Happy Latinas

Distressed? Try tapping.

A study from Colombia shows it works

In late 2021, the World Journal of Biology Pharmacy and Health Sciences published a study by Fernando Vicente Barraza-Alvarez from the University of Cordoba in Colombia. It examined psychological measures of 14 women working in a childcare center in Texcoco, Mexico. Without a doubt, the study found that Thought Field Therapy (TFT) reduced subjective distress (SUDs) from a high of eight, nine or ten on a ten-point scale, all the way to zero – Z E R O. Callahan’s thought field therapy in the management of emotions associated with stress is a small study. But, with its graphics and clear procedural explanations, it provides a compelling story of how quickly and efficiently TFT can help people who are distressed feel better.

The theory: how tapping could help people who are distressed

The study took place at Universidad Autónoma Chapingo in Texcoco, Mexico. As a matter of fact, this university is internationally renowned for its defense of, and research into, complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies. These modalities, including TFT, fill an important need for cultural openness and sensitivity as well as patient/client choice. TFT is appealing because it is rapid, noninvasive, economical, easy to learn, and can be used both therapeutically and as a self-help tool. With this in mind, researchers wondered if TFT could help distressed women address a variety of mental health issues.

The study setup

Fourteen women participated in the study. They were childcare workers at a nearby center, aged 19 to 47. They were distressed because of anxiety, fear, obsession, or rejection. The data were self-report, using a 10-point scale. This was a simple pre-post study, with measures taken before and after treatment with TFT. The women also wrote about their experiences, adding qualitative data to the results.

For treatment, they used specific tapping sequences for their various complaints, as well as the 9-gamut and “brain gymnastics” (brain gymnastics is tapping accompanied by slow, vertical eye movement) sequences.

The tapping sequences were as follows:

  • obsession: collar bone, under eye, collar bone (3 women)
  • fear: under arm, under eye, collar bone (4 women)
  • anxiety: under eye, under arm, collar bone (5 women)
  • rejection: eyebrow, under eye, under arm, collar bone (2 women)

Study results

Quantitative data:

All the women experienced complete relief from their distress. In other words, their scores went down to a zero out of ten using the self-rating SUD scale.

Researchers also questioned the women about three features of TFT: Was it rapid? Was it effective? Was it believable? In every case, the variables were near the maximum score of five (out of five) for all features, using the Likert-type scale created for these measures.

Qualitative data:

Some of the comments the women wrote regarding their TFT experience:

  • “I felt relaxed and in a better state of health.” (Fear)
  • “Now I have a lot of courage.” (Obsession)
  • “I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.” (Anxiety)
  • “I no longer care about some people’s criticisms and attacks towards me. This was so sudden, and I already feel free.” (Rejection)

Cultural sensitivity

Barraza-Alvarez notes that medical systems are “enriched by the ethnic and cultural diversity of communities.” Complementary approaches work to balance the mind, body, and soul. But mainstream Western practitioners often reject these approaches. Today, increasing cultural sensitivity and sharing information lead people increasingly to seek CAM approaches. These approaches work well alongside mainstream methods. Indeed, the two models – Western and CAM – can be complementary, rather than antagonistic.

Why this study matters

The present study builds on the research base supporting TFT, the “father” of all of today’s tapping techniques. Roger Callahan, with TFT, was the first to use acupoint tapping in Western psychological treatment. We all can share a moment of gratitude to him, and to all those who have worked to further the field through research and practice. When we use techniques like this, in short, we are healing the world.

Want to learn more about TFT? Check out ACEP’s TFT training course, taught by Suzanne Connolly. If you are distressed and want to explore tapping to reduce your distress, contact me.


thymus thump. Use when you're feeling groggy.

Feeling groggy? Try this.

If you’re feeling groggy and want to learn how to revive, you’re in the right place. This blog teaches you an easy tool you can use right now to help you wake up.

One of the fastest and most effective ways to become awake and alert when you're feeling groggy is to use the Thymus Thump. This is a simple body-based technique that helps you increase your life-force energy. It was developed by Energy Psychology pioneer John Diamond. Practice the technique right now by watching the video below and following along. You can also download written instructions in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

How it Works

Simply tap on the middle of your chest, using a closed fist. It's even better when you plaster a smile on your face while doing it. Give it a try! Then notice how your body feels both before and after you use the technique. This technique is just one of many you can use to increase the flow of energy and feel more awake and alert.

Why It Works

By using energy psychology techniques like the Thymus Thump, you are interacting with your body's energy system. When you use the Thymus Thump, you are increasing the flow of energy through your system. This allows you to feel awake and alert, quickly and easily. The technique is also helpful if you feel anxious or panicky, and will help you after a shock or trauma.

More Techniques to help when you are feeling groggy

If you found the Thymus Thump helpful, here are a few more tools you can use to increase your energy: Four Thumps and Heel Shock Release. ACEP's Humanitarian Committee created all the videos in the "try this" series to help people heal by spreading the word about the powerful effects of energy psychology techniques. I invite you to help by sharing this information!

If you want to learn to use tools like this to help manage your feelings, contact me.

Video Resources Provided by the ACEP Humanitarian Committee

The mission of the ACEP Humanitarian Committee is to develop and implement humanitarian projects that alleviate emotional distress caused by catastrophic natural and man-made events around the globe. We do this by encouraging and assisting ACEP members in developing humanitarian projects that utilize recognized energy psychology and other modalities that meet ACEP’s standards and guidelines. Learn more here.


Man on mountain top

Healing sexual abuse with EP tools

Research shows Energy Psychology tools are effective in healing sexual trauma

By John Freedom and Sarah Murphy

Sexual violence is one of the greatest traumas a human can experience.  It affects millions of Americans, leaving lasting effects on functioning and wellbeing. It is notoriously difficult to address using conventional talk therapy. Moreover, the research on conventional talk therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for sexual violence is poor, with high dropout rates and only modest gains. Clearly, we need tools for healing sexual abuse. Research shows that energy psychology tools such as EFT may fit the bill.

Background

Sexual violence affects more than one third of women worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Men can also experience sexual violence; the rates are difficult to determine due to underreporting, according to the United Nations. More than one half the time, people are sexually assaulted by someone they know. Moreover, there is such a stigma of guilt and shame, where many victims blame themselves for what happened.

Energetic and somatic therapies are particularly effective at addressing trauma. Therefore, it stands to reason that they would be effective in addressing the trauma of sexual violence. EP has demonstrated efficacy with traumatized populations. Recently, Feinstein (2021) found that almost all – 77 of 79 – studies that included long-term follow-up found participant gains held over time, demonstrating how powerful and effective these techniques can be.

Research overview: Studies show EP helpful in healing sexual abuse

Clearly, we need for effective therapeutic tools to help people who have experienced sexual abuse. Thankfully, there is hope: EP techniques might fill that need. Clinicians who are interested in incorporating EP in their work with survivors of childhood sexual abuse may find this article particularly relevant. Our hope is that the results can provide guidelines for therapists considering incorporating these techniques into their practices. This article explores what the research tells us so far:

Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse:

The first study we will explore was done by Kirsten Schulz (2009). She evaluated the experiences of 12 therapists (with a minimum of ten years’ experience) who had integrated EP into their treatments for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  In this qualitative study, the researcher explored the therapists’ experiences with their clients. The therapists reported that using EP with their clients who had experienced childhood sexual abuse was helpful because:

  • EP does not require clients to talk about their trauma,
  • EP reliably reduces trauma without having the client re-experience distress,
  • After EP therapy, clients can discuss core issues without discomfort,
  • EP techniques are the most effective treatment for anxiety disorders, and
  • Finally, the rapid rate of healing can affect treatment goals.

Sexual assault-specific PTSD:

For our second study we will discuss the findings of Anderson, Rubik and Absenger (2019). They explored the effectiveness of combining EFT and Hypnosis in the treatment of sexual assault-specific post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.  This study was conducted in a private psychotherapy office and utilized a sequential mixed methods design.

In this study, participants were 30 individuals with self-identified sexual assault-specific PTSD. The investigators used the PCL-5 (PTSD Checklist – 5), which is a standard assessment for measuring symptoms of PTSD.

After treatment, researchers found an overall decrease of 34.3% on PTSD symptom severity based on PCL-5 assessment scores. All this, after just four sessions of the combined EFT and hypnosis treatment.

Survivors of Sexual Violence

The third study for our purposes was done by Nemiro and Papworth (2015). Here, the researchers explored the effectiveness of two therapies, CBT and EFT, in the treatment of sexual violence in the Congo.

Fifty internally displaced female refugees participated in the study. All were survivors of sexual gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the outset, they completed the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ) and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist–25 (HSCL-25), which measures general mental health. After that, for treatment, they received two, 2 ½ hour group treatment sessions per week for 4 consecutive weeks (eight sessions total).

Assessments occurred before and after treatment, and 6 months later. Participants demonstrated significant posttest improvement on both measures for both groups. Furthermore, follow-up assessments showed that both groups maintained their gains over time.

Hope. And a new paradigm for healing sexual abuse?

To sum up: trauma is difficult to talk and think our way out of. When we have experienced trauma, we need tools that can help us heal. EP offers a set of tools that help us do just that. As these ideas become more widely known, EP methods will come increasingly into the mainstream. When this happens, we will be able to help many people in healing sexual abuse.

Finding Recovery and Empowerment from Abuse (FREA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to teach self-help tools and skills empowering people in recovery from abuse. You can learn more about FREA here.

If you would like to work with me to heal from issues like this, contact me.

Author bios:

John Freedom, CEHP, is author of Heal Yourself with Emotional Freedom Technique. He serves as the chair of ACEP's research committee and as the executive director of FREA. In addition, he leads trainings and events throughout the US and in Europe.

Sarah Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and nationally certified counselor with more than 15 years of clinical experience. She is Communications Committee Chair for ACEP and serves on its board. She is in private practice and is staff therapist for Unite for HER.


Energetic woman

EFT helps reduce fatigue

Another study makes the point

A study by Ghaderi, Nazari and Shaygannejad, published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research explored the effects of EFT on fatigue in women with multiple sclerosis. Fatigue is one of the many symptoms that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience. It has a tremendous impact on quality of life, so treatments to address it are important. In the present study, women in the tapping group had less fatigue than those in a sham tapping comparison group. These results add to the growing body of evidence supporting EFT for physical as well as psychological issues. Indeed, EFT helps reduce fatigue in women with MS.

Background

One symptom of multiple sclerosis is fatigue, which can be chronic and debilitating.  About 2.8 million people around the world have MS, including as many as one million in the US alone.  MS prevalence has increased in every world region since 2013; females are twice as likely to be afflicted as males. Multiple Sclerosis usually presents at a highly productive stage of life when people are planning families and building careers, and thus can have a significant impact on affected individuals, their families and society. A growing arsenal of treatments offers opportunities to reduce disability1 and extend survival2 of people with MS; however, a cure is still lacking and the etiology of the disease remains unknown.

The study setup

Researchers from the MS Clinic of Ayatollah Kashani Hospital in Isfahan, Iran randomized 50 women  with MS into two groups.  Twenty-five women received 30 minute sessions of EFT twice a week for four weeks, while the control group received two group sessions of tapping on sham (false) points for the same period. The women completed the Fatigue Severity Scale before, immediately after and 4 weeks after the intervention.

Study results: EFT helps reduce fatigue

There was a significant reduction in fatigue in the EFT group compared to the sham group, both immediately after and at the 4-week followup, p<.001. The researchers concluded: “It seems that EFT is effective in diminishing fatigue among patients with MS, and is recommended as a convenient and safe non-medicament strategy for self-management of fatigue.

Why this study matters

Note that both the EFT and the sham/control groups were active tapping groups.  Had the researchers used a standard of care or a wait-list control, the difference between groups would likely have been larger and more significant.  This study also shows that tapping acupoints is an important component of EFT. Some critics have challenged this idea.  Meridian tapping is unique among psychotherapies in relieving both psychological and physiological symptoms, shedding light on the mind-body connection.

Professional Training in Tapping

Are you a medical professional looking to add energy psychology skills to your clinical practice in order to help patients like these? ACEP offers training in EFT and Comprehensive Energy Psychology for medical professionals. To learn more, check out our training calendar and certification programs. If you would like to use EFT to help your mental health issues, contact me.


studies show energy psychology works

Studies that support energy psychology: a review of methods used by lay counselors

If you are like me, you like to know about studies that support energy psychology - the approaches we are using! This blog explains findings of a study of energy methods used by lay counselors in areas that were affected by man-made and natural disasters.

The Bulletin of the World Health Organization published a systematic review and meta-analysis of mental health interventions by lay counselors. Suzanne Connolly, a Thought Field Therapy (TFT) practitioner, trainer, and researcher, and ACEP member, led the research team, which included Jan Warner and Jenny Edwards. She investigated various mental health interventions used around the world, particularly in areas with poor mental health infrastructure. Results showed that professionally trained lay counselors who use these methods create significant improvements in mental health. Overall, among the interventions studied, TFT performed well, receiving medium to high effect sizes in a shorter time with faster training.

Study methods

Connolly and her colleagues searched published literature for randomized controlled studies of mental health services delivered by laypeople that were trained by professionals. The studies measured a variety of mental health concerns. All of the studies were published between 2000 and 2019. Of the 19 studies identified, ten were conducted in Africa and nine in Asia.

The studies covered a variety of conditions.

  • 13 studied PTSD
  • 3 studied depression
  • 2 studied alcohol dependence
  • 1 studied mixed depression and anxiety

The techniques used included

  • CBT: 6 studies
  • Behavior therapy and psychoeducation: 6 studies
  • TFT: 3 studies
  • Narrative exposure therapy (NET): 2 studies
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy: 2 studies

The time it took to train the lay counselors varied widely, ranging from just two days (TFT) for the shortest, and one year (classroom-based CBT) for the longest. Significantly, there was a wide variety in treatment duration varied widely as well. The shortest duration of treatment again was in the TFT studies, which lasted one day; the longest was the classroom-based CBT, which included 15 sessions. The largest study included nearly 1000 participants, using interpersonal therapy to treat depression; the smallest was another interpersonal therapy study to treat PTSD and included just 20 participants.

Study results

The effect of the various modalities varied widely as well. Hedge's g determined effect size. Overall, therapies delivered by professionally trained lay counselors had a medium effect size, suggesting that this is indeed a viable way to bring mental health treatment to areas in need.

Fourteen of the 20 studies trials found significant effects. Of those, three found small effects; six found medium effects; and five found large effects. Six studies found no effect. Among all the studies, the TFT studies fared comparatively well, with two having large effect sizes and one having a medium effect size.

Why this matters

There is a shortage of mental health workers in the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The problem comes into stark relief in the aftermath of natural or manmade disasters. Because of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended enlisting community members to bridge this gap. While the goal of the study was to demonstrate the effectiveness of therapies delivered by professionally trained lay counselors, the data also show that TFT produces impressive results with the shortest amount of training and treatment time.

A win for energy psychology

Of the 19 studies included in the analysis, three used the energy psychology technique TFT. As can be seen, TFT delivered solid results in just one day of treatment delivered after just two days of training. Accordingly, this positions TFT well as a relatively easy to learn and implement, effective strategy to address mental health issues in lower- and middle-income countries where there is a lack of robust mental health infrastructure. This study also adds to the list of studies that support energy psychology.

If you'd like to learn TFT, you can study with Suzanne Connolly herself in ACEP's online TFT training.. If you would like to use energy-based methods like this in your own healing, contact me.


cells

Stress-inflammation-disease: A molecular story

This blog is partly the story of how stress acts on a molecular level to increase our chances of getting cancer and of cancer progression. The more important part is the story of how de-stressing might help our immune systems function better and help to improve our health. Research from the field of psychoneuroimmunology – psychology, neurology, and disease – helps us to understand, in a practical way, how stress affects our bodies. Understanding the stress-inflammation-disease cycle can empower us to heal. In deepening our understanding of what is happening in our bodies, perhaps we can thoughtfully harness our mind-body-spirit approach and use it to our advantage.

Inflammation: A molecular story

We have heard a lot about inflammation and disease. But what exactly is inflammation, and why is it harmful? Inflammation happens in our bodies, and it’s not all bad. In fact, inflammation is vital for healing; it’s how our bodies fight disease and repair damage. The problem is with chronic inflammation. This increases the risk of a variety of diseases.

A group of chemical messengers called cytokines play an important role in inflammation. Cytokines are secreted by cells to regulate the body’s immune response. When a cell secretes a cytokine, that cytokine binds to other cells. The receiving cells carry out activities based on the cytokine’s message. These activities can include cell inflammation, growth (proliferation), and death (apoptosis).

Cytokines and inflammation

Some cytokines cause inflammatory responses. Immune system cells typically secrete these cytokines. It works like this: when a cell is injured by bacteria, trauma, toxins, etc., it releases chemicals which cause fluid to enter the cells; this signals the immune system to repair damaged tissue and fight infections.

When our bodies are functioning well, cytokines are rapidly released at the area of infection, which causes inflammation. The inflammation calls other immune system cells to come to the area for repair or to fight infection. When the crisis is over, anti-inflammatory cytokines come to the site to counteract pro-inflammatory activity and calm the immune response. Our bodies need to have a healthy balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. An imbalance leads to chronic inflammation and diseases like cancer.

Types of cytokines

There are several subsets of cytokines. One of these are interleukins, which play an important role in inflammation. They also regulate cell growth. Researchers have been investigating the role of interleukins in cancer. The pro-inflammatory interleukins IL-1 and IL-6 seem to play roles in breast cancer tumor growth, as does the anti-inflammatory IL-4. Another cytokine that is important in cancer tumor growth and apoptosis is Tumor Necrotic Factor alpha (TNF α). Type II Interferon or IFNγ is a cytokine that activates macrophages, the large white blood cells that gobble up infections and unhealthy cells; IFNγ is also implicated in cancer.

Cytokines are produced by certain T lymphocytes (a kind of white blood cell). Th1 lymphocytes produce the cytokines IL-1β, IL-2, IL-12, TNF-α, and IFN-γ, which are associated with fighting infections. Th2 lymphocytes produce the cytokines IL-4, IL-5, and IL-10, which are associated with tumor growth and metastases. Chronic stress and inflammation seem to lead to a dampening of the production of Th1 lymphocytes and the anti-inflammatory cytokines they produce, and an overproduction of Th2 lymphocytes and the inflammatory cytokines they produce. However, it’s not a simple, too-many-inflammatory/not-enough-anti-inflammatory cytokine equation. The system is complex, and each cytokine can, paradoxically, help or harm tumor growth.

It’s not all about the genes: The role of RNA

The “maybe good news, maybe bad news” effect of these cytokines is probably the result of the complex micro-environment in which they exist. However, one common denominator seems to be the action of these cytokines on the transcription of ribonucleic acid, or RNA. RNA is the stuff inside all cells that allows for protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is essential for life; making protein is important because proteins give our bodies their structure and allow us to metabolize food, repair and rebuild tissue, maintain fluid balance, and regulate pH.

RNA helps produce, or synthesize, the proteins; DNA holds all the instructions for producing them. The instructions are part of our genetic code, contained in the double-helix string of paired molecules, or nucleotides, inside the nuclei of our cells.

RNA in action

RNA carries out the instructions, creating proteins in a process called transcription. First, DNA’s double helix splits at the transcription site. Next, proteins (transcription factors) and enzymes (RNA polymerase) bind to and copy the material in the DNA strand, thus creating a single strand copy of the gene. This strand moves outside the nucleus and into the cytoplasm, over to the ribosomes (the factory of the cells) where it binds with more RNA and certain amino acids to create proteins – including cytokines.

While we often focus on DNA and our genes as the source of illness, that is not the entire story. The problem could occur at the RNA transcription level. Even when DNA is correctly sequenced, RNA might make changes that allow for tumor growth and proliferation. There is a specific transcription factor, nuclear factor kappa-beta, which regulates several cytokines including interleukins and TNF. It seems that errors in this transcription process are at play in the process by which chronic inflammation can cause disease.

The HPA axis: Stress and immune function

The hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis helps our bodies respond to stress. Neurons from the hypothalamus (a part of your brain’s emotional or limbic system) send signals to the pituitary body, which is often called the master gland. Then, the pituitary secretes a hormone called ACTH that signals the adrenals to release the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes a release of glucose in the blood and raises our heart rate and blood pressure.

We have all felt the effects of cortisol. When we are frightened, it, along with adrenaline, gives us that rush. When we are stressed or anxious about something, it gives us that uneasy feeling. Remember being a kid listening to a scary story: even if it was for fun, your brain’s hypothalamus sent signals to your pituitary body, asking it to release ACTH. That hormone went to your adrenal glands, all the way down by your kidneys, and asked them to release cortisol. The cortisol flowed into your blood stream, increasing your blood pressure and heart rate; it also made your blood sugar levels increase so you would have energy to run away. You were ready to run, even though the scary story was just for fun. A well-functioning HPA axis is even more useful when the stress you face is real.

Stress: The good, the bad, and the ugly

However (and thankfully) most of the time our stress is not really an imminent threat. Our modern stressors are less likely caused by the bear in the woods than by thinking about and relating to ongoing stressful things like horrible bosses, dysfunctional relationships, health concerns, or dwindling bank accounts. These stresses tend to be chronic, and they are not good for us.

When we experience chronic stress, our HPA axis can be come dysregulated. Instead of a short-term burst of cortisol, we have chronically elevated levels; overtime, the levels become depleted, so we don’t have store available during a crisis. Generally, chronic stress seems to lead to an elevated level of cortisol, with its resultant increase in blood sugar and cardiovascular activation. In some cases, chronic stress, especially the kind experienced during childhood, seems to decrease the availability of ACTH and cortisol when needed. In both cases, an inefficient stress response leads to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of disease.

Circling back to the cytokines: Chronic psychological stress and the cortisol it releases seem to cause our bodies to produce more Th2 cells than Th1 cells. This imbalance might cause our bodies to produce more of the cytokines that are associated with tumor growth and metastasis. Again, there is not a simple causal relationship between these cytokines and every kind of cancer risk. In some cases, a correlation seems to be at play.

About those genes: BRCA, cortisol, and cancer

We have all heard of the BRCA mutations, which increase the risk of developing breast and gynecologic cancers. BRCA genes are important in DNA repair and apoptosis. Some studies, like this one, have shown that, when cortisol levels are high, cells do not efficient repair damage and they experience increased oxidative stress. The same study found that women who had elevated cortisol levels were more likely to develop cancer. Other studies have shown that BRCA1 is downregulated when exposed to high cortisol levels, making it less efficient at repair and apoptosis. Stress seems to directly impact the function of BRCA. Indeed, stress could be the link that connects this gene to the development of breast cancer.

Hope

In this blog, we explored a world of microscopic interactions which seem come together to increase our likelihood of getting cancer. While researchers are learning more, we clearly have not figured out the whole picture. What seems to be at play is a combination of events: exposure to a carcinogen, a genetic predisposition, faulty RNA, an imbalanced immune system, stress and the HPA axis dysregulation with its consequent hormonal exposure – all of these paint part of a picture of what might have gone awry.

What can we do about it now? We have seen how stress seems to be directly related to disease progression; might de-stressing help stop or slow disease progress? We understand the anti-stress benefits of meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and some forms of talk therapy. Research is underway, demonstrating the effectiveness of various practices in slowing disease progress. Now is the time to hold up hope for ourselves and our community as we harness the mind-body-spirit connection to increase our wellness and improve our health outcomes.

If you want to learn some techniques to reduce stress, check out these body-based tools, and HeartMath's Quick Coherence Technique. If you want to set up a session to work on the underlying issues, contact me!


stress blowout

Feeling angry? Try this.

Want to learn techniques to release anger? You’re in the right place. This blog teaches you an easy tool you can use the next time you are feeling angry.

One of the fastest and most effective ways to release anger is to blow it out, using the Stress Blow-Out. This simple body-based technique helps your body relax as you release that buildup of anger. This technique is also helpful if you're feeling stuck or upset and need to Let It Go. This technique comes from Donna Eden. Practice the technique right now by watching the video below and following along. You can also download written instructions in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

How it Works

Lift both hands over your head, clenching your fists hard. Take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds. Then pull your hands down fast, blowing the out air out with a ‘whoosh!’ Bend your knees as you go, and open your hands when your arms are fully extended. You can repeat this three to five times.

Why It Works

By using energy-based techniques like the Stress Blow-Out, you help your body release excess emotions like anger and irritation. This allows you to feel relaxed, centered, and grounded. Involving our bodies helps us to release pent-up energy. The big movement is also clearing out your energy field.

If you haven’t given the Stress Blow-Out a try yet, do it now. Take notice of how your body feels both before and after you use the technique. This technique is just one of many you can use when you need calming and balancing.

More Techniques to use when You are Feeling Angry

If you found the Stress Blow-Out helpful, here are a few more tools you can use to reduce anger: The Balance HookUp and the Healing Head Hold. All of the videos and techniques in my "Try This" series were created by ACEP's Humanitarian Committee in order to help people heal by spreading the word about the powerful effects of energy psychology techniques. I invite you to help by sharing this information!

If you want to learn tools like this to help manage your feelings, contact me.

Video Resources Provided by the ACEP Humanitarian Committee
The mission of the ACEP Humanitarian Committee is to develop and implement humanitarian projects that alleviate emotional distress caused by catastrophic natural and man-made events around the globe. We do this by encouraging and assisting ACEP members in developing humanitarian projects that utilize recognized energy psychology and other modalities that meet ACEP’s standards and guidelines. Learn more here.


Treating emotions associated with cancer using Energy Psychology

If you are reading this blog, you probably already know how a cancer diagnosis affects our emotional wellbeing. You are not alone: Depression rates in the US jump four-fold among cancer patients, with nearly a quarter of cancer patients experiencing depression. Anxiety rates among cancer patients in the US climb as well, affecting nearly a fifth of people with cancer. Many people with cancer report experiencing PTSD-like symptoms, and almost all say they experience feelings of overwhelm. Clearly we need tools for treating emotions associated with cancer. Energy Psychology tools fit the bill, for reasons we will explore in this article.

Unfortunately, the system in the US does not universally encompass mental and emotional care in cancer treatment. This has costs, not only in terms of emotional wellbeing, but perhaps in resilience and ability to heal. Energy psychology techniques may fill the emotional need of cancer patients particularly well. These modalities often focus on addressing and clearing underlying emotional traumas. They also provide effective self-soothing routines that may help cancer patients navigate the emotions that often accompany diagnosis.

Mental Health Matters

The stress-inflammation-disease cycle

Researchers in the field of cardiovascular disease were the first to identify the role of stress in disease. Today, most of us understand fact that stress leads to disease. And a cancer diagnosis itself is stressful! This explains why treating emotions associated with cancer is so important.

Episodic stress is an important part of life, mediating injury and pathogenic assault. When pathogens attack cells, or cells are injured, they become inflamed, holding fluid. This is because of a cascade of activity on the molecular level. In other cases, it is the threat of assault that causes inflammation. In these cases, the hypothalamus (a region in the limbic brain) signals to the pituitary body (often called the master gland) to tell the adrenal glands to release adrenaline. This cycle is known as the HPA axis.

Under normal stress conditions, this action reduces inflammation. However, when people experience chronic stress, this cycle of inflammation–healing–homeostasis is disrupted. Researchers have found that this is at least partly because an immune system cell or cytokine called interleukin 6 (IL6) triggers inflammation in times of stress. And IL6 is implicated in cancer, as well as a host of other diseases including diabetes, autoimmune disease, obesity, depression, and anxiety.

It might not be unreasonable, then, to wonder if decreasing stress levels might assist in the healing response of those with cancer diagnoses, and to prevent cancer occurrence in the first place.

With its capacity to decrease stress, could Energy Psychology play a role in remission?

Kelly Turner studied cases of unexpected and medically unexplained remission, conducting interviews with people who had experienced these seemingly miraculous cures. She distilled the data and found seven key factors that were almost universal. She writes about them in her book Radical Remission.

Among the factors identified are eliminating negative emotions and increasing positive emotions. While the sentence is easy to write, achieving the essence is not! However, EP methods are known for their ability to heal underlying traumas and the ensuing energy disruptions, which lead to distress and may contribute to disease.

The research: treating the emotions associated with cancer using EP

EFT improves physiological markers of health

Bach et al published a study in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine in 2019, examining the psychological and physiological outcomes for people (n=203) who attended a four-day EFT workshop. In this study, participants experienced reductions in anxiety, depression, PTSD, pain, and cravings, and an increase in happiness. Several physiological markers were taken of some study participants (n=31). Interestingly, they found a significant increase in Immunoglobin A (SigA), an antibody that plays a role in immune function, and decreases in resting heart rate, cortisol, and blood pressure.

EFT for chemo brain

Laura Track et al conducted a randomized, controlled study of EFT for cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI; aka “chemo brain”). The study was published by EClinicalNews in August of 2021. Participants were 121 patients in Belgium and the UK who met diagnostic criteria for cognitive impairment. The study lasted 16 weeks. For the first eight weeks, half of the participants received instruction in EFT tapping and tapped with a clinician and at home, while the other half waited. They all took a second cognitive test and other assessments. Then, the second group got EFT training. Not surprisingly, the difference between groups at eight weeks was significant, with the tapping group achieving a reduction in cognitive impairment. The second group “caught up” at 16-weeks, after they had done eight weeks of tapping.

EFT for side effects of treatment

Baker and Hoffman published a study in 2014, investigating the effect of EFT tapping on depression, anxiety, and side-effects of hormone therapies used to treat some types of breast cancer. The side effects include pain, fatigue, and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. The study participants (n=41) received three weeks of instructed EFT and we assigned self-tapping for the next nine weeks. Again, the participants achieved statistically significant improvements in total mood, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, as well as a reduction in hot flashes and the experience of hot flash as problematic.

Pain in cancer patients

Niken, Wahyuningsih, and Prasetyorini published a case study in 2020, documenting the experience of four cancer patients who complained of moderate to severe pain. They found that using EFT reduced the experience of pain.

Spiritual EFT for self-concept of women with mastectomy

Afriyanti and Wenni used Spiritual EFT in a quasi-experimental study of 33 women who had had mastectomies. At baseline, only three had a good self-concept. After three days of tapping, the number had risen to ten. This improvement was statistically significant and gives rise to some questions, including what would happen if the intervention lasted more than three days.

Pilot study in Australia found EFT helped decrease anxiety in cancer patients

Peta Stapleton conducted a pilot study of group EFT for palliative care among cancer patients. Researchers randomly assigned thirty-two cancer patients to either EFT or treatment as usual (TAU). The EFT group received two-hour EFT sessions, led by a trained psychologist, for four weeks. Delivery moved from in-person to Zoom after the Covid-19 lockdown. All patients completed assessments for depression, anxiety, PTSD, quality of life, happiness, pain, hope, and meaning of life. After treatment, the EFT group received significant reductions in anxiety, and trends toward improvements in meaning of life, quality of life, PTSD and happiness. The TAU group did not receive any benefits. These results were compelling enough to launch a full study, which is now underway.

Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT)

Advanced Integrative Therapy, or AIT, is another energy psychology technique. Practitioners of AIT have used this energy psychology technique to address the underlying emotional causes of cancer. They are seeing good enough anecdotal evidence to warrant a full study. Today, a study of AIT and cancer is underway, with preliminary data expected this spring.

Stories from the (virtual) treatment room

Mis-hearing leads to PTSD-like symptoms, relieved with EFT

A woman in her early 50’s was diagnosed with breast cancer. As often happens to people diagnosed with cancer, she was in the throes of shock and distress when she met with her oncologist. Clients often report that they can’t “take in” what their doctors are telling them. They leave appointments wondering what was just said, and realizing that they have many questions they forgot to ask. In this case, the client mis-heard “grade 4 tumor” as “stage 4 cancer.”

Although she quickly realized her error and understood that she did not have metastatic breast cancer, she was extremely distressed about the idea and still felt terrified. In our individual counseling session, we tapped together using emotional freedom techniques (EFT) Tearless Trauma and Tell the Story protocols. During our session, we were able to reduce her distress and worked to clear her trauma. Thankfully, she experienced a reduction in subjective units of distress (SUDs) from a ten to a zero. Moreover, she stayed clear of distress in subsequent counseling sessions four to six weeks later.

Fear of recurrence

For women with breast cancer who have some understanding of the mind-body connection, fear of recurrence can create what seems like a trap. These women often express a fear that their fear is going to create a negative outcome. Effortfully trying not to think about it, or to think positive thoughts instead, often proves futile. One woman in such a paradoxical trap came for therapy and we began using EFT to manage her fear of recurrence. Her distress reduced during the session. Additionally, having EFT as a self-help tool provided her with a coping tool that she used regularly to help manage her fear as it arose.

Experience of tapping in groups

In regular facilitated support groups, women with various cancer types use EFT at the beginning of the sessions to come together and relax. Often, we use the “constricted breathing” technique to demonstrate and reinforce the physiological effect of tapping. (In this technique, tapping on constricted breathing allows the breath to become fuller and more satisfying/less constricted). Most women achieve a feeling of un-constricted breath after one round of tapping. They also report feeling more relaxed, more present, and, in one case, feeling “warm and tingly.”

A vision for the future

Because of the deep emotional distress that cancer patients often feel, it is important to provide them with tools and support to reduce these feelings. Again, we need to focus on treating emotions associated with cancer. Energy psychology techniques have a demonstrated ability to reduce subjective distress. Moreover, these are tools that therapists can use clinically, and clients can use as ongoing self-help practices. Incorporating mind-body techniques such as these for the management of mood and stress in people with cancer can provide a tremendous benefit to patients' subjective wellbeing. Because of the role of stress in disease progression, these tools may even improve outcomes.


Calming Hug Image

Feeling anxious? Try this.

Try this the next time you feel anxious or afraid.

If you want to learn how to feel better fast next time you're feeling anxious, you have come to the right place. This blog teaches you an easy tool you can use to help you feel connected and safe.

One of the fastest and most effective ways to restore a sense of safety is to give yourself a calming hug. This simple body-based technique helps your body feel calm, centered, and grounded by harmonizing the spleen and triple-warmer meridians. Best of all, you could do this in public, and nobody would notice! Practice the technique right now by watching the video below and following along. You can also download written instructions in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

How it Works

It's so simple to do! Cross your arms over your chest, with one hand resting on the side of your chest in the area of a bra strap, and the other resting above your opposite elbow. Hold for a minute, and switch sides.

Why It Works

The calming hug is an energy psychology technique that helps your body balance the yin and yang energies that flow along your triple warmer (that's the hand above the elbow) and spleen (that's the hand in the bra strap area) meridians. This allows you to feel calm and grounded. The technique is also helpful if you are having trouble focusing.

If you haven’t given the Calming Hug a try yet, do it now. Take notice of how your body feels both before and after you use the technique. This technique is just one of many body-based techniques you can use whenever you are feeling anxious or scared.

More Techniques to Feel Better Fast

If you found the Calming Hug helpful, here are a few more tools you can use next time you feel scared or anxious: Simpliefied Self-Havening, the Soothing Butterfly Hug, and Calm Breathing. All of the videos and techniques in our "Try This" series were created by ACEP's Humanitarian Committee in order to help people heal by spreading the word about the powerful effects of energy psychology techniques. We invite you to help by sharing this information!

If you want to explore body-based tools like this to help calm your emotions, contact me.


What is Energy Psychology?

What is Energy psychology (EP)? It is a set of somatic, holistically influenced, evidence-based tools and therapeutic interventions that help people manage their mental health issues. One of the most popular forms of EP is EFT, the Emotional Freedom Techniques. EFT and other EP methods are gaining traction because they provide therapists and clients effective alternative to traditional talk therapy. They are particularly effective in helping people heal from underlying traumas. They also empower clients, as these tools and skills can be taken out of the treatment room and used in regular self-care and emotion regulation practices. These practices have stood the test of time, only gaining in popularity and clinical application. Most importantly, they help people. Here are four ideas that will help you understand EP.

Trauma gets locked in the body. EP involves the body.

EP involves the body, and we increasingly understand how important that is in addressing difficult emotional issues, particularly trauma. Bessel Van der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps the Score tells the story: When we experience trauma, that trauma seems to get “locked” in our bodies. When we experience PTSD, our brains light up as if we were experiencing the trauma all over again. Our bodies go into fight-flight-freeze mode instantly. People might know that the trauma is in the past, but it feels like it’s in the present. Talk therapy can go on, providing a lot of insight, but – to the dismay and frustration of clinicians and clients – it doesn’t move the needle on trauma responses. We can’t think our way out of trauma.

Body-based practices like most EP techniques are particularly effective at healing trauma. Trauma is a huge issue in mental health. And it’s not just about wars and car accidents. All kinds of life experiences can be traumatic, including loss, being diagnosed with a serious disease, and being in a dysfunctional relationship. Childhood traumas leave lasting impacts, as we now understand. The ACE study shows just how powerful the effects of childhood trauma can be. All kinds of trauma underlie many other mental health issues, including addictions. EP offers tools that help address the trauma and mitigate the damage.

EP has a strong and growing research base.

Of more than 400 therapeutic approaches, EP is in the top 10 in terms of research base. Studies show it is effective for anxiety, PTSD, depression, weight loss, and a host of other issues. I recently introduced EP to a group of people with breast cancer and told them about a study of 212 cancer patients who decreased their chemo brain after eight weeks of tapping. They were enthusiastic about giving EP a try.

That’s just one small example of EP research. To date, more than 200 articles about energy psychology published in peer-reviewed journals demonstrate its effectiveness. Among these are more than 115 studies: 99% of the studies document efficacy for energy psychology modalities. These include more than 50 pre-post studies and 65 randomized controlled studies. The body of research includes 12 systematic reviews. and five meta-analyses of energy psychology therapies. The data show EP is effective for pain, depression, anxiety, trauma and PTSD, and other issues.

These techniques have been around for more than 30 years.

Roger Callahan was the first known American psychologist to incorporate meridian tapping in his work, beginning in the 1990s. The results his clients achieved were impressive -- and exciting! He found long-held issues were clearing up in ways he had never experienced. Callahan began teaching other psychologists how to apply his method. He created the first manualized meridian-based therapy, Thought Field Therapy (TFT). One of his students was Gary Craig, who went on to found EFT. Other tapping protocols have been developed, studied, and used widely – as self-help tools, in clinical treatment settings, and around the world in disaster response missions.

Thousands of people in the US and around the world have been using EP methods for many kinds of issues from depression and anxiety to trauma and PTSD to weight loss and chemo brain. EFT, in particular, has become very popular in the self-help world: in 2016, half a million people participated in Nick Ortner’s free, online Tapping Summit. EP has made tremendous inroads in the clinical setting: more than 10,000 clinicians have been trained by the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), and that is just one organization dedicated to teaching clinical EP skills.

Most importantly, EP helps people.

I have used EP in my clinical practice for the past decade and I have seen amazing things. Just like Callahan saw 3 decades ago, I have witnessed people become free from their traumatic experiences. It often happens in just one session. Moreover, the results last.

In my facilitated support groups for women with breast cancer we often incorporate EFT tapping at the start of our sessions. Recently, two of the women started crying almost immediately. The tears faded quickly. After 15 minutes of tapping, they were replaced by calm smiles. One of the crying women said that hers had been tears of relief as she was able to voice the deep emotional pain she had been suffering. The other said that she simply felt calm after tapping. They all said they felt better than they had in a long time.

One of my favorite stories is from a colleague in Ohio, Robin Trainor. Robin met a woman at a retreat several years ago. The woman said she had been gang raped 10 years before. She was haunted by the trauma, couldn’t forgive, and said it was ruining her life. Robin did EFT with her. The woman was 10-out-of-10 upset at the beginning, but after 45 minutes of tapping, her distress went to zero. A year later, she was still free of the trauma.

If you chat with an EP practitioner, you will hear stories like these. People get better fast when they involve the body in their therapy, and EP tools do just that. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. It is what we need to be doing more of in order to help people.