Friday, 24 February 2017

What is EFT?

If you have been interested in holistic health for a while now, you have probably heard of EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique. Also known as Meridian Tapping, it has been around in its current form since the 1980s, although the foundational principles are much older. It is based on the meridian channels first proposed by Traditional Chinese Medicine centuries ago, but some EFT practitioners relate it more to quantum physics. In TCM, physical, mental and emotional issues occur when meridian channels are somehow blocked. This is also the case for EFT, which focuses on specific tapping points associated with emotions and thought patterns on the subconscious level.

Ancient origins. Source: Wellcome Images
Understandably, as most people are unfamiliar with any form of energy medicine, skepticism is common. But despite EFT sounding like "nonsense" to many, there actually are clinical studies showing that it works. For example, a trial on 59 veterans with PTSD compared the standard-of-care alone and with EFT. After six sessions, an astounding 90% of the EFT group no longer met the clinical criteria for PTSD, while this was only the case for 4% of the control group. Then, the control group received EFT. After three sessions, 60% of them also no longer met the criteria for PTSD, and after six sessions it increased to 86%. The authors wrote that these results were consistent with other reports showing that EFT is effective in relieving PTSD, so this is not the only evidence.

EFT may also be effective in fibromyalgia, which has, until recently, commonly seen as "all in their heads". In one study, 86 women with fibromyalgia were assigned to either a wait-listed group or an EFT group, where they received an eight-week program. After these eight weeks, there was a significant improvement in the treated group over the control women, although the dropout rate was high enough that only 26 finished the EFT program and 36 stayed in the control group. There were improvements in pain, anxiety, depression, vitality, social function, general mental health, work and other activity performance, and stress. Pain catastrophising measures, such as magnification, helplessness and rumination also improved, and so did activity level. However, EFT was delivered with an "acceptance" angle, aiming to get the volunteers to accept their situation, instead of empowering them to change it.

It seems as though many people could use EFT, not just those with PTSD or fibromyalgia. An APA survey showed that 22% of Americans report extreme levels of stress (8-10 on a 10-point scale), although average stress levels dipped slightly, from 5.4 in 2010 to 5.2. To add to this problem, chronic stress is linked to various chronic illnesses, such as depression, obesity and the issues stemming from them. Overall, EFT is not "hocus-pocus" or a scam; research is revealing it to be a legitimate therapy.

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