I believe EFT Tapping enjoys 3 features that distinguish it as a 4th wave therapy: It is a true mind-body approach in that it includes direct interventions at the level of the body; it changes brain activity very rapidly; and it has special advantages in quickly and permanently shifting outdated emotional learnings. Let’s look at these features in depth.
- A Somatic Intervention. Therapists who are effective in working with people who have been traumatized have long recognized that talk therapies are not enough for healing the damage that is caused by abuse and catastrophe. The title of an influential paper and subsequent book, The Body Keeps the Score, by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk underlines this point. The physiological changes to the body and brain following trauma become “encoded in the viscera” and require treatments that “engage the safety system of the brain before trying to promote new ways of thinking.” Effective therapies for severe trauma must address the body as well as the mind, and being able to do so is a great strength of somatic therapies. It is not just tapping on the skin that makes EFT a somatic intervention. Tapping initiates a cascading series of events in the brain and body that, as you will see below, impact hormone production, brain waves, blood flow within the brain, and gene expression in ways that enhance emotional health. And tapping has this impact not just for treating trauma but also in addressing everyday anxieties, upsets, and goals.
- Rapid Results. A decade-long research program at Harvard Medical School looking at what happens in the body when various acupoints are stimulated found that certain points almost instantly decrease the activation of the stress response in the brain. This research is described in more detail below, but suffice it to say that with elevated stress responses being part of many emotional disorders, the capacity to rapidly reduce them is a cornerstone in the speed and effectiveness of EFT. You will also see that EFT seems to require fewer sessions than more conventional therapies for equivalent outcomes.
- Enhanced Information Processing. David Feinstein’s paper “How Energy Psychology Changes Deep Emotional Learnings” builds on the way the speed with which tapping (a central feature of “energy psychology”) sends deactivating signals to the brain. This rapid response combines with the brain’s capacity to reprogram itself through a process called “memory reconsolidation.” The outcome is that unhealthy responses to triggers, such as to the tone of your boss’s voice, can be rapidly and permanently eliminated. Because much of the human experience involves responding to what life presents, being able to make shifts that promote healthier emotional responses and behaviors helps in overcoming a broad spectrum of emotional problems and also helps you to live a more successful and fulfilling life.
These three qualities come together to make EFT unusually rapid and effective in comparison with first-, second-, and third-wave therapies.
To read more, head over to The Science Behind Tapping.
Feinstein, David. “How energy psychology changes deep emotional learnings.” The Neuropsychotherapist 10 (January 2015): 1–11.