Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for Anxiety and Trauma
Updated: Jun 10
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are a set of different techniques that aim at reducing the intensity of uncomfortable emotions, change limiting beliefs and reduce physical pain among others. Let us see we could use EFT to reduce stress.
First of all, let us clarify that we do not feel anxious about everything in our life unless we have a Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Most of the time our anxiety is associated with a specific situation that makes us feel uncomfortable and gives us a vague sense of danger.
Our brain has the ability to collect information from our environment and process it through a series of complex operations and to alert us about any situations that may put us at risk. Therefore prediction is one of the main functions of the brain to keep us safe.
One of the stages of information processing is categorisation. At this stage, experiences that are marked as similar will fall into the same category. Let's take a look at the fear of public speaking.
Let's say that when you were a child you spoke in the assembly and someone reacted either by laughing or by making a negative comment. This incident caused you to be terrified. Every time you need to speak in front of people you experience shame, anger and fear etc.
Let’s see how our brain works. When we experience something, we experience it with all our senses, sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell. The brain stores these experiences in a specific way. Each sense gives its own information to this experience. All this information is then put in a folder encoded as public speaking. One sound, one look, one scent is enough to bring this incident back to the surface.
As I mentioned above, our brain puts incidents with a similar description in the same category. That is why every time you speak in front of people you may have the expectation that someone will either laugh or make a negative comment. That is because the brain has coded public speaking as dangerous and therefore there is a risk to feel shame, humiliation and negative criticism.
Usually, such incidents lead to avoidance and create limiting beliefs about ourselves, such as ‘I am not good at public speaking or I am shy or I do not have it’.
How do you use EFT? You tap on the Meridians points while describing how you feel. What you achieve is a reduction of the intensity of emotions as well as the anxious reaction or which usually manifests itself with tightness in the stomach, redness in the face, dryness, headache and loss of concentration etc. That is because the EFT pressure points are connected to the brain’s stress centres.
It's very common for someone not to remember a traumatic experience. Either because it happened when they were very young or the incident was so traumatic that the person suppressed it.
However, when you tap on the Meridian points you are kind of hitting a chain of events where one end of the chain is the first incident and the other end is what triggered your fear now. All the links between are incidents that are similar to each other. It is important to go to the first incident and analyze it as this carries the greatest emotional charge.The truth is that we do not need to know exactly what happened in order to reduce the intensity with EFT.
In my opinion, the more information we collect about the first incident, the easier it will be to get to the root of the problem so that our fear won’t return in another form.
Therefore, stress is a set of mental and physical reactions that aim at protecting us from experiencing negative emotions. Discovering the first incident in which our fear was created and expressing our feelings while we are tapping on the Meridian points, we achieve the cessation of the automatic negative reaction, in this case, public speaking.
We can also use EFT to add new positive ideas and attitudes. EFT is a tool with many applications that when used in combination with other therapeutic techniques can offer impressive results.