Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for Chronic Pain Management

I admit, when I first heard about the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Thought Field Therapy (TFT) several years ago, I thought I had entered the twilight zone. Then, a well respected psychologist I know informed me that he uses it sometimes in sessions with clients. I did some more research and found that it is non-invasive and could be used as another tool in the toolkit for chronic pain management. 

What is it? Thought Field Therapy was discovered by clinical psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan. TFT and EFT are under the umbrella of “energy psychology” and is also linked to applied kinesiology. EFT is actually a derivative of TFT and there are many psychologists out there using it in conjunction with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) techniques. EFT has been used to help treat symptoms of allergies, addictions, food cravings, mood disorders, pain management and many other things.

How does it work? Our bodies are made up of energy.  Traditional and ancient medicine calls it Qi or Chi (“chee”), or life force energy. This energy nourishes our body and organs, and it flows throughout our bodies in a network of channels called meridians. In a healthy body it flows without much disruption. When there is injury or distress, those meridians can become blocked. Blockage in Chi can also create certain emotions and vice versa. Certain emotions, stress, or trauma can create blockages in Chi. Along the meridians are certain points that can be activated to help improve the flow of Chi and reduce the blockage and stagnation. They can be activated by acupuncture, acupressure and also EFT. EFT engages rapid emotional desensitization and can bring relief from emotional distress along with removal of the blockage.

EFT has two basic parts. There are sequences of “tapping” on these acupuncture points. Then you add in the language and positive affirmations to address the distressing cognitive-emotional response pattern.

This is not as intense as EMDR treatment and would be best to be learned in a clinically therapeutic setting with a trusted therapist that is trained in TFT and EFT. Especially if you have a history of severe emotional trauma and/or PTSD. With that being said, it can be learned independently and it can be used as an effective tool for chronic pain symptom management. I have reviewed several anecdotal and case studies as well as randomized controlled trials and some included brain scans. Many of them used Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) given by the participants as the measurement tool. In the majority of the studies, the SUD ratings decreased, showing that there is an efficacy component.

How can I learn it? Last year, I attended the Annual Tapping World Summit online. It is a free event that happens every year and it lasts 10 days with each day having a different focus. It is starting again soon! In fact, next week Monday, February 24, 2014. This year, the focus on tapping for pain relief will happen on Day 2 (February 25, 2014). I was only able to attend a couple of the sessions last year. I did attend the one for pain relief but have to admit that I have not practiced it. With some recent stress in my life and my ongoing search for various tools for effective pain management, I have decided to give it a go again. Yes, it appears to have a certain hokiness to it. Yes, I will look weird sitting in front of my computer tapping my face and hands. Yes, it is going to be a time commitment (unless you want to pay to be able to have access to all of the seminars after the summit is over). Yes, it may not work. But here is my reasoning: it’s free, it’s non-invasive and hey, WHY NOT? I’ve tried other things that are just as weird and less pleasant (liver and gallbladder cleanse that involves drinking epsom salt…yum!).

Pain Camp is a safe place to share your thoughts, experience, strength and hope. Will you try and add EFT as a tool to your chronic pain management toolkit? If you do, please let us know your experience!


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