EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy) is often called tapping into our inner, suppressed emotions. EFT has some deep roots in psychotherapy as well as in ancient healing practices from the East.
It involves tapping with fingertips on acupuncture points around the body while focusing on the emotional problem to be solved. It helps to remove stuck emotions from the body-memory. Acupuncture theory teaches that energy flows through our body through pathways called meridians. This energy flow conditions our overall existence; how we think, how we feel, how our body moves.
When our brain perceives potential danger, in order to survive our body instinctively mobilises the emergency stress response, preparing the individual to take action, excess energy is mobilised to the body to be “used up” for fight or flight. When this energy is not fully discharged, it does not simply go away; instead, it remains as compressed energy in a body. EFT helps release negative life experiences from the body and the psyche.
“Dr. Levine was inspired to study stress on animal nervous system, when he realised that animals are constantly under threat of death, yet show no symptoms of emotional trauma. What he discovered was that trauma has to do with the third survival response to perceived life threat, which is freeze. When fight and flight are not options, we freeze and immobilise, like “playing dead”. This makes us less of a target. The massive energy that was prepared for our bodies for fight or flight needs to be discharged, through shakes and trembling. If the immobility phase doesn’t complete, then that charge stays trapped, and from the body’s perspective, it is still under threat.”
Traumatic memory of events evokes “speechless terror” and experiences “beyond words, probably you can remember during your lifetime when you once were so scared that it made you freeze and left you speechless, the body-emotion was so strong that couldn’t be verbalised. The brain scan research findings describe: when the prefrontal cortex is inhibited by autonomic responses to traumatic memory, that experienced memory cuts them off from expressing language areas of the left brain, the narratives ability to observe even their own experience verbally and sequentially is lost, while the limbic system, especially the right hemisphere amygdala, becomes highly active the overwhelming emotions and physical impact are too big to be expressed by language.
After the events are over, it’s difficult to put words to what has happened but can only approximate a “feeling of what happened” biased by whatever meaning-making was made and attached to the event. This meaning could be described as a core limiting belief, a mental block later in life.
In therapy, we focus on working not what happened, but what perception was made about that event. From traumatic events the unprocessed memories are left with unfinished neurobiological responses, overwhelming feelings, physical reactions, images, sounds and smells associated with the event encoded as implicit memories in our body. In post-traumatic stress disorder, you are flooded with trauma related feelings and body memories and your nervous system can go into extreme hyperarousal because your body mixes the past with present moment.
With somatic EFT therapy, we work to realise this fight and flight stored energy, and turn off threat alarm that causes severe dysregulation and dissociation. Together we work on the emotional response to the experience, negative feelings, body memories and perceptions. Tapping signals the body that we are safe and helps release stuck energy and old biological response patterns.
We pair remembered trauma-exposure with new cognitive input, combining the memory with a statement of self-acceptance “deeply and completely accept myself”. Simply expressing the intention of accepting yourself just the way you are. You accept reality. Affirmation is to introduce cognitive change in the form of accepting the situation. You do not try and think positively, you simply affirm that you accept them, allowing your mind to surrender for the emotion to be processed and released, not just relived in other words EFT diminishes the intensity of emotional trauma, you still remember what happened, but the nervous system no longer associates the memory with stress. This state of being is called “emotional freedom” where your body and mind returns to equilibrium.