EFT: Western Psychology Taps Eastern Healing

EFT: Western Psychology Taps Eastern Healing

The power of EFT as a healing tool comes from its rich blend of modern psychological principles and ancient Chinese wisdom. EFT takes modern psychological principles and lights them on fire with the mind-body connection. When your body's energy meridians are harnessed for emotional healing, you have a powerful tool that's hard to beat!

EFT, short for Emotional Freedom Techniques, is now used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, but few are aware of its complex and intriguing history. In its modern form, EFT has only been around since the 1990s, yet its fundamental roots date back thousands of years. Those roots became tangled up with the principles of modern psychology—in a good way—back in the 1970s and 1980s, and the result is a fascinating mélange of Eastern and Western paradigms, one that works by capitalizing on the strengths of each.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, particularly acupuncture, provides the foundation for EFT and other forms of "meridian tapping."

Acupuncture is an ancient healing art involving the insertion of tiny needles, in order to stimulate the energy pathways (meridians) of your body. This practice remains widely used today, particularly in the East. Acupuncture was originally developed to treat physical problems, as opposed to emotional ones. However, the millennia have established its value for both.

EFT and other meridian tapping techniques have sprung from the mind-body model and are sometimes referred to as "emotional acupuncture." EFT has a distinct advantage over acupuncture in that it appeals to us Westerners who are averse to being poked repeatedly with sharp objects.

The first leap from acupuncture toward EFT came in 1962 from George Goodheart, a well-known American chiropractor. Intrigued by the possibilities acupuncture held for his practice, Dr. Goodheart incorporated those basic principles into an assessment method he was developing, which he termed "applied kinesiology." Instead of inserting needles into the acupuncture points, he decided to stimulate them manually by "tapping." In the 1970s, Goodheart's work was furthered by Australian psychiatrist John Diamond, who began treating his patients' emotional issues with a combination of positive self-statements and acupoint tapping. Diamond named his new method "behavioral kinesiology."

Essentially, Drs. Goodheart and Diamond laid the foundation for the field of Energy Psychology and all "meridian-based therapies" that followed. But it was American psychologist Roger Callahan who transformed meridian tapping into a distinct form of psychological treatment.

Dr. Callahan specialized in treating patients with anxiety and phobias. It was he who discovered that, if a patient tapped while intentionally focusing on his emotional issue, the specific fear would disappear quickly and often permanently. He discovered, largely by accident, that strategically tapping on certain combinations of points could bring levels of emotional healing that were impossible to achieve using traditional psychotherapy alone, achieving enormous success in his clinical work, as a result. Dr. Callahan devoted his practice to developing specific sequences of acupoints, or "algorithms,"—basically, a recipe for every type of emotional problem. He called his approach "The Callahan Techniques," but it was later renamed "Though Field Therapy," or TFT.

Dr. Callahan's algorithms were not without their drawbacks, however. It was necessary to muscle test every patient in order to determine the appropriate tapping points, and this was both time consuming and difficult to do—and certainly not an easy process to teach others. Two of Dr. Callahan's star pupils, Gary Craig and psychologist Patricia Carrington (independently and unbeknownst to each other) sought a way to simplify Callahan's methods and make them more accessible. In 1987, Dr. Carrington developed a "single algorithm" protocol called Acutap that did not involve any sort of diagnostic testing. She later incorporated Gary Craig's EFT into her protocol, and her "Choices Method" is widely used today.

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