Stress is becoming what some dub as the ‘health epidemic of the 21st century’, and there’s no surprise – stress has detrimental effects to our immune systems by reducing its ability to attack antigens and increasing susceptibility to infections. In fact, stress has also been linked to anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and even chronic pain. 

While there are countless tools and products available on the market that can help relieve stress and promote calmness, the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has been shown to lower cortisol levels and it doesn’t require any financial investment or expertise.

EFT Tapping, sometimes called ‘psychological acupressure’, is a psychophysiological technique that combines ancient Chinese acupressure with modern psychology and elements of cognitive therapies that helps to alleviate physical and emotional stress. Its simple process can help with anxiety, cortisol levels, sleep, and pain relief.

While it is still being researched, EFT has been shown to be effective as a self-help tool as well as a practised method by medical and mental health professionals in healthcare settings, with particular success seen in those experiencing intense anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression.

Alongside a wealth of anecdotal evidence, there are now more than 100 papers published in peer-reviewed professional journals, including clinical reports, randomised controlled trials (RCTs), meta-analyses, outcome studies, and mechanism papers. 

Read more to find out how EFT Tapping can be used to cope with difficult emotions, physical pain, trauma, cravings, limiting beliefs, and other issues.

The Origins of Emotional Freedom Technique

Its initial concept, termed ‘Thought Field Therapy’ was created by psychologist Roger Callahan in 1980, who combined his knowledge as a psychologist with studies in traditional Chinese medicine. However, this complex technique required a trained practitioner to carry out. A decade later, having been trained by Dr. Callahan, Gary Craig developed the process to create a simpler sequence that was repeatable and easy to learn, which he coined ‘Emotional Freedom Techniques’.

What is Tapping? 

Sometimes referred to as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Tapping is a self-help technique for managing and relieving stress.

The method integrates elements of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology; combining fingertip tapping to apply pressure on key meridian points on the body alongside positive affirmations that follow the principles of neuro-linguistic programming.

It’s easy to learn and apply and can be practised by anyone, anywhere – whether at home, in the office, or on the train for immediate effects. 

Professor Gary Craig, the developer of EFT, believed that difficult emotions and pain are  caused by an imbalance of energy which could be addressed through a sequence of tapping on various meridian points. It is thought that the meridian flow can be affected by factors such as stress and anxiety to dietary issues and health problems. 

Where are the meridian points? 

A concept in traditional Chinese medicine, meridians are energy channels that run throughout the body and connect with specific organs. Along each of these channels, multiple acupressure points can be found which can be stimulated through needling (acupuncture), pressure, or heat to help balance the energy flow to maintain positive mental and physical health. 

There are twelve major meridian points on the body which correspond to an internal organ. EFT usually focuses on nine key points, the majority of which are either entry or exit points on the meridian system. These are shown below:

How does tapping work? 

The amygdala is a part of the brain that is responsible for sending distress signals and triggering the stress response in the body (a.k.a. the fight-or-flight response). 

This is crucial when you’re faced with real-life danger like our ancestors once were when threatened by predators, but the issues we face in today’s world are quite the opposite… Whether it be deadlines, bad news, exams, or worries surrounding job security, relationships, and your health. While these aren’t life-threatening situations, our bodies undergo biological and psychological changes in response to these modern-day stresses. 

It is in these moments that tapping can be particularly beneficial. As you think about what is causing you stress, tapping on your meridian points and stimulating those acupressure points can send calming signals to let your body know that you are not in any physical danger and that it is safe to relax. In doing so, your body regulates the nervous system and reduces cortisol levels to return to a state of calmness. 

The technique 

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 2,500 years, but without the use of needles. The technique involves the use of your fingertips to tap five to seven times on the nine meridian points of the body while focussing on an emotion such as fear or worry that you are struggling with.

There are five key steps to the technique. Once you’ve mastered the process, you can practise it anywhere with ease.

Step 1: Identify the Issue

First, identify the problem that you want to address. This could be a certain fear, anxiety, or a specific situation or issue that you feel anxious about. 

Try to focus on only one problem at a time, but you can repeat the process for others afterwards. 

Step 2: Test the Initial Intensity 

Once you’ve identified the problem, consider the impact that it has on you, emotionally and/or physically. Rate the intensity level on a scale of 0 to 10, with ten being the highest level. This sets a baseline level that helps you to measure the intensity of the issue and gives you the opportunity to reflect and track progress after completing the EFT sequence. 

For example, if your initial intensity was 10 prior to tapping and ended at 5 after the sequence, you’d have accomplished a 50% improvement. 

Step 3: The Setup

Before tapping, you may want to compose a simple setup statement or phrase that describes the issue you want to address and why this issue is important to you. You can repeat this statement continuously as affirmations to oneself throughout the tapping process.

It should relate to your own problem and not someone else’s, and it may help to relate to how you feel emotionally and physically. In your statement, be sure to acknowledge the problem and then follow it with a phrase of self-acceptance in spite of the problem. 

A common setup phrase is: “Even though I have this [fear or problem], I deeply and completely accept myself.”

The foundation of this phrase is important as it encourages you to recognise and reflect on the issue, your experience, or your reaction. However, not all issues will fit exactly into this, so feel free to use some flexibility when composing your phrase. Here are some more setup statement examples:

  • “Even though I feel this anxiety, I accept how I feel.”
  • “Even though I’m anxious about my interview, I accept myself and how I feel.”
  • “Even though I’m feeling this anxiety about my financial situation, I honour my feelings and give my body permission to relax.”

Here are some example phrases for the second half of the statement:

  • “I have faith in my ability to change.”
  • “I enjoy the calm and peace that I have.”
  • “I love the person that I am.”

Step 4: The Tapping Sequence

Begin by tapping the Karate Chop point on one hand with four fingers from the other hand, while reciting your setup statement three times aloud. 

Next, tap seven times on the eight meridian points following the below sequence. Repeat a simple reminder phrase while tapping to guide your focus, such as “this fear” or “this pain” or “my anxiety” or “____”

The sequence:

  1. karate chop (KC): small intestine meridian
  2. eyebrow (EB): bladder meridian
  3. side of the eye (SE): gallbladder meridian
  4. under the eye (UE): stomach meridian
  5. under the nose (UN): governing vessel
  6. chin (Ch): central vessel
  7. beginning of the collarbone (CB): kidney meridian
  8. under the arm (UA): spleen meridian
  9. top of head (TH): governing vessel

Step 5: Test the Final Intensity

Once you have completed your sequence, take notice of how you’re feeling now and compare how you felt at the beginning of the process. 

You can repeat this sequence to reduce or eliminate the intensity of your negative feeling, or repeat the sequence to address another issue.

You may want to repeat the process until you reach 0, or until you feel happier with the level of improvement. You can also adjust your setup statement on the next round, for instance, if you would like to take into account your efforts to fix the problem or your desire for continued progress.

TOP TIPS

  • Use firm but gentle pressure. 
  • You can use all four fingers to tap, or just the first two (the index and middle fingers) – whichever feels right for you. Usually, four fingers are used for wider areas on the body and two fingers are used for smaller or more sensitive areas. 
  • The meridian points are symmetrical on either side of the body, so you can tap one side of the body or, if both hands are free, tap both at the same time.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/

https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-immune.html

Posted by:repsychl

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