By Joy Birnbach Dunstan, MA, LPC, MAC
Tapping Into Wellness With EFT
“How about trying something weird today?” That’s what I generally ask my clients the first time I present a technique from the newly emerging field of energy psychology.
The particular modality of energy psychology that I use most often is called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). It is based on a theory developed by Dr. Roger Callahan that imbalances in the body’s energy system have profound effects on a person’s well-being. These balances can be corrected by tapping on certain body locations while tuning in to the thoughts that are behind negative emotions. Dr. Callahan made his discovery in 1980 and called his method Thought Field Therapy, and it is the foundation behind EFT.
The human body is governed by a complex set of energy circuits similar to an electrical system. These energy circuits are called meridians and were discovered by the Chinese about 5000 years ago. Meridians are the basis for modern-day acupuncture and a variety of other healing techniques.
According to EFT theory, all negative emotions are caused by a disruption in the body’s energy system, not by the distressing experiences or memories we typically blame. Some people have a tendency for their energy systems to become imbalanced more easily than others, which is why some people are bothered by their memories and others are not. By directly balancing the energy system, negative emotions can be dissolved more effectively and painlessly than by focusing on the memories themselves.
EFT compares this energy flow in your body to that of a TV set. If the electricity flows through your TV as it should, the sound and picture are clear. But if you were to poke around inside the TV with a screwdriver, perhaps short-circuiting a few of the wires or loosening some connections, the picture and sound would lose clarity, and the TV would exhibit its version of a negative emotion.
When our human energy system becomes imbalanced, we can straighten it out by tapping on particular places along our energy meridians while focusing on the problem and doing some brain-balancing exercises that stimulate and integrate the two hemispheres of the brain. The tapping locations correspond to beginning and end points of each of the meridians, thus vibrationally affecting the entire meridian much like the ripple effect in a pond. With the energy system back in balance, negative emotions are dissolved.
I have used this technique with scores of clients and seen some amazing results. EFT even turned my disbelieving husband into one of its most ardent proponents. When our beloved dog died a few years ago, he fell into a deep depression over the loss. This generally easy-going, optimistic man withdrew into himself and cried at the sound of another dog’s bark. He refused my efforts to help him through it and moped around the house in gloomy silence. Finally, after nearly three weeks like this, he said to me, “Okay, see what you can do.” So we used EFT for his grief, and after about twenty minutes he suddenly looked at me with clear eyes and a puzzled smile and said, “I still miss her, but it’s okay now.”
While it is sometimes used as a stand-alone technique, I believe EFT is most effective when applied as a component along with other psychotherapy, especially for complex problems involving layers of issues and emotions. And if it sounds too far-fetched to be true, remember that “the mind, like a parachute, functions only when open.”