Bangkok Post

Bangkok Post

Despite exorbitant amounts of money spent on medical research and technology to find cures for a growing number of diseases and illnesses, many patients continue to report unsatisfactory and unsuccessful treatments to alleviate their suffering.

As a result, some are opting out of mainstream healthcare and choosing alternative health treatments.

Alternative medicine is becoming popular among patients who prefer a more natural approach to healthcare or those who have not found comfort or relief from modern medicine. One such alternative therapy receiving widespread attention is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

Developed by Gary Craig during the early 90's, EFT is often referred to as "acupuncture without the needles" and is based on the Meridian system as used by the Chinese for thousands of years.

It involves 12 major meridians corresponding to certain body organs, which are pathways in the body along which energy flows. (See the picture) Each meridian is a pressure point that can be used to ease certain conditions and ailments in the body.

EFT has been an effective tool in dealing with physical ailments such as headaches, back pain, breathing difficulties, as well as mental and emotional illnesses, including trauma and abuse, stress, panic and anxiety attacks, fears and phobias, and depression. It is also highly effective when applied to all types of performance issues like sports and public speaking.

How does EFT work?

The basic principle of EFT is that any emotional or physical discomfort is a result of a disruption in the flow of energy through the body, says Bangkok-based advanced EFT practitioner Shalini J Yamdagni.

When energy flow through the body is blocked, a number of symptoms can manifest themselves, both physical and emotional. EFT helps to remove these blockages in the body's meridians, allowing energy to flow freely, thus restoring the body's natural state of health.

"The biggest blocks are our negative thoughts and emotions," points out Ms Shalini, adding that our thoughts are constantly creating patterns of electrical energy that cause the release of neurotransmitters, hormones and other chemicals in the body.

"When there's a disruption in the body's electrical flow, there's a reaction. If the disruption continues, it can lead to emotional distress and physical problems," she explains.

To re-balance this energy disruption, "tapping" is done on the body's main acupuncture points (see the box and illustration on EFT tapping points), while the person is tuned into the issue that is bothering him or her.

Tapping is EFT's core exercise which helps to clear the disruption in a person's energy system. He or she is then able to think about the issue bothering them without the emotional charge previously attached to it.

What happens during an EFT session?

The session usually begins by spending the first 15-20 minutes talking and establishing rapport with the patient, listening carefully to what the person is and isn't saying. Then the problem or energy blockage will be identified.

The goal of a session is to focus on one specific issue at a time. Bothersome issues will be rated on a scale of 0-10, 10 being the highest imaginable pain, fear, sadness or discomfort, and 0 being completely calm, pain free, tranquil, relaxed and happy. Once the intensity is established, they can then begin the tapping rounds.

"We tap on the meridian or energy channels. I tap on myself while the other person taps on their own meridians," says Ms Shalini.

While tapping on the different meridians, patients are asked to verbally address the issue or the energy blockage by repeating certain affirmation phrases normally beginning with: "Even though I have [describe the ailment you have], I love and accept myself." There are many other affirmation statements used in EFT.

"People do not like to admit they have a problem, so by making them repeat such phrases, they are basically addressing their subconscious and acknowledging that they have an ailment," she adds.

After a tapping round, they re-check the intensity of the problem. The tapping rounds are repeated and the aim is to get the intensity to a very low level - "1" or ideally a "0".

Typically the patient will notice a significant reduction in intensity. If it's not completely gone then the EFT practitioner repeats the process, bringing the intensity down each time until full balance is restored.

Ms Shalini says that EFT is really simple to learn, and can be self applied. Once patients learn the basic technique, they can use it themselves to clear away daily stresses. However, for issues that are more severe, it is advisable to seek help from a professional EFT practitioner.

"Testing is an integral part of EFT. The EFT practitioner and the patient can both get a clear picture of the progress being made on an issue by going back to the troubling issue or pain after a few days. You know you've made real progress when the problem no longer has an emotional charge to it," says Ms Shalini.

Ms Shalini referred to one of her patients who lost her husband a year ago. She would break down every time she thought of him. By the third session, she was able to talk about him with a completely different level of emotion and was composed.

Out of 100 patients she has helped through EFT, 80-90% have said the treatment has proved successful. In most cases, the problem stemed from unresolved emotional feelings, some of which went way back to their childhood.

Endorsed by professionals

Though being labelled as pseudoscience by some medical professionals, EFT is also endorsed by some of the big names in medicine.

Well known American urologist, Dr Eric Robins, said: "Some day the medical profession will wake up and realise that unresolved emotional issues are the main cause of 85% of all illnesses. When they do, EFT will be one of their primary healing tools ... as it is for me."

Ms Shalini reiterates that EFT is still in its infancy and is constantly evolving.

"Gary Craig says that we're still beginning to unravel the mystery of this energy system and how it happens. In 10 years, EFT may be completely different. Who knows what theories will evolve, but what we do know is that EFT has helped people overcome lifelong illnesses and serious diseases, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among war veterans."

Personal experience using EFT

A physical, painful ailment two years ago, led Ms Shalini to discover EFT which she used to heal herself after numerous visits to doctors failed to provide relief.

"I was suffering from Costochondritis, an inflammation of a ligament that connects the breast bone with the ribs. The excruciating pain continued for months. Medication, physiotherapy, acupuncture and a rib belt did little to alleviate the problem," says Ms Shalini.

"Before this pain began, my life had become rather stressful as I was no longer enjoying my job. I was in a dilemma about whether I should quit and be a stay-at-home mum or just take a break from work. I was not enjoying my life and started pondering what my purpose in life was," she recalled.

Attending a workshop in Bangkok on healing changed Ms Shalini's life.

"The speaker spoke about how the root causes of almost all illnesses lay in a person's thoughts. During the session, a volunteer, who was suffering from neck pain, was invited in front of the audience. After being asked to recite some affirmation statements by the therapist, the volunteer said the pain had subsided."

Anxious to relieve herself of the pain she was experiencing, coupled with curiousity about this technique, Ms Shalini decided to do some research. She attended a few workshops and sessions with the therapist and was introduced to energy therapy. Through additional research on the internet and with books, she discovered EFT and decided to try it herself.

"After just over a month of persistently applying EFT, not only was I able to heal myself completely but I also discovered my purpose in life, which was healing," she said.

Ms Shalini became convinced that EFT stood out as an amazingly simple, quick and effective technique in overcoming emotional and physical problems.

Already armed with a Bachelor's in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work from Delhi University, India, Ms Shalini studied and trained her newly discovered passion even more. She now holds a basic and an advanced EFT certificate of completion and is a qualified advanced EFT practitioner.

"My advice to people is that if they are suffering from ailments and have not found relief with medical assistance, then EFT is an option well worth exploring," she says.

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