facebook icon

EFT and chronic illness

by Jacqui Footman
11 minutes
EFT and chronic illness

ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

How EFT Could Help With  ME/CFS

The strategy most widely recognised for the management of ME/CFS is ‘pacing’ or ‘activity management’. NICE Guidelines recommend CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and GET (Graded Exercise Therapy), which at its best and as practised by CFS/ME services in the South West is perhaps more appropriately described as activity management and life-style adjustment.  Patients are also advised to avoid or minimise stress, something that with modern pressures of life is easier said than done. Pacing or managing physical activity and even mental activity is relatively straightforward, but stress can easily by forgotten, taken for granted as part of life. Or, the frustration of limiting physical and mental activity brings emotional stresses of its own.

Dr G Poesnecker, in his book ‘Chronic Fatigue Unmasked 2000’ states:
“There are three basic types of stress which the patient can manifest. The first is physical stress; the second, mental stress; and the third, emotional stress .... the most harmful and far-reaching is emotional stress”. Emotional stress is normally the most difficult
a) to even be aware of, and
b) to control and manage.

EFT provides a simple, user-friendly means of minimising the effects of emotional stress. EFT also helps promote an emotional and spiritual calm and balance, which provides an environment for whole-body healing. Coping more effectively with negative emotions enables you to save the energy you would otherwise need to deal with these issues, which don’t normally go away easily and can tend to become a permanent drain on your resources.

At a meeting of South Molton ME Support Group members participated in a very brief practical demonstration of EFT. This is how it was reported in their July 2005 newsletter:

“We privately identified a worry/stress/negative feeling that was giving us a small degree of concern at that moment. We gave it a distress score on a scale of 1-10. Jacqui then talked us through the tapping technique and we tapped on ourselves to her directions. We then scored our worry again. We did three rounds of tapping and re-scoring. Over half of those present experienced a reduction in their anxiety/worry score, even though we had had only a short time to work on it, were in a less than ideal situation (i.e. a crowded room) and without individual discussion and help.

I know of 4 members of our group who have found benefit in doing EFT with Jacqui. Some have found that it helps to reduce their pain and other symptoms, some have had the benefit of better adjustment to their illness.”

Magazine Article
The following piece appeared in the March 2008 Magazine/Newsletter of the charity reMEmbercfs.

Much is discussed about various new therapies, many of which are variations of ‘talk’ therapies such CBT, Reverse Therapy, Mickel Therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Lightning Process (LP).  Emotional Freedom techniques (EFT) in contrast is strictly speaking a Meridian Energy Therapy - it works on the chi energy system, like acupuncture, but also involves talking and has been described as psychological acupuncture without needles. There can be little doubt, due to the growing numbers of testimonials, that these therapies do bring about varying degrees of improvement for people with ME/CFS, some of which are very significant, so let's look at some background to this.

The use of talk therapy for physical illness remains controversial and although it is now becoming clear that the 21st century heralds a new era in mind/body medicine, many still cling to the separation of the physical from the spiritual/mental that began in the 17th century with Newton and Descartes, known as Cartesian dualism.  A new era began at the end of the 20th century as neurotransmitters were isolated and works such as Candace Pert’s ‘Molecules of Emotion’ evolved, as did a new medical science - Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI).  Neurotransmitters have been found in gut and the gut, which forms the largest part of the immune system, has been postulated as a type of second brain.  From this discovery alone, you can begin to see boundaries blurring, but the work of Bruce Lipton PhD, cell biologist and epigeneticist, author of The Biology of Belief, best science book award winner 2006, demonstrates that each individual cell can respond to stimuli in either of only two ways - growth or defence/protection.  By combining the science of quantum physics with that of medicine and cell biology he goes on to show that there is something beyond neurotransmitters orchestrating and coordinating the trillions of individual cells that make up each of our bodies, an energy-based system capable of communicating infinitely faster than neurotransmitters permit.  His is a message of great hope because thoughts and beliefs are part of the control of this energy-based system and you can learn how to influence that system, make great differences in your life/health and richly live a life of love rather than a life of fear, keeping yourself in growth mode and out of the protection mode that can herald ill-health.  With the development over the past 20 years of Energy Psychology techniques such as EFT, and the move toward holism in medicine, the mind/body split is disappearing.  The body has self-healing capacity; we can find the often lost or forgotten key and set it on a healing path.  EFT is a useful tool to help do this, as also are psychotherapies such as Reverse Therapy, Mickel Therapy and NLP (LP, is just a trade-marked name where a particular combination of NLP techniques has been packaged and marketed – rather cleverly!).  At our peril do we separate mind and body, but it works both ways so the path to health can involve a tool from the list above, but wisely would also involve looking after the physical environment with the provision of appropriate nutrients, warmth, comfort, etc.  Everything is interlinked and complex.

These new therapies/techniques are just tools and, characteristic of tools, only ever as good as the use we make of them.  We are reaching a point in society's evolution, with obesity, diabetes and heart disease as major health concerns, where education becomes an increasingly important part of medical provision.  We have evolved through a time when medicine was about viewing the body as a bag of physical parts and chemicals, which we could have put right by a procedure done to us or by pills someone tells us to take - go to the doctor and he will provide the answers.  I'm thinking of the era from around the middle of the last century, when antibiotics were a wonder drug handed out like candy, beliefs were established that orthodox western medicine had the answer for every ill.  But now we see that system overburdened, beyond financial capacity and struggling - where does the answer to our current ills really lie? - more likely in empowering people to take control of their own health with their mind and body treated as an inextricably linked whole.  And this is where EFT, combined with the principles of NLP, comes into its own.  This is where I find that my background in teaching was actually a perfect path into my work as a therapist, using this technique as a tool first for working on myself and then teaching, supporting and guiding others to use it, enabling people to live a life of love, start to switch cells into growth mode and keep them there.  I feel sure the world can be a happier place the more people do this.

EFT involves tapping a series of acupressure points lightly with two fingertips whilst repeating a certain type of affirmation to focus on the issue that is causing the problem.  EFT is simple to learn, but takes a lifetime to perfect - we EFTers are all a work in progress and constantly discovering new ways to benefit from EFT.  The joy however is that it is so simple that you can even teach yourself and start experimenting for free with an Internet download (www.emofree.com), or there are a number of inexpensive paperback books.  Better still there are now many inexpensive courses and many EFTers willing to share knowledge and experiences.  Newcomers to EFT looking to reduce the intensity of negative emotions or emotional or physical pain regularly achieve success rates of 50% or more.  When working with an experienced (Level 3 or Master) EFT practitioner, success rates can exceed 85%.  With experience you can apply EFT to virtually any challenge, be it to do with whole health (emotional, mental or physical), relationships, performance, blocking beliefs - absolutely anything that causes you a problem, EFT, when used resourcefully, will provide a way to make it easier to deal with.  As long as you can afford to, it is best at first to work with the guidance of an experienced practitioner to get the most out of it – like any tool it is as good as the user.  However, because you can do some of the work on your own, EFT can work out less expensive than some other therapies.  EFT is also a wonderfully gentle therapy that intrinsically promotes self-acceptance, love and respect for self and others.  In this much, it is ideal for people with ME/CFS - it provides a way for us to be really kind to ourselves.  Society brings us up to be self-critical; with levels of competition these days nothing and no one is ever good enough, often including our own efforts, and critical self-talk is a source of stress we could well do without.  Listen sometimes to the demands and expectations you put on yourself - if you treated your best friend like that would he or she still be your friend?

And talking of stress, it's the last thing people with ME/CFS need.  Even orthodox experts, Professors Findlay and Pinching, when interviewed on BBC radio about alternative therapies for ME, concluded that any therapy that could help relieve stress without too much expense was worth trying.  The largest research project ever undertaken into CFS, results of which were published by the American Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in April 2006, found that genetically people with CFS respond differently to stressors (physical, mental or emotional), which can give rise to immune system changes and the syndrome of symptoms.  But Bruce Lipton and epigenetics tell us that genes respond to the environment, which we can influence using Energy Psychology techniques such as EFT - so what are we waiting for?

Jacqui was diagnosed with ME/CFS, which caused the loss of her career in secondary language teaching in 2003.  Her steady path toward recovery involved continued study and use of EFT and NLP, involvement as Information and Publicity Officer for South Molton ME Support Group, attendance at ME meetings and conferences and with NHS specialist services.  

She has also studied protocols for ME treatment recommended by the Dr Sarah Myhill, Professor Martin Pall, Rich Van Konyenenburg and Raymond Perrin.  She now works part-time as EFT practitioner and trainer.

Additional Resources

AAMET International website, where you can download an excellent manual how to do EFT for self-help for free or for a small donation.

www.eftdevon.co.uk (Jacqui’s website)

Association for the Advancement of Meridian Energy Techniques – keeps good practitioner lists; look for those qualified to ‘Level 3’ or ‘Master’.  Try to check out a practitioner’s understanding of ME before booking.

Joyful Recover from ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Sasha Allenby, Strategic Book Publishing, 2008

The Healing Power of EFT & Energy Psychology, Feinstein, Eden and Craig, Piatkus, 2006