce relaxation in the midbrain.)
So one easy way to counter-condition an emotional upset is to have the person think about and say words about the upset. This is enough to increase stress levels in the midbrain, as we know from measured experiments. And then while doing that, by tapping on acupuncture points, first the chemicals release and then the resulting midbrain structural change causes a lowering of stress. Presto. Counter-conditioning.
Choose either theory
So it doesn't matter which theory you choose — Eastern or Western — because each leads you to the same place.
EFT — A new and surprisingly powerful therapy method has been found and is rapidly becoming more popular. It is a combination of "talk therapy" and "touch therapy" and frequently produces faster (and permanent) improvement than many existing therapeutic methods.
Better yet: Although a skilled therapist who studies the method in depth can probably produce the fastest and deepest results, observation clearly shows us that almost anyone who learns the simple basic method can produce improvement for theselves, for their family, and for their friends.
This is not just a matter of saving money, or convenience. This is especially important because, unlike some therapy methods which leave a patient chained to the therapist possibly for years, using EFT enables the "patient" to take the power of healing into his or her own hands.
And becoming causative over one's own troubles, over the shadows and the problems within oneself ... what can be more powerful than that?
Arthur Cronos is a therapist practicing in Mt. Shasta California. His specialty is rapid clearing of emotional baggage and current-time upsets, and coaching people to have more love in their lives. To learn more about EFT, visit his website at beinghappytoday.com, where you can also download a free book called "How to Capture Happiness in an Unhappy World." This book will help you understand how your unconscious mind both helps and hinders you, and how you can make it all work better for a happier life!
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