Using Tapping/Emotional Freedom Techniques in session

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    Carol Dafesh MFTCarol Dafesh MFT

    In my psychotherapy practice I teach most my patients Tapping. It is a wonderful tool to use the Mind-Body connection to manage anxiety, and keep patients in a zone of tolerance when processing overwhelming topics and emotions. I think this would be a very effective tool for NCD treatment. It integrates the body when dealing with big emotions and minimizes the tendency to dissociate. It is a tool that patients can do without a therapist or doctor. This is beneficial in helping the patient to be in charge of their own healing and not fall into the trap of depending on the doctor to get better. Another really big benefit as a practitioner is that when we tap along with the patient it helps us to self-regulate if the material is intense. Not to mention the beauty of co-regulating in the healing process. There is a lot of scientific research done on the benefits of EFT/Tapping and getting patients into a parasympathetic state during therapy and PTSD treatments. Have any of your NCD practitioners been using this with their patients?


    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


    So I too teach many “bottom up” techniques to increase safety in the body and turn off the danger signal. Thank you for clarifying that the method you are teaching in primarily “top down”. Given the bidrectional nature of our nervous system, it has made sense to me to work with both types of skils/techniques.

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