1. Do I need a therapist to learn and practise EFT?
The short answer to this question is “No”. Click here for instructions on How to do EFT. You can follow the EFT tapping sequence by yourself, working on any issue you choose. This could be a negative memory, thought or emotion, a belief, an unwanted behaviour or a physical symptom.
Most people feel some relief when doing EFT by themselves. However, it is often hard for us to “see the wood for the trees” when dealing with our own issues. A skilled EFT practitioner will help you identify aspects of an issue you may not be aware of, enabling you get to the root of a problem more easily. She will then gently guide you through targeting and clearing the problem at the energetic level and towards finding your own solutions. Practising EFT at home between therapy sessions will greatly enhance the speed of resolution of the problem(s) you want to address.
If you have a history of serious trauma, it is better not to use EFT on your own, and it is strongly recommended to seek professional help.
• EFT reduces symptoms of a variety of psychological conditions, including phobias, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.
• It improves physical symptoms such as pain and autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis and fibromyalgia.
• It aids in reducing cravings and promoting weight loss.
• It can simultaneously reduce a range of psychological conditions, e.g. diminishing anxiety and depression along with PTSD.
• It can simultaneously reduce both psychological and physiological problems, e.g. fibromyalgia or traumatic brain injury (TBI) concurrent with PTSD, anxiety and depression.
(D Church, Clinical EFT Handbook, Volume 1, p 9)
Aside from the published research into EFT, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence on how EFT has helped people with a range of emotional, health and spiritual issues, as well as to achieve their goals and to reach peak performance. EFT founder Gary Craig is famous for saying of EFT “Try it on everything.”
It is easy to be sceptical about the efficacy of EFT, as it is so different from other techniques used in traditional talking therapies and it can feel a bit strange when you do it at first. However, you don’t have to believe in EFT for it to work and you have nothing to lose by giving it a try: you may just find it is the key to overcoming a problem that has not responded to other treatments. At the very least, you are likely to experience a noticeably greater sense of well being through tapping, something which is, of course, at a premium in our busy, stressful lives.
3. Why is EFT effective?
Dawson Church cites three reasons for EFT’s efficacy, which work hand in hand:
• EFT reduces stress.
• EFT diminishes the intensity of emotional trauma.
• EFT modifies the way the brain processes emotional information.
The body, brain and emotions function as a whole. When you think about a negative experience you have had, this produces one or more negative emotions. When you work on those negative emotions with EFT, their intensity diminishes, often to nothing and often in just a few minutes. This reduction in emotional intensity indicates that your stress level is going down. This is experienced physically through changes in the body – in circulation, respiration, digestion and in responses in every other organ system.
As EFT reduces stress, all our other resources become available to us. When our emotions are calm and positive, even though our life circumstances may not have changed, then our bodies are no longer receiving those stress signals. As we become calm, our bodies respond by shifting all our systems to a relaxed state of functioning.
EFT appears to permanently rewire the neural pathways in the brain. When people have used EFT on a traumatic memory, they commonly report that thinking about the event no longer bothers them and that they are no longer triggered into feeling negative emotions when they recall it. Church cites recent research in “memory consolidation” to explain this. The research shows that there is a brief period just after a memory has been awakened (as happens when working on a memory with EFT) when its emotional content can be “untagged”. The neurological wiring governing our old response can be rewired during this window. If such reconsolidation occurs, we may still have the memory, but it will no longer evoke a strong emotional response.
(D Church, Clinical EFT Handbook, Volume 1, pp 45-47).
4. How long will it take for me to feel better with EFT?
In his summary and analysis of the current research into EFT, Dawson Church notes the fact that the results of studies show that “(EFT) works quickly. Treatment time frames range from one session for phobias to six sessions for PTSD.” (D Church, Clinical EFT Handbook, Volume 1, p 9).
EFT can sometimes work fast, and “one-session wonders” do occur. Often, though, it’s a step by step process that can take some time. Nonetheless, EFT can be effective on problems that people have had for a long time. There are many stories of people reducing or eliminating long-standing pain, clearing emotional baggage they have long been carrying or changing a core belief that has limited them their whole life.
EFT focuses on clearing energy rather than on examining in detail an initial causal event. This means that it is not usually necessary to discuss past traumas at length, as in traditional talking therapies. For straightforward issues, a brief recall of the problem whilst tapping is usually sufficient to enable negative emotions to be cleared. Furthermore, for more complex issues that do require longer treatment, you are likely to feel incrementally better as you clear more of the stuck energy and the stuck emotions. Sometimes EFT can have a delayed or subtle effect, so that you may not attribute improvements to practising EFT. If you feel better a few hours or the day after doing EFT and can’t quite pinpoint why, EFT is likely to be the cause.
5. What if my problem comes back?
Often EFT will resolve a problem and the results will be permanent. Clinical psychologist David Feinstein notes that in all the studies of EFT that have included a follow-up assessment, the effects of EFT have been shown to last over time (in D Church, The EFT Handbook, 3rd edition, p 157).
However, if a problem that initially seemed to be resolved through tapping re-occurs, you can begin to address this by asking yourself some questions. You may find it helpful to consult an EFT practitioner to help you through this process.
• Do I need to be more specific in what I choose to tap on in relation to this problem? Is there a specific event that first triggered or that typifies this problem? (Focusing and tapping on a specific event, especially from childhood, helps get to the root of the problem and accelerates the speed of its resolution.)
• Do I need to tap on a different aspect or aspects of the problem? (Other aspects may have arisen that you weren’t aware of the first time round.)
• Did the original problem I tapped on open a door to a deeper core issue that now needs to be tackled?
• Am I sabotaging my own progress in resolving this problem? (Sometimes our subconscious mind protects us from resolving issues if it believes there is an important reason for holding onto them). If so, what do I need to tap on to address this?
It is important to bear in mind that energy runs in habits, and so energy patterns that have become entrenched can be difficult to change even if they are no longer needed or useful. For some physical conditions, the body will keep going back to its default setting (i.e. of pain or illness) unless you tap repeatedly to change it. Persistence is therefore key in maintaining good results. Energy medicine techniques are also very effective in helping to shift entrenched energy patterns, and I recommend using these to provide a boost to change work done with EFT.
6. What if EFT makes me feel worse?
Most people feel better during and after doing EFT. However, bringing to mind an emotional issue or a difficult memory or trauma can sometimes stir up overwhelming feelings, making the person feel as if the problem is getting worse. While tapping will not cause new emotional problems, it can bring to the surface underlying issues that have not yet been resolved. In such situations, a good response is to stay with the feeling of discomfort over what has arisen and tap on it until it subsides. Be sure, also, to look after yourself. Take some time to calm down, and to rest and relax.
It is important to emphasise that intense emotional reactions are not a setback. EFT is a process of self-discovery that frequently takes us in surprising directions, and new elements of a problem or unexpected connections will often arise. From this perspective “feeling worse” doesn’t mean that EFT is causing harm or that it is failing. Rather, it is an indication that the tapping is taking you in the direction you need to go. If you find it too difficult to deal with an issue on your own, then a skilled EFT practitioner can help you navigate the process, enabling you to gain some clarity and move forward.
Again, energy medicine techniques can be effectively employed alongside EFT to help restore feelings of calm and well being.