In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that “EFT tapping is a technique that combines cognitive and exposure therapy with acupoint stimulation by gentle tapping using fingers.”
While the “acupoint stimulation by gentle tapping using fingers” is obvious enough, the “cognitive and exposure therapy” part isn’t always evident to people who have not been exposed to cognitive therapy before.
Cognitive therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) are forms of psychotherapy and EFT borrows elements from them. Cognitive therapy focuses on changing “cognitions,” the concepts about self and the world that we carry in our heads. Since our cognition is that the problem is “out there,” we feel little power to affect events. When our cognition shifts, and we recognize our role in maintaining the situation, we develop the desire to change it. The “exposure” means that a traumatic event is held in memory. While the client exposes him or herself to the stressful memory, therapeutic measures are taken to provide a new, non-threatening stimulus that does not activate the fight-or-flight response.
The verbal part of EFT involves remembering a specific incident with a strong emotional charge and combining the recall with an affirmative statement of self-acceptance. The element of recall involves exposure. The exposure part of EFT is then paired with the affirmation in order to introduce cognitive change in the form of accepting the situation. This counter-conditions the conditioned stress response that your body has to the memory of the traumatic event.
When the conditioned response has been successfully counter-conditioned by EFT, you can still remember the stressful event. In fact, your memory might get even clearer. However, the memory no longer triggers a stress response in your body. After the calming experience of EFT has been associated with the memory, the memory is no longer tagged by the body as a cue to go into fight or flight. Instead, it has a neutral emotional tone. Once you break the conditioned response, you can think of the memory again without any emotional charge. The memory remains, but the emotional association is gone, and your cognitive experience of the memory shifts. EFT thus uses elements of both CBT and exposure therapy in its verbal components.
As there are only 12 tapping points and it takes under 2 minutes to tap them all, the points tapped in all possible treatment algorithms can be addressed in a very brief time frame. This allows many more troubling emotional memories to be treated in a single session. It also allows EFT to be learned quickly, and self-applied.
The tapping points used in EFT correspond to points used in acupuncture, and they release stress. Tapping also soothes the body, introducing a non-traumatic physical stimulus, and interrupting the emotional triggering we’ve created through the traumatic memory. This pairing of a troublesome memory with a soothing physical stimulus often breaks the power of that memory, reducing its emotional intensity.
Tapping signals the body that we’re safe, and so the conditioned loop is broken. Afterward, the nervous system no longer associates the memory with stress.
An independent research team at a hospital in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) also evaluated EFT for PTSD (Karatzias et al., 2011). They compared EFT to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), another effective treatment for PTSD. They found that both therapies were effective in four sessions. Another research team compared EFT to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) in a group of female trauma survivors in the Congo (Nemiro, 2013).
They found EFT to be as effective as CBT. SoCBT, exposure therapy, EFT, and other treatments that help relieve psychological suffering can produce positive changes in the wiring of our neuroplastic brains, as counter-conditioned memories are turned into hardwired neural bundles.
Even when the feedback loop of pain or emotional trauma has been reinforced for years, EFT is often able to break it very quickly. When this happens, the neural bundles that have been transmitting the pain and muscle limitation messages appear to be deactivated, and the brain’s threat-assessment machinery calms down.
When people are hooked up to an EEG (electroencephalogram) machine, and then asked to recall a traumatic memory, the brain waves associated with the fear response are activated. When they do the kind of acupoint tapping used in EFT, their brain state changes to one of calm.
When they are asked to remember the traumatic incident months later, while again hooked up to an EEG machine, their brain waves still remain calm. Measuring the brain’s electromagnetic energy field with an EEG gives us a fascinating picture of what’s happening to the brain under stress.
There are several studies which use EEG to measure these changes in brain waves (see Swingle, 2010; Lambrou, Pratt, & Chevalier, 2003; Swingle, Pulos&Swingle, 2004; Diepold& Goldstein, 2008).
Speedy results and scientific background are what make EFT tapping appealing to me. This is why I love using it to help people release pain, stress, anxiety, etc.
If you want to discover EFT, book a free consultation here now.