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Useful Technique for Overcoming Emotional Blocks

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  • Useful Technique for Overcoming Emotional Blocks

    The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can be learned by anyone by reading

    I have been using EFT for more than three years. I have found it useful for my own personal development. But last week something happened which really opened my eyes to the extraordinary power of EFT.

    I had been suffering from a stubborn cold and I went to bed early. After midnight my wife ran into the bedroom in a hysterical frenzy. The toilet was stuck. She had tried to clear the blockage by ramming a toilet brush down the toilet drain and the brush got stuck in the toilet. Now, she told me, she was having a panic attack. I know that she gets panic attacks in enclosed areas like elevators or subways, but I had never seen her like this. She was totally distraught and falling apart.

    I immediately used EFT on her. This involves tapping with one's fingers on acupuncture points. After I got the initial attack to subside, I would ask her to rank her emotional intensity on a scale of 1-10. She was a 5. I brought her down to a 1. Then I had her go back in the bathroom. She went up again to a 6. Using EFT together, my wife fell back down to a 1 again.

    Then I worked on the chest pain she was having. That too came down to a 1 from a 7. When she was OK, I asked her what her emotional intensity on a scale of 1-10 was when she first came in the bedroom asking for help. She laughed that it was a 20. She was now looking at the toilet which was still blocked and laughing at it all.

    I am a pretty hard-boiled type. I have a great deal of scepticism when it comes to a lot of new-age healing claims. I am particularly critical of those who charge big bucks telling people to make their affirmations 10 times a day and they too can make a million bucks. But what I saw myself do last week truly astounded me. I saw my wife undergo a transformation that was literally unbelievable. And my wife has been hostile to EFT ever since I began experiementing with it. She found it strange and weird and wanted nothing to do with it. She only agreed to do it last week because she was absolutely, utterly desperate. She tried it because she felt she had no other choice.

    I feel an obligation to let others know that there is a free procedure available which has the potential to alleviate a huge amount of human suffering.

    I make no claims that EFT will solve all your problems. To be honest, for myself, the results of EFT have been rather mixed. It has aided me in eliminating some bad habits but it is no instant recipe for total self-realization and fulfillment. I actually am still all too human (apologies to Nietzsche) and imperfect.

    I have used EFT with some health problems, again, with mixed success. Sometimes it helps and sometimes not. I am still suffering from the cold that started last Thursday.

    Nonetheless, I do think it worthwhile to experiment with EFT. I have found it especially when I find myself engaging in worthless activities and avoiding more highly valued next actions. One bad habit it has helped me eliminate was excessive, unproductive use of the internet.

    And the best thing about EFT is that it's free. It's a gift. I hope it can help you. I know it turned my wife from someone who was crying uncontrollably to someone who was facing her fears and laughing at them in a matter of minutes.

    I classify EFT with GTD as one of those three-letter acronyms that can really change your life for the better.

  • #2
    I have a friend from years gone by who applies EFT, among MANY other New-Agey things for a VERY comfortable 6 figure living, so i know a bit about it.
    Let me first say, i am a Skeptic by nature, and don't share the view of the human body, and "energy systems" put forward in this technique.

    In my view, EFT, if it works, is a basic Cognitive Therapy.
    You locate a specific Mental Image (mental movie, event, etc), and you rate its emotional intensity from 1-10. (This is pure Cognitive Therapy).
    Then you "tap" your body in certain places, while thinking the phrase, I NOW TOTALLY ACCEPT MYSELF, (and while thinking underneath that you are "healing your energy fields" and healing yourself from your affliction.)
    Then you re-rate your emotional response while thinking about this specific image from the past.

    That is pure CBT and REBT. You are transforming your Thoughts, Images, internal dialogue and perceptions. Dr. Albert Ellis, the creator of REBT has developed what he calls USA, which is Unconditional Self Acceptance. Just thinking about how you TOTALLY ACCEPT YOURSELF is a massive psychological cure-all, no tapping required.

    Other things to consider, are the very real Placebo effect, psychosomatic complaints, and its similarity to Mindfulness Meditation Therapy, and Imagery Processing and Rescripting Therapy. They all work in the same way, without the tapping.
    It also reminds me of Anchoring from NLP. The tapping becomes an Anchor to the NEW thoughts and beliefs from EFT.

    I personally prefer to handle the Cognitions, (Thoughts, Images, Mental Movies, memories) directly, without the tapping.

    Of course, here we have again, extreme claims, (The Big Claim), being made for a procedure, and products being sold.
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
    (see Carl Sagan's baloney detection kit)

    There is also a total lack of proper double-blind, controlled scientific studies on these "new therapies" in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

    Here is a critical analysis of EFT and TFT.

    Can We Really Tap Our Problems Away?
    A Critical Analysis of Thought Field Therapy

    TFT and EFT
    Since the emergence of TFT, several therapists have recently developed offshoot therapies based on treating the body's energy fields. The most successful of these TFT derivatives was developed by Gary Craig. Craig (1997), who has a degree in engineering and formerly studied under Callahan, created what he calls Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). EFT is very similar to TFT, except that it employs one simplified and ubiquitous tapping procedure instead of applying different algorithms to treat different problems. On his Web site4, Craig asserts that Callahan's reliance on differing algorithms is unnecessary because he has witnessed TFT therapists tap in the wrong order or apply the wrong algorithm to the particular problem and still obtain improvements. Craig's anecdotal evidence appears to contradict Callahan's anecdotal evidence. Furthermore, Craig extends his tapping therapy far beyond the realm of mental health, reporting testimonials from individuals who claim to have successfully used EFT to treat everything from autism to warts and various other medical problems with positive results. In the latest developments, Craig has reported on the positive effects of "surrogate tapping," in which therapists tap on themselves to treat the problems of others.
    A scientifically minded investigator would have then taken Craig's observations a step further and tested a completely "placebo" algorithm which did not tap on any supposed energy meridians to see if it produced similar results. However, Craig reports that he has never carried out this simple experiment nor does he know of anyone who has (Craig, personal communication, January 14, 2000). Furthermore, Craig speculates that a placebo algorithm may be impossible because tapping anywhere on the body will affect the body's energy meridians. This position conveniently renders Craig's theory unfalsifiable and therefore outside the realm of science.
    Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-25-2006, 08:54 AM.


    • #3
      Cosmo GTD:

      I applaud your scepticism. I believe that it is the right approach to any breathless account of "miraculous" results, especially mine.

      I would ask anyone who finds this topic of interest to examine for a review of the research on EFT that has been done to date. This stuff does not provide a slam-dunk proof that EFT works but is an attempt to investigate EFT using rigorous social scientific tools.

      I find your comments about the EFT actually being cognitive therapy very similar to speculations that I have had.

      1. First, let me give the general readership a little background. Albert Ellis recommends that we each engage in what he calls Unconditional Self-Acceptance or USA. Ellis argues that we make ourselves unhappy, depressed, unproductive, neurotic, etc. by having poorly formulated beliefs and allowing ourselves to think unhelpful thoughts. According to Ellis we can train ourselves to think thoughts that will benefit us rather than incapacitate us. This is not the "power of positive thinking." We don't say each morning "I am a ____" (fill in the blank: millionaire, sex-god, very productive person). Rather we learn to avoid thinking thoughts that put ourselves down. One technique Ellis advocates is that we repeat with vigor and emotion statements of self-acceptance.

      By the way, I am quite fond of Ellis' work. He has had a lot of influence on Martin Seligman, whose book Authentic Happiness I also recommend.

      2. EFT is a technique where one first repeats three times a statement with the following form: "Even though I have this {problem name}, I deeply and completely accept myself." This statement is called the "set-up phrase" and it is repeated while rubbing one's upper chest.

      After repeating the set-up phrase you then repeat the name of the problem as you tap on 14 points on your body. These repetitions of the problem's name are called the "reminder phrase."

      Most of the EFT process consists in repeating the reminder phrase while tapping the 14 points, therefore, most of the EFT process does not involve making USA-type statements of unconditional self-acceptance. It is still possible, of course, that all of the effectiveness of EFT comes from the USA in the set-up phrase and that EFT is just an incredibly inefficient means of practicing USA.

      I can only give my anecdotal evidence that when I worked with my wife last week I first brought her down from the most severe levels of emotional intensity by skipping the USA set-up phrase entirely. There are other account on the EFT website of similar anecdotes.

      2. Ellis, as you know Cosmo, is incredibly prolific and incredibly syncretic. One small example, in his book Overcoming Procrastination he offers a panoply of techniques. Rejecting a strict cognitive approach, he finds conventional behaviorist technique to be a useful tool in his toolbox. The guy is a pragmatist. He uses what works even if it comes from a "school" of psychology that is at odds with cognitivism. (I have used his advice successfully and have extinguished unhelpful behaviors by committing myself to punishing myself after engaging in them.)

      I was actually shocked to find that he is a proponent of hypnotherapy. I don't have the reference here at work right now. But at home I have an article Ellis contributed to an anthology of hypnotic inductions. It seems as if every year he adds another letter to the acronym describing his therapy. Instead of REBT, it should be REBHT: Rational-Emotive-Behavioral-Hypno-Therapy.

      Ellis must be 100 years old by now. Rather than maintaining a doctrinaire stance protecting orthodox RET or REBT or CBT from competing approaches with contradictory foundations, Ellis embraces anything that works. He seems to have no a priori commitments other than to help his patients.

      I would suggest people try EFT if they would like to influence their behavior or their thinking or their emotions. If it doesn't work, be like Albert Ellis, try something else. If it does work, play with it. Maybe you can figure out if you can get it to work merely from USA.


      P.S. I also share your disdain of those who exploit the gullibility of those who are suffering by bilking them of the little money they have. What I like about the EFT website is that everything you need to know to practice it is free to those with a web browser.

      There are videos for sale on the site. But I am telling you that the site is vast and you could spend a few months exploring all the information on the site. The transcripts of the videos are freely available on the site. You don't need to spend a dime to learn EFT.

      Apart from the question of whether EFT is effective--a question that I agree can only be answered by continued scientific research--there is the question of whether EFT is an attempt to get money from the gullible. I am convinced that it is not. Gary Craig, the creator of the website, basically published a book on EFT on his website. It's all there for free.


      • #4
        Hi there, a couple of quick, random points.

        -You gave a good basic explanation of USA.
        - EFT, or anything else, is not going to cure the common cold or serious diseases. The placebo effect will be active, and there are spontaneous remissions, but these new-agers hinting they can "cure" medically untreatable diseases are selling snake oil to the desperate for profit. If it worked, it would be tested properly, and medical science would utilize it.

        -There is no need to repeat the EFT reminder phrase. It is present in the persons mind. Also, all of the "info" on the site is creating new beliefs in the persons mind. Observe your own Cognitive processes very carefully when you are doing the EFT process. Your mind has all sorts of thoughts going through it, some are very rapid thoughts, called Automatic-thoughts.

        -if your wife was having a panic attack, i have no problem believing that what you did brought her down from it. What might also work would be Meditation, deep breathing, flooding, exposure, prayer, distraction, etc, etc. Stopping a panic attack is within the realm of mainstream therapy. No magic there.

        -so-called "Behavior" therapy, is COGNITIVE therapy. Humans are not rats. While we are doing the behavior, its the cognitions in our mind which are being shifted as we REFLECT on what is going on. Thus, the Cognitive Revolution in psychology. In humans, behavior therapy is cognitive therapy. (Find a behaviorist, and tell him that, and then watch his face turn purple. Its fun.).
        -Hypnosis is about changing belief patterns in the patient by suggestion. Same difference.
        -there is a lot of money being made from these "alternative therapies". There is free info on that site, but come on, its advertising for live seminars, over the phone therapy, and training. The EFT folks say they can heal you over the phone, for a fee. Its a business, not a religion or humanitarian mission. He is using very sophisticated viral marketing tactics. (right now, you are the meme and i am the anti-meme). There is lots of money being made there with these "therapies", that field is worth billions.

        -Bottom line, to me EFT has very sloppy thinking, it is NOT science, is making claims that are extreme without evidence. Also, i have a CD with the founder of EFT on it doing treaments. He is doing a form of Cognitive Therapy, working on some pretty desperate people, while claiming he is mystically aligning peoples energy fields. The world is full of these guys out doing this stuff. There are a zillion magical faith-healing techniques, which are just glorified hand-waving, and easy money, in my view. This stuff is Antiscience.

        (read Albert Ellis' book, "WHY SOME THERAPIES DON'T WORK: The Dangers Of Transpersonal Psychology". Ellis is TOTALLY OPPOSED to these kinds of "therapies". He sees them as being actually dangerous, and not harmless or helpful.)

        But many people love that kind of stuff, and spend billions on it. Entrepreneurs take note.

        -Lastly, this has little to do with GTD, and everything to do with the proper scientific evaluations of psychological therapies. I don't think this argument has any business being on this website, as it is off-topic from GTD, so i shall cease and desist.

        My view is that people should learn how to think critically, and figure out what is really going on behind all of the thinking errors, lack of science, sales-pitches, hand-waving, and Big Claims.

        (the link to the article i posted addresses most of the problems i see with this.)
        Can We Really Tap Our Problems Away?
        A Critical Analysis of Thought Field Therapy
        Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-25-2006, 08:56 AM.


        • #5
          I'll just state for the record that my wife does deep-breathing already and it was of no help during her panic attack.

          I certainly do not wish to clog David Allen's server with off-topic debates. I thought long and hard before deciding to submit my post on EFT. I did submit it precisely because people who are implementing GTD have to face some demons; I certainly did.

          I live in Manhattan the home of Albert Ellis' center. Albert Ellis' books plug his weekly seminars and his other publications. He is, among other things, a talented self-promoter. His writings got me to visit his center once, where I perused all the literature that they had for sale. The idea that EFT is a money-making scheme is truly ludicrous. Gary Craig specifically tells people that they are permitted to make copies of the materials they purchase from him.

          If EFT can help some of us overcome procrastination, do our weekly reviews, purge our files, and create our project plans, then EFT belongs on the GTD discussion forum. If EFT works because of USA and a more elegant method of personal productivity improvement is within our grasp, that is an important discussion for GTD practitioners. I welcome your contributions, Cosmo, to that discussion. If USA is on-topic, and if EFT is a variant of USA, then EFT is on-topic. EFT, according to you, is a variant of USA. USA, according to you, is on-topic. EFT, therefore, is on-topic.

          March 4 supplement.
          I will just state for the record that I think the criticisms Cosmo GTD raises should be raised. Debate is healthy. All our beliefs are corrigible and subject to revision.

          I have found Cosmo GTD's contributions to this forum exceptionally lucid and beneficial.


          • #6
            Another Technique to Try

            A technique that I have found useful (although certainly not a panacea) is HAMR, Hand Actuated Mental Reconditioning.

            Take a look at

            It's free. Everything you need to know to do it is presented on the web site.


            • #7

              Thanks for the suggestion. I've not heard of HAMR before. Can you give an example or three of how you've used it to your benefit?



              • #8


                HAMR is basically a mental-physical technique for focusing your mind on a desired outcome. The main successes I've had with it involve forming or reforming habits. For example, I had gotten into the bad habit of staying up late, and the lack of sleep was beginning to wear on me. I did several sets of HAMR exercises to reinforce the idea of being in bed by 11:00 every night. What happened was that every night around 11:00 it would occur to me that it was time to go to bed. If I was in the middle of something, I would still finish, but if I wasnt doing anything important, I would just go to bed. The upshot was that I was going to bed earlier.

                Another example was a project on which I was pretty badly stalled. I was able to use the HAMRs to get started and to push through to completion.

                The technique takes an hour or two to learn, and all the information you need to learn it is in the free area of the web site. Like I said, it is not a cure-all, but I have found it useful.