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Introducing tapping, an accessible de-stressing technique

[dropcap]G[/dropcap]enerally speaking, students carry a lot of stress. Whether that stress stems from an intense course load, the pressure to fit in or the dreaded college applications, students all over the United States admit to it.

Over the years there have been many trends associated with alleviating stress for the American working class, as well as high school and college students as they work around the clock, some of the most notable being visualization exercises, yoga and a variety of breathing techniques.

The increasingly popular Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also referred to as tapping, has gained respect among the working class because of its accessibility. Tapping can be done at any time and everywhere, free of charge, which is obviously appealing to high school students, who are financially supported by their parents, and college students already under the pressure of student loans.

[heading size=”20″]What is EFT?[/heading]

EFT is the largest and most popular form of energy psychology and was developed in the early 1990s by Gary Craig, a Stanford engineering graduate specializing in healing and self-improvement. Tapping is comparable to acupuncture, which is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through the body along invisible pathways known as meridians. EFT stimulates different energy meridian points by tapping them with the tips of the fingers, while simultaneously using custom-made verbal affirmations.

These verbal affirmations used to relax the person can be altered on an individual basis through an interview conducted by a certified and qualified therapist or created alone based on things that encourage a sense of calm. By doing so, a person is helping their body eliminate emotional “scarring” and reprogram the way their body responds to stressors. Since these stressors are usually connected to physical problems, many people’s diseases  and other symptoms can improve or disappear as well.

[heading size=”20″]Tapping in the classroom[/heading]

Tapping can be an effective way of reducing anxiety because it corrects the bioelectrical short-circuiting that causes the body’s reactions without adverse effects. While some think of EFT as a tool to reprogram the circuitry of the body, and it works on both real and hypothetical stressors. Real stressors being difficult events currently or previously happening to a person and hypothetical stressors being those that could potentially occur. The energy meridians used in traditional acupressure are the same used in the newer and less invasive technique of tapping. A 2012 review of EFT in the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Review of General Psychology stated that EFT is moving closer to meeting the criteria for an evidence-based treatment.

Recent research indicates that EFT significantly increases positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreases negative emotional states, including anxiety. EFT specifically targets the amygdala and hippocampus, which are the two main parts of the brain that help a person to determine whether or not something is a threat. This makes tapping even more powerful for treating stress and anxiety because it helps the brain choose whether or not it sees things as daunting tasks or good opportunities.

[heading size=”20″]What do counselors think?[/heading]

RBHS Outreach Counselor Lesley Thalhuber has been seeing more and more EFT brought up in Professional Development meetings recently. She says that while this is a new trend, counselors and therapists around the district have been seeing many success stories from tapping.

I believe in its merit as another tool to help with trauma,” Thalhuber said. “The more trauma-informed we become, the more we are aware of how many people have been affected by trauma. EFT is one of the many strategies a person can consider when choosing a treatment model to address their own needs. If other treatment methods haven’t helped a person, this is a new one to try.”

A study done published by the prestigious Journal of Mental Health and Disease found that EFT has also been shown to lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is the master hormone, regulating many aspects of the body’s stress response mechanisms. Researchers hypothesized that successful therapy lowers stress, which will be reflected biochemically in a reduced level of salivary cortisol and psychologically in reduced levels of anxiety, depression and other symptoms of psychological distress.

The results of this study show that while rest and therapy mechanisms used to decrease cortisol levels showed a decline of 14 percent, EFT groups consistently declined between 23 and 26 percent. The decline in this physiological marker of stress also directly correlated with a decline in anxiety, depression and other psychological symptoms as measured by a standard psychological assessment tool.

Perhaps the more natural and less physically damaging techniques will prove themselves effective in their respective fields in the years to come, and EFT is blazing the trail for that. No harm can be done to the body through tapping because behind all of this science is essentially just a light touch on different parts of the body.

*Disclaimer: If consistent stress and anxiety are present, consult a physician before relying on tapping.*

What does EFT treat?

Stress, Muscle Tension, Sleep Problems, Tension Headaches, Joint Pain, Fatigue, Depression

How do you perform basic EFT?

Step 1: Identify the issue

Step 2: Create a reminder phrase

Step 3: Rating the issue

Step 4: Setting up your affirmation

Step 5: Perform the tapping sequence

Step 6: Tuning in for re-rating

Step 7: Repeating the process

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