EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique is an evidence based tool, scientifically shown to help lower stress, reduce anxiety and bring about effective, long-term behaviour change by helping to re-wire the brain.
What began as a ‘novel intervention’ known as Thought Field Therapy a couple of decades ago is now an evidence based practise in its own right with over 100 studies showing how EFT can help with many aspects of health, both physical and psychological. These include:
- to help lower anxiety in both adolescents and adults (Study 1, Study 2).
- bringing about effective and swift behaviour changes (eg unwanted snacking or overeating including binge eating) (Study) as well as shown to be effective in weight loss (Study).
- has been shown to lower cortisol, improve heart rate variability and lower blood pressure (Study 1, Study 2).
- may improve sports performance by improving confidence and lowering anxiety (Study) as well as potentially the added benefits of lowered cortisol and improved HRV as above.
- has been shown to improve happiness (Study)
- help address both physiological and psychological impact of trauma and PTSD (Study).
To give you an example of it’s effectiveness, in a large randomised control study with over 5000 participants, seeking treatment for anxiety, 90% of participants who received EFT showed improvements in symptoms versus 63% of CBT participants. In addition, only 3 EFT sessions were needed to see this improvement versus an average of 15 CBT sessions.
How it works.
EFT works via tapping on various meridian points on the body and can be described as ‘acupuncture without the needles’.
Trauma, Adverse Health and our Threat and Survival System: The amygdala is part of the brain’s limbic system and it is here where emotions are given meaning and associations/memories are attached to them. It is also where you process strong emotions such as fear and pleasure. When presented with what we perceive as a danger, it is the amygdala that will respond immediately as part of our ‘fight or flight response’. It is an automatic response, one where we react without thinking as part of a survival mechanism.
We also have two frontal lobes in our brain which is where thinking and more rational responses happen. When we have been exposed to trauma such as a tramatic childhood event, our ‘fight or flight response’ can take over and effectively the amygdala hijacks the frontal lobes, leading to not only seemingly irrational actions but also a chronically elevated cortisol level which is associated with many adverse, long-term health effects. Trauma does not have to be physical abuse or going to war, it can be a lack of love in childhood, witnessing a traumatic event. For some living through the Covid pandemic is a trauma.
These automatic fight or flight responses can go on for years and we develop coping mechanisms as time goes on to deal with it through often unwanted behaviours such as avoidance of situations or using food to suppress emotions, OCD or addictive behaviours can result.
EFT basically helps to rewire this response system. Tapping on the meridians send signals to the limbic (fear) part the brain to tell you that you are safe. Once the process has been learnt, it is a technique that you can use on yourself making it very empowering.
What to expect.
Basically EFT involves tapping on various parts of your body, led by your practitioner, with a focus on your primary concern (this may change as the session progresses), the feelings and sensations is conjures up.
You will tap along lead by your practitioner (this works well via Zoom) but using words that have come from you and a standard statement that incorporates this, tapping on points on your hand, head and upper body. The words used, unlike most therapies where reframing and acceptance is the usual format, are stated in the negative which may sound odd. However, this allows the amygdala and the limbic system to be strongly engaged in the process and for the tapping associated with these negative sensations to surface and be released.
Some issues may be resolved in one or two sessions, deeper rooted issues may take a little longer but noticeable shifts and changes happen quickly. Where this doesn’t happen the concept of ‘psychological resistance’ can be explored which is where someone may have a reason for holding onto the emotions – this can be a key there are core issues that need resolving.
It all may sound a bit weird or you may be a bit sceptical, I certainly was at the start but I simply couldn’t ignore all the evidence and everything I was hearing. In Nutritional Therapy often cases are complex and multi-faceted and applying a holistic approach can help overcome barriers to healing, recovery and reaching your goals. If you are curious but a bit sceptical I urge you to have a look at the studies referenced above and get in touch for a chat.
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