It is possible to combat, manage and even conquer anxiety without the use of prescription drugs. I know this is possible because I have done it myself. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for most of my life. The sad thing is that I wasn’t even aware of my condition until my 20s and went to a counselor who pointed out the signs to me.
Being a performer made having anxiety even more difficult. There was a period of time that I required the use of beta-blockers just to make it through some performances and auditions. It was during that time that I realized that I no longer wanted to live that way. While the medications helped to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, I always felt that I wasn’t fully ‘present’ and that bothered me. Performing is a way to connect your soul and your ‘voice’ with others, and the medications blocked my ability to do so to my fullest capacities.
My husband also suffered from anxiety for a short time and he came into contact with a counselor who lectured at a local medical school and specialized in EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique. He shared with me how interesting he thought her lecture was. I had never heard of it before and was intrigued. Around the same time, I had a friend who was also using the technique on her sick children with great results. I was determined to learn more about it. I downloaded a book, read it and tried some of the techniques on myself. To my great surprise, it worked!
I recently had the pleasure of connecting with the counselor and lecturer at the medical school, Nancy Gnecco, for an interview regarding this simple but effective technique. Here’s what we discussed.
1. I had heard about EFT through my husband who had heard your lecture at his medical school. I continued to hear about it from different sources that ignited my interest in the area. How did you first learn about EFT?
Before being introduced to EFT in 1995 with Gary Craig, I’d studied Thought Field Therapy with Roger Callahan. EFT was a natural progression for me as it was much simpler and equally as effective.
2. How does EFT work?
The theory behind EFT is that all negative emotions are caused by a disruption in the body’s energy system. EFT utilizes the same energy meridians as does acupuncture, but NO needles. It is sometimes called “Acupressure for the Emotions”. By tapping on certain acupoints, while holding in mind the distressing emotion, we un-disrupt the energy in the meridians.
3. You are an EFT Founding Master and Master trainer. What is required to receive these distinctions?
I have a Master’s Degree in Education and have been a teacher. Consequently, I’m always eager to teach whatever I am exploring at the time. The EFT Masters program was, unfortunately, short-lived. Gary Craig closed the program after only 29 people had passed the rigorous requirements. The very best part of the program in my opinion was the practitioner review. The candidates had to provide a complete EFT session with a client not previously known to them. The session was reviewed and evaluated by the other candidates as well as by Gary Craig, and the director of the program, Ann Adams
4. I read that you incorporate EFT into traditional talk therapy. How do they complement each other?
As a Licensed Professional Counselor, my background is in traditional talk therapy. EFT is an amazing technique for bringing a highly charged emotional state to neutral in a very short amount of time. It is also effective in finding and treating “core issues”, those events and traumas that have contributed, either consciously or unconsciously, to the presenting issue. EFT also addresses the emotional contributors to disease and pain.
5. What can EFT treat?
As EFT founder, Gary Craig, says, “We try it on everything.”
6. I have read about the great success EFT has had with treating war veterans who had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This is really remarkable. However, what disorders can EFT not treat?
It is important that EFT practitioners treat only those disorders that are within their scope of practice. I am licensed as a professional counselor, but I am not a psychotherapist. Therefore, I am bound by my licensure not to treat personality disorders such as schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder and borderline personality disorder.
7. One of the features of EFT that I found most amazing was the ability to treat oneself. Is it less effective to treat oneself or perhaps depending on the severity of one’s issues, should one consult a professional?
EFT can be very effective when used to treat oneself, and there is actually a protocol called The Personal Peace Procedure that instructs the individual on how to self-treat. For, what we call “Big T Traumas”, those that are profoundly life changing, it is best to work with a professional. Also working with a professional facilitates the emergence of issues that underlie the current issue, emotional contributors that might be unconscious, suppressed, or even pre-verbal.
8. Something interesting occurred to me while I was using the technique. I was focused on one particular area and then found out that other areas had cleared up, as well. Is that a common result?
That is a very common occurrence with EFT. It is called the Generalization Effect, and it happens when one has many traumas with a similar theme. Once a number of the traumas have been cleared, the similar ones clear without treatment. Sometimes we think of the big issue as a tabletop. An example would be fear of public speaking. Holding up the tabletop are many legs. The legs are the specific events that created the “table top”. For example, “The time when I had to give a book report in 3rd grade and forgot what I was going to say.” Another “table leg” might be, “All the times my mother tried to stop my father from hitting my brother, and he hit her whenever she spoke up.”
9. I have read that many in the mental health profession entered into the field because they themselves have had difficult pasts that they wanted to heal. Did you find healing personally through EFT?
I definitely did. I experienced huge healing around my relationship with my father whom I’d been unable to forgive for things that had happened in childhood.
10. Is EFT effective for children?
EFT is very effective with children. There are many articles on the internet about the success of EFT with children.
I participated in an informal study years ago in which EFT proved effective with over 90% of the children. It was determined that one of the key factors for success was participation of the family. When parents first clear their own issues, (their feelings about the child’s problems) they can then approach whatever the situation is from a place of neutrality which is extremely helpful in dealing with the child’s problems. eftmastersworldwide.com/sleeping-disorder-separationeftmastersworldwide.com/sleeping-disorder-separation
11. If someone is interested in trying EFT, what would you suggest to them?
There are many YouTube videos on line, and many practitioners have free downloads. I would caution people to check into the background of the practitioner, especially if there are serious or long-term issues like childhood abuse, chronic pain, or Post Traumatic Distress Disorder. With psychological problems the prospective client might wish to seek a practitioner who has a background in mental health. If the person is dealing with current day issues, such as single incident events, financial or career issues, a practitioner with a background as a life coach might be appropriate. My website provides information – www.nancygnecco.com. And, there is a website dedicated to the 29 EFT Founding Masters: http://eftmastersworldwide.com. I would also suggest “googling” EFT Practitioner in Whatever Place.
I am so grateful for the different options available that have helped me to eradicate anxiety. I no longer need beta blockers to perform and have not used them for years. I use EFT and meditation to manage symptoms if they come along and it has served me very well. If you are looking for an alternative to prescription drugs, this is something that might be worth looking into.
Live well and be happy!