Irritation Inspired Insight
I never cease to be amazed at the way this very simple technique can impact people I see for a range of problems.
And as I continue to use the technique on myself in everyday life, I marvel at the ease with which I can release emotional tension myself and often feel freer to let go of something that minutes previously was feeling like an oppressive trigger.
Can it be so simple to feel better about something distressing, which could be historical or current? My evidence tells me yes. And I have been so impressed by the potential of tapping from my first experience 6 years ago, that I have continued to study to higher levels becoming an advanced certified practitioner.
However, the truth is that EFT really challenged my approach in talking therapy because ‘talking’ was how I did therapy with clients. Since EFT almost negates the need to ‘talk’ about distressing experiences, I have had to embrace a very different perspective on helping people to get better.
Tapping has helped me to appreciate that the way we think is often at the root of many individual difficulties. Thinking leads to feelings and then behaviours that over time build up into patterns that we might label as ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’ or ‘anger’ or ‘sadness’ for example. When you realise that 95% of you is running as an automatic pattern after the age of 35yrs, it’s easy to see how people become stuck in mindsets and lifestyles that are deeply unrewarding.
Most people enter therapy looking to ‘tell their story’, describing the many challenges they have experienced along the way. However, this process of talking and revisiting can serve to ‘reinforce’ already painful memories so EFT seeks to minimise the re-triggering of unhappy experiences in the gentle approach it takes to human emotion.
To help you understand a little about what is involved, I am going to outline the basic tapping routine and then offer you an example so you can appreciate more about the way EFT works:
The Tapping Routine
There are 2 stages. The first is known as a ‘set-up’ in which we describe the problem a person is experiencing and challenge the neural pathways that usually trigger a stress response. In other words it is as if we are saying to the part of the brain that responds to the trigger that it doesn’t have to do this anymore! In the second stage, we tap around sensitive areas on the face, neck, underarm and head, that are called acupressure points, because they have a lot of nerve endings that we can stimulate by tapping. Tapping on acupressure points induces relaxation within the body which helps the part of the brain that otherwise triggers the stress response, to calm down. In this way, we seem to be able to ‘deactivate’ pathways previously associated with certain triggers. Given the potency of this technique for conditions like PTSD, we now have research findings that demonstrate how pathways within the brain are literally deactivated through the tapping routine. Some good sources of information on tapping include founder Gary Craig’s website emo.free; Dawson Church’s EFT Universe; Nick & Jessica Ortner’s Tapping Summit; Karl Dawson’s Matrix Reimprinting and David Feinstein with Donna Eden in Eden Method.
Example Using EFT With Client B
On the day we met, B told me that she had received a message from her younger sister earlier that day and that she was feeling ‘discombobulated’ inside. She said she didn’t know exactly what this was but that it felt really messed up and irritating.
B’s father had died a few months previously and her sister’s message was about organising flowers for an aunt who had also passed recently and for whom there was a funeral the following week. We started tapping on B’s feelings towards her sister’s message in the following way where B copied what I said and followed my lead on the tapping points:
Stage 1: We describe the main problem 3 times whilst tapping with finger tips of fingers 2, 3 & 4 on the fleshy part of the side of the opposite hand. We state the problem and also state what the person wants instead:
- Even though I am feeling discombobulated inside after my sister’s message, in this moment I know I want to get over this
- Even though I have this discombobulating feeling inside me after my sister’s message, I really do want to get over this
- Even though this discombobulation is irritating and confusing, in this moment I choose to believe that I can get beyond this
Stage 2: This is where we tap around the acupressure points together on the face, neck, underarm and top of head. At each point we tap at least 5 times and say reminder phrases about the main problem:
Beginning of Eyebrow: This irritating feeling
Side of Eye: This confusing feeling
Under Eye: This messed up inside feeling
Under Nose: I don’t want this feeling
Chin: I choose to let this go, I don’t want this messiness inside of me
Under Collarbone: All this messiness and irritation and confusion
Middle of Armpit: I don’t want this feeling inside of me, I want to let it go
Top of Head: I choose to be free of this whatever it is, I don’t even need to know I just want it to go
Check-in: after a round of tapping a client takes some time to check in with themselves. Sometimes a person likes to close their eyes for a while or take a few breaths. At other times something will come up at this point. On this occasion B suddenly said, “this is an old pattern, this is really old. It’s like I’m a teenager again and my sister is trying to be controlling and bossy – well that’s how I perceived her to be when we were younger. I don’t want to feel like this about my sister now. I love her and I appreciate the things she has helped me with in my life”. B then started to cry and said that her father had come up and that she was feeling very raw still about his passing and recent funeral. She said she felt as if she had a wound inside and that her aunt’s funeral was like something trying to take the scab off the wound about her father that was trying to heal. Then she said “I realise I don’t want to go to my aunt’s funeral. My sister’s message is a gift because she has woken me up to something ahead of time and now I feel really grateful. I am not going to go to my aunt’s funeral. I will send flowers to the family instead and wish my aunt well in my own way.”
B then talked a bit about her sister and how she often felt triggered by her because she was always quick to challenge others, seeming to be on the defensive a lot of the time. B realised that she had just seen beyond a common reaction she had whenever her sister contacted her and that she felt hopeful that being willing to ‘go beyond initial reactions’ could help her to stay grounded and to have more choice in life situations. To end the session, I invited B to try some ‘surrogate tapping’ on behalf of her sister, sending out something positive and hopefully healing towards her sister:
Surrogate Tapping On Behalf Of Someone Else
B followed my lead again for this routine on the side of the hand or Stage 1:
- I breathe love and affection into my sister’s situation and I let go of any negative reaction towards her
- I breathe love and peace into my sister’s situation and I let go of all negative feelings towards her
- I breathe joy and love and peace into my sister’s situation and I choose to detach from old patterns of behaviour
For Stage 2 around the tapping points we said:
Beginning of Eyebrow: All this love
Side of Eye: All this peace
Under the Eye: All this calm
Under the Nose: Letting go
Chin: Sending out love
Under Collarbone: Happiness
Top of Head: Peace
At the end of our session B said that she was feeling inspired to know that by being open to whatever she experienced, she now knew that she might easily be able to change her perspective with curiosity through tapping.
If you would like to learn more about how tapping can help you contact the Hove Counselling Practice on 01273 917732 or visit here.