EFT and the Science of Stress Relief

beach chairs holding hand.jpg

While there has been lots of anecdotal evidence on the effective of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) on alleviating a wide range of conditions, there is now a growing body of scientific research explaining how and why it works.

EFT combines Eastern medicine, using the main acupuncture points for stress relief, with traditional Western psychotherapy. Rather than needles, in EFT you use your fingertips to tap specific acupuncture points while talking through a range of emotions or traumatic experiences. And science has shown that tapping on the points is as effective as using needles.

Dawson Church, Ph.D., who has been researching the science of EFT since 2002, explains that "tapping on these points sends signals directly to the stress centers of the mid-brain" which are not controlled by our front lobes, the conscious part of our minds we engage in conventional talk therapy. In addition what makes EFT so powerful is that it is able to access the amygdala, an almond-shaped part of our brain that triggers our body's reaction to fear initiating the "fight, flight or freeze" response.

By reducing stress and reactivity, EFT helps with any problem that is stress related including sports performance, business and finances, as well as most disease.

Church estimates that 10 million people worldwide have used tapping, and what's so exciting is how incredibly quickly it's alleviating issues like depression, anxiety, insomnia, physical pain, even serious illness. It has even been shown to be really effective in treating war veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In a recent study with Dr. David Feinstein, Church has been able to confirm that tapping on specific meridian points has a positive effect on lowering cortisol levels. Known as the "stress hormone," cortisol is integral to our body's "fight or flight" response. Originally intended to help early humans survive sudden, short lived danger like an encounter with a lion, regular release of cortisol as we seem to be doing in response to the ongoing stress of modern life is thought have serious impacts on our physical, mental and emotional health and make us more vulnerable to everything from cancer to heart disease.

In the study looking at EFT's effect on cortisol, 83 participants were separated into three groups. The first group was guided through an hour-long EFT session, the second group received an hour of talk therapy, while the third, the control group, received no treatment. The group that did an hour of EFT demonstrated a 24 percent decrease in cortisol levels, while the other two groups showed no real change. The EFT group also exhibited lower levels of psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression.

What I especially like about EFT is that it is simple to learn and use on yourself. You can use it immediately in any situation where you feel stressed or anxious to calm yourself and get a clearer perspective on how to best handle the situation that is triggering the stress.

Update: At the end of 2018 the U.S. Veteran’s Administration approved EFT as effective treatment for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Kaiser Permanente (the largest HMO in the U.S. established guidelines in it’s journal for working with EFT for PTSD. EFT continues to be more widely accepted because it’s been proven to work on an array of issue.