A Revelation in Trauma Therapy:
Utilising Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – A Look at the Research
When a psychotherapeutic intervention is based on Eastern philosophy, it’s generally automatically dismissed as sham. Endorse something like “energy meridians”, a concept widely accepted in Chinese healing traditions but one you won’t find in medical textbooks, and you’ll be laughed at. Add the idea that you can tap – yes, tap - your way to better emotional health and friends and family wonder if you’ve lost your mind.
This is the bias faced by many practitioners of Emotional Freedom Technique. The long lists of practitioners’ glowing testimonials don’t seem to count for much.
But if you’re honestly interested in changing your life for the better, especially from the impact of traumatic events, you can strike a balance between open-minded and skeptical. As there are many aspects of emotional health that science has yet to completely understand, it’s not impossible for numerous schools of therapy to have the answers people seek. But more so, if scientific research seems to be already proving the efficacy of an approach, it’s advisable to leave prejudices at the door. And this is certainly the case with EFT as a closer look at the research reveals it’s more scientific than you might think.
What is Emotional Freedom Technique?
Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT is a therapeutic intervention founded by Gary Craig. It’s designed to improve the flow of energy in the body and thus falls under the bigger umbrella of Energy Psychology interventions. It draws from the principles behind acupuncture as well as Western therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).
The main premise of EFT is rooted in the belief that relieving blocks in energy meridians (our key reservoirs of energy) by tapping key points in the body, significantly improves wellbeing. Contrary to popular belief, EFT is not just applied pressure on random parts of the body. The process of EFT is structured, and there are assessments that need to be completed before the tapping intervention can be started. Progress is also systematically assessed using rating systems.
At present, the consensus is that EFT is at its experimental stage. However, the body of controlled research is growing quickly. The current thrust of academicians is on finding out whether EFT is effective on its own or just made effective by concurrent psychotherapies.
Research with Trauma Survivors
While EFT has been found helpful for a great range of psychological concerns, it has gained popularity in recent years as catalyst for recovery of those suffering from trauma.
Researchers from the Foundation of Epigenetic Medicine for example, in their study published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, found that 6 hours of EFT sessions can significantly improve the emotional health of veterans who meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In fact, after the EFT intervention, 9 out of 10 veterans who underwent EFT sessions no longer met the criteria for PTSD. This is as opposed to 0.4 out of 10 in the control group (not in the EFT program) who improved.
Similar positive responses to EFT have been found among adolescent survivors of physical or psychological abuse. In a paper presented at the 11th Annual Toronto Energy Psychology Conference, Church and colleagues found that single sessions of EFT can already cause significant reduction in the intensity of memories of a traumatic event among this sample. The single session involves an EFT intervention called the Movie Technique, where clients are gently guided into recall of difficult memories by imagining the incident as a movie. Bodily responses during recall are used as guide in identifying energy meridians that need attending to.
Karatzias and colleagues, also publishing their study in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, found that EFT (as well as EMDR) is effective in producing therapeutic gains among those suffering from PTSD. The improvements were observed after approx 6 sessions. The researches recommended the identification of specific EFT elements that make the intervention effective.
The empirical studies mentioned above are just three among the many researchers that point to EFT as an effective treatment for trauma-related mental health conditions.
Aside from researches that confirm their results, there are also studies that point to EFT as a viable treatment intervention for addiction, depression, phobias, and anxiety. For instance, Wells et al., publishing their findings in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, found that EFT can produce valid behavioural and subjective improvement among people with specific phobias of small animals. The improvement was sustained 6 to 9 months after the initial session. The possible efficacy of EFT is also underscored by the growing body of research that supports Energy Psychology in general.
Is Emotional Freedom Technique for you?
If you think you’re suffering from the after-effects of a traumatic event, or you have been diagnosed with trauma-related psychological conditions like PTSD, do consider EFT as a treatment intervention. As illustrated above, EFT can produce positive results in short periods of time. More so, EFT is not a talking therapy. If talking about your traumatic experience is difficult for you, EFT won’t compel you to verbally share what you went through.
If you’re still skeptical, it helps to know that EFT is a treatment option that you can mix with other psychotherapy and is not known to nullify or reverse progress from other approaches. At the very least, it’s worth a try. Just make sure that you get an EFT practitioner with complete training and extensive experience. Given the serious nature of trauma-related conditions, and the potential adverse effect of the wrong practice, it’s imperative you place yourself in the hands of a professional.
If you like to know more about trauma therapy using the Emotional Freedom Technique, contact P-Therapy through [email protected] This initial consultation is free and you can speak to up to three therapists of your choice to make the best choice for you.
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