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Q: How do I introduce EFT to skeptics?

A: My suggestion is always to build a bridge to people’s current knowledge or understanding. Perhaps the way EFT is first introduced is important: Whether you say it is a relaxation technique, a stress reduction tool, or a therapy technique might be useful depending on who is asking.

Some people want to know about the research and how EFT works. In this case, I highly recommend referring them to the 100+ published studies, particularly the meta-analyses that show EFT has a profound effect for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. A large effect size in a meta-analysis shows that something is actually occurring and it can be observed.

We now have research that shows EFT can downregulate (switch off) genes associated with the stress response and can reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body after one hour of tapping. Brain scans are also showing significantly reduced activation after four weeks of EFT (for food cravings in obese adults). These trials are published in peer-reviewed journals and the EFT Universe website has links to the articles.

I find language is important to many people, particularly skeptics. Not everyone will relate to the old description of EFT as a “meridian-based therapy” that targeted energy systems in the body. Based on the solid science we have now, perhaps a better description would be that EFT is an exposure therapy with a cognitive element, but the part that induces the relaxation response is the somatic tapping on acupoints.

Common evidence-based therapies for conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, and anxiety disorders all use an approach that includes exposure and then relaxation (an opposite response to the anxiety feeling). They will often use muscular relaxation and deep breathing during the exposure phase (e.g., someone has a fear of heights and is at the top of a building looking out the window and, while they are there, does deep breathing to calm themselves). In EFT, we use the tapping process as the calming response.

Approaching it this way tends to result in EFT not being seen as such a different approach; it fits the current paradigm. For more about this, see “Building Bridges from Existing Beliefs to EFT.”

My last tip is that if you have a strong reaction yourself to talking with skeptics or people who question EFT, or even when trying to share how it works, then perhaps using EFT on your own reactions will be useful. I have always found that the calmer I am when a skeptic questions me, the more easily I can access information to share with them that fits their framework.

Peta Stapleton, PhD, Certified EFT Practitioner, Trainer, and Mentor