We seem to have a tendency to look for simple solutions for complex problems. While this strategy often pays dividends, too often we look at solutions for mental and emotional dilemmas in a far-too-simplistic way. “Don’t worry, be happy” is a great catch phrase, but life seldom allows us the luxury of simply flipping a switch and solving our emotional crises. Yet, unusual solutions often prove effective, and, ultimately, often prove to be simple, as well.
One such solution to a variety of anxieties is known as the “tapping method.” Simply tap away your anxiety! The formal moniker for this alternative psychotherapy technique is ETF, or the “emotional therapy technique.” It involves a variation on acupressure techniques, where a patient focuses on the stressors that have stimulated the anxiety, while the therapist applies acupressure to specific areas of the body. In other words, he taps those pressure points while you are experiencing the simulated stress. Alternatively and, perhaps most valuable, is that the patient himself may be able to self-administer these techniques at the moments that he or she is undergoing the actual stress.
Dawson Church, PhD Research Director of the Foundation for Epi Genetic Medicine, is quoted in a CBS article published online on June 12, 2012, as saying of the strategy, “It tells your body that the stressful thought you’re having isn’t a real threat to your survival. And once you break the association in your mind between the stressful thought and the fight or flight response one time, it stays broken.”
Some professionals question whether it as effective as claimed. They postulate that it is simply the act of tapping or being tapped that causes the decreased stress. They point out that tapping other parts of the body, or even tapping a doll decreases stress.
But analysis of stress hormone levels revealed a 24% drop in those hormones after tapping, but no change in a control group.
These conflicting reports raise some questions, but, regardless of the physiological process involved, anxiety sufferers should be heartened by the potential for improvement in what may be a devastating disorder. The issue of what causes what, and whether there is an alternative explanation for “why” is moot, since both groups of researchers agree that the end result is a decrease in stress and anxiety, even where these anxieties have become full phobias or life-altering problems. Whether the problem is as basic as a fear of going on open water in a boat, or a fear of newspaper ink transmitting horrible diseases, the fears are allayed by the tapping method.
Thank goodness for alternative thinking, alternative solutions, and simple concepts that actually work.