Tapping for Your Health
by Melissa Olson
The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), or “tapping,” is an elegant demonstration of the fact that, with the right tools, the body and mind can heal themselves. EFT has become a valuable self-care and therapy tool for millions of Americans for bringing about significant relief from emotional and physical symptoms as well as clarity about complex life experiences. One great advantage of the technique is that it can be done almost wherever and whenever it is needed, even without a practitioner or therapist.
From the perspective of EFT, life’s challenging events and traumas are the result of going through experiences without having processed them completely. They remain lodged inside us as memories, somatic sensations, emotions or beliefs, keeping us stuck in the experiences and their effects on us. The goal of EFT, and other trauma-resolution methods, is completing this interrupted processing.
EFT is unique in that it is a self-administered process that involves touching or tapping the end points of the 12 largest energy meridians in the human body, which are on the hands, head, face and upper body. While tapping, it is helpful to focus on the issue—for example, an emotion, a negative thought, a memory or a physical sensation—that you are trying to resolve or process. Doing so allows you to experience the issue more deeply, while the tapping itself helps the body/mind to process the experience to completion. As a result, the “charge,” or pressure on the nervous system, dissolves, and the experience will not be re-triggered.
People use tapping to reduce or eliminate a wide variety of pain and symptoms, including feelings of trauma, anxiety, stress, PTSD, addictions and more. As with any powerful healing tool, the treatment of complex traumas is best overseen by trained, accredited professionals.
Seven layers of impact
Tapping concepts are derived originally from traditional Chinese medicine, but Gary Craig created the technique in its current form about 30 years ago. At least seven mechanisms take place simultaneously during the EFT tapping process:
- Imaginal exposure—imagining the distress-inducing event
- Acupressure—tapping on meridian end points
- Somatic activation—triggering the body’s response to a specific stimulus
- Downward regulation of fight-flight-freeze response—calming the nervous system
- Memory reconsolidation—completing the processing of traumatic memories
- Eye movement reprocessing—eye movements are associated with trauma processing
- Cognitive restructuring—beliefs and thoughts often shift as trauma is fully processed
Stories of healing
Every EFT practitioner has great stories to tell about healing and changes in people’s lives. Sometimes, resolution of an issue comes quickly, while for complex issues, a longer-term, systematic approach with an expert is often required to get to all levels of the issue. Here are some of the transformative experiences I’ve witnessed working with EFT:
I worked with one client who had a 26-year history of migraines that began after a car accident. Since she started using EFT six years ago, her migraines have not returned. Another client was experiencing a tightness in her chest that she described as black, heavy and cold. With tapping, this feeling dissolved, and she reported an overall decrease in her anxiety.
A 34-year old client had been told since childhood that she was fat. At 34, she was overweight and struggling with binging and restricting, and feeling overwhelming shame. With tapping, she released some of her early childhood traumatic memories, and over several sessions the issue no longer had an emotional charge for her.
While participating in a group tapping session, another client experienced several “Aha!” moments about her tendency to work too much. Afterward, she felt empowered to change her work schedule in a way that she’d never been able to before.