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Australian Hypnotherapists Association -

President Emeritus – AHA (Life)

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How Does EFT Work (Western Researched Explanation)

EFT combines elements of cognitive therapy, somatic intervention, and brief exposure therapy. The tapping on the points on the body induces a mini-REM state in the brain. This re-organizes how we store and process information.

It can be shown with an EEG machine (which measures brainwaves) that brainwave patterns absolutely respond to the tapping.
 While the rapid therapeutic shifts observed have led clinicians to ascribe its effects to shifts in "energy," the following authors point out that there are biomedical and psychological processes that could explain the immediate relief of strong emotional memories.

Some authorities attribute its efficacy to the location of the tapping points, which are on the endpoints of the "energy meridians" identified in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

However, other authorities that were asked "how does EFT work?" suggested more conventional biological mechanisms. Such as:

Increased regulation of sympathetic-parasympathetic interaction, and of the HPA hypothalamuspituitary-adrenal.

Decreased hyperarousal of the limbic system and other brain structures involved in the fight or flight response generated by exposure to trauma.

Changes in the amygdala and anterior cingulate areas of the brain.

The semiconductive properties of the connective tissue on which the tapping points are located.

Down-regulation and increased reuptake rates of cortisol and other stress hormones.

Increased expression of the stress-regulatory Immediate Early Genes.

It has been argued that the term "energy" may be inappropriate for this group of therapies, given its basis in such well-understood physiological mechanisms and the therapeutic traditions from which it draws, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.

So, how does EFT work exactly?

Mechanoreceptors are specialized receptors that respond to mechanical forces such as tapping, massaging, or holding. Among their types: Meissner corpuscles, Pacini corpuscles, Merkel discs, and Ruffini corpuscles.

They are sensitive to stimulation on the surface of the skin anywhere on the body.

 The acupuncture points (the points tapped on with EFT), called "hsue" in traditional Chinese medicine, are loci that have a particularly high concentration of mechanoreceptors, free nerve endings, and neurovascular density.

The signals that are initiated when tapping hsue travel as afferent stimuli that are capable of reaching the cortex, the amygdala, and the hippocampus.

Mechanoreceptors are distributed all over the skin surface. The signal that is generated by tapping travels via large myelinated fibers, ascends ipsilaterally through the medial lemniscus, and triggers the somato-sensory cortex at the parietal lobes and the prefrontal cortex.

From there, the signal reaches the amygdala, hippocampus, and other structures where the emotional problem has neurological entity, and the signal apparently disrupts established patterns.

After EFT treatment there are reductions in cortisol, a primary stress hormone, and these reductions are accompanied by improvements in heart rate variability (HRV).

HRV and cortisol are primary stress markers for a wide variety of genetic, hormonal, and neurological effects of stress. They both correlate with significant changes in the conditions measured on the SA-45 questionnaire.


How Does EFT Work (Energy Explanation)

 EFT is an emotional version of acupuncture, except we don't use needles. Instead, we stimulate the meridians by tapping on them with our fingertips. The basic premise of EFT is that "The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body's energy system"


When we stimulate specific meridian points, while being focused on the problem we experience (fear of spiders for example), we clear out the imbalance in the energy system. By doing so, the negative emotion disappears as well.

... So how does EFT work if we explain energy scientifically?

Each of the body's major energy pathways (meridians) is believed to be associated with specific emotions and themes.

A stimulus that brings a meridian out of harmony or balance (while this is a complex concept, terms such as under energy, over energy, and stagnant energy might each apply) also activates the emotion associated with that meridian.

The tapping treatment pairs the stimulus with an energy intervention that rebalances the meridian, bringing it back into coherence and harmony with the body's overall energy system.


A disturbed meridian response is replaced by an undisturbed response.

Just as deep muscle relaxation can neutralize a specific fear in systematic desensitization, calming a disturbed meridian can disengage the emotional reaction associated with that meridian.

The most controversial idea that emerges from psychotherapy is that the body is surrounded and permeated by an energy field which carries information.

Disturbances in this energy field are said to be reflected in emotional disturbances.

Changes in the energy field are understood as having the power to shift the organization of electrochemical processes.

Many of the electrochemical processes that are probably involved have been mapped. When a person thinks about an emotional problem, activation signals can be registered by various brain-imaging techniques at the amygdala, hippocampus, orbital frontal cortex, and several other central nervous system structures.

When tapping is simultaneously introduced, the receptors that are sensitive to pressure on the skin send an afferent signal, regulated by the calcium ion, through the medial lemniscus, that reaches the parietal cortex and from there is directed to other cortical and limbic regions.

The interaction of these signals appears to cause a shift in the biochemical foundations of the problem.

One hypothesis is that the signal sent by tapping collides with the signal produced by thinking about the problem, introducing noise into the emotional process, which alters its nature and its capacity to produce symptoms.

- How EFT Works -

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Energy Therapy Associates Newsletter
January 2011

Dr. Catherine Saltzman, ND, a seasoned EFT practitioner, sent this information to the EFTUniverse website and we thought you would be interested in her post.  

There are so many questions about exactly how EFT works and as of yet there are no definitive answers.  However, the descriptions below give us a look into the the most accepted theories we have today.

Our mind is very powerful, it can achieve amazing things - but only if we both believe we can make it happen.  It is my job to show you how powerful your mind is and to help you make the changes.