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Tapping into Complex Issues: An Appeal for Common Sense

By Dr. David Lake

Probably the most powerful application for tapping (or meridian stimulation therapy) is in the treatment of anxiety. Unfortunately, tapping does not seem to deliver the same result when treating what looks to be anxiety in different people. This is because what looks like the cause of the symptoms could be many different things. Anxiety is a universal human emotion however common sense says that there are a range of symptoms and that all people are not the same.

I make a plea for thorough assessment before applying techniques such as EFT or SET (Simple Energy Techniques). This is essential when symptoms are severe. That way, you might pick up the presence of underlying depression, which is a notorious “driver” of severe anxiety. You might also find the tendency to panic disorder, or to phobic anxiety, or the presence of a generalized anxiety disorder. Most people suffering personality disorders and more severe mood disorders also have anxiety. Then there is obsessive-compulsive disorder and its minor varieties. All these conditions require individualized approaches. If this is starting to sound like diagnosing the symptoms—you’re correct!

I think it is fudging the issue of effectiveness to imply that techniques do work equally well on everything when so obviously they don’t. It is up to us, the practitioners, to discover the facts and to investigate them. I notice a great reluctance in the new field to apply critical thinking, or even scientific thinking, to what we notice after using the techniques.

Energy Psychology techniques are now popular but the ‘psychology” part of the label has passed many practitioners by. I think it’s because the technique is thought of as the whole treatment. And if the practitioner has no knowledge of the world of therapy they are going to make some basic and avoidable mistakes. There is a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which collates symptoms and conditions but very few “alternative” practitioners seem to have read it.This ignorance will eventually bring the wonderful energy techniques into disrepute since they will be misapplied while “trying (them) on everything”. Severe problems may go unrecognized or passed off as due to “psychological reversal”. The main person to suffer will, of course, be the client.

What’s wrong with having a colleague from the orthodox profession do an assessment in order to find out what the more severe problems might be? Both sides can work together rather than each thinking in black and white ways. It might even help doctors and psychologists learn more about what seems “too far out” (of their paradigm) to use or respect.

Since psychological reversal is just a fancy term for the blocking belief or issue underlying the failure to go further during treatment, then surely it is the next problem and can be treated as such? This is the approach in SET. Note that no amount of treating the presumed psychological reversal in addictions or severe depression will do very much in most cases. There is no magic in tapping on any particular points and stating clever phrases about the reversal in my experience. This means that such issues are very deep-seated—not that energy reversals become the focus. A multi-level and thorough therapeutic approach which includes tapping is needed. Tapping alone is not going to be the main treatment.

It is even more poignant to imagine that anxiety symptoms can be treated comprehensively using self-help alone. This is quite true for minor conditions and symptoms, where tapping is ideal. But the life issues of loss and loneliness will never be healed by a technique alone. The great faiths and the love of a family and community is what humans have always used and needed for living well through what life dishes up.

Let’s practice realistic and appropriate help while keeping an open mind.

4 thoughts on “Tapping into Complex Issues: An Appeal for Common Sense”

  1. Thanks for this useful if controversial post, as I do agree that the training provision for EFT is woefully inadequate to successfully treat a lot of the more complex issues. Some understanding of psychotherapy, NLP, hypnotherapy, and just plain basic counselling skills have all stood me in very good stead in my work and I wouldn’t consider working without them.

    EFT can be very simple and the training doesn’t take long. But we need to remember that people are complex – endlessly so – thank goodness for which.

    The most useful concept I have come across, and all my work is based on this tenet, is to treat the individual and NOT the symptoms. The problem with diagnosis, is that it often puts people into boxes. They can then go and look at lots of information about how difficult their condition is to treat, and a whole load of new and powerful writing goes on their walls.

    I like the freshness of the approach of “try it on everything”, but how the treatment plan is explained to clients is all-important. I work within a counselling framework using short-term contracts and regular reviews to ensure that we have time to look at what is coming up that wasn’t evident when the client first presented for treatment. It seems useless to me to promise results within a given time frame, as that just makes for more problems later when further work that would be really beneficial for the client is deemed necessary.

    The concept of ecology checks is also something I wouldn’t be without – does somebody have an appropriate support network to even begin the work planned? Without that, or without sufficient ego strength, we are sending clients over the top to face a barrage of missile fire without adequate protection.

    Good post and I look forward to reading the hopefully controversial responses.
    Thank you for raising this issue.

  2. David,
    Thanks for this point of reason. I always thought the “try it on everything” mantra was pretty irresponsible. There are symptoms that do require a multi-level therapeutic approach and I think a practitioner does a disservice to his/her client when he or she is unable to make that distinction.

    Partnering with a professional that has the legal authority to diagnosis provides the client with a more comprehensive treatment plan and a quicker path to healing. Everyone benefits with this type of collaboration.

    Tapping is a great tool and many of my clients use it successfully but it is not a cure-all.

  3. Shelley Malka Ph.D

    Dear Dr. Lake
    Thank you for your most helpful article. Would you not consider publishing this on emofree? I think it would help paint a far more realistic picture, even for seasoned EFTers who, from time to time MUST feel intimidated by “everyone else’s successes” – even complete newcomers, no matter how far out. Not that these successes don’t exist – they do. But as you put it so well, “it’s fudging the issue of effectiveness to imply that techniques do work equally well on everything when so obviously they don’t.” Anyone who has had significant experience with EFT will testify to that. I think your plea for more knowledge of the therapy world is not only justified but essential – and one doesn’t have to be a certified psycholgist for this. I have never heard of the book you recommend and intend to order it immediately. I have often heard therapists outside of EFT argue against the “lay” use of EFT for precisely this reason. If nothing else, suggesting this obviously important text on a website such as emofree can onlly benefit the EFT community.
    Many thanks again for your article. I have seen you on Gary’s DVD’s and have been most touched by your gentleness, your wit and your warmth.
    Wishing you continued success
    Shelley Malka (AAMET Level 3 practitioner)

  4. this makes alot of sense. I am very ill with environmental illness. allergic, reacting to everything., I been working with an eft pract. for 3months. I don”t feel any better. I cannot do eft by myself because my symptoms get severe( muscles tightening, anxiety, throat closing,} any suggestions? i have heavy metals in my body, Hoshimoto’ s disease. I cannot detox because of my reactions. any suggestions would help.
    my email [email protected]

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