Free your mind of pain


Emotional Freedom Technique uses hypnosis and acupuncture to deal with poor health

ENDORSED BY many of the international gurus of the self-help movement, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has become a widely used tool of hypnotherapists and other complementary therapists throughout the world.

Sometimes called "acupuncture for the emotions", EFT involves tapping on acupuncture points of the upper body in combination with simple statements that acknowledge both the problem and acceptance of self.

"Emotional Freedom Technique really is the combination of three therapies - acupressure (ie pressure on acupuncture points), hypnosis and a structured psychological protocol," explains Conor McCaul, hypnotherapist who practises EFT at his clinic in south Dublin.

Clients have to become relaxed, alert and focused in a similar way to the hypnotic state while repeating a statement about their problem and their acceptance of themselves. Such a statement could be: "Even though I suffer from chronic depression, I deeply and completely accept myself."

Clients choose to define the problem themselves with the help of the therapist and they are encouraged to express the emotion that the problem arouses in them. Children are given a simpler statement to work with such as: "Even though I'm bothered about wetting the bed, I'm a cool kid."

Hypnotherapist Aisling Killoran says that EFT works about 85 per cent of the time. "People sometimes think it is a distraction from their problem but when you work with EFT, you focus on your beliefs, your thoughts and your bodily feelings, and it's also a quick self-help technique that people can do on themselves once they are taught how to tap on the correct acupuncture points."

Dr Anthony Sharkey, a Dublin-based orthodox medical doctor, uses EFT with patients suffering from depression, anxiety and physical illnesses, which have a psychological dimension.

"It's quite unbelievable as a therapy. We are used to seeing serious psychological problems take a long time to resolve, but with EFT, fears and anxieties can be diminished sometimes within an hour. It remains an undiscovered tool within medicine and mainstream counselling and psychotherapy," he adds.

McCaul cautions that EFT is not effective if it is used with a nondescript rhythm and imprecise points of the body. "Some people take to it like a duck to water, but others laugh it into infinity," he says. "Those people who are willing to experience something different and who don't want to take medication will be drawn to EFT.

"But, the one thing that stops the therapy working is limiting beliefs and the worst limiting belief of all for someone is 'nothing seems to work for me'.

"If someone believes that, he/she is wasting both money and time," he says.

Martha Cahill is an advocate of EFT. "I've been using EFT on myself for about three and a half years now and I find it's the fastest and most effective complementary therapy I've tried. I first started using it at a point in my life when I was very stressed and getting sick very often. Within a few weeks, I saw significant changes - physically, mentally and emotionally.

"Although I was sceptical in the beginning, because I have scientific training, I realised that what EFT really did was it helped me free me up from emotional issues that I hadn't let go of. Now, I'm fitter, healthier and happier and more able to handle stress."

Psychologist Rosemary Troy says that although she is unaware of any scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of EFT, she has met people who have found it useful. "I know that a lot of people have found it useful, although I'm not sure what happens in the process.

"I expect it's a combination of being given the space to explore their thoughts and feelings and being validated for that.

"There is healing in the sharing of difficulties and the interaction between the therapist and client. And, I also recognise that energy work on the body can be really useful.

"Some people might call all of this the placebo effect, but if people feel better afterwards, then it's helpful.

"However, it's important that it isn't used as a quick fix substitute for therapy when therapy is needed."

Practitioners of EFT say that the technique works well for a range of psychological problems, including anxiety and panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, phobias and fears and addictive cravings. It has also been used in the treatment of migraine and stress-related pain conditions.

Emotional Freedom Technique practitioners and trainers, Aisling Killoran and Raymond Manning will give an introductory workshop in the technique in the Walmer Holistic College, Raheny, Dublin, on Saturday, August 30th from 10am to 5pm. Cost €135. Tel: 01-2986507 for more details