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Body Positive Works Holistic Wellness & Health Blog

Breaking Through Barriers with the Emotional Freedom Technique

Last Updated: May 28, 2024

Do you ever find yourself just not feeling like…yourself? Perhaps you’ve been having trouble sleeping, having memory lapses, or having difficulty making decisions? Or you have grown increasingly introverted, and have been avoiding social situations due to feelings of helplessness, anxiety, or even anger? You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you just don’t feel like you used to.

Let me tell you that your feelings are valid, relatable, and worth examining to get you back to a better you.

Defining Trauma

Trauma affects more people than you may realize. It can be the result of a stressful event, such as a major car accident or witnessing a crime. It pushes your mind and body into an overwhelmed state of not being able to function as they normally would. Instead, you get locked up into a “fight, flight, or freeze” mode that affects your decision-making and daily life. You may experience episodes of a racing heartbeat or profuse sweating and you may also encounter “flashbacks” of the trauma and/or avoid situations that remind you of the circumstances surrounding the stressful event. Or you may not be able to identify where it stems from at all. 

Complex trauma, as the name suggests, is an even more complicated form of trauma that can occur as the result of undergoing a sustained dysfunctional or dangerous situation. Some examples include:

  • Serving in combat duty
  • Being the victim of sexual assault or incest
  • Being a victim of chronic neglect
  • Ongoing emotional or physical abuse
  • Living in a war zone

Understandably, trauma can make it difficult for you to maintain relationships, and keep your emotions in check, and it can be a blow to your self-esteem. It may be natural to minimize what you have gone through, thinking that or to think that since the event was months (or even years) ago, then you should bounce right back. 

Seeking Help 

It is ok to ask for help. Others may not know that you are suffering and may be able to lend a hand of support, whether it’s with help around the house, a ride to an appointment, or just a sympathetic ear. 

Healing from complex trauma is often a slow journey that changes course a number of times. It involves a blend of self-care, therapy, and addressing and achieving meaningful personal goals that we must evaluate and reassess over time. 

Journaling, making meaningful connections with others, and working on new skills such as gardening, creative arts, and volunteering are all helpful with the recovery process.

Speaking to a licensed therapist is also key for growth and recovery. 

Alternative Therapies

Sometimes, people need a little more than self-help and traditional therapy to get to where they need to be. For this reason, an increasing number of people are looking for alternative therapies to supplement their recovery through a therapy known as the “Emotional Freedom Technique.” What is it? Let’s explore.

The Emotional Freedom Technique

The emotional freedom technique (EFT), also known as “EFT Tapping,” is an alternative therapy developed to treat anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and some other trauma and pain-related issues. 

Developed in the 1990s, this relatively new form of therapy deals with the body’s energy meridian points, which are considered passageways of energy from the teachings of Chinese medicine. As with acupuncture and acupressure, these meridian points are a focus of this therapy. 

It is believed that stress and trauma “block” this essential flow of energy, which creates an emotional impasse. This impasse can create an inertia that contributes to a variety of health problems. For this reason, people are looking to this tapping technique to treat a variety of conditions: tapping for stress relief, tapping for social anxiety, and tapping for trauma.

How does it work? The emotional freedom technique involves a practitioner tapping on specific points on the body (the meridian points) in a particular sequence while the patient focuses on the issue they wish to treat. Slow and mindful; one thought at a time, tapping sends calming signals to the part of the brain that controls stress. It is believed through tapping, one can move from the sympathetic system (fight/flight/freeze) to the parasympathetic system (rest and digest) and break through this blocked energy as a means to get “freedom” from anxiety, depression, trauma, or physical pain.

Results of the Emotional Freedom Technique

The National Library of Medicine (NIH) published a compelling abstract that reported some compelling benefits of EFT that was used in over 100 clinical studies. Some of their findings are paraphrased below:

Tapping for social anxiety. A large-scale study of 5000 patients across 11 clinics was conducted over a 5 ½-year period. Patients were given either cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or a combination of CBT and tapping. They found a reduction of anxiety in 90% of the patients who received CBT and tapping, vs. a 63% reduction in those who received CBT alone.

Tapping for stress relief. Other studies showed that those who received tapping showed a significant reduction in cortisol, a hormone created by the body when it is undergoing stress.

Tapping for trauma. The study reported that “When measured against the standards of the American Psychological Association’s Division 12 Task Force on Empirically Validated Treatments, EFT is found to be an “evidence-based” practice for anxiety, depression, phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Everyone’s journey is different. Every day we are growing and learning. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you have come a long way and should be proud of the progress you have made. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please visit our Emotional Freedom Technique page.