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  • Michael Ryan Therapy

Emotional Freedom Techniques

When I first heard about tapping I thought it was weird. How can tapping with your fingertips on different points of your body lead to a decrease in anxiety and overwhelm? How can tapping help to alleviate trauma, negative thoughts and emotions, and lead to insight? I was a skeptic until I tried it myself and it worked. To study this technique further, I went to an intensive training and saw firsthand how powerful EFT could be. I witnessed one woman in her 50s who had been dealing with a childhood trauma her entire life feel the release of that trauma after a couple of sessions of EFT. Since then, I’ve used EFT effectively with clients, teenagers, and adults. I’ve taught the technique to classrooms of high schoolers. I became convinced of its effectiveness.

What is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)?

EFT, also called tapping, is based on the body’s natural meridian system that directs the flow of energy. These meridians have been used in acupuncture for thousands of years. The end points of the meridians hold higher electromagnetic charges in the body. When we have physical or emotional problems, that energy gets blocked. By tapping on the endpoints of these meridians, they can be cleared, removing the blockages, and leading to a greater sense of peace, equanimity, calmness, and confidence. EFT can be described as a relaxation technique, stress-reduction technique, and/or an emotional version of acupuncture.

How does it work?

There is a video on the Resources page of my website that walks you through the tapping points. The side of the hand is used for the set-up statement (see below), then you move to the next point in the sequence, tapping five to seven times on each point (don’t worry about tapping the exact number of times). The sequence continues to: the top of the head, inner corner of eyebrows, side of eyes, below eyes, under nose, under bottom lip, collarbone, under armpit, under ribs. I also add the wrists and sides of the thighs, but you don’t have to. Don’t worry. It’s impossible to mess-up. If you forget a point, it’s OK. If you feel like rubbing instead of tapping, that’s OK too. Or, if you simply want to think about the points that also works. Do whatever works for you. Some people like one point or a couple of points. Each meridian is associated with a part of your body, so listen to your body. It might be telling you where the problem lies.

What do I say as I tap?

Think of the problem you’d like to tap about. Examples could be: anxious about a test, overwhelmed about my job, angry at my kids, etc. It is important to be as specific as possible. On a scale of 0 to 10, rank the intensity of that problem as it feels right now. This is called your SUD score. Based on your problem, come up with a set-up statement. This statement should sound paradoxical. The basic formula is, “Even though I am (insert problem), I completely love and accept myself.” Repeat the set-up statement three times as you tap the side of your hand (also called the karate chop point.) Move on to the subsequent points, while stating the problem each time. Your words might change as you explore this problem. That’s normal. Follow your intuition. After a couple of rounds, stop and take your SUD score again. Most likely, it will be lower. That’s great news! Keep on tapping until it’s a 0.

Is there proof this works?

Yes! Here is one link to an article comparing the efficacy of EMDR, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and EFT: When reading studies, you will often see EFT lumped into the field of energy psychology, which is the term for a broader set of practices, of which EFT is one technique. More than 200 articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals that demonstrate the efficacy of energy psychology! Currently, EFT is being used by the United States Army to treat PTSD with soldiers post-deployment.

Who should try EFT?

If you’re feeling stuck, stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, EFT has been proven to be effective. It has also been used to treat pain, depression, PTSD, food cravings, and to increase peak athletic performance. It’s simple, non-invasive, doesn’t hurt, and you can use it by yourself, or contact a practitioner. Why not give it a try?

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