For hundreds of years, acupuncture has been used to treat a variety of ills, including pain, anxiety, phobias and addictions. Using similar principles based on identifying and targeting ‘energy meridians’ in the body, practitioners of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) teach individuals to address the same types of issues through an easy do-it-yourself process.
“EFT is a form of psychological acupressure,” says Dr. Annette Vaillancourt, a St. Louis-area EFT coach and author of How to Manifest Your SoulMate with EFT: Relationship as a Spiritual Path. “It works to remove physical and emotional distress by gently tapping on points around the hands and face, while focusing on that particular emotional or physical issue.”
Vaillancourt, whose background is in counseling psychology, sees EFT, also known as ‘tapping,’ as a tool that can be employed to help clients overcome emotional and physical pain. “We only gave a nod at the mind/body interaction when I was in graduate school 25 years ago,” she says. “Fortunately, today we are learning the power and efficacy of these techniques, which is supported by a growing body of rigorously controlled research studies. The American Psychological Association recently approved continuing education units for training in EFT.”
Rhonda Leifheit, a hypnotherapist and director of The Source Life Enrichment Center, discovered EFT at a conference 15 years ago and used it to help reduce her own back pain. Following additional training in the technique, she began using it with hypnosis clients who were seeking weight loss, smoking cessation and relief from anxiety. “It’s understandable that people are skeptical about the process, but I've discovered that—for many people—the results speak for themselves,” she says.
Recognizing the need for controlled, peer-reviewed, replicable trials that establish the efficacy of EFT, both Vaillancourt and Leifheit refer to current studies. “Currently, there are more than 60 researchers in 10 countries whose EFT studies have been published in 20 different peer-reviewed journals,” Vaillancourt says. “These include distinguished top-tier journals, such as the Journal of Clinical Psychology and the oldest psychiatric journal in North America, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.”
Although there are EFT instructional websites and books, Vaillancourt thinks people have more success with the technique when working with a trained coach. “EFT is a single technique that does not diagnose or suggest directions for treatment, and therefore it is most effective when applied within a therapeutic context by a skilled practitioner,” she says. “EFT has aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) built into it. People who are self-taught in EFT don’t know how to make the best use of this.”
In addition to individual coaching sessions, Leifheit teaches EFT through St. Louis Community College Continuing Education. Vaillancourt’s YouTube channel, ‘Tapping Along with Annette,’ features short video tutorials and guided EFT sessions.
“With the many healing modalities available in today's world, these tapping techniques are something you always have with you, have no side-effects and can be extremely beneficial in alleviating distress,” Leifheit says. “It’s a great addition to your self-care tool kit.”