Dawn Thomson is a registered NLP and EFT practitioner who helps her clients to clear any negative thoughts and behaviours to create new, more empowering ones.
There seems little doubt that EFT is a valuable therapy and there are many testimonials to support positive outcomes but I was interested in HOW it works.
While many of the EFT practioners I have spoken to are passionate about the therapy only Dawn has been prepared to answer some of my questions.
I am somewhat sceptical about a number of therapies that purport to be able to change your life.
EFT, emotional freedom technique is amongst those therapies that I have viewed in this way. It is not that I doubt that people who have been subjected to this tapping treatment feel that they have received a benefit, but rather I am sceptical as to whether the tapping itself releases the client from feelings which have, up to that point, limited their personal advancement, or whether release is down to a caring therapist allowing them time to talk through their problems.
When questioning EFT therapists on this point I had largely been met with a large defensive wall. The overwhelming opinion they expressed was that, because it was questioning, I had already made up my mind, against EFT, and could not understand.
I met Dawn Thomson at the Athena Edinburgh West End group, of which I am a member, and was immediately struck both by the power of the techniques that she uses to help people to overcome problems in their lives; primarily NLP, EFT and hypnotherapy, and also by her willingness to discuss these techniques.
What a relief! A therapist who was prepared to accept my questions as a attempt on my part to understand the therapy rather than taking my enquiries as an attack to be repelled!
I met Dawn in her home office and she first of all explained where EFT fitted alongside other therapies.
“I see Reiki as moving energies about the body. Reiki can give very mixed results; I know of as many people that it hasn’t worked for as it has”
“NLP looks at how the brain is working at the moment and uses processes and systems to modify patterns of thought to make the brain work differently.”
“EFT, also known as Thought Field Therapy (TFT) or Meridian Tapping Technique (MTT) involves tapping specific points on the body, acupressure points, in order to release energies that are being held in the body. Our thoughts create different levels of energy and EFT can be used to unblock energies arising from negative thoughts and experiences.”
“Negative thoughts can remain in the body as a result of bad experiences. Think of phobias. If you are afraid of spiders you don’t need to actually see a spider to experience fear. The mind can conjure the image of the spider and your body will react by becoming afraid.”
So why would someone choose EFT?
“I talk a little at first, to put people at their ease. I don’t need to know what the problem is. EFT is not councilling. It is about the feelings that arise during treatment.”
“I will ask them to think about their particular situation, then take them through a body check and assess the intensity of their feelings by assigning a score of between 0 -10, where 1 represents being untroubled a 10 being deeply troubled by the feelings. I then ask them to make a ‘set-up statement‘. This would be something like ‘even though I have this upset in my life I am fine.‘ At this point I also use eye accessing clues from my NLP training as the looking to each point, eg looking to top left or bottom right correspond to accessing diferent aspects of the internal landscape. If people are unable to look to a particular point that can give me a clue to the general nature of the problem.”
“Next I do a round of tapping; tapping each acupressure point in turn. Then I’ll ask the client to sweep their gaze in a circle, count and hum (to engage both the creative and logical sides of the brain), then a second round of tapping. The complete process takes around a minute. People react by laughing, crying or sighing as an indication that tension has been released. I ask them to take a deep breath and return to the exact thought they had before the tapping and assess how they now feel. The feeling may have lessened, it may have ‘moved‘ from being experienced in the stomach rather than the chest as the body relaeses it.”
OK. So that’s the theory.
I’m still unconvinced that the benefit of the treatment is in the tapping itself rather than being down to Dawn’s approach which allows clients to relax and release tensions naturally irrespective of any tapping.
So why tapping?
I’ve seen it written that you can visualise being tapped and that will have the same result? Does that not prove that the tapping itself isn’t what is working here?
“Sometimes it is possible to short cut the tapping, using just the points that work best for the client, but in my experience the physical action of tapping is essential.”
Why at these partcular points of the body?
“Since EFT is about unblocking blockages to energy flow it makes sense to tap at the acupressure points on the body.”
This answer presupposes that
a) areas such as acupressure points actually exist within the body,
energy (in ways other than neural transmission) flows within the body and
c) tapping these points can affect energy flow. I remain unconvinced on all of these points.
Have you ever tried tapping other, random, points on the body?
“No, but I will give it a try”
So if you haven’t tried random tapping how can you be sure that the effectiveness of EFT is not just about touch? There is so little physical interaction between people in the western world that it may just be the sensation of touch and the intimacy that allows is sufficient to allow the client to relaese emotions.
“I don’t think it is just the touch but it may be the case that the tapping gives a focus for the client around which emotions can be explored and released.”
I’ve seen it written that EFT has been used on children. Indeed one practitioner has posted a video on the internet inviting viewers to watch their 2 year old tap themselves to sleep. Setting aside my concerns about using small children to promote a therapy business, surely 2 year olds don’t have any emotions that they need to be freed from?
“You can tap children successfully. It can be helpful in reducing intense emotional outbursts, anger for example, but I don’t think a small child could do this for themselves.”
By teaching tapping as a means to fall asleep are you not just creating an addictive behaviour pattern?
“EFT can be used really successfully in breaking habits, addictions and cravings but care does need to be taken to create a relience on the treatment. EFT should be all about freeing the client from what is troubling them right now.”
I have absolutely no doubts about Dawn’s sincerity in her support of EFT as a treatment and her immense skill in enabling her clients to overcome specific difficulties in their life. To an extent this only magnifies my sceptisism about EFT itself. Dawn is caring, nurturing and a skilled linguistic practitioner. It is possible that it is these skills, not the tapping, that allows people to benefit from their time with her.
I have no doubt that EFT works. There are countless testimonials to this effect all over the internet and I have spoken to several of Dawns very satisfied clients, though perhaps tellingly, they all speak of how wonderful Dawn is not how wonderful EFT is.
I am still unsure HOW EFT works and until someone shows me that acupressure points exist and can be manipulated in some meaningful way, that energy flows around the body and can be blocked and unblocked, that this defined process of tapping is the key, that random tapping or touch is ineffective, I will remain sceptical.
To this end I am going to subject myself to a session of EFT and report back. So watch this space.