By Dr. David Lake
“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” (Voltaire)
Much of the confusion relating to results of EFT—and ‘tapping’ generally—is because of the way these results are described—a language problem. An added problem is the intellectual conflict between ‘orthodox’ and ‘natural’ medicine. The end result of this process can be “over-promising” results and a misguided enthusiasm.
It seems likely that the use of tapping will move out into the population via self-help, and spread that way. It won’t necessarily be promulgated by those trained in critical thinking. Most people don’t think scientifically. But it is common sense to talk about what works and what doesn’t, according to experience and training. When you consider that EFT is being used predominantly as self-help then we need some precision in describing what is currently possible to do. Otherwise, “try it on everything” might mean “I should be able to make it work on everything” and if I can’t then it’s my fault.
Here are some definitions from Dictionary.com (my emphases):
TREAT: to deal with (a disease, patient, etc.) in order to relieve or cure.
CURE: a means of healing or restoring to health; remedy; successful remedial treatment;restoration to health.
HEAL: to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment.
ALLEVIATE: to make easier to endure; lessen; mitigate: to alleviate sorrow; to alleviate pain.
Obviously using these words carries a heavy responsibility. There is nothing worse than giving people false hope. Let’s be quite clear what we are doing when we use tapping.
Here are some vague terms often bandied about in the treatment of subtle and complex conditions. Using these might imply to the gullible that you are healing or curing when in fact you are often merely assisting a remedial process to a minor or moderate degree (alleviating). Possibly you are relieving a symptom while the disease process continues unchecked (this is potentially dangerous, especially for head, chest and eye pains). All practitioners could slip up here.
Bear in mind that EFT is not a therapy in itself, it is a technique. The therapeutic aspects of EFT as it has been taught by Gary Craig owe a great deal to NLP (Neurolinguistic programming) which in turn is derived from the work of Milton Erickson and others such as Frank Farrelly. They were trained in basic psychological medicine, hypnotherapy, groupwork and psychotherapy, at length).
How many orthodox practitioners realise that when patients go to alternative practitioners it is often because they want to feel empowered and capable of helping manage their own conditions? And that ordinary people can’t distinguish between snake oil and science much of the time? That they don’t understand modern medicine at all? That taking modern drugs seems the ‘wrong’ thing to do, especially antibiotics (even when needed) or antidepressants (sometimes a complex issue involving self-criticism and blame). Often it seems that medical statements by doctors are so qualified and hedged and statistical that it seems there is little certainty of a good outcome when in fact the chances might be excellent! Statistics apply only to groups and not necessarily to any individual.
While the world of evidence-based medicine can be restrictive and rigid because of the actual lack of such evidence, at least the treatment protocols are put to the test with more than anecdotal evidence. Since it has taken several decades for enough evidence for relaxation therapy to enter this framework, I don’t think EFT is going to make it any time soon! This is because there is relatively little formal evidence that there is any scientific basis for tapping. This doesn’t bother me too much as long as it is safe and effective within its own limits.
On the other hand, ignorance of the basic condition and of past efforts by those in other fields, compounds the problem. This is a mistrust of the best aspects of science, evidence-gathering and ‘critical thinking’ skills. In other words, an opposition to orthodox medical approaches. How many alternative practitioners in the ‘psychological’ area—using EFT freely— have looked at, or even know of, a book called the DSM 4 (a descriptive book on psychological disorders and presentations)? I often get blank looks when I mention it. How many of these practitioners have a grounding in any formal therapy? How many people comment on the treatment of depression without ever qualifying their comments to distinguish between types or grades of depression? The basics are important.
Both branches of medicine can help. Read Dr William E. Hablitzel’s new book “12 Secrets For Healing” if you want to know more (see http://www.storiesandhealing.com/).
I think the truth is quite suitable as a starting point in assessing and delivering EFT results. Gary Craig frequently says (words to the effect) in his teaching materials that: “we don’t know if it can help…but let’s give it a try!” I encourage everybody to do this— and then assess the results. There are countless examples of the body’s innate ability to heal, and tapping contributes to this strongly, in my opinion. Words and language are very important here as they can go directly to the positive or negative beliefs we have, both as practitioner and sufferer. When a serious illness (cancer, multi-system disease, degenerative conditions) is present, and you wish to use tapping to heal, here is the truth in a single sentence:
“With every serious condition there is always a group of people that do well; to be in that group, and stay in that group, there are many helpful things you need to learn, and using tapping is one of the better ones”.
It is the therapeutic aspects of using any technique that are just as important as the practical outcome; the subtle communication of optimism and hope, the relational aspects for the client of being heard, understood and even accepted, the possibilities of change and improvement (avoiding the feeling of helplessness), the mutual aim, the connection and empathy, the harnessing of the healing process in a special environment, for example. Some would call it a spiritual endeavour. But this is another subject.
What do you think? We would love to read your comments…