EFT - Emotional Freedom Techniques
What is EFT?
Emotional Freedom Technique is a relatively new discovery and a fast-evolving treatment within the area of Energy Psychology.
Often referred to as ‘psychological acupressure’, the technique works by releasing blockages within our energy systems which are the source of emotional, and sometimes physical, discomfort.
These blockages may not only challenge us emotionally, they can often lead to limiting beliefs and behaviours that prevent us from living life to the full.
EFT is based on two concepts:
the meridians - the major energetic pathways in our body and
neuroscience - whereby each of our memories are encoded in the brain as an emotional charge, creating a neural pathway to signal an appropriate physiological response every time you’re reminded of an experience connected to that memory.
What conditons could it help?
Since it's inception in 1979 by Dr Callahan, and its further development through the 1990s by his student Gary Craig, EFT has provided people with relief from a wide range of problems and conditions, often in a relatively quick time. EFT has been successfully used in treating a wide diversity of conditions:
stress and feeling overwhelmed
physical discomforts, pain and illness
trauma and abuse
phobias and fears
lack of confidence and self-esteem
self-sabotaging behaviour patterns such as guilt, shame,
compulsive and addictive behaviours and cravings.
I'm particularly interested in working with clients to focus on reducing pain and discomfort and stress.
What does a treatment involve?
An EFT treatment involves using the fingertips, rather than needles, to tap on the end points of the energy meridians that are found just beneath the surface of the skin.
The treatment is non-invasive and works on the ethos of making change as simple and as pain free as possible.
Because the techniques are so simple, they can be used effectively as a self-help tool, which empowers people to actively contribute to their own healing and development and reintroduce a positive subconscious mind.
Stress and the Amygdala
The almond shaped Amygdala is one of the parts of the midbrain, or limbic system. This system is the source of emotions and long-term memory, and its where negative experiences are encoded.
Scientists have now established that the stress response begins here.
It acts as the body’s smoke detector, is something threatening its safety? If so, it mobilises the body’s flight or fight response.
A negative experience can program the amygdala to raise the alarm when something similar triggers it in the future. The body can’t distinguish between an actual threat and a perceived threat. So, a simple thought or memory or an event can trigger the flight or fight response.
Tapping seems to turn off the amygdala’s alarm, deactivating the brain’s arousal pathways. Tapping on the meridian end points sends a calming response to the body and the amygdala recognises that it’s safe.
Why it is important to work on emotional health as well as physical health to achieve complete healing
It is becoming increasingly accepted that emotional disharmony and stress is a key factor in causing physical symptoms and disease.
The stress response in our bodies kicks off a chain of physiological reactions including the release of cortisol and adrenaline and noradrenaline, an increase in the heart rate and a rise in blood pressure, a diversion of the body’s resources away from digestion and an increased insulin resistance and a firing up of the immune system.
In the short term these all help us to deal with the immediate ‘threat’ but in the long term chronic and persistent stress can have huge consequences on our health including:
Chronic high blood pressure increases the risk of many diseases such as heart disease and stroke
Long term tendency for the blood to clot will increase the risk of having a stroke, heart attack or DVT
Long term insulin resistance contributes to the development of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
Long term diversion of resources to make cortisol will lead to hormonal imbalances
If attention is diverted away from digestion for too long digestive complaints will result such as constipation, bloating, indigestion and IBS.
Prolonged release of cortisol starts to kill the nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory centre, increasing the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s.
Inflammation that becomes chronic and unresolved increases your risk of most modern chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and many cases of depression.
If our bodies stay on high alert we become more prone to anxiety and worry more as we see more danger where none is present.
The World Health Organisation calls stress ‘the health epidemic of the twenty-first century’ (before COVID-19!). Up to 80% of all GP consultations are thought to be somehow related to stress.
Most physical ailments have an emotional component. Even if an illness was not caused by emotions, you can not help but become emotionally involved with any sickness that comes to you.
Also emotional wellbeing is essential to allow the energies of the body to flow to allow for ultimate health.
EFT seeks to work directly on the emotional issues that trigger these stress responses. By creating a more balanced and calmer mind the body is able to function as it should with the correct homeostatic responses.
What is self-sabotage and how can you reverse this?
The conscious mind operates our behaviours 5% or less each day.
The subconscious mind runs the show, our learned patterns of behaviour, which form our habits, run the day to day functions of the body.
Intentions to change, our desire to be happy and healthy come from the conscious mind and these won’t be effective unless the subconscious mind is in sync.
Self-sabotage may be conscious, but more likely not. It is a block to healing and exists when something is holding us back from achieving what we think we want to achieve.
Protection is a central issue for all of us. Anything that feels like a safety risk activates the limbic centres of the brain, kicking off the flight or fight response. Our mind is weighing the risks associated with doing, having or getting something new ie managing change and subconsciously we may be refusing to take the risk. The brain is hardwired to look for danger and to focus on the negative – its our inbuilt safety mechanism. Because of this we may be sabotaging what we think we want in our conscious minds.
Change can be fearful, and healing may not seem so attractive if it means letting go of a ‘victim status.’ People who are sad, ill or depressed can get a lot of attention and they may subconsciously be unwilling to let go of that ‘support.’ Sometimes it’s easier to blame something else rather than take responsibility for ourselves. Or we believe something is our identity, not a choice for us, or simply too overwhelming to try and change.
This subconscious unwillingness to let go of an issue is by far the most prevalent reason why EFT may not initially work or be effective.
In order to address this, in EFT we start with the set up statement which focuses on psychological reversals.
Psychological reversals involve unconscious resistance to the consciously desired outcome. A part of you seems to want the reverse of what you consciously desire, or you do the reverse of what you intend. The harder you try the more powerful the resistance that counters your efforts become. Your efforts produce the opposite of the result you intend. All effective therapies seek to address psychological reversals in one way or another and until these are resolved any interventions are unlikely to have a deep or lasting effect.
The set-up statement acknowledges that the problem that you want to change exists and at the same time you accept yourself even though you have this problem. This simple act seems to help resolve the psychological reversal most of the time.
This is the reversal protocol where you’re speaking to your subconscious, the part of you that doesn’t want to let go. It needs acknowledging and to know its ok to feel that way.
The start of most EFT sessions begins as follows:
Pick the issue, memory or belief
Give it a SUDs rating
Set your reversal set up statement – Even though this -------------- causes me to feel --------------------- there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to let it go. I still love and accept myself.
Repeat 3 times whilst tapping on the karate chop point.
Do two or three times whilst focusing on the issue.
Stop and reassess the intensity.
Do the set up statement again three times, whilst tapping, keeping it the same or modifying it if something has come up.
What are affirmations?
Affirmations in the context of EFT are , or set up phrases, that we say through the tapping process.
They are used to keep the brain focused on the MPI and to keep the stress response ignited. In EFT we tend to start with negative affirmations to bring the emotions and responses to the surface. Through the tapping session, and once the more negative emotions have been reduced or cleared more positive affirmations may be used to enhance wellbeing.
What do MPI and SUD stand for and what are these?
MPI – Most Pressing Issue
This is what a person perceives to be their greatest concern or worry at this point in time. It’s the issue, challenge or problem they would most like to address – ‘’ They may have many but it’s important to focus on one and to be as specific as possible. What has happened, when, who was involved, how does it feel, where do you feel it in your body.
To help identify targets for MPIs it may be useful to create a Tapping Tree. This is a visual representation of what’s going on in our lives.
The leaves represent
How does your physical body feel? Do you have any pain? If anyone asks what’s wrong what do you usually say?
The branches represent
Eg. What emotions do you feel on a regular basis? When you make up in the morning, how do you feel?
What significant events have happened, or are happening, in your life?
And The roots of the tree correspond to
What beliefs do you have about yourself? For example I’m not good enough, I’m not confident, I’m not worthy, I don’t deserve to be happy.
SUD – Subjective Units of Distress
Think about your MPI and on a scale of 1 -10 rate how you feel about it. What level of distress does it bring up?
10=the maximum amount of distress they can imagine.
It’s purely subjective but an important measure to determine how a client feels and relates to their MPI before and after a round of tapping. It enables them to determine if they notice any change. A shift will help demonstrate to a client that they have the capability to change the way they feel.
After the set up phase what is the sequence of tapping in the basic routine?
KC: Karate Chop (Small Intestine Meridian)
Why we use it: Releases feeling stuck and promotes ease in moving forward, letting go, healing from grief, and ability to be happy in the present moment.
EB: Eyebrow (Bladder Meridian)
Why we use it: Releases trauma, hurt, and sadness and promotes peace and emotional healing.
SE: Side of the Eye (Gall Bladder Meridian)
Why we use it: Releases resentment and anger and promotes clarity and compassion.
UE: Under the Eye (Stomach Meridian)
Why we use it: Releases fear and anxiety and promotes contentment, calmness, and the feeling of safety.
UN: Under the Nose (Governing Vessel Meridian)
Why we use it: Releases shame and powerlessness and promotes self-acceptance, self-empowerment, and compassion for self and others.
CH: Chin/Under the Mouth (Central Meridian)
Why we use it: Releases confusion and uncertainty and promotes clarity, certainty, confidence, and self-acceptance.
CB: Collarbone (Kidney Meridian)
Why we use it: Releases the feeling of being stuck and promotes ease in moving forward, confidence, and clarity.
UA: Under the Arm (Spleen Meridian)
Why we use it: Releases guilt, worry, and obsessing and promotes clarity, confidence, relaxation, and compassion for self and others.
TH: Top of the Head (Crown Chakra)
Why we use it: This is not one particular point, rather its a collection of many meridian points. Tapping on the top of the head opens the crown chakra and promotes spiritual connection, while “anchoring in” the new balance and alignment from the completed tapping round.