There’s a lot to be stressed about these days - whether it’s news headlines, endless to-do lists, or worry about money and bills. But for some, stress and worry can be so prevalent that it starts to interfere with our ability to function. In this case, we might consult a clinical professional and try talk therapy or medication. In addition, there’s another technique that has gained popularity in recent years to deal effectively with anxiety and depression, called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), also known as "tapping."
EFT Tapping is a research-based intervention that combines cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) techniques, such as awareness building and reframing of interpretation, with the stimulation of acupressure points on the face and body by literally tapping on them. In our continuing series on treatment modalities, we’ve provided an overview of EFT Tapping here: how it works, some of the research behind it, and who can benefit from it.
What is EFT Tapping?
EFT Tapping helps tune in to the negative patterns we form around anxious thoughts or troubling memories, by physically tapping with our fingers on identified acupressure points while at the same time focusing on those thoughts and emotions. According to experts, focusing on a negative thought while simultaneously tapping on acupressure points sends a calming signal to the brain, allowing us to acknowledge the stress while calming the body. Think of it as having similar (but noninvasive) effects as acupuncture.
EFT Tapping is facilitated by an experienced, certified EFT practitioner in a therapy session, with the ultimate goal of shifting limiting thought processes, resolving past traumas, and promoting healing around emotional issues that may be holding us back.
How does EFT Tapping work?
EFT Tapping can rewire the brain. From research, it is understood that tapping on specific pressure points can result in a calming effect on the amygdala (the stress center of the brain) and the hippocampus (the memory center), both of which play a role in the unconscious process we use to determine if something is a threat or not, and therefore whether our “fight or flight” response should kick in. Indeed, studies at Harvard Medical School have shown that by stimulating the body’s acupressure points you can significantly reduce activity in the amygdala. Therefore, EFT Tapping works to effectively rewire the brain; to interrupt and change neural pathways so that you want to do the things that are going to improve your life and make you feel better.
"EFT tapping gives the brain the chance to overcome negative thought patterns that often get in our way, by building in positive associations. The positive associations are like a new roadmap for the brain to follow. Becoming stuck in negative thought patterns is like hitting a road-closed sign on the highway. EFT Tapping gives your brain a detour sign to follow to help get you where you need to be."
— Jodie Nierintz LMFT, Telemynd Director Clinical Operations
Research shows EFT Tapping is effective in treating multiple mental health disorders
Multiple studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of EFT Tapping for different mental health issues. Here are just a few:
Reducing cortisol levels. One study measured changes in cortisol (the primary stress hormone) levels and other psychological distress symptoms after a single hour-long intervention of EFT Tapping and found it reduced those distress symptoms by 24%.
Decreasing anxiety. Another study looked at the length of time needed before different therapeutic interventions took effect in patients with anxiety, and found that only three EFT Tapping sessions were needed before study participants’ anxiety was reduced. That same study showed that after a year, those reductions in anxiety were maintained by 78% of participants.
Treating depression. In a study exploring EFT Tapping for depression, researchers found that a weighted mean reduction in depression symptoms was 41% after using EFT.
Reducing symptoms of PTSD. Another study using EFT Tapping to treat PTSD in veterans found that 60% of participants no longer met clinical PTSD criteria after three EFT Tapping sessions and 86% no longer met the criteria after six sessions.
Other studies have shown the effectiveness of EFT Tapping even beyond reducing anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms. For example, it can help minimize food cravings and aid in weight loss, or reduce fears around events like public speaking, test-taking, and even childbirth.
If you or a loved one are living with mental health issues such as Anxiety, Depression, or PTSD, consider EFT Tapping
Like other treatment modalities, therapists can be trained and certified in EFT Tapping. Certification requires a specific number of hours in the classroom and in clinical practice. Many behavioral health specialists offer EFT Tapping therapy; look for one that is experienced and certified.
Many of Telemynd’s clinicians specialize in EFT tapping. If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today! If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.