Anxiety Meets its Nemesis – Proven, fast, effective relief or another fad?

By July 9, 2018Uncategorized

With soaring rates of mental ill health amongst the population and magnified in schools, learning simple effective tools you can use yourself or teach to others is a real bonus. 

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has over 100 research papers now rating it’s effectiveness as an intervention for anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and pain management.  

It started out life being described as a a Meridian Energy Therapy, and aligned with acupuncture. Acupuncture has been recognised as an effective intervention by the NHS now for many years.  Recent scientific theories suggest that the mechanism of action of EFT is linked to a part of the brain called the Amygdala.  This almond shaped and sized organ in the centre of the human brain is responsible for managing stress responses. It houses a series of clusters of brain cells called nuclei which, through very distinct pathways process sensory information and decide upon the level of threat that stimuli outside of our bodies represent.    

This is a highly complex process that results in shuttling messages to the hind brain for the emergency responses of “fight or flight” or to the limbic system of the brain for emotional processing or to the cerebral cortex for higher order thinking.  Traumatic life events which can range from illness, accidents, power interactions such as emotional, physical or sexual abuse, shame-related experiences, early abreactions to social situations can all lead to what we now regard as the PTSD response.  The amygdala goes into a heightened state of alertness and misdirects messaging, so that what to many are normal everyday situations like social interaction, leaving the house, driving, or being in social spaces with others, can become highly anxiety-inducing.  

Many of the interventions that are shown to be effective in managing anxiety have their limitations.  Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) takes time to teach a person and it has been shown to have less long term success than EFT. Traditional Talking Therapy is expensive and not as widely available as is currently needed.  Drug based therapies can be effective, but often create a dependency, or at least when the drug is withdrawn, the anxiety returns.  The percentage effectiveness of drug therapies is often outweighed by the side effects which can include severe suicidal ideation. This is particular true of younger people taking such medication.  

Although these approaches are all useful parts of the mental health support package, there is often a lag time between emergence of symptoms, diagnosis and then treatment.    

EFT presents itself as an easy to learn and effective tool which can be quickly taught to individuals or groups for self management of unhelpful emotional responses.  

The latest theories on it’s use suggest that EFT, which involves tapping specific areas of the face and body whilst a person is “running” the problem state of mind, or at least a part of that state, acts as a pattern interrupt. This means that the pathways in their mind that they engage (albeit subconsciously) that create the anxiety or other negative emotional response are halted.  There is evidence that this halting not only brings near instant relief (usually after a few rounds of this tapping process) but that it also has longer term effects in re-wiring that response.  David Feinstein, Consultant Psychologist who uses this technique extensively with patients, suggests that this process is highly effective at reprogramming the amygdala so that it climbs down from it’s hyper-vigilant state.  

Director of Vision for Learning, Will Thomas has been using EFT extensively within an integrated coaching model, for adults and young people experiencing extensive anxiety, but also stage fright and presentation concerns as well as specific fears and phobias.  

If you’d like to find out more about EFT, we are running an information webinar in September which is free to attend, and which demonstrates more of the science behind EFT and the process itself. If you think this might benefit you or those you lead, teach or support then register your interest by emailing us at:  info@visionforlearning.co.uk with EFT Webinar as your Email Subject line.