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Sharp Health News

Tapping into emotional well-being

Dec. 23, 2019

Tapping into emotional well-being
Feelings of anxiety or other emotional distress — fear, depression, anger — can lead people to try all sorts of coping methods. Some, such as overeating and using alcohol or other substances, are unhealthy. Others, such as EFT, also known as emotional freedom technique or tapping, can be life-changing.

According to Sooze Flery, MS, an emotional wellness coach with the Cushman Wellness Center at Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion, EFT combines elements of acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine, with modern psychology, incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy techniques. It is often referred to as “psychological acupuncture without the needles.”

“EFT can remove or reduce the stress component of psychological disorders, such as anxiety and depression; physical disorders of pain, inflammation and chronic disease; or performance issues for athletes or public speakers,” Flery says. “It has a positive success rate for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in veterans and it can be used to assist with weight loss, phobias, self-esteem, test anxiety, grief and more.”

While acupuncture uses needles to apply pressure to the body’s 12 meridian points, EFT uses fingertip tapping to apply pressure on nine specific points. These nine meridian points are the areas of your body through which energy flows to maintain balance and good health:

  • Karate chop — the outer side of your palm between your pinky finger and wrist
  • Top of the head — in the center of your skull
  • Eyebrow — at the end closest to your nose
  • Side of the eye — on the outer edge of your eye
  • Under the eye — below the center of your eye
  • Under the nose — in the indentation above your upper lip
  • Chin — in the center of your chin
  • Beginning of the collarbone — at the end closest to the breastbone
  • Under the arm — to the side of your chest, about 4 inches below the center of your underarm
“When you have a negative thought, a disruption in the body’s energy system is created, causing negative emotions to come up,” Flery says. “By using the fingertips to tap on meridian points while repeating the negative emotion out loud, as well as stating that you deeply and completely love and accept yourself, the stuck or stagnant energy is released.”

Flery recommends that you initially meet with a certified EFT practitioner to not only learn the EFT basic tapping sequence, but also to help you uncover any trauma that is causing negative thoughts or a limiting belief you are holding onto. You should be able to tap on issues yourself after one to three sessions with a professional.

“The hardest part of EFT is coming up with the statement used in the tapping sequence,” Flery says. “That is another reason it is beneficial to first work with an EFT practitioner.”

A basic tapping sequence may look like this:

  1. Identify a thought or issue you would like to focus on. For example, perhaps you are anxious about performing poorly on an upcoming test.
  2. Rate the intensity of the feeling that arises from this thought or issue on a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the most intense.
  3. Using two fingers, tap your karate chop meridian point and repeat a statement, such as the following, three times: “Although I am afraid I won’t do well on this test, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
  4. Then, tap each of the remaining eight points (listed earlier in this article) approximately seven times, starting from the eyebrow point and moving down the body to the other points while repeating your statement. After the underarm point, finish your tapping at the point on top of your head.
  5. Repeat the above tapping sequence.
  6. When you have completed two rounds of tapping, once again rate the intensity of the feeling that arises from your original thought or issue on a scale of zero to 10. You can continue tapping if the intensity hasn’t decreased enough, or consider changing your original statement to see if that leads to greater relief.
  7. Stop when you feel complete relief or enough relief to carry on without being overwhelmed by negative thoughts or emotions.
While the majority of people that Flery works with have a positive outcome with EFT, she encourages people to talk to their doctor if they are experiencing overwhelming emotional distress. “If I am working with someone who I sense could also benefit from a psychological evaluation, I refer them to a therapist or doctor for further evaluation and, perhaps, treatment. EFT can continue to be a valuable component of their care.”

Learn more about holistic therapies at the Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion Cushman Wellness Center.

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