Reply To: Using Tapping/Emotional Freedom Techniques in session

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Thanks for writing, Carol. There are many ways to work with patients with stress and trauma. In particular, many people talk about “top down” versus “bottom up” interventions. We tend to focus on the “top down” ones, of helping people to turn down the danger signal in the brain. When people do that, their peripheral nervous system will tamp down as well, since the peripheral nervous system (and autonomic nervous system) are controlled by the brain.

That being said, ways of working in the “bottom up” fashion can be very helpful, when the patient and practitioner are on board with them. I would think that tapping is one of those methods. Clearly, you’ve found it helpful and I’m sure your patients are benefitting from that. Many people in our world use lots of bottom up interventions, including breath work, therapeutic touch, body focused meditations, and others.

When one considers how tapping works, there can be a difference of opinion: does it work by directly affecting the peripheral and autonomic nervous system or does it work by calming the brain, which then lowers sympathetic/fight or flight activity? It’s impossible to say for sure as we can’t study people without brains! In this course, we emphasize that the brain is the generator of all our experiences, i.e., predictive processing, and I’ve found that organizing principle invaluable. In practice, there are many ways to get the brain to feel “safe.” Body work is clearly one of those.

So, thanks for the input and the benefits of a way to help people as we do this work together.
Best, Howard