The human body has a profound electrical and energetic nature – if all the energy in your body’s cells could be bound together, it would have a force equivalent to that of several hydrogen bombs. The Chinese discovered and mapped out the body’s energetic system, which flows in lines called meridians, 5000 years ago and used it to develop acupuncture. When the flow of our body’s energy or “chi” is disrupted, we become ill. When this flow of energy stops completely, we die (an example is the flat line of an electrocardiogram).
Commonly referred to as “tapping,” the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is an emotional version of acupuncture, except no needles are used. Instead, the individual stimulates meridian points on his or her own body by tapping on them. This popular technique was developed in the 19802 by clinical psychologist Roger Callahan, who was trying to help a patient relieve her headache by having her tap a meridian point under her eye. He was stunned when she instead announced that her deep-seated fear of water had disappeared. Dr. Callahan then applied meridian tapping to psychological issues his other clients were suffering and was surprised by the positive results.
The theory behind tapping is that strong negative emotions can disrupt the body’s energy system, and that a person can re-balance his system by focusing on the problem while tapping on energetic meridian points. In practice, tapping appears to take the emotional charge out of anxieties, fears and phobias, thus allowing the person to more forward free of the emotional baggage they were previously carrying. Simple phobias – fear of flying, spiders, enclosed spaces, heights, public speaking, clowns, etc. – seem to respond rapidly to the use of tapping, often completely cured within one to two sessions. Issues with addictive substances – smoking or overeating, for example – involve chronic self-sabotage and often take longer. Many people have reported that once their psychological issues were relieved by tapping, physical problems such as headaches, chronic pain and arthritis, also were cured.
Since tapping was first developed EFT practitioners have moved on to explore other areas where this technique might be useful. In The EFT Manual, Gary Craig recounts his experience when invited by the Veterans’ Administration in Los Angeles to meet with Vietnam veterans for six days. During that week he witnessed remarkable improvements in veterans suffering from PTSD, many of whom had been in traditional therapy for over a decade. One veteran was cured of his panic attacks and insomnia; another was able to visit public places like restaurants for the first time in 20 years. Not all were completely cured, not all experienced improvement. But tapping was able to neutralize the truly crippling anxiety in a significant number of them, improving their quality of life after having lost all hope.
Overcoming limiting beliefs is another focus of many EFT practitioners. Should you do a search on the Internet, you will find numerous tapping books and programs dedicated to helping you make money, be successful, gain confidence, improve your self-image, etc. Much of this makes sense. If you were raised with the mindset that making money is hard and that rich people are greedy, it’s not likely that you will become wealthy until you can neutralize the negative emotions you associate with money. That said, it seems like many self-help gurus are using tapping as a one-size-fits-all solution to all of life’s problems. I don’t think it’s that, even though I believe it is something that everyone should try.
Is there scientific evidence that tapping works? Here is a summary of of over 100 studies on EFT that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. The studies were divided into groups based on the type of problem that was being addressed – Anxiety, Athletic Performance, Depression, Pain and Physical Symptoms, Phobias, PTSD, and Weight Loss, Cravings and Addictions. Some specific issues include the impact of using EFT on: anxiety in dental patients, teacher burnout, reducing the pain of fibromyalgia, post-earthquake rehabilitation of clinical PTSD in Haiti, the symptoms of psoriasis, and PTSD in military veterans. While the majority of the authors of the studies observed “statistically significant” to “robust” improvements in the study participants, some did not. Many of the authors expressed caution due to small sample sizes. The great majority opined that further research was warranted.
But could the positive results from the scientific studies be a result of either positive thinking or the placebo effect? I don’t know, but if true I’m actually good with it. Quantum physicists tell us that individuals play a significant role in shaping reality; whatever tool enables people to give themselves permission to harness their own energies to heal themselves is a valuable one.
Some skeptics object to tapping because …it’s easy. You don’t need to spend lots of money for a therapist. You don’t need to spend years on a psychiatrist’s couch. States Gary Craig, “I’m not arguing against conventional medicine or psychotherapy, just that tapping belongs in everyone’s toolbox.” EFT puts you in control; it provides you with the means to take care of yourself and to live a fuller life – for free. Check out some very good internet resources below:
www.eftuniverse.com: This tapping one-stop-shop has free tutorials and videos, case histories, the EFT research studies (with links!) referred to above, and professional training (not free). This is Dr. Dawson Church’s website.
thetappingsolution.com: This is the site of siblings Nick and Jessica Ortner who brought tapping to a younger generation. They’ve both written popular books, are the organizers of the popular World Tapping Summits (if you sign up beforehand, you can listen to it live, otherwise you need to pay for the audio CDs later), and offer in-depth programs targeted at both financial and body issues. The Ortners are also the founders of the Tapping Solution Foundation which was established to offer trauma relief – at first to families in the Ortners’ hometown of Newton, CT after the Sandy Hook tragedy, then to genocide survivors in Rwanda, and to military veterans suffering from PTSD.
www.emofree.com: This is Gary Craig’s website – it has free tutorials, videos and articles. It also offers training to become a certified practitioner.