Live Blog: EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, aka “tapping) How-To Session Led by Karen C.L. Anderson

About the Facilitator: Karen C.L. Anderson (aka The Acceptance Whisperer) has practiced the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) since 2005 and now works with anyone who is ready to make peace with themselves, with others, with food, with money…with whatever they think is causing drama in their lives.

Session begins: My name is Karen and I blog kclanderson.com and I call myself the “Acceptance Whisperer.” We are going to actually do EFT right now. All you have to do is follow what I’m doing and repeat after me:

“Even though I am at this EFT thing and I’m really nervous, I’m going to keep an open mind. Even though this EFT thing kind of scares me, I’m open to it. Even though this EFT thing seems kind of weird, I’m going to just play along and see what happens. This weird EFT thing, I don’t know what it’s about! But I’m going to try it. She might make me cry, she might make me laugh. This EFT sh**, I don’t know. Let’s just try it out. This EFT thing, I don’t know. I might cry. I might laugh. But it’s going to be all ok.

[Group has repeated after Karen line by line]

Karen: Take a deep breath and shake it out! Was that so bad?

Attendees: No!

Karen: Did you cry?

Attendees: No!

Karen: Did you laugh?

Attendees: Yes!

Karen: So that’s what EFT basically is. Some of you know my story from a long time ago. I discovered EFT in 2005 when I went to see who I thought was a hypnotist because I was miserable and very overweight and I was just like “just do something to me!” And I had been on diets and up and down and you know the story. So I show up to her place and she tells me ok and I tell her my story and I’m crying and she says ok we are going to start tapping. We will start with “even though I am overweight, I love and accept myself.” And, I could not say that! I burst into tears and I cried and I cried and I couldn’t say it that I love and accepted myself. But I was determined to do this work! I really liked this woman too, she was an older woman and I just felt very safe with her. I saw her once a week and over the course of a year and a half, I saw her about once a week and I lost 50 pounds. I started counting calories and exercising more.

The way I explain EFT is that it’s not a magic pill. There’s a lot of science now about the effectiveness of EFT on calming the body much like acupuncture. By hitting pressure points while verbalizing a phrase, it can have the same stress reducing effect of acupuncture. It is sometimes referred to as non-invasive acupuncture. Many studies now show that EFT is very effective with post-combat soldiers to reduce post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Over the past year, I have deepened my efforts to better understand EFT and deepen my understanding on how to practice it with others. I’m sure you know about what happened in Newtown [Conneticut]. I am originally from Newtown and one of the gurus of EFT happens to live there and after the school shootings there, he reached out to a lot of EFT practitioners in the area and said, “I really want to work with the people of Newtown.” So I have been working there and I am getting a special certification to work with them.

The basic thing about EFT is that it can work on anything, it can work on pain, the demons in your head, etc. What’s important to understand about EFT is that the focus is not: if you don’t accept yourself, you’ll never lose the weight. Or: if you do accept yourself, you’ll go home and eat like a pig. Acceptance accelerates what you want to achieve in your life and resistance is the break, resistance is denial, resistance is putting your head in the sand and not acknowledging who you are. Acceptance is the sweet spot between denial and harshly criticizing yourself. You are saying “this is who I am now” and accepting it while at the same time, saying who you are in the moment. And when you choose to feel good inside, it promotes healthy behavior. When I am not accepting myself, it creates stress and I can get sick.

So that is my story so how about we try a few examples with all of you, yes?

Attendee 1: I have a question. Has anyone else done EFT here?

-Several participants discuss their experiences with EFT as a method to help deal with a wide range of issues such as dealing with anxiety, eating disorders, obesity and depression.

Karen: Ok, so how about we try this with all of you. I’ll ask you all to offer up some things and then we will all tap together and we’ll be able experience borrowing benefits meaning we will all get something out of it.

Karen then takes the group through the physical act of tapping: There’s a lot of ways to do tapping. First you tap three times on your forehead and then in the middle of your eyebrows and then the outside of the eyebrow and then underneath the eye, and then under the nose and then in the crease of your chin, and then the collar bone, on the wrist and then the top of the head. It’s a firm tap, three times in each place. First take a deep breath and unlock your posture. Take a deep breath, putting your hands over your heart

Karen takes the group through several “tappping” exercises using situations offered by the group. For example: [tap forehead 3 times] “Even though I weigh more than I did at this time last year, I choose to love and accept myself. [tap middle of brows 3 times] Even though I weigh more than I did last year, it’s ok. I love and accept myself. [tap temple 3 times] Even though I weigh more than I did last year, I choose to let that go. [tap under eye 3 times] I weigh more than I did last year, it sucks. I hate it. I wish I didn’t. I weigh more. [tap under nose 3 times] Who does that? I suck. I wish I didn’t. I wish I weighed less. But I don’t, I actually weigh more. [tap fold of chin 3 times] I choose to let it go. I choose to love and accept myself. [tap collar bone 3 times] I choose to love and accept myself. I love and accept myself [tap outer wrist 3 times] I really do. I’m pretty awesome. [tap top of head 3 times] I love and accept myself. I’m choosing to let all of this go. Deep breath and let it out!

[At this point, attendees have varied responses. Some have become very emotional, some have tears, some are clearly very moved.]

Attendee 2 Question: How many times a day do you tap?

Karen: I will go several weeks without doing it. When I started out I did it once a week. You can do it several times a day or as needed.

Attendee 3 Question: How do you know you’ve gotten to a point when you need to tap?

Karen: I teach people how to feel what they feel. Sometimes we are disconnected from our emotions so much and we need to feel them and admit how it’s affecting you. This isn’t about becoming perfect. This is about catching when you don’t feel well sooner so that you can work through it sooner.

Attendee 4 Question: How do you get started?

Karen: There are great resources online, free videos you can search for, I tap with people over skype or over the phone. There are free videos. Two that I recommend are the “Tapping Solution” and emofree.com.

Attendee 5 Question: How did you know what statements to say? It seemed like you made a progression.

Karen: All therapists have a different way to go about it. Some may ask “Where in your body do you feel the emotion? What color is it? How big is it?” So as to help you visualize your emotions. Sometimes I don’t know what to say, I just go with it and sometimes I mess up in the middle and we laugh.

One participant shares her own personal experience with EFT: I have had sessions where we do it like we just did here but once I had a very traumatic experience and my heart was broken and I couldn’t speak. So I tapped while she [the therapist] spoke and she said she was taking my heart out and asked me what a broken heart looked like and then asked me to describe what a healthy heart looked like. She told me she was going to place the now healthy heart back into my chest and tapped my chest. And even though I still had the problems and my heart was still broken I was able to go home and take care of my kids and move forward.

Karen then leads the group through a few more examples of tapping.

At this point, some attendees express concern that they have a hard time uttering the words “I love and accept myself” and ask Karen if they could modify those words for the next tap that they try.

Karen: Well you can change the phrase to what works for you.

Attendee 6 Comment: I’m not a trained psychologist but this seems to be a tool that I can use to calm children down in my classroom with behavior issues. This seems to be something that can help a child feel like they have a sense of control over something and that they can feel safe. Would you say that you would want to run it by parents first or use this technique and then tell the parents you did it?

Karen: I don’t have children so I don’t know. But there is a product that is called Tappy Bear that teaches children how to do it on themselves.

Attendee 7 Question: Are there other areas that we can tap than the areas we are doing today?

Karen: Yes. If you want to learn more, there is a book by Craig Gary called The EFT Manual that offers more techniques.

Attendee 8 Comment: I would like to try “I’m disappointed in myself.”

Karen: Are you ok with saying I love and accept myself?

Attendee 8: No.

Karen: Ok, let’s try this: Even though I’m disappointed with where I am, I choose to be ok. I’m disappointed in where I am. I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed I’m not where I thought I would be. I’m disappointed. I think I can let that go. I think I can do that. It’s an option to be ok. Yeah I’m disappointed. And I’m ok. I’m disappointed and I’m ok. It’s all good.

[Group repeats after Karen, line for line while tapping]

Attendee 8 Comment: You know I spend so much time telling myself “it’s ok, it’s ok,” but I don’t leave room for the disappointment. I’m not letting it in but then I’m not dealing with the disappointment.

Karen: I do this thing where I confront people’s beliefs about what is ok and what is not ok and what it means.

Attendee 9 Comment: I feel like it’s a new thing to be ok with emotions. I think that’s why everyone got so emotional with the first one because I’ve always been one to hold onto things for a long time. But I’m seeing that tapping allows me to let these things go right away as opposed to holding on to it.

Karen: Yes and some people yawn, some laugh and then there’s crying too. Either way there’s a release.

The session concludes with several more tapping exercises that targeted attendees’ struggles with grieving through the end of a romantic relationship, letting go of certain goals that might not be entirely achievable and intersecting mental and physical health issues.

This session was transcribed by Mariana of Project Unfluff– “Fluffy Today, Fantastic Tomorrow!”