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An example of a Support Group Format

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Following on from the blog on 12-11-19 about how to run a successful support group – here is an example of one of my eating disorder groups from a while ago. You can see how structured they are as a guide, but with flexibility built in in case you need it.

A Support Group Example – Topic: Overcoming the Numb Zone

Opening
1. Distribute name tags
2. Enquire as to how everyone’s week went – allow 5-10 minutes “diffusing time”
3. Brief overview of this week’s workshop

Materials Required
1. Handouts provided

Exercise
1. Ask participants to describe in one word how they feel right now

Discussion of the following points:

Common feelings in sufferers of eating disorders tend to be the more negative mood states (depression). Depression is a particular problem in its own right, but is often precipitated in eating disorders sufferers because of electrolyte imbalances (due to periods of starvation and/or bingeing and purging behaviours). There are different ways of dealing with negative mood states.

Step 1 Dealing with and changing your thinking (last week’s session) – become aware of self-defeating thought patterns and challenge yourself with more rationale ones

Step 2 Awareness – recognising your feelings.

Discuss the following in some depth:

• Paying attention to your mood states and changes – when you start to feel sad, gloomy, angry, bored, lonely, tune into what’s happening and how you’re feeling

• Own your feelings – starting to talk about your feelings will help you to own them

• Be alert to your body – this is a clue to your emotions!

• Label your avoidance – keep a lookout for the places, people, activities you used to do but avoid now. Forget about WHY you avoid them – think about WHEN you avoid them

• Think about the times when your confidence disappears – certain times and places?

Homework / Closing

1. Provide participants with the sheet on identifying feelings and instruct them to look at the dictionary meaning of the word listed over the next few weeks
2. Finish with a motivational story

I used to design 12 at a time and have them available to choose from as I went (all groups are different so work out what is important for yours)! Enjoy the journey supporting others and remember you can always ask for supervision from a mentor if you need it.

How to Run a Successful Support Group

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If you have ever had the idea to start a support group in your local area or community, these tips might help the process.

I personally ran weekly support groups in the area of eating disorders, for sufferers and their families, for a period of 8 years.  Those groups and the people who attended taught me a wealth of information, which I want to share with you here today.

Questions to ponder:

1. The first step is to Think About what you want to Accomplish. What are your reasons, visions and purposes behind the group.

2. Do you want the group to be closed (limited numbers) or open (anyone can attend whenever it suits). Will it be a limited series of dates (e.g. 12 week program) or run throughout the year on the same day of the week/month and the same time?

3. What type of leader do you want to be? Are you skilled as an expert in something, and that is what you are offering? Or are you a consumer who wants to facilitate the gathering but not lead it in any way?

My reason was to support people in the larger community who suffered an eating disorder, who might not have been able to attend individual therapy or wanted a group as an adjunct to standard care.

My role was as an expert – the support group I ran was open – anyone could attend, whenever they want. The topic was always set by myself every time we met (which was often weekly, although was fortnightly sometimes over the 8 years), and there was always some type of loose structure to follow. This might have been a topic to talk about (and we went wherever that flowed) or an exercise to engage in.

  1. How will you let people know about the group? Can you access potential people through social media? A Meet-Up forum? Do you want to target specific groups only? Or the general community?
  2. Finally, where will the venue be? Do you need to consider any fees for rental? Or insurance such as public liability (in case someone injures themselves at the venue). Will you charge a nominal fee for attendance, or will it be free? Would refreshments be necessary or expected? How will you handle this?

My groups were all free at attend and no refreshments were provided (although we did have a Christmas breakup every December where everyone bought a plate to share). I approached a local community hall for the venue and they provided it free of charge as the support group was not an income generator.

Rationale for Group Work

Group work enables participants to come together to support one another and create a counterculture where diversity is accepted and competition is challenged. Group situations create a safe forum for the exploration of issues or themes, for some participants perhaps for the first time.

Group situations create an opportunity for participants to develop networks, share common experiences and identify with one another whilst developing strategies for coping.

Support groups may provide a very necessary and unique therapeutic intervention to address isolation, increase knowledge, encourage self-responsibility, enhance confidence, identify feelings and place their concerns within the wider context of life experiences.

The global purposes of any support group may include:

• continued development and documentation of support group
• to co-ordinate and facilitate the skills being taught, in a group setting
• to develop an effective and efficient system for reaching many people

The objectives a support group might be:

• to enhance the understanding of the underlying issues that bring people to the group
• to decrease the experience of isolation, shame and misinformation relating to the group theme
• to enhance participant’s sense of self-esteem and sense of control in their lives
• to enhance participants’ ability to seek support (including individual) that will assist them in their journey

What might your purpose and objectives be?

Practical Steps on the Day

For the very first group (and anytime there are new members), discuss the group rules. You may brainstorm these the first time you start, and take a written note of these rules to draw up and present at each session (e.g. as a poster)

Some Ideas:

• Everyone has the right to speak

• Everyone has the right to pass if they just want to listen

• No one person should dominate the conversation at any given time (facilitator/s excluded)

• When someone is speaking or sharing an experience, they have the right to the rest of the groups’ quiet and respect

• Whilst ideas and behaviours may be critically evaluated, at no time should a participant be personally attacked

• Attendance at groups – is promptness important?

1. Will you sit in a circle? Groups tend to function better this way, rather than classroom style (although an education night might be better as lecture layout)
2. Distribute name tags if needed
3. Make introductions of yourself and any other leaders
4. Discuss the nature of confidentiality if it is appropriate – what are the guidelines around this for your group? Often support groups respect confidentiality, and discussions of personal situations must not be disclosed to others outside the group.
5. Enquire as to how everyone’s week went – allow 5-10 minutes “diffusing time”
6. Give a brief overview of the week’s group topic of choice, if that is the structure
7. Manage the time of the group in case people attending are relying on it finishing on time

Other Ideas for the Support Group

1. Guest speakers are always welcomed – especially with regular groups. It adds variety
2. Does the group need a charter, non-profit status, constitution, governing bylaws? Do you need to seek advice on this?
3. Funding? There are community organizations who offer support groups funding for one off events, or things such as printing costs for handouts
4. Your contact number – if the group requires a contact email address to be monitored or a landline/mobile number to be answered – who will do this?
5. Do you need a referral list of skilled, expert people to hand out if the needs of someone are beyond your expertise? Have that ready to go in case people want to take it
6. Will your group keep a record of attendees details (e.g. demographic information or email addresses?) – this information might be useful if you apply for any type of funding. It could be anonymously completed.
7. Will your group also have a monthly newsletter or online support aspect (e.g. Facebook secret group)

Good luck and be sure to check out our next blog that gives you an example of one of my support groups!

EFT Tapping for Chronic Pain

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“As a clinician who works with people suffering persistent pain, I have had excellent results with EFT for our patients. I have used it for opioid reduction and it has certainly supported my patients through it comfortably with much less withdrawals then a patient not using EFT.  The reduction of pain and anxiety through this modality has certainly given them a fantastic self- management tool as often when they need help it is not often when they can see their clinician.  It has also enabled patients to gain confidence in themselves and to find who they are again beyond their pain.  A most valuable tool to have in one’s treatment toolkit!!”

This comment was left by a health professional at an EFT training – and reminds me of how tapping has been explored many times for pain.

Pain is a very real thing, although medicine still finds it difficult to objectively measure it. Any of us can suggest how strong a pain is in our body, but there doesn’t yet exist a scientific or medical test where a third party could accurately tell us the level of pain we are feeling (e.g. by looking at the brain).

This tells us that pain also has an emotional element, and it influences the impact and severity of what we feel. Did you know that 80% of chronic pain is considered to have psychologically factors involved?

Chronic pain is often associated with a range of physical, psychological, and social risk factors, and is usually described after 3 to 6 months. With an acute injury or similar, the body usually heals within 3 months, so any significant pain after that might highlight something else is happening for the person. After years of pain, the pain tends not to be a signal of damage anymore. And so health professionals look at the emotional factors in the situation.

When people feel emotional pain, the same areas of the brain get activated as when people feel physical pain too. So there seems to be a link between pain and emotions.

When you think about it, the brain is very connected with the rest of the body: there are direct connections from the brain stem and spinal cord to the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Every cell in our body is linked the nervous system and so when there is a physical pain and someone has a feeling about it (e.g. anger or distress), neuro hormones get released to match the feeling.
Research shows that being a negative mood makes pain sensations in the body magnified. And the opposite is true: in healthy volunteers, feeling positive is associated with reduced pain.

So what the take home point? If you experience pain in any shape, and for any reason, then taking note of your feelings will be important. Emotions can magnify or reduce the actual sensation of pain. So changing your feelings may be part of the recovery process.
Make some notes now about your own pain if you have any: where you feel it, when it started, what else was happening in your life at that time, and how you feel about it now. Here are some questions to get you started:

• When did the pain start?
• What was going on in my life at that time?
• Did something specific happen?
• Who was I with at that time?
• Did anyone say or do something that made me really mad?
• What was I feeling at the time?
• Is the pain trying to tell me something? Is there a message I hadn’t seen before?
• Who would you be without this pain? Does that scare you?
• What’s the upside of holding onto this pain? Is the pain serving you, helping you in any way? (Maybe you don’t have to go to the job you hate, or visit your in-laws…)
• What’s the downside of holding onto this pain?

2 Ways to use Tapping for Pain Issues

1. You can tap on the physical sensations of pain for relief (intensity and severity) just introduce some relief. You can simply tap and breathe (tap on each point but just say the words ‘breathe’ or ‘relax’ as you tap – this is to just introduce a physiological calm, rather than address any problem). You can describe the pain in terms of colour (red), feeling (angry), texture (hard), temperature (hot), and density/weight (heavy). So it might look like “this red, angry hard slab in my neck”. After tapping down the intensity, you may then be in a position to start tapping on what is actually happening to cause this pain.
2. Use tapping to explore WHY you have this pain. Have a think about WHEN it started (e.g. there may have been an injury). If there was no injury, think about what was happening in your life at the time the pain started (and even think 6-months prior). You can tap on memories with the Movie Technique in EFT or Matrix Reimprinting.

Always seek the support of a professional and skilled EFT practitioner if you need support with this.

If you want to see where the current research is at and what it means – have a watch here.

New EFT Tapping Research Using Neurofeedback

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New EFT Tapping research is investigating the use of neurofeedback in session, using a comfortable EEG headband called FocusBand. Electroencephalography (EEG) is the measurement of electrical activity produced by the brain.  Neurofeedback trains your brain to function more efficiently, improving mental functioning and emotional stability.

Much like physical training, we use brainwave training to strengthen specific brainwave patterns. The more you practice activating a specific area the stronger and more capable that area becomes.

Brainwaves in proper function run like an orchestra. Nothing too loud, nothing too quiet, with a harmonic beat. Restoring this natural symphony is what we do.

EFT Tapping is one way we can quieten the brain and using this wearable sensory device, get real time feedback on how it is working.

FocusBand is not just an EEG sensing device for measuring your brainwaves. It is a complete Neuro-Performance System for business, sports, wellness and gaming.

1. It is the only brain training system that uses an intuitive Avatar.

2. Proven performance in multiple applications.

3. It offers a complete training blueprint that has been validated on the US PGA Tour.

4. The first to use woven sensors

5. It is the only headset which you can wear while asleep in your bed

6 .It has a video option which syncs to the Avatar in real-time

7. The headset while soft and comfortable is still rugged, so you can run and jump without causing erroneous readings.

8. It is the only system that does not need a cumbersome ear-clip.

So we have partnered with FocusBand to use in our 2020 clinical trials using EFT. Have a watch of the video to see how tapping has an impact on the brain as I demonstrate using it.

You can read more here – this is a tool I believe every health professional could use in their work!

Tapping in Schools

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In my recent book I outlined the research related to EFT Tapping in schools and amongst students.

As you may know, stress and anxiety levels amongst students and their teachers today are at an all time high.  High stress levels have been linked to poor academic results in children, an increase in behavioural issues as well as staff overwhelm.

But the combination of a short-term intervention, easy to master technique, and immediate results contribute to the hypothesis that EFT may be an effective tool for students in classroom situations. It is self-applied so students learn a way to calm themselves without needing someone to direct them.

Daily tapping potentially supports the development of:
• Better focus and concentration,
• An increased sense of calm for students,
• Decreased stress and anxiety, fear of failure and procrastination,
• Improved impulse control,
• Increased self-awareness,
• Skilful responses to difficult emotions and expression of emotions in a self-empowered way,
• Increased empathy and understanding of others,
• Natural conflict resolution skills, and
• Improved academic performance for examinations and assignments.

Daily tapping practice gives students the opportunity to settle and calm themselves and develop focus. It may help them manage difficult thoughts and emotions. Tapping creates space, changing impulsive reactions to thoughtful responses. Students may find it easier to get along with their peers and choose kindness and optimism.

For teachers, it may lead to:

  • A decrease in staff stress, anxiety and overwhelm,
  • Potential improvements in physical and emotional health because of the decrease in stress,
  • Potential rekindling of motivation for teaching, and
  • An increase in happiness, energy and a sense of wellbeing.

Many studies have examined the effects of EFT on test-taking anxiety and depression in students (Church, De Asis, Brooks, 2012), teacher burnout (Reynolds & Walden 2010), anxiety (Andrade & Feinstein 2004), presentation anxiety (Boath et al 2012A) and post-traumatic stress disorder (Karatzias et al 2011). More recently it has been investigated in relation to food cravings, weight loss and psychological wellbeing (Stapleton et al., 2011, 2012, 2013).

This interview below with Christine talks about how Tapping in being used in a school environment and how Christine has used it with Indigenous students. Please enjoy!

You can also explore our online teacher training here.

How to Be More Present this Week

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We have all probably experienced some mornings when you were unaware how things happened – how you woke up and how you got to work. It is truly a natural part of human nature. Actually, according to Dr. Daniel Schacter, absent- mindedness is the second stage in the series of “Seven Sins of Memory” which are memory malfunctions that occur in our everyday life.

Some scientists described absent-mindedness as “action slips” or “mental lapses”. In fact, one out of 7 adults between the age of 18 and 39 suffer from memory lapses. Moreover, psychologists reveal that this happens to us more often than we realize (as much as 30 times a week!)

How does absent-mindedness affect us?

• Difficulty in initiating and finishing tasks
• Complete exhaustion (mind and body)
• Lack of attentiveness, unstable state of mind
• Constant tardiness and poor time management
• Mood swings
• Persistent unpleasant thoughts
• Physical restlessness or impatience
• Poor working memory

These are just some of the possible effects of absent-mindedness. Now, the big question is, how do we reduce it and how can we be more mindful in our everyday life? Try some of these out this week:

Mindful Waking
Take note of this because the early part of the day is essential for your mindfulness throughout the day. Instead of getting up immediately, reflect. Reflect on your quality of sleep, on how you feel, and stretch. It may only take a minute.

Mindful Eating
Whenever you eat this week, focus on eating. Savour each bite, appreciate the smell and taste of the food/drink. This may mean turning off all devices!

Mindful Cleaning
Being mindful in cleaning your house! I am so going to try this.  Whenever you sweep the floor or wash the dishes, take note of the small details.

Mindful Walking
Be mindful of how you feel while walking next time you’re out and about – how good it feels in your feet, in your legs and your whole body. Instead of putting your earphones on, notice the people around you.

Mindful Showering
When you shower/bath, pay attention. Slow down the movements of washing (or use your opposite hand! It will be very different) and see how you feel.

Meditation
Meditation is indeed beneficial and has loads of positive effects (see below). You may have your favourite app, but perhaps explore a new one this week. While we are fans of Dr Joe Dispenza (as we also research and analyse his data so see the benefits of meditating first hand), I have also explored Dr Mike Dow’s  SVT hypnosis recently (it includes some eye movements and binaural beats).

When you stimulate your mind and body through mindfulness and meditation, you are likely to gain benefits such as:
• Improved awareness
• Increased concentration and focus
• Lowered anxiety levels
• Calmness and clarity in thinking and perception
• Reduced risk of depression
• Enhanced stress-handling
• Positive outlook on life and happiness

Here’s to a different week!

Can EFT Tapping Help with Being an Introvert?

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Introversion is not a condition from which you need to recover. Many introverts try to become extroverts and in the process lose themselves and lose sight of the powerful positive traits introverts possess. If you are an introvert, you are in good company: the list includes Leonardo da Vinci, Gandhi, Einstein, and Charles Darwin. Self-proclaimed introverts of today include Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Barack Obama. Annnddddd…. I am an introvert! (Peta)

You might be confused as to whether you are introverted or extroverted. You might identify a great deal with introverts and believe, like many others in the Western World, that being introverted is something to be  ashamed of or embarrassed about – something to fix. Maybe you have even tried to become an extrovert. Or you might be living with an introverted member of the family and would like to learn more about what makes them tick.

You might have, like many of us, picked up the book QUIET by Susan Cain (2012) and were fascinated and enlightened by it but now you don’t know which direction to go to or what to do with the information. We do highly recommend you read the book Quiet, as it gives startling new insights into what introversion is, how the Western world views it and the misunderstandings that arises as result of the general ignorance on this subject.

But what Celina Tonkin and I have done in this new book is outline exactly what is introversion, and how it is different to extroversion. It presents cases of people with shyness, loneliness, withdrawal, panic of public speaking, and more. But offers a way to ease these feelings through EFT Tapping.

An Overview of this Book

Chapter 2 will teach you the full EFT technique, and present more information about where it originated, and the research that is now available about its effectiveness.

Chapter 3 will teach you how to use EFT for Stress. The stress hormone cortisol responds very quickly to EFT and thus we are going to start with this topic. The chapter will talk about typical situations that may cause an introvert to feel stressed (eg speaking in public, social situations) and give you many case studies to read about how to use EFT for this.

Chapter 4 outlines how to use EFT or Other People’s Opinions (affectionately known as OPOs). Other OPOs include the idea that you are cold and aloof, shy or inept. They might also include the notion that you need too much structure or are highly sensitive. All of these topics are covered here and practical tips of how to use EFT for OPOs is included.

Chapter 5 is all about using EFT for success (mainly any internal blocks you may have). These might include things like: it is safer to stay hidden, your focus keeps changing, or you need to find courage and vision. You may want to learn how EFT can be used for overcoming past failures, and finding your own voice in a noisy world.

Chapter 6 is all about using EFT to deal with people everyday, on a practical level. This includes how to make eye contact, how to talk on the telephone, or how to deal with extroverts too. We cover other emotions like guilt and over responsibility in this chapter too. Again there are case studies to read how other people have done it.

Chapter 7 is a great chapter – it is all about how to use EFT for positive things. While we traditionally use a technique like tapping to reduce a negative feeling or level of distress, it can be used to install positive feelings. This chapter will show you how to do that to make it last.

Chapter 8 delves into the world of sleeping better. EFT is an excellent tool to help calm the body for sleep, and even to get you to go back to sleep if you wake during the night. This chapter will present examples of the types of things you might want to focus on in your setup statements.

Chapter 9 will show you other ways to do EFT, especially if you need to be discreet. Often in a public or social setting, you might want to do EFT right then and there – and there are ways to do this. We will talk about other acupoints you can tap on, and also other discreet ways.

Chapter 10 outlines what to do if you feel like EFT isn’t working. This might include things like the rating out of 10 stays high, or you feel worse after tapping. We will discuss how to get to core issues, when to seek expert help, as well as a list of commonly asked questions.

This books wraps with what you can do next. It has an extensive list of resources and further reading, as well as practical tips to learn more about EFT. We truly hope you enjoy reading this book as much as we enjoyed creating it for you.

Paperback and kindle now available through Hay House.

Mental Health Super Summit is almost here!

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Have you ever attended a conference where you decide how much you pay to attend, and all proceeds are donated to charity?

The Mental Health Super Summit is Australia’s largest online conference.

The summit has over 5,000 participants, 15 expert speakers and 15 hours of specialist training. This is all available from your office or at home in real-time and on-demand.

The 2019 Mental Health Super Summit will be delivered via 15 live webinar sessions from Friday 4th October to Sunday 6th October and will continue as an on-demand event (i.e. you can watch recorded versions of the live sessions) until Sunday 27th October. You decide how much you want to pay to attend (from just $50).

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a mandatory requirement for most mental health member associations in Australia. By attending the Summit, you’ll receive a CPD Certificate of Attendance highlighting the 15 hours of learning you’ll have access to. This Certificate can be used towards your annual CPD.

On Saturday October 5th, 2019 I will present Live 1pm – 2pm (AEST) on The Science Behind Tapping: The 4th Wave in Body Based Therapy Approaches.

Register Here and enjoy the summit!

The Low Tox Life Podcast

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I recently had the chance to chat to Alexx, host of the lowtoxlife.com podcast. The concept of living a Low Tox Life is one that rejects perfection, black and white notions only one way to ‘do it right’. Instead, the podcast takes a relaxed and curious approach to better choices to incorporate into our lives as and if they fit. The show covers lots of low tox topics around sustainability, health, fashion, farming, lowering our toxic load and mind happiness.

And I was lucky enough to share on The Science of Tapping and how it can contribute to a low tox life! I hope you enjoy this episode available here Ep 157. Check out the other episodes while you’re there!

Tapping for Children

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Teaching EFT Tapping to children is actually much easier than to adults! They don’t seem to question how and why it works and the physical stimulation of acupressure points appears to make them feel calm quite quickly!

Tapping can be taught to children for things such as:⁠
• stress⁠
• pain⁠
• fear/worry⁠
• bullying⁠
• resilience⁠
• self esteem, and so much more…⁠

Young children tend to enjoy this body based stress technique, because it can be quick and easy, and they can use a bear or puppet to help (see @morganthetappingbear on Instagram) 🐻 ⁠

We have some free handouts available here if you want to get started with a little one today! And these handy posters for the home or work space.

Access Chapter 4 from The Science Behind Tapping here free

EFT researcher and author Peta Stapleton, Ph.D., brings together the history and cutting-edge research of tapping. She also shows how tapping can be used for a whole host of ailments, including anxiety, weight issues, depression, trauma, and more. Dr. Stapleton’s own groundbreaking study involving food cravings in overweight adults helped establish EFT as an effective, valid form of therapy.

Access Chapter 4 below - EFT Tapping for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Thank you! Here is your free chapter.