I wanted to write this blogpost to share some information I think is really valuable.
Therapists need to have a number of different tools in our toolbox, because different people, different issues, and even different days require different approaches. One of the tools I use in my practice is EFT, which stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques. There are other names for it, and sometimes it is simply referred to as tapping. This page will serve as a brief intro to EFT so that you can try it yourself. What is most useful about EFT is I can easily teach it to clients, and then they have a concrete tool they can use to respond to difficult situations. Clients can do it themselves, and there’s no real danger of doing it wrong, because the worst that will happen… is that nothing will happen.
EFT is a process of tapping on various points on the body that correspond to acupuncture points as mapped by Chinese medicine. It follows a very simple pattern that is easy to memorize. It’s gentle. It’s quick. And it’s often very effective.
Here are just a few stories of my using EFT with people.
- Twice I have used it over the phone with people who have never done it before and completely relieved a really intense migraine within half an hour.
- Many times I have used it for myself and others to address back pain, headaches, and other bodily pains, and they have just dissolved or diminished a lot.
- Clients have tapped with me for sadness, anxiety, extreme fatigue, hopelessness, every other feeling that has arisen in sessions, and found the feelings diminish substantially.
- We have tapped to relieve ongoing intense cravings for things like cigarettes and sweets, and EFT has helped diminish the impulses and sometimes dissolved them completely.
- We have tapped as a way to address procrastination and avoidance.
- We have practiced how to tap while on the phone with a difficult person or to prepare for an important meeting.
- I have taught it to clients, friends, and even (and we all know this is sometimes the hardest) my family. In fact, as I was writing this post this evening, in a cool coincidence, I got a text from a family member saying, “I was just doing EFT. Always helpful. Thank you very much.”
EFT sometimes doesn’t seem to work, but for a large percentage of the things you might try it on, this simple recipe seems to suffice. There are more advanced ways to use it, and like anything, working with a skilled practitioner opens up possibilities we can’t always access ourselves, but as a tool that we can always keep in our back pocket to help ourselves deal with difficult moments, it’s really one of the most valuable techniques I have learned.
Below is a very short video demonstration of the basic pattern of EFT. Give it a try, and write a comment below if you want to share about it or ask a question.
INDRA’S NET — Weaving a Tapestry of Wellness
This blog post is part of a larger conversation…
At the core of my practice is Mindfulness, and one of the great strengths of mindfulness practices is that they help us to stop and recover. From a quiet place, we can evaluate what is the most skillful means of addressing what is present in the moment.
I really appreciate EFT, because it gives my clients a piece of our work that they can do for themselves. One of the important aspects of my work as a therapist is my knowledge that I am a part of the solution, but only a part. It’s very important for me to remember that I am in partnership with my clients in working toward their well-being, and also in partnership with other people who form their web of resources. There is a Buddhist metaphor that I like very much. It’s called Indra’s Net — the web of connections between all beings, everywhere. A very beautiful aspect of Indra’s Net is the image that at every place the net intersects, there is jewel and each jewel reflects every other jewel, infinitely. Allan Ginsberg wrote this about Indra’s Net,
“Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.”
Inter-being is the reality of our lives — all things are interdependent on other things for their existence — so it doesn’t matter how skillful a practitioner I might be if my client’s life is full of influences that undermine our work. So part of my job as a therapist is to help hold the center for his or her web of total well-being, to consciously track the connections and our process, and to articulate this to my client. This process will require different things at different times. Sometimes we might need to bring in other professional help, like a psychiatrist, or another therapist who specializes in some other practices that I don’t focus on. Sometimes we need to address their diet. Maybe it’s just a matter of adding some omega 3s. or maybe it’s a total revamp that might take months to implement and require support from a nutritionist. Sometimes, we need to get them exercising, and it’s my job to help them navigate their (frequently over-ambitious) expectations, and take things one step at a time. Some of my clients have benefited from a weekly meditation group, others experienced great support in quitting addictions through hypnosis with an incredibly skilled colleague of mine, and some have even experienced important healing shifts through working with a Shaman. It is important that I work with an understanding of the fullness of their lives, their belief structures, their relationships, and their capacity for self nourishment. What is required is not a recipe. It’s an openness to what is.
While there are many many aspects of healing and wellness, at its core wellness depends on mindfulness. Without mindfulness we just keep spinning in the endless cycles of habits and self criticism and despair. Mindfulness offers us a stopping point to insert a new way of being. A place to assess, decide, structure, measure, practice kindness, start over, see our patterns, (etc. etc etc as the King of Siam liked to say.)
More to come on Indra’s Net in future posts, as we explore the many aspects of healing!
Be well, and feel free to stay in touch with me or with one another via the comments section.
p.s. Bonus points if you know why I put that picture of a newt!