EFT is one of my favorite techniques that speeds up clearing or reducing negative emotional intensity. It uses tapping of the fingers on acupuncture points while having the person tune into specific issues using a protocol simple enough anyone can learn. While it can be used as a self-help technique on one’s own, it is by far most effective to use with the help of an experienced EFT practitioner.
I have known about EFT since the mid 90’s but did not start to use it until about 7 years ago. I became friends with a social worker named Annette Richards. She was enthusiastic about how well EFT had helped her, her clients and her friends. I have worked on some of my own issues at an EFT workshop and one on one with Annette. Each time I worked with her using EFT, it resulted in improved emotions and perceptions.
I remember one day about a year ago, I was particularly discouraged after reading some posts on Facebook where several young women had posted how successful they had become in their private practices as therapists. One young therapist had earned over $100,000 that year and had taken 7 weeks of vacation. I wondered why her private practice was blooming but my practice was not. I called Annette and asked her to do some EFT tapping with me on this over Skype. Within 15 minutes I was laughing and feeling hopeful my private practice would improve in the future.
This blog post is an interview with Annette focusing how EFT can be used to reduce the desire to overeat.
Suzanne: How did you find out about EFT?
Annette: I was at Unity Church in Pontiac listening to a speaker, Linda Fisher-Piccolo, giving a presentation called ‘The Art of Deliberate Creation” (which is the work of Dr. Robert Anthony). A participant in the audience asked the speaker to ‘show us EFT.’ Ms. Fisher-Piccolo showed the group how to do EFT by directing the group to stand, recall an event that had unwanted feelings associated with it, and then facilitated 3 rounds of Gary Craig’s EFT Procedure. My dog has just died unexpectedly the week before. That was my “event”. Although many aspects could not be deeply or specifically addressed in only 3 rounds, the edge or emotional intensity was much reduced. During the rounds of EFT, my mind wondered about this method and it comes to me “this must be acupressure”, although at the time I understood next to nothing about acupuncture or its relative, acupressure.
Suzanne: I remember you told me about how your first session with a practitioner who used EFT enabled you to have no more desire to smoke cigarettes after only a 2 hours session. Can you tell us more about this experience?
Annette: I had been smoking since age 15. I had tried to break this habit numerous times but had been unsuccessful. I worked with an EFT practitioner, Linda, targeting my smoking on 1/3/07 for 2 hours. I have not had a craving for cigarettes since then. Her way of teaching EFT is to treat the person for one unwanted problem. I do think it is the best way to learn EFT.
Suzanne: I would like to focus on using EFT for people who have problems with emotional overeating. I know this is a complex problem that is often related to unresolved trauma. How do you go about helping someone who wants to use EFT to stop overeating?
Annette: Yes, this is a complex problem. I start with a thorough assessment, possibly even directing the client to have a medical examination first, depending on their health status.
Suzanne: How can a person who wants help to stop overeating use EFT on his/her own in between EFT sessions?
Annette: They need to learn the tapping points first. That is simple enough. After learning EFT Basic procedure, I ask clients to use the procedure before eating, to quell anxious emotions so that food is for nutrition, not comfort.
Sometimes the most difficult part is the person recognizing his/her unwanted emotions. Too often people are so used to feeling unwanted feelings that they don’t readily distinguish these feelings from other emotions. It is like a person who is so often anxious that she does not realize when she is anxious. For my first EFT session, I spend 2 full hours with the client. I first teach the EFT Procedure then next I treat as many of the main emotional contributors associated with the desire to overeat as time allows. This includes painful memories, related events, and negative self-talk and negative beliefs.
On the issue of eating, for instance, if a client overeats when he feels he cannot keep up with the work expected of him at his job, I will have the man tap on his anxiety of losing his job or being criticized, if he feels a sense of failure, associated lack of self-esteem, and his frustration or anger about the situation. By the time we are done tapping on this issue, the man may stop pressuring himself to meet these unrealistic expectations. He may realize his boss can’t change the company’s expectations, and he will feel acceptance of not being able to keep up with the expectations. With this deeper acceptance of what he can’t change about this situation, his desire to overeat may leave or be reduced.
Suzanne: Sometimes people have no idea why they overeat. How can EFT help them?
Annette: I ask, ”If you had to guess, what comes to mind? I make a thorough assessment of what the person is aware of. My goal is to find the most intense emotional contributor, and the earliest emotional contributor to treat first, in other words ‘the first’ or ‘the worst’. I might do this before we start the tapping, or during; depends on circumstances or client needs. Sometimes, the process of tapping helps people become aware of their feelings regarding issues that disturb them. It helps bring the emotions to surface so they can be neutralized or extinguished.
Suzanne: Do have any books that you recommend people who want to use EFT to lose weight to read?
Annette: Not at the moment, but I do recommend following a healthy diet and exercise plan. Exercise helps the body work off excess hormones, sugars and other results of anxiety, decreases depression and increases overall well-being.
Suzanne: What if a person feels like giving up when it comes to controlling their overeating? Do you have any suggestions what would help them?
Annette: I explore what has gotten them through thus far in their lives, emphasizing those attributes and strengths. I often use Solution-focused brief therapy techniques, such as the Miracle question. I also muscle test a client’s own statements or goals and muscle to find out how much the client believes his/her own goals/statements. These techniques can bring to a person’s awareness many sabotaging beliefs and behaviors.
Suzanne: I have heard it is more powerful when people use EFT with other people, such as a friend or family member. I know you have a group for EFT. Have your EFT group members said it helps more to use EFT in a group than using EFT one on one?
Annette: Some notice it is more effective in a group while others don’t notice any difference. Many clients in my EFT groups will use EFT more at home in between the group sessions than if they don’t attend an EFT group.
Suzanne: How long would a person have to tap each day to make a difference in their desire to overeat?
Annette: No prescription. A client needs to do his or her own awareness homework, that is, they need to notice ‘what’s left.’ What feelings or situations do they still have that trigger wanting to overeat and then they need to use EFT tapping on those feelings and situations. It works best if the tapping can be done as soon as the emotion starts to surface.
Suzanne: Do you have any success stories you can share with us about a person you used EFT with who wanted to lose weight?
Annette: I used EFT with a teenage girl who was having behavioral problems. I saw her for two hours, focusing on many childhood memories associated with poverty and neglect she experienced when she lived with her biological parents. Then in the same session, we targeted the loss and grief associated with being removed from her parents. After this first session, she used EFT many times daily on her own. She was able to stop sneaking food all night, achieve complete reversal of insulin resistance, lose weight, have improved grades at school, and improved her behavior at home as well as her behavior at school. Please be aware, I treated her in that 2 hour session for the causes of her maladaptive behavior. The weight loss and health improvements were just natural results of addressing the root causes of behavioral problems.
Suzanne: That is truly amazing that this young girl was able to progress so much from a 2 hour session! It could have taken much longer than that using other kinds of therapy. I think this speaks to your skill level of using EFT and the girl’s willingness to put in the time to do EFT tapping on her own after that first session.
Annette, I want to thank you for your time to tell us a how EFT can help with reducing emotional overeating. If someone reading this blog post would like to work with you on their overeating problem, how would they learn more about the work you do or contact you?
Annette: Anyone interested in working with me can call me at: 248-334-9214. I practice in Pontiac, MI. My website is: http://annetterichardseft.com
You can learn more how I, Suzanne Johnson, help my clients with recovery from overeating or under eating here