EFT/tapping, Grief, Trauma - an evidence-based approach to the challenging overlaps at end of life
Updated: Mar 7, 2019
As many Gentle Readers among you are aware, I have a long and varied career pathway in terms of working with grief and loss, as well as injury and trauma recovery. Being a Thanadoula is in many ways a logical culmination of much of my lifelong learning and skill-set acquisition. However, I don't rest on my laurels, and am always on the lookout for new information and the latest evidence-based* techniques, and I recently attended a wonderful three day training workshop for evidence-based Energetic Freedom Techniques (EFT), aka 'tapping'. I did not think that my acupressure practitioner training from the 1990s would end up being of such significance and use several decades later, but I am happy to be proved wrong. EFT works with the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system of the meridians, activating proven pathways to reduce cortisol in the brain, and facilitate positive change in the perspective of a person via a proven system of tapping with the index and middle fingers on the relevant points.
N.B.: I recognise that this is an ableist technique I am describing, however the EFT trials all use fingers, hands, face, head and torso points. It does not, however, matter which side of the body you use, or which hand.
The training I attended was designed for health practitioners, and was led by Australia's EFT research specialist Dr Peta Stapleton, who is based at Bond University. Results with EFT are swift, and incredibly long-lasting - but don't take my word for it. You all know I advocate for critical thinking, so research for yourself. This page on Google Scholar is but a starting point, and I do encourage you to check the results for yourself. EFT applications are virtually endless in terms of stress relief and health support - but the aspect that I was particularly drawn to is that of the efficacy rates for PTSD. 94%, Gentle Reader! And longitudinal studies (studies that go back after a period of time and check in with participants, as opposed to studies that only collect data once with no follow-up) demonstrate that even after 1 or 2 years the PTSD is still effectively muted, with no recurrence at the cortisol or epigenetic levels. This is groundbreaking for therapeutic interventions, as Peta Stapleton discusses in a TED talk here.
EFT will not alter or affect your memory, but it does work to effectively reduce stress and remove emotional attachments to situations and events in our lives. As such, survivors of accidents, witnesses to violent death or murder, or those who have a traumatic association with death (for example, paramedics, firefighters, military personnel who have been exposed to trauma either first-hand or who have witnessed traumatic events at a distance, etc.) can particularly benefit from incorporating EFT into their toolkits for processing shock, disbelief, somatic responses to death/trauma, and for complex grief.
I am not going to delve into all the gory and well-known details of violent death, witnessing traumatic circumstances for death, and unexpected death; we are all well aware of the darker side of life and death, so I am not going to indulge in tragedy porn for the sake of it. Let me simply state that PTSD can manifest for a variety of reasons, and often conventional therapeutic interventions are not terribly helpful. Research has shown that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is a go-to approach for many trauma and PTSD-based treatment plans, has a very low rate of success (go ahead, look it up). Therefore, for anyone who is struggling with feeling stuck in grief, loss, or mourning, EFT is a highly effective and non-invasive stress-reduction technique that takes a surprisingly short amount of time to demonstrate results.
Those of us who are in complex grief, PTSD, shock, or denial when a violent death has happened know that we are not in need of intrusive or high-energy interventions... we do not have the capacity to navigate or cope with this kind of approach. Happily, EFT is incredibly gentle, does not require a verbal retelling of 'the story' if you do not wish to (this is a genuine bonus for some of us who are simply talked out or not ready to talk at all), and can be undertaken by any of us at any time, once we understand the process and in which order to tap the relevant points.
I will emphasise at this point that EFT works. I am a seasoned grief and loss practitioner, and if you have questions about EFT and grief in your own life then contacting me is something I encourage you to do. I am a Thanadoula with a wealth of compassion and professional experience in working with loss, trauma, and complex grief.
Let's talk. And tap together.
*I am a rationalist atheist and scientist, so this bit should not be a surprise or shock. If symptoms of disbelief manifest at this point please see my About section here on the site...