Here below my early studies about how memories and energetic states are so deeply connected.
I still consider the practice of EFT a valuable one and I recommend it for its simplicity and long term efficiency.
Lately in my career I've integrated many elements from NLP and Clinical Hypnosis, those elements helped me to reach level of efficiency never experienced before with EFT or other techniques.
Wishing you the best in your personal journey.
My personal experience as an acupuncture patient and practitioner has taught me to appreciate the immense potential that this technique has for balancing the functions of body and mind. In spite of its great properties, I have been able to observe how more specific issues related to emotions are not as easy to diagnose and treat with acupuncture. Therefore, I decided to devote my time to researching which techniques allow for the treatment of emotional issues, drawing on the principles of Chinese medicine.
This document outlines the fundamentals of the single technique I’ve found and consider to be both most efficient and easiest to teach and learn: It is called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
This technique’s efficiency turns out to be amazing in some cases: issues previously described as chronic have gradually vanished in front of my eyes in as short as one session or little more matter of one session or a little more. Longer treatment has been necessary for other cases but there has never been the need to establish clinical times as those required by “orthodox” emotional therapies such as psychoanalysis and other psychotherapies. At the same time, it is easy to equip the patient with this tool for working outside of the practice, something that may not be as effective as receiving treatment from a professional but will surely provide good relief in several situations.
I consider EFT so easy to learn because it does not require any tool (take, for instance, needles for acupuncture), and is applied with our fingertips. A particular anatomical knowledge is not necessary either because it is applied externally on the body and at such a low intensity that it does not entail any physical risk.
EFT also stands out for not needing any diagnosis, since every session is approached as a new experience, focusing on and treating the patient’s emotions.
In this thesis I describe EFT’s fundamentals and the way I have successfully adapted it to my personal practice as well as to the treatment of my patients, at times in conjunction with acupuncture.
I have added a description of the most interesting and curious cases that have arrived to my office as a way to illustrate that EFT is a technique with infinite fields of application and at the same time very easy to practice.
It has been said that EFT is also known as Emotional Acupuncture. It must be noted that acupuncture is mainly focused on physical, not emotional problems. Although acupuncture practitioners may use their needles in order to bring a patient to relaxation or alleviate an important anxiety, it is not a psychological treatment per sé .
The development of “emotional acupuncture” was started by Doctor George Goodheart, a well-known chiropractor within the United States that founded a branch of chiropractic based on an accurate method for testing the body in order to find information on its needs.
Goodheart first learned about acupuncture in 1962 from reading a book written by the president of the Acupuncture Society in Britain. Interested in its possibilities, Dr. Goodheart studied acupuncture and included it in his personal work, developing a new method called Applied Kinesiology
Through substituting the needles with simple manual pressure, he found he was able to obtain the same benefits by simply applying his fingers to, or even tapping , the acupuncture points. This discovery allowed for this technique to be accessible to many more people given its non-invasive nature.
In the 1970’s, an Australian psychiatrist called John Diamond drew on Goodheart’s work and took his discoveries one step beyond with what he called Behavioral Kinesiology . Diamond resorted to using affirmations (positive thoughts or statements) when the person was contacting specific acupuncture points, and applied it to the treatment of emotional issues.
Diamond’s work brought meridian-based therapies to the field of Energy Psychology. This is one step closer to EFT.
Then, American psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan, who specialized in treating anxiety, developed a method for tapping acupuncture points to treat psychological problems. In the early 1980’s, Dr. Callahan learned
Callahan took the step that was necessary to combine
Callahan had been working for over two years with “Mary”, a patient of his with such an intense fear of water that she could not sit on the bathtub without experiencing an anxiety attack. In spite of the many psychological techniques he had applied, the benefits had been marginal: Mary could not even come close to the pool near Dr. Callahan’s office without experiencing panic.
One day, while working on this fear at his practice, Mary mentioned for the first time that her feeling of fear was located in her stomach. Dr. Callahan related this to the stomach meridian and invited Mary to tap onto the Stomach 3 point, just under the eye, directly below the pupil.
His idea was to use this maneuver to balance her “meridian energy system,” hence alleviating her stomach symptoms. Mary started to lightly tap the area under her eyes and something totally unexpected happened: instead of merely feeling relief from her stomach symptoms, she said that her fear of water had vanished suddenly.
The doctor didn’t take these statements very seriously until he saw Mary running toward the pool. Once she got there, Mary took water in her hands and splashed it on her face. Never before had she been able to even get close to the pool.
Callahan felt worried because his client didn’t know how to swim. He ran toward her to make sure she wouldn’t fall into the water. While running, he realized that the phobia to water had disappeared in the process of tapping under the eye.
Mary’s case fits into the so-called ‘one-minute wonders’ in which results can be achieved very quickly. Callahan later found out that not all phobias are gone this fast, although the tapping technique offers very quick results vis-à-vis more traditional techniques, thus opening the doors to a new era in psychology.
A new technology had arisen: systematically tapping strategic points in the body while repeating key words out loud. Seemingly, this system brought about beneficial changes to the person’s emotional state and therefore could be used for treating psychological problems that did not respond to traditional techniques.
Based on his experiments, Roger Callahan developed a plan for using specific sequences for different emotional problems. He concluded that there is a correct sequence for each problem and that it could be determined through muscle testing. He went on to develop a series of tapping sequences denominated ‘algorithms.’ Using this method that he called TFT (Thought Field Therapy), Dr. Callahan achieved remarkable clinical results throughout the years.
In spite of its effectiveness in several cases, this technique had certain limitations: point-by-point muscle testing is not only cumbersome but it requires of an expertise in kinesiology, and thus cannot be used as a self-help technique.
Some TFT students then discovered that one single algorithm could work easily so that people could practice it at home, becoming a great advantage. Psychologist Patricia Carrington and Gary Craig, a Stanford engineer and expert personal coach, arrived separately to the same conclusion: one single algorithm could be as effective as the most elaborate TFT procedure.
By 1987, Dr. Carrington had already developed and used a TFT-based tapping ‘single algorithm’ that she called Acutap . This method avoids the diagnose procedure, including muscle testing. She simply requested people to tap the end-points of their acupuncture meridians each time they applied the treatment. Thus Dr. Carrington was able to help her patients in ways that were previously impossible.
Similarly, Gary Craig decided to depart from the Callahan school and use his own ‘single algorithm.’ Callahan did not approve of this variation.
Craig called his technique ‘Emotional Freedom Techniques – EFT’ in order to distinguish it from Callahan’s work, and he has been teaching EFT since the early 1990’s. Currently, EFT is considered to be the most popular and most widely used Energetic Psychology technique in the world.
Due to the fact that it includes useful elements that
Currently, EFT plays a key role in the revolution that has started in the psychology field. Over the more than 50 years that have passed from acupuncture to EFT, the meridian theory has been taken to places where it was never known or considered before.
Gary Craig’s great contribution has been to simplify the procedures and application of the techniques he studied. Under his method, an in-depth diagnostic work is not necessary in order to understand which body points need to be addressed. Instead, the same formula can be applied to all problems.
EFT may appear as an extremely simple solution but it has indeed been revolutionary because it allows any kind of user to access a strong therapeutic technique. It also must be noted that in many cases, the EFT therapist asks the client to continue working on their treatment in between sessions, which results in a better understanding of the therapeutic work, with reduced healing times and costs.
This document will describe a simplified version of EFT’s concepts. For a broader understanding of the practice and application of EFT, we refer the reader to the EFT Manual and other recommended texts shown in the References.
I consider that the minimal unit of the EFT practice is constituted by these two phases:
* The setup, and
The setup is comprised by repetitions of a statement (which I will explain next), pronounced three consecutive times, while tapping the hand’s ulnar side, close to the pinky finger. This is what Craig refers to as “Karate Chop,” or the point that Karate practitioners use to hit. In acupuncture, a reference point would be the area around 3 ID.
The setup is an optional component of the practice but in some cases it is deemed as fundamental. In order to understand when to use it, a muscle test would be necessary, following the technique of kinesiology. To avoid a muscle test, which can be complicated for some, it is preferred to apply the setup in all cases unless an important sensitivity has not been developed.
A generic example of a statement goes like this:
“Even if I have ........., I deeply accept myself.”
The space in the blanks (“........”) briefly summarizes the problem to be addressed.
Below are some examples of statements:
* Even though I have this fear of speaking in public, I deeply accept myself
* Even though I have this headache, I deeply accept myself
* Even though I have this rage against my dad, I deeply accept myself
* Even though I have this memory of the war, I deeply accept myself
* Even though I have this tension in my head, I deeply accept myself
* Even though I have these nightmares, I deeply accept myself
* Even though I suffer from abstinence from alcohol, I deeply accept myself
* Even though I have this fear of snakes, I deeply accept myself
* Even though I have this depression, I deeply accept myself
Of course, this list is only partial because not all possible combinations can be covered in this document. The statements can address any kind of issue.
Before referring to the sequence, here are some tips for tapping:
* Tapping is done using the fingertips of the index and middle fingers.
* Tapping must be done decisively but not roughly. If pain is experienced, lighter tapping is recommended.
* Either side of the body can be worked on. If using the right hand, it would be more comfortable to tap the left side of the body and vice versa. Also, it is possible to switch sides of the body to tap halfway through the sequence.
* Tap around 7 times on each point while saying the Reminder (explained next). If special emphasis wants to be placed on a specific Reminder, you could spend more or less time on a given point.
The sequence goes as follows:
Once memorized, the Basic Recipe becomes a friend for life. It can be applied to a myriad of physical and emotional problems, providing relief in most cases. Before using the Basic Recipe, it is necessary to add an important concept: the Reminder Phrase.
The Basic Recipe must focus on a specific problem. Otherwise, it would have little effect, or a very generic one. The Basic Recipe should be tried whenever we are “connected” to a specific issue we want to solve.
Negative emotions arise because we connect ourselves with certain circumstances sometimes causing a disruption of the body’s energy system. For example, the fear of heights is not activated if we are reading the newspaper because we are not connecting with that problem.
We can connect with the problem by simply thinking about it. Thus, the disruption of energy manifests itself and we can balance it through applying the Basic Recipe.
All that is needed is to think about the problem and to apply the Basic Recipe. It’s as simple as that!
It might be difficult to remain focused on the problem as we tap the body. Therefore, the use of a Reminder Phrase is recommended while applying the Basic Recipe.
A Reminder Phrase is nothing more than a word or a brief phrase that describes the problem and is repeated out loud while tapping each point in the sequence. This allows us to keep our system connected with the problem.
The best Reminder is similar to the Statement we’ve used in the Setup.
If we are using the Setup Phrase:
* Even though I have this fear of speaking in public, I deeply accept myself
The ideal Reminder Phrase would be:
Let’s say that we are using the Basic Recipe on a specific issue (fear, headache, rage, etc.). At times the issue disappears after one single round of the Basic Recipe whereas at other times there is only partial improvement.
When only partial results are obtained, more repetitions are needed. It is important to pay attention to whether the issue has changed in intensity or shape.
In regards to intensity, it may have increased or decreased. We will continue applying the Basic Recipe, trying to adjust the Reminding Phrase with the word “remaining.” If we are working on the “fear of speaking in public,” in the next rounds we will say “remaining fear of speaking in public.”
As Craig himself suggests on the EFT training videos, the Basic Recipe is only one of the ways of practicing tapping or, stated otherwise, to help let go of mental blockings. There are several interpretations; some practitioners resort more to dialectics, including some components of Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP), while others resort to a more energetic work without paying too much attention to words. In my personal experience, I’ve been drawn closer to energy practices, although full command of dialectical techniques can be key for treating a certain type of patient or problem.
Let’s say you’re afraid of spiders and want to get rid of this fear. If you don’t have a spider at hand to create emotional intensity, you only need to close your eyes and imagine a past experience when a spider spooked you. Then you’d need to assess emotional intensity on a scale form 0 to 1o of how you feel in this moment.
If, for instance, your intensity gets a score of 7, it can be used as a benchmark for evaluating the process. Now we can make one round of the Basic Recipe while imagining the situation with the spider. If by the end of the practice the intensity has vanished, we can stop. If it has decreased to 4, we’ll need to make more rounds until we reach intensity equal to zero.
It might surprise us that working with an issue such as fear of spiders without actually seeing them could solve the problem. It works several times and if we cross paths again with a spider, we won’t repeat our previous patterns.
There may still be some exceptions between the simulation of a problem and the actual problem. For instance, if we imagine a still spider instead of one that’s moving and the movement turns out to be a significant aspect of our fear, then the intensity will increase instead of diminish. To avoid this from happening, it’s a good practice to imagine more possible aspects before testing our emotions in real life.
This concept of “aspect” is very important to EFT. Problems are usually a combination of aspects, with each aspect being related to a given energy disruption and a certain emotional intensity.
At the beginning of the EFT practice, it may be difficult to realize the most relevant aspects and how to use them in the Basic Recipe. Not a problem at all.
The only thing to do is to insist and try to repeat three rounds of the Basic Recipe each day for one month. It’s a very simple practice and can be done anywhere so it’s not difficult to be persistent. Also, it’s possible that our issue is gone 30 days within starting the practice.
It’s very important to be specific whenever possible. It would be easier to take a certain fear or traumatic memory to an intensity equal to zero.
Sometimes we tend to group a set of problems under the same umbrella. This may create problems for the EFT process.
Many of us would like to have a higher “self-esteem” but then we find out that self-esteem is too generic of a label and that it includes several specific problems such as memories of abuse, failure and several types of fear. Someone that has been harshly rejected as a child may not feel capable of living up to certain situations later in life. This feeds a low self-esteem by creating an energy disruption in the body whenever situations of potential rejection arise. Hence, people may constantly feel they’re “not good enough” in the face of opportunity and remain paralyzed.
In such cases it is important to focus on all the underlying issues to low self-esteem, either looking for their origin or treating their consequences. If correctly applied, EFT will lead the practitioner to see new opportunities where they had felt inadequate before.
A very useful concept is to break up an issue into the specific events that originate it. For instance, if a person holds a grudge because his father was abusive, a good practice would be to resort to very specific events such as “when my father hit me in the kitchen when I was eight.” This phrase will have a better effect than simply saying, “My dad has abused me.”
Perhaps the biggest mistake beginners make is to use EFT for problems that are too generic. If they insist on practicing, they may see good results but they may not get an accurate idea of how the process works. Therefore, they may stop practicing too soon.
A particular effect of EFT when approaching different aspects related to a single problem is that in many cases after treating the first aspects it is no longer necessary to go through the rest. For instance, if someone has 100 traumatic memories of abuse, all of them may disappear upon treating five or ten of them.
The previous chapters have referred to several different situations in which to apply EFT. There is no limit to the type of emotional and physical situations on which this technique can be used. It is advised to try it with everything we can thing of. It’s not uncommon to observe positive results.
Since I discovered this technique, I’ve been practicing it on a daily basis on myself, and patients of mine that decided to give it a try.
The following is a description of the clinical cases I have treated and consider to be more relevant for understanding EFT’s potential. I’ve chosen to describe cases that are very different from each other in order to demonstrate the broad spectrum of possible applications of this technique.
Female, 23 years old
Reason for visit
Stye in left eye
The patient’s left upper eyelid is red and swollen. She feels pain when closing her eye.
The treatment initially focused on the pain and then on the swelling sensation. Minor emotions surfaced in the process, not needing verbal work, only a few rounds with the Basic Recipe.
Within 10 minutes the swelling had been significantly reduced and the pain disappeared.
By the end of the treatment the patient stated she no longer felt discomfort or pressure on her eyelid although the eye’s border still had some redness.
Female, 57 years old
Reason for visit
Recurrent vomit and diarrhea
The patient had been vomiting repeatedly for 2 days, almost totaling 50 episodes. As a result, she cannot swallow liquid or solid foods and her body is feeling extremely weak.
After first intervening for relaxing the body, that was very contracted (5 minutes), I’ve asked the patient if in the last few days there had been an issue that she “couldn’t swallow.” She acknowledged a personal issue that affected her intimately and we dedicated 15 minutes to clearing the aspects related to that issue.
When the patient reached a profound state of calm and sleep I let her rest.
The next morning the woman appeared to have fully recovered. She looked healthy and was able to leave on a scheduled trip.
Female, 65 years old
Reason for visit
The woman has been experiencing a very strong pain in her left shoulder in the last three days. She cannot move her shoulder in any direction. A small angle of movement causes great pain.
To begin, I tried to use the moxa to reactivate circulation in the meridians. The woman seemed annoyed by the moxa smoke and after a few minutes I moved to the emotional treatment.
I started by treating physical pain, asking for small movements in each direction and treating them. The shoulder regained movement, reaching a 35-40 degree angle in all directions without showing any particular pain.
From this moment on, the improvement slowed. Now the question was “if there was an emotional issue behind this, what would it be?.” The issue was one the woman felt strongly about and had to do with her relationship with her son. After treating the aspects related to the son for 10 minutes, the whole treatment was finished.
The woman regained total functionality, feeling no pain even when exerting effort.
Female, 21 years old
Reason for visit
A few days earlier during a theater rehearsal the woman fell on the floor, causing a sprain in her left ankle. The ankle is still a little swollen and she feels pain when walking and moving her foot, even if she makes no effort.
First, acupuncture was applied around the ankle. Then the emotional treatment started, approaching the trauma caused by the fall and its consequences. The fear of this event repeating itself has been key for the treatment.
Female, 31 years old
Reason for visit
Phobia to flying in airplanes
The patient says that for many years, every time she flies in a airplane she must take a sedative (tavor) for avoiding panic attacks. Each year, she takes at least two flights.
The treatment has focused on the anxiety that surfaces as she recalls previous cases. Once the anxiety is eliminated, focus is put on the sensations that are created when the mind projects future flying situations.
Six months, and again after 1 year following the treatment, the patient says she has flown several times within Europe and to Latin America without having anxiety attacks or needing to resort to sedatives.
5 sessions – Female, 41 years old
Reason for visit
Asthma and intolerance to certain foods
The patient suffered from asthma since she was a child. She recalls always having carried an inhalator (Ventolín). Every night she would awake to use the inhaler. She would also use the inhaler as soon as she awoke each morning. Inhalations were less frequent during the day.
The treatment has focused on the sensations that surface when the patient thinks about her attacks. In some cases, a light attack has been reproduced, resulting in treating all the symptoms and the somatic or emotional consequences.
The patient no longer awakes at night to use her inhalator and no longer requires use of the inhaler in the morning. She does still use the inhalator in very limited cases.
Nonetheless, food intolerances have not disappeared, only diminished.
After one year, the woman indicates she has not used the inhalator in months.
6 sessions (4 each week +1 two months later, +1 four months later)
Reason for visit
Problems in relationships at work, with family and with partner.
The client suffered from a lot of stress because in her opinion, people around her don’t value her enough in spite of all the efforts she makes.
We’ve worked on her fear of failure and the fears related to the consequences of failure. We’ve approached the relationship problems with the mother and father and the personal history this entails.
Mother, partner and work have been recurring keys throughout the sessions.
The client said the issues from the previous week were no longer a burden and that other new problems have surfaced. After the first three weeks she was taught to work on her own and one week later she was discharged. Two months later she came back to treat new issues, confirming that the previous issues didn’t bother her anymore. The same results were observed two months later.
Female, 38 years old - 2 sessions
Reason for visit
Fear of speaking in public speaking and the need to make a presentation during an event in the next few days.
Fear of public speaking turns into panic that paralyzes her and makes her cry in situations when the audience’s attention focuses on her.
We reviewed the most recent traumatic events related to public speaking and focused on the fear of speaking at the upcoming event.
Male, 34 years old - 3 sessions
Reason for visit
Problems sharing the same bed with partner
This man had problems spending the night in the same room and on the same bed as his partner. The anxiety he felt would not allow him to sleep, causing an evident imbalance.
The treatment reviewed the root of the anxiety that arose during the night while being next to his partner. During each session, the patient’s awareness on the issue has grown, allowing him to relate this problem to inherited family issues.
The first time I used tapping for treatment was with my hay fever, characterized by itchy eyes and nose. At times, the itch would be so strong that during the night, without noticing, I’d scratch my eyes so hard that I’d get conjunctivitis. This happened to me every year over the last six years.
Upon the first symptoms of itchiness I tried the Basic Recipe and the itch disappeared quickly. Half an hour later it came back. I applied the Basic Recipe again, worried about it not working out the first time, and again the itching disappeared. Same results an hour later. Then I realized that each time the itching stemmed from a different point in the eye.
Two days later, I’d applied the recipe between 14-16 times, never on the same place.
Another issue I thought would be impossible to solve was related to my blood pressure. Around 30, I was diagnosed with a mild high blood pressure with a poor prognosis, given my age at the time. My mother’s father had died at 50 because of heart problems.
I have not worked directly on this subject because it is unspecific and asymptomatic. Nevertheless, my prolonged self-treatment work has caused my blood pressure to drop to normal levels (110-70), even after times of physical and psychological stress.
I’ve been raised with the idea that there are no universal therapies, but that a good technique and an expert therapist can aid a patient in their healing process.
However, I don’t consider myself to be an expert yet and it may be that failure in the following cases is exemplary of my lack of experience.
It seems fair to me to report these cases in order to show that this technique is efficient and easy to apply, yet that it is also necessary to consider that more complicated cases require time, sensitivity and expertise on behalf of the therapist.
2 sessions – Male, 29 years old
Reason for visit
Phobia to heights
The patient assures that he has felt vertigo and panic with even small heights for several years.
We started with the most salient previous cases in which the patient vividly felt panic and vertigo.
In some aspects there has been a decrease in the emotional intensity. However, every time we have tried to come close to the window, the stimulus was always the same.
9 sessions – Female, 26 years old
Reason for visit
Phobia to dogs
For as long as she can remember, the patient feels an intense fear of any kind of dog. Just seeing them terrorizes her. Needless to say, this causes her a major social problem.
The first sessions were dedicated to clear the strongest memories she had about her encounters with dogs. A particular event needed two sessions to remove all the emotions it arose in the patient. Other important events have also been cleared.
The sessions allowed the patient to decrease the emotional intensity during her encounters with small sized dogs.
In spite of the work done to clear diverse past events and future projections, the patient continues to experience intense emotions whenever she encounters big sized dogs, even if they are tied. Six months later she writes me saying that although she is still afraid of dogs, she is finally able to come close to her parents’ dog and lead a normal life at home.
From a clinical point of view this is not a total failure, but it is supposed that a few more sessions are necessary to completely clear this phobia. The client also adds that this is the first time that a therapy has allowed her to change her behavior patterns and gives her hope that she will be able to overcome this issue some day.
In almost any therapy, most clients feel satisfied with the initial results and have a hard time admitting that emotions play a much more important role than we think.
In my personal experience, only 5% of my patients have shown they understand the importance of the daily follow-up they can conduct on themselves. For those that cannot or do not want to practice on their own, support from a professional is paramount.
Certainly, having an expert at hand allows for a more effective therapeutic experience and therefore I recommend patients return if they notice new issues, or if the old ones have become deeper and they’re unable to solve them on their own.
Each illness is a signal our body sends for us to face issues we’ve been unable to process in their due time, that have become stalled and ignored.
Allopathic medicine, a branch of acupuncture, leads us to treat only the symptoms of sickness. In this way, our body continues to seek ways for inviting us to solve the problem from its root. If we still don’t listen, our body will manifest itself more intensely each time with stronger and more limiting illnesses.
When applying EFT or a similar technique, many issues may surface because the body notices that finally we’re paying attention to it. We may even feel fearful because the process may appear endless to us. It is worth it to go on.
In my opinion, the only process capable of leading us to a complete healing and a fully balanced, healthy life has to do with treating those emotions we have not been able to previously process.
Considering the quick evolution that emotional techniques based on the meridian theory have had in the last 50 years, there is no doubt in my heart that they still have significant growth potential. Therefore, we don’t want to be blind to new techniques that may facilitate the healing process for patients and therapists.
* “Energy Psychology” by Dr. Fred Gallo (CRC Press, 1999)
Emotional Acupuncture - Lorenzo Becchi
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