Emotional Freedom Technique Explained
It All Begins With Stress
In the face of adversity, whether it be caused by something we’re afraid of or something we’re merely concerned over – all of these things cause anxiety. It emanates from the amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for emotions, automatic survival instincts, and memory. It tells the body to either fight, fly, or freeze, even when what is causing the anxiety might not be physically in front of us or even make logical sense. It can come as a memory, a reminder, a flashback, or even from those around us.
Having an occasional bout with stress or anxiety is part of life. Everyone goes through it. Scientifically speaking, anxiety is the result of your body’s default response to what your mind deems threatening. Entering into your body’s protective mind frame, you feel your pulse accelerate and your breathing quickens because your body is preparing to face the threat.
There are two different categories of stimuli that cause this fight or flight response: the first is caused by your body responding to something that is right in front of it (i.e. a disagreement with a superior). We call this stress. The second is caused by the thoughts in your head, a.k.a. anxiety.
You’re Constantly Thinking Stressful Thoughts
As stated, a bit of anxiety and stress here and there is normal; however, when stress and anxiety becomes an everyday thing (which is a reality for millions of Americans) suddenly your body is at risk for a host of health problems both mental and physical. If you are stressed or deal with anxiety, it is vital that you recognize it, relinquish it, and learn strategies to reverse it before it is too late.
This is where Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) comes in. EFT is a neuroscience-based technique where you gently tap with your own fingertips on meridian points across your face and upper body helping you to calm down, stop the reaction, and ultimately stop the stressor from ever having an effect on you again.
Stress Has A Chemical Reaction
We know now that anxiety and stress cause the amygdala to send a signal to the brain, telling it to “fight, fly, or freeze.” Two of the main hormones released when this happens are adrenaline and cortisol.
The Knee-Jerk Reaction
Whenever you feel stress, fear, or anxiety, your amygdala is involved. It is also the control room for your emotions. When using EFT, a person is triggered and uses EFT to calm the amygdala. This technique is especially helpful with people who suffer from anxiety disorders and PTSD.
As the trigger happens, the amygdala reacts automatically and unconsciously– most often without a serious threat. The mind still sees the trigger as a threat, but when you tap on these EFT – designated meridian points, electromagnetic signals release, sending messages through your body’s connective tissue, telling the brain, “The show’s over! No fire here!”
Suddenly there are two messages transmitted in the brain – “The show’s over! No fire here!” and there is no longer any need to “Fight, fly or freeze!” The more you tap, the more the first message overrules the second, calming the response from the amygdala. Once the amygdala is calm and the trigger is no longer a trigger, you can function without the stressor affecting you – just as if it never happened.
Whatever the initial trigger, once the reaction from the amygdala is silenced, you still have your memories – EFT is not a magic eraser – but what you don’t have is the the stress and anxiety hormones swirling around in your head. Tapping removes the amygdala’s response from the equation, leaving you with only the memories.
Tapping: You Can Interrupt and Rewire
While we don’t have definitive answers as to why and how tapping works, we do know some concrete facts about how the brain functions.
When you engage in tapping, electromagnetic signals are sent from the specific acupuncture points which are more sensitive to signals than other points in the body. There have been numerous studies looking at acupuncture points, with the most extensive research coming out of Harvard Medical School. These studies concluded that there are specific points on the body – the meridian points used in acupuncture – that decrease the stress signals sent from the amygdala.
Emotional Freedom Technique embodies conventional science (electromagnetic signals), ancient science and cognitive therapy processes. It can be safely and easily taught in various settings such as one-on-one, in group settings, or online. Once learned, individuals can practice EFT on their own, virtually anywhere, at any time. Emotional Freedom Technique opens doors for people to understand where their stress is coming from, and learn how to manage it for higher productivity and resiliency.
Reference Books: Anxiety, Trauma and the Brain/Body
Trauma is a fact of life,” teaches Peter Levine, “but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.” Now, with one fully integrated self-healing tool, he shares his essential methods to address unexplained symptoms of trauma at their source―the body―to return us to the natural state in which we are meant to live.
Trauma does not just happen to a few unlucky people; it is the bedrock of our psychology. Death and illness touch us all, but even the everyday sufferings of loneliness and fear are traumatic. In The Trauma of Everyday Life renowned psychiatrist and author of Thoughts Without a Thinker Mark Epstein uncovers the transformational potential of trauma, revealing how it can be used for the mind’s own development.
Van der Kolk uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.
Can a person literally die of loneliness? Is there such a thing as a “”cancer personality””? Drawing on scientific research and the author’s decades of experience as a practicing physician, this book provides answers to these and other important questions about the effect of the mind-body link on illness and health and the role that stress and one’s individual emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.
This book provides an excellent explanation of how and why we know that mental disorders can be rooted in the immune system. Bullmore reveals breakthrough science on the link between depression and inflammation of the body and brain, outlining a future revolution in which treatments could be specifically targeted to break the vicious cycles of stress, inflammation, and depression.
Adding a polyvagal perspective to clinical practice draws the autonomic nervous system directly into the work of therapy, helping clients re-pattern their nervous systems, build capacities for regulation, and create autonomic pathways of safety and connection. With chapters that build confidence in understanding Polyvagal Theory, chapters that introduce worksheets for mapping, tracking, and practices for re-patterning, as well as a series of autonomic meditations, this book offers therapists a guide to practicing polyvagal-informed therapy.
How does our mind, our individual sense of self, emerge from the physical matter of the brain? The brain’s 86 billion neurons communicate with one another through very precise connections. But sometimes those connections are disrupted. The brain processes that give rise to our mind can become disordered, resulting in diseases such as autism, depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. While these disruptions bring great suffering, they can also reveal the mysteries of how the brain produces our most fundamental experiences and capabilities—the very nature of what it means to be human.
The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Program for Personal Transformation - Kelly McGonigal
What’s your most important goal? Why does it matter so deeply? How will you overcome the obstacles? Answer these questions with sincerity, proceed with mindfulness and compassion, and you have just set in motion a revolutionary method for personal change that is supported by both the latest science and traditional wisdom.
In this unforgettable book, award-winning science journalist Maia Szalavitz and renowned child-psychiatrist Bruce D. Perry explain how empathy develops, why it is essential both to human happiness and for a functional society, and how it is threatened in the modern world.
Coso Consulting is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Church, D., & Brooks, A. J. (2010). Application of Emotional Freedom Techniques. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 9(4), 46–48.
Church D, Hawk C, Brooks A, Toukolehto O, Wren M, Dinter I, et al. Psychological trauma symptom improvement in veterans using emotional freedom techniques: A randomized controlled trial. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 2013; 201(2): 153-160.
Clond, M., (2016). Emotional Freedom Techniques for Anxiety: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 204(5), 388-395.
Kalla, M., & Khalil, H. (2014). The effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for improving the physical, mental, and emotional health of people with chronic diseases and/or mental health conditions: A systematic review protocol. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports,12(2), 114-124.
Rancour, P. (2016). Emotional Freedom Techniques: Finally, a unifying theory for the practice of holistic nursing, or too good to be true? Journal of Holistic Nursing.
Sebastian, B., & Nelms, J. (2016). The effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analysis. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 13(1), 16-25.
Varvogli, L., & Darviri, C. (2011). Stress Management Techniques: evidence-based procedures that reduce stress and promote health. Health Science Journal, 5(2), 74–89.