EFT is sometimes described is a gift. Its results can sometimes be seen as almost magical – it can certainly be seen that way when someone is able to let go of a long held fear or to overcome a major craving, completely, in a matter of minutes.
Should it be dismissed as purely quackery, too good to be true, or merely a placebo? Will the positive changes prove to be only temporary, and will it fail to deal with underlying issues?
Can EFT indeed be accepted as a serious tool within psychotherapy and does it have a role in the resources of a serious committed practitioner of clinical hypnosis?
In my opinion, as someone who has practiced, and trained others in, clinical hypnosis for many years, EFT is indeed one of a number of valuable resources which can, on occasions, make a difference or provide a breakthrough when therapy does not seem to be moving forward.
Although sometimes dismissed as a fad, EFT has its roots in ancient Chinese medicine and is a meridian based approach. Meridian work (energy therapy) encompasses acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu and thought field therapy. EFT can and does work and there is much published scientific evidence of its effectiveness.
I’m personally wary, and in my opinion all practitioners should be wary, of using any therapeutic interventions which are not evidence based. For some guidance on what criteria we should apply to scientific evidence and to find supporting evidence for the effectiveness of EFT I would refer readers to EFT Universe on the following link: www.eftuniverse.com.
My article does not venture into the realm of teaching EFT. Its creator, Gary Craig has now retired and he has entrusted his training resources to the website EFT Universe(see above). This contains everything you might need to know about learning EFT, including Gary’s original training manuals and DVDs. At Central England we regularly teach the practical skills as part of our hypnotherapy practitioner courses.
Clients scale their ‘problem’ on a scale of 0 to 10 and then learn how to set up and repeat a powerful statement that helps to neutralise what Craig calls ‘psychological reversal’. This ‘set up’ phrase combines an acceptance of self with an acknowledgement of the problem, along the lines of ‘even though I have this fear of needles, I deeply and completely accept myself’. At the same time the client rubs an area of their chest where there is an area known as a neuro-lymphatic reflex point or ‘sore spot’.
They then work their way through a pre-set sequence of tapping on meridian points whilst saying to themselves a reminder of the problem (‘fear of needles’) etc. After a few runs of the sequence the client is asked to check their feelings in relation to the problem once again on the scale and to notice whether there is any improvement. Often there is rapid improvement and clients are frequently astonished by the sense of freedom that they feel.
Its important to note however that going through this process will not remove the problem unless underlying issues have been addressed so it is very important firstly that our client is quite specific in identifying the target feeling. For example, focusing on ‘this negative feeling’ is unlikely to change what is actually a deeply felt lack of self-esteem.
Similarly there may be a number of aspects of a problem which will need to be worked upon. For example a client may want to overcome a phobia where they have a number of traumatic memories of the thing or situation that they are frightened of. In order to achieve success each aspect must be worked through and we need to check to see whether there are underlying aspects that also need to be dealt with.
One of the great beauties of EFT is its simplicity both to learn and to apply. Our clients can learn it from us in a matter of minutes and it is frequently an ideal part of the tasking that is an important success factor in clinical hypnosis. It fits well within the cognitive behavioural model and this is where we teach it. I think that many readers will be aware that clients are unlikely to be successful in achieving long-term, sustainable change unless they commit themselves to taking action, whether that is addressing faulty thinking patterns or learning to be aware of the triggers of negative automatic thoughts (NATs).
EFT can be an effective pattern interruption which works on a number of levels, at the most basic of which it distracts. Clients sometimes find going through the sequence, which includes humming and counting to be quite silly and that alone can facilitate emotional release. However we do need to be careful to try and avoid our client feeling that we are belittling them and their problem.
Normally I employ EFT only after I have used other assessment techniques with a client to fully explore their issues and when I have adopted and taught them, a solution focussed approach to resolving their problem. Sometimes I will already have carried out some regression and emotional release/healing work so EFT is likely to figure towards the middle or end of the therapy cycle.
An exception to this is its use within my Quit 4 Life smoking cessation programme where I teach an abbreviated version that clients can use to remind themselves that they are very happy that they are now a non-smoker and to help them to let go of any unwanted feelings (withdrawal symptoms) which they might experience.
So in conclusion, I do think that EFT has a legitimate place as an effective form of psychotherapy treatment. It can be, and often is successful in helping a client to make rapid positive changes and it can be fully integrated within clinical hypnosis practice.
I teach EFT as part of our Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy course which runs at Central England College on a regular basis.