Some people tap their fingers when impatient and annoyed, but did you know you might be able to tap away chronic pain?
Emotional freedom technique — tapping — works from the understanding that unresolved physical and emotional issues coursing through our body can be released by tapping near the end points of our “energy meridians.”
“EFT is a meridian tapping technique using the same system that acupuncturists have used for centuries, without the needles,” says Lisa Sorensen, a massage therapist and licensed EFT practitioner in Gresham. “It is easy to learn and allows your body to naturally restore itself to health and wellness without drugs.”
She counts many older adults among her clients because they are looking for drug-free help with issues from pain and high blood pressure to stress and unsolved emotional issues.
“All healing is self-healing,” she says. “I am a conduit.”
EFT reduces the levels of cortisol, or stress hormone, in the body. Stress is known to be a major contributor to illness because it suppresses the immune system, raises blood sugar levels, reduces bone formation and is linked to weight gain, infertility and memory impairment.
“You are making an electrical connection in your body that is directly communicating with your amygdala, the area in your body that governs the fear factor and sends out chemical signals to the body,” Sorensen says. “You are creating a state of ease in place of fear.”
Generally, tap points focus on the face, head, chest and hands — the end points of your energy meridians.
Even just five minutes of tapping can reduce chronic pain and stress, but it’s a controversial healing practice that is generally not covered by Medicare and other private health insurance. Sorensen says it should be used in conjunction with other health professionals.
“While we hope for fast results, some issues are more complex and may take a few sessions to resolve,” she says. “Some complex issues should be referred to a more suitable medical professional. I am not a psychologist or social worker and if the trauma is serious, I refer clients to other specialists.”
But many of her clients try tapping because other methods don’t provide the results they were seeking.
Steven Sandberg-Lewis uses tapping in his naturopathic medical practice. He has been a practicing physician for 40 years, many of those exclusively at the National University of Natural Medicine.
“(Tapping) may help just about any health condition because it is a wellness technique — not truly a treatment,” he says.
Sorensen personally has used tapping to help with grieving the loss of her parents and sister, all within the past five years. She helped another person whose only kidney was failing and was able to avoid dialysis through tapping.
She’s also seen it work with phantom limb pain, and for war veterans.
“People hold trauma in their bodies that they may not be aware of,” she says. “An adverse childhood experience can produce a health condition later on in their lives. Trauma can show up anywhere. If a child has been frightened by something in their early years, it is jarring to them. They have no way of dissipating the fear. We’re all large kids and incredibly sensitive. We all see violence and it is hard not to be affected.”
People don’t often connect physical ailments with their emotional selves, Sorensen says. But the body remembers.
Sandberg-Lewis says many people have unresolved emotional states that create a stress response. He frequently asks patients, “Do you have memories that continue to be upsetting to you?”
“With stress, they have problems with fatigue and even addictive behaviors,” he says.
Tapping “naturally releases feel good chemicals that produce pain relief, induce calm, increase mental focus and enhance healing throughout the body,” Sorenson says, believing that people heal more naturally and make better decisions.
Sandberg-Lewis says that if tapping is used as part of an “emotional clearing, it can take only one visit.”
Though there are many YouTube videos that provide information about tapping, a licensed practitioner can tailor the process to individual needs.
“A good practitioner should teach you how to work on your own, not just in a session,” Sorenson says. “This empowers people to be able to help themselves.”
Sandberg-Lewis agrees. “The best I can say about tapping is it allows people to move on with their lives, unrestricted by the need to suppress their emotions,” he says. “It removes a burden. It allows the higher brain centers to give context to the emotional memory center. It eases the process of going through life, its emotions and its traumas.”