FINDING EMOTIONAL FREEDOM: Releasing Stress and Trauma with ‘Tapping’
Tapping came into my life 20 years ago at a conference in Olympia, WA, hosted by The Association for Humanistic Psychology. Because American psychologists were frustrated at the time with the lack of effective conventional therapies for veterans and other victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this conference focused on some of the new offerings and alternative approaches. I chose to attend a session facilitated by Judith Swack, PhD, of Boston, who was addressing PTSD with Thought Field Therapy (TFT), one of the early ‘Energy Psychologies’.
During the session, she dealt with a man who had been traumatized after falling off his garage roof. (He had woken up in hospital to learn that he had broken both his arm and pelvis.) Because his family had been out when the accident happened, he felt an underlying sense of abandonment; Judith focused on this to demonstrate TFT. During the session, Judith had him demonstrate the restricted movement in both body parts before TFT. Under her guidance, the man then followed a simple pattern of ‘Tapping’ various meridian points on his face and finger. After the ‘Tapping’, the man was suddenly able to move his arm quite easily and walk much better.
Gary Craig, the developer of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques, a simplified version of TFT), likens our energy system to a flowing stream. He tells us that every so often there comes a fear, phobia, trauma, or pain which acts like a log jam. Remove that log and the stream begins to flow more easily. Of course, there will be another log jam, and another and another, and each one must be dealt with in turn. And sometimes there is only the need to dislodge one log and the stream flows freely for a long time.
Inspired by Judith’s demonstration, I sought out ‘TFT: Tapping’ practitioners at the conference to lead me in several sessions. I had been in an accident when I was five years old, which resulted in hearing loss in one ear and a marked clenching of my shoulders. Those shoulders had then developed chronic bursitis. After the ‘Tapping’ sessions, my shoulders loosened and lowered considerably.
In fact, while driving to the conference, my friend had noticed that I held the steering wheel at a very high level. As we drove away from the conference, my friend noticed that I was holding the steering wheel at a lower angle. The physical release in my shoulders was noticeable. I was intrigued and continued to explore this modality and began to use it with clients. It was almost always successful, always amazing, and easy for clients to learn to do for themselves.
Shortly afterwards, I learned Emotional Freedom Techniques and began to study and use that method. A little later at another conference, a young lady told me about her paralyzing fear of flying back to Alaska. I did a quick EFT session with her and later received a “Thank You!” note telling me that she was now easily able to fly all over Alaska. That’s when I decided to take the EFT out of my office and teach it publicly.
Today I’m teaching EFT to healthcare workers, medical personnel, other energy workers, and the public. It’s easy to teach and to learn, and people are using it on themselves and with family, clients, and patients.
The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) is an organization whose research on EFT has grown. In fact, a study by one of their members showed that each EFT session can reduce a person’s cortisol (stress hormone) level by over 20%.
Research on EFT for PTSD Sufferers
In 2010, an American study team, of which I was a member, offered six EFT sessions to any American veteran of any war who fulfilled the American Veteran’s Administration requirement for having PTSD. This study was very successful in showing the positive impact of EFT on PTSD, and was published in the prestigious Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, the oldest peer-reviewed psychiatry journal in North America.
EFT Helps Clear Phobias and Grief
I also teach/work successfully over the phone with people who have no previous knowledge of EFT. One client, referred by a naturopath, was sensitive to everything and very fearful of the real world where exposures to chemicals could incapacitate her for weeks (due to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). Because I had recently painted my home/office, she couldn’t visit me, so we did EFT sessions over the phone. She said that she needed to go to the dentist but was too afraid. In that one session, she went from feelings of terror (“I’m sure I’ll stop breathing in the dentist’s chair and die”; “Some chemical in the dentist’s office will make me very ill”), to “It doesn’t bother me at all to go to the dentist.” She was able to survive her visit to the dentist, and we planned another session for before her next appointment.
EFT can be very helpful for family wellness. My brother-in-law died tragically in an airplane accident in Florida. The night before his funeral, my niece, a usually composed woman of 41, said “I’m afraid that I’ll throw up and faint at my father’s funeral.” But two rounds of EFT fixed that! She thanked me profusely the next day, saying that she would not have been able to manage her feelings at the funeral without the EFT sessions beforehand. I was also able to help her three sons, ranging in age from 6 to 13, with their ‘deep grief’ and the terrible heaviness they were feeling in their chests at the loss of their beloved ‘Grampa’. Another grandson was helped with his migraine. In my immediate family I’ve worked with children, grandchildren, sisters, and the family cat.
And then there’s pain! It makes me feel good to help people to reduce their pain. During a Qi Gong class, I ‘Tapped’ a student complaining of backache and she was able to continue with the class without pain. A client with a frozen shoulder gained about 30% mobility after ‘Tapping’ for pain, and an additional 30% after ‘Tapping’ for her rage against the practitioner who put her through exercises which further irritated her injury.
With so many success stories of recovery from pain, anxiety, trauma, addictions, and grief, I find that EFT is making these later years of my life my most personally and professionally fulfilling.
 Church, D., Hawk, C., Brooks, A. J., Toukolehto, O., Wren, M., Dinter, I., & Stein, P. (2013). Psychological trauma symptom improvement in veterans using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 201(2), 153-160.