EFT/Tapping — What is it?
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a brief and novel intervention combining elements of exposure and cognitive therapy, with somatic stimulation. It’s often referred to as ‘Tapping’ as it uses a two-finger tapping process with a cognitive acceptance statement. It’s an incredibly quick, pain free way to eliminate/reduce stress by tapping on acupressure points about the face, hands and body. I’ve also used it personally to shift strongly held negative beliefs, physical pain, and love this technique in its’ simple, accessible opening to allow your body to do what it knows best, exactly where needed.
EVERYONE can experience relief with this tool, literally available at your own fingertips at any moment. EFT has been researched in more than 10 countries, by more than 60 investigators, across 100 different papers whose results have been published in more than 20 different peer-reviewed journals. Including the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the APA journals Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training and Review of General Psychology, and the oldest psychiatric journal in North America, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, and investigations/research across Harvard Medical School, to the University of California at Berkeley, City University of New York, to Walter Reed Military Medical Center, to Texas A&M University, to JFK University. Institutions in other countries whose faculty have contributed to EFT research include Staffordshire University (United Kingdom), Lund University (Sweden), Ankara University (Turkey), Santo Tomas University (Philippines), Lister Hospital (England), Cesar Vallejo University (Peru), Bond University (Australia), and Griffith University (Australia).
How Does EFT Work?
EFT affects the amygdala (stress centre in the brain) and hippocampus (memory centre), both of which play a role in the decision process when you decide if something is a threat. The technique has been shown to lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) — too much cortisol can result in lowered immune function and can ultimately affect our physical health. EFT is most effective when you focus on a (very) specific feeling, event, physical sensation, pain or memory that has a high level of emotional intensity in the moment. Before you start tapping, rate the intensity of that that’s present for you, on a scale of zero to ten (10 being the most intense). This is your starting point. You then check again after you have done several rounds of tapping to see if something has shifted. Intensity levels can go up or down as you tap; the goal is to reduce the intensity level to zero. In essence, EFT calms/disrupts the physiological response of fight or flight and quickly allow your system to return to a more relaxed state. Once released, cognitive shifts (reframes) will surface. You don’t have to believe in it for it to work!
What Can EFT be Used For?
Everything!! i.e. anything/everything you have a feeling or sensation about:
- Stress and Anxiety
- Sports Performance
- Trauma, Memories
- Physical Pain
- Athletes and sports performance
- Children – Bullying for e.g.
- Entrepreneurs/Leaders and blocks to success
- Weight Issues, Food Cravings, Body Shape-change and fat burning
- Relationship Challenges
How to Tap/EFT?
- Acknowledge there is something you’re feeling intensely or want to change and rate your distress/discomfort out of 10 (10=most distress, 0=no distress). Eg “This feeling of stress that feels like an 8/10”
- State the challenge/problem out loud in a setup statement while tapping on the side of your hand point (3 times). Eg “Even though I feel this stress, I deeply and completely accept myself”
- Tap through all 8 EFT points (FREE diagram here) while saying a short reminder phrase. Eg “My stress” “in (this part) of my body” “about (relate to a situation/experience)”
- Take a breath and re-rate your level of intensity/distress out of 10. Eg Maybe you’ve noticed the intensity has come down to a 4 out of 10. Listen to your body and note where this is at each round
- Tap again until rating is 0.
- Tapping doesn’t affirm the problem. It states the truth and acknowledges it. (You state a negative cognition associated with a specific emotional event or thought and then pair this with a self-acceptance statement.)
- Tapping calms the physiological response. (This somatic component of EFT is what distinguishes this modality — tapping specific parts of the body while verbalizing the cognitive part.)
- Going positive too soon will only bring on a palliative result – it’s been described like spraying air freshener when the garbage is still there…
- In initial rounds of tapping sometimes your SUD score (score out of 10) may increase before decreasing.
- It’s important to work with exactly what’s relevant and specific to you. Note generic statements/phrases/youtube videos can sometimes only produce partial or different results. It’s recommended to work initially with an experienced evidence based eft practitioner to support you to create results you want from the start — and commit to your process!
The 8 Tapping points
Note — You can use any hand and any side of the face/body
- Start of eyebrow
- Side of Eye (on bone)
- Directly under eye (on bone)
- Directly under nose
- Directly under lips (called chin point)
- One inch under collarbone (often called the sore spot)
- Under arm (directly in line with the nipple or on top bra strap if female)
- Dead centre of head — this is the last point, not the first
(FREE diagram here.)
Evidence Based Research
Lowered Cortisol levels — Evidence Based Research
- Stimulation of acupoints is believed to send a signal to the limbic system, and reduce limbic hyper arousal (Feinstein, 2010).
- This, in turn, leads to “rapid reciprocal inhibition” and “long-term counter-conditioning” (Feinstein, 2010).
- EFT can decrease activity in the amygdala, which is part of the brain’s arousal pathway (Dhond, Kettner, & Napadow, 2007).
- The process of EFT has possible effects on the body’s physiological systems that regulate stress, emotional intensity and associated neural transmission frequencies (Diepold Jr & Goldstein, 2009).
How EFT works — Evidence Based Research
- Studies of the physiological effects of EFT find regulation of inflammation and immunity genes (Church, Yount, Rachlin, Fox & Nelms, 2016; Maharaj, 2016)
- Reduction in the stress hormone cortisol (Church, Yount & Brooks, 2012)
- Downregulation of heart rate and blood pressure (Bach, Groesbeck, Stapleton, Banton, Blikckheuser, & Church, 2016)
- Upregulation of brain function (Hawk, 2016)
- fMRI – Stapleton et al. (2017)
Proven Effectiveness of EFT Studies — Evidence Based Research
- College students (Church, De Asis, & Brooks, 2012),
- Veterans (Church et al., 2013; Geronila et al., 2014),
- Pain patients (Bougea et al., 2013; Church & Nelms, 2016),
- Overweight individuals and food cravings (Stapleton, Bannatyne, Porter, Urzi, & Sheldon, 2016; Stapleton, Church, Sheldon, Porter, & Carlopio, 2013; Stapleton, Sheldon, & Porter, 2012),
- Hospital patients (Karatzias, et al., 2011; Boath et al., 2014),
- Athletes (Church, 2009; Llewellyn-Edwards, 2012),
- Healthcare workers (Church & Brooks, 2010),
- Gifted students (Gaesser, 2016; Stapleton et al., 2016),
- Chemotherapy patients (Baker & Hoffman, 2014),
- Phobia sufferers (Wells et al., 2003; Baker & Siegel, 2010; Salas, Brooks, & Rowe, 2011),
- Anxiety, depression, phobias and PTSD (Feinstein, 2012; Church, 2013a),
- Bond University’s fMRI.
Dr. Peta Stapleton has 20 years experience as a registered Clinical & Health Psychologist in the State of Queensland, Australia. She is currently an Associate Professor in Psychology at Bond University. Peta leads worldwide research into psychological trials into new therapies in the area of obesity and weight management. One of her most significant contributions in her research life has been to lead a world-first randomized clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of a new and innovative treatment option for food cravings in overweight and obese adults (psychological acupuncture or tapping as it is more commonly known). The results of this study are comparable to traditional treatment methods for weight management (cognitive behavioural therapy) and have established Dr. Stapleton as a world leader in her field. Dr. Peta Stapleton has completed these recent clinical trials in Australia:
- Online EFT Treatment for Weight Management in Obese Adults – in the world’s largest online trial of EFT, Dr. Peta showed that a self-driven video format program resulted in EXACTLY the same outcomes as attending treatment in person. This included follow-up 1 year later. Participants regained control over food cravings, increased their willpower and restraint, and decreased their anxiety symptoms and this stayed improved 1 year later.
- EFT for Bariatric Patients 1 year Post Surgery — this study showed that when patients eat their meals off portion marked plates and use EFT, their emotional eating significantly reduced.
- EFT for Chronic Pain in Adults — this study showed that a brief 4-hour EFT intervention significantly reduced patients’ severity and perception of pain, and also impacted their depression/anxiety symptoms — these gains were maintained 6 months later
- Neural changes (fMRI) after EFT in overweight/obese adults — this was a world first and showed that after 4 weeks (8 hours) of EFT, the participants’ brains had NO ACTIVATION when looking at images of trigger foods
- In 2018–19 Peta will extend the fMRI trial for obese adults, and also investigate the impact of EFT for chronic pain sufferers and resultant brain changes. The research will also include testing if EFT can impact telomere length — a biological marker of aging.