I’ve been in the chemical dependency field since 1973 and have seen many therapeutic approaches to treat myriad emotional and mental health issues. I’ve used many and continue to use them; I’ve discarded some as well.
The EFT/TFT approach came to me in the early 1990s after I had asked God/Higher Self/Higher Power/Spirit a question in prayer and meditation. The question was: “If one can become damaged in an instant, is it possible for them to heal in an instant as well?”
I heard nothing back for a few weeks. Then, while at my chiropractor’s office, he told me about Thought Field Therapy (TFT). I admit I was told about EMDR in the early 1980s, but my consciousness was not developed enough to explore or understand non-talk therapies then. But in the early 1990s, I was ready and definitely looking. I also think that advancing my skill set by becoming a hypnotherapist helped me embrace the idea that one does not have to consciously know what is happening in order for the person to heal. And with hypnosis, I had experienced a more rapid healing time with clients.
So what is Energy Psychology and, more specifically, what is EFT or TFT? According to Dr. Fred Gallo, the author of “Energy Psychology”, states:
“Energy psychology addresses the relationship of energy systems to emotion, cognition, behavior, and health. These systems include electrical activity of the nervous system and heart, meridians, biophotons, biofields, etc.
Although psychological functioning involves thought, emotions, chemistry, neurology, genetics, and environmental aspects, at an essential level bioenergy is also involved. Just as an audiotape or computer hard drive contains information in electromagnetic fields, similarly our brain and body operate electromagnetically. Energy psychology is applicable to a wide range of areas including psychotherapy, counseling, education, vocational guidance, physical health, pain management, sports, and peak performance.
What is Energy Psychotherapy?
Energy psychotherapy includes approaches to the assessment and treatment of psychological problems via bioenergy systems. In addition to many standard therapeutic elements, such as rapport, listening, and discussion, energy psychotherapy also involves procedures that specifically address the underlying energetic aspects of the problem. It uses attunement, manual muscle testing, and various techniques that involve stimulating the body at discrete locations by holding or tapping, assuming specified body postures and movements, visualization, use of affirmations, expressed intentions and assertions, and more. Many approaches to energy psychotherapy also focus on the relationship among bioenergy, consciousness, thought, intentionality, and spirituality. These therapies often achieve observable and measurable results rapidly and usually without causing undue emotional distress or abreaction.
Among the most widely known energy psychotherapies are Advanced Energy Psychology™ (a.k.a. Energy Diagnostic and Treatment Methods or EDxTM™), Negative Affect Erasing Method (NAEM)™, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and Energy Consciousness Therapy (ECT)™. Energy psychotherapy is compatible with many standard approaches to therapy.”
Through Dr. Gallo’s trainings and personal conversations with him, as well as the wisdom gleaned from the book, “Freedom from Fear Forever” by Dr. James Durlacher, I learned to ask clients questions such as, “Is it safe to work on this issue?” or to give them affirmations such as, “It’s safe to resolve this problem now”; or “Safety is within me”; or “I am in a safe environment to do this work”; or “I deserve to heal this issue”; or “I’m ready to release this now”; or “I can let this go now”; or “I will see, feel, or experience results from this work in __ hours, days, weeks”; and then test the answers by using kinesiology or muscle testing. This helped me develop an effective and accurate diagnosis and treatment assessment form.
I do believe that Energy Psychology is on the front wave of a new paradigm in effective counseling work. In the beginning, TFT, taught by Dr. Roger Callahan, was very expensive to learn, and very few therapists had knowledge of it. Dr. Callahan was curing phobias on TV shows, in his office, and through clients reading his book, “The Five Minute Phobia Cure”.
Then Gary Craig, an engineer, took his training and discovered that if one applied one algorithm, “the complex algorithm”, instead of the 45 to 50 other, specific-to-the-problem algorithms, then the client would get better quicker, be less confused by the tapping sequences, and the therapist had less to learn and the treatments were faster. Training became very affordable, and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) was born. It spread like wildfire through the world.
Now EFT is performed by trained therapists (social workers, marriage and family therapist, addictions counselors, licensed professional counselors), MDs, Ph.D.s, ministers, housewives, massage therapist, cooks, coaches, and ordinary people for many or any psychological issue. It was used in New York after 9/11, as well as other disasters. EFT and TFT are very effective with PTSD, incest, rape, and other traumatic events.
Common questions include:
- “Is it dangerous?” No, not at all.
- “Can people get hurt by this work?” People will either receive benefit from the work or nothing will happen.
- “Is this the ‘magic bullet’?” No, it is simply another good tool to have in your bag of therapeutic tools to help clients heal at the core of their issue/s.
So how do you do this work? Simply have the client get in touch with the issue she wishes to work on. Ask the questions I asked above and obtain the answers with kinesiology. If the client does feel ready and safe to begin the work, then do so. If you get a “no” response, there are things you can do to switch the energy on or to facilitate a “yes” response. The therapist would do that work with the client and then continue, as appropriate. Remember that if the client’s door is closed to healing or resolving the problem/s, she will not resolve them. Just getting this clarity is very helpful in the healing process. In fact some therapists go to this point and then work with their more traditional skills.
Once the door is open to the process, the therapist asks the client to think of the problem and then rate her level of discomfort on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being extremely severe) while thinking of the problem. If the thought of the problem is too intense, have the client lower the focus on it to the point that she can think of it without it being damaging. This idea may be the first time the client realizes that she can control her thought relationship with the problem. This alone can be a valuable experiential experience for the client.
Have the client notice and report where she feels the discomfort in the body. This relates to the chakras system (see NET article, “Getting Past Ones Woundology”). This mind/body connection information is very helpful in identifying the psychological impact of the problem on the client. Once the client is in conscious relationship with the problem have her begin the tapping exercises. (See diagram above.)
Have the client begin by stimulating the Neuro-Lymphatic Treatment Point, which is a soft spot on the left side of the upper chest and state three times, “I deeply and profoundly accept myself with all my problems and limitations”. This general personal acceptance statement opens the door to healing; the tapping is light stimulation.
Then have the client tap five or so times on the top of and in the middle of the skull while thinking of the problem. The therapist is to make statements that direct the client to his or her relationship with the problem. The meridians carry energy, and the thought interrupts the flow of this life-force energy. So if a person stimulates the meridian pathways while thinking of the problem, the tapping stimulation is releasing the blocked energy that caused the client’s relationship with the problem. It is not the event that causes the blocked energy problem; it is the client’s unique relationship with the event.
Next have the client tap five or so times the points on the eyebrow while thinking of the problem, while you state some aspect of the problem. Then move to the sides of the eyes, stating something like, “I forgive [state a name or names]; they did their best. As bad as it was, it was their best”.
Have her do this three to five times while tapping. If she is having a tough time saying the “f” word of recovery – “forgive” – remind her she does not have to mean it; just say it. Or you may interject that she is saying it for her own benefit since it is easier on the person to forgive than to hate or resent.
Next, have the client tap under her eye on the V in the bone under the eye, making a statement like, “Even though I have anxiety about releasing ____, I am willing to release it anyway”. Do this three to five times. Next, tap under the nose three to five times, stating, ”Even though I do not deserve to release this, I am willing to release it anyway”.
Next tap under the lip three to five times, stating, “Even though I do not deserve to completely release this, I release it anyway”. Now go to the point just under the collar point, tap three to five times, and state a version of this: “I now flush and release all the toxins I have been carrying around about this issue”.
Now tap three to five times a point four inches under the arm, or at bra strap level, a tender spot while saying, “I now stand for me and release all my attachments to the problem, whether I know how to do that or not”. Finally, do a karate chop using the side of the hand on to the palm of the other hand saying, “I am now free of the problem”, three to five times.
Now have the client rate her level of discomfort while she thinks of the problem, and ask her to notice where she feels it in her body. Many people are not body-aware, but ask anyway; it is good for helping them to connect with themselves. Remember the chakras and the locations of each in the body as they relate to specific organs, which are related to specific problems and resolutions. Ask if the intensity is more, less, or has it remained the same. If the intensity has gone down two or more points, repeat the process two more times, then retest and go through the aforementioned process again.
If it remained the same, went up or only went down by one point, you are dealing with a psychological reversal. To correct this, have the client stimulate the neuro-lymphatic treatment point (the soft spot on their upper left chest) three times while saying, “Even though I still have the problem/s, I am willing to let it/them go”. There are other interventions you can learn that can be used to effectively manage slow-downs or blocks to recovery as they are identified in the healing session. Once the blocks are cleared, proceed again as before with the tapping until the client is at a one or zero of discomfort.
To complete a session after the client’s discomfort is at a zero, I bring up the problem and talk about it in as much detail as I can. I am attempting to restimulate the discomfort. If the internal representation or relationship to the problem still exists, there will be more discomfort. This feedback is what to look for.
This may be away from the mainstream but it works very well. Remember it is really cognitive therapy in its purest form, since we do not add words or intellect to the process.