CBT/DBT or EFT?
Sometimes, changing a habit requires more than willpower and positivity. Sometimes what we know as a bad habit can be the very source of strength and support we’ve been relying on for so long.
People often ask me how many EFT sessions will they need to achieve their goal. I try not to be vague with my answers, but there are so many factors that contribute to the success of our healing journey, that it makes it hard to be precise about the number of sessions a client will need.
Although research comparing EFT with other modalities of therapy are still in its early days - and practically inexistent in the UK, it’s safe to say that EFT works faster and has permanent effects due to its somatic character and the changes it makes in the brain.
The same way we experience trauma and acquire habits through our bodies, EFT works via direct intervention on our bodies as well. EFT is applied by tapping on acupressure points as we speak to slightly trigger a stress response in the brain (acknowledging an issue as well as self-reassuring).
Dr. Peta Stapleton, PhD, in her book ‘The Science behind Tapping’1 suggests that “EFT enjoys three features that distinguish it as a fourth-wave therapy: it is a true mind-body approach in that it includes direct interventions at the level of the body; it changes brain activity very rapidly; and it has special advantages in quickly and permanently shifting outdated emotional learnings.”
When it comes to bad habits we know that we first acquire them via bodily intervention - we first do it with and on our bodies - so naturally the best way to change them is via introducing new bodily, physical actions in order to create new neural pathways and have them imprinted in our system through repetition and consistency.
But what happens when these habits we desperately want to shift are the ones keeping our minds regulated, keeping us together and even helping us to carry on?
The same way a lot of people rely on exercise, meditation and therapy to manage their stress, anxiety, phobia or trauma, others prefer to smoke, pick their own skin, pull their own hair or use drugs. All of the above are acquired habits with the same goal, albeit directly opposed in terms of polarity and long term results.
So how to take away a growing child’s safety blanket or their pacifier without creating a bigger issue? How to help a client stop smoking or self-harming without leaving a gap which will certainly lead to emotional collapse followed by a sense of utter failure and helplessness?
The answer is to replace harmful habits by healthier ones, right? Yes. This is how CBT/DBT therapy works, by giving the client small steps to follow in order to achieve a bigger goal, e.g. stop pulling hair. However, the effectiveness of CBT/DBT depends upon the client doing the homework assigned by their therapist. By doing their homework the client helps their brain to create new and healthier neural pathways which will translate into new learnt habits, hence better thoughts and emotions.
But what if the client doesn’t do their homework? What if trauma, low self-esteem and a poor mindset have been running the show in that client’s mind for decades? What if the client doesn’t even know how to exist without their old habits to the point that they couldn’t bear to try it?
That's the beauty of EFT. With EFT there's no need to do any homework, although some practitioners would use both together - CBT/DBT and EFT - to optimise results. EFT changes how we process memories connected to how we’ve acquired those habits in the first place. It takes away the emotional charge related to trauma or whatever is triggering the issue brought by the client. Changing old habits becomes a natural process when we work with EFT.
The somatic aspect of EFT (tapping on acupressure points a we speak) allows it to be an effective and long-lasting modality of therapy, which changes not only how we
think, but also how we feel and behave. EFT also promotes the production of feel-good hormones, changes brain waves, changes gene expression, enhances focus, productivity, gives us emotional intelligence and rids us from trauma.
EFT never ceases to amaze me and it would be a dream for me if one day it became available on the NHS or if the charities who look after our veterans took it on board as a PTSD healing tool.
Have you ever tried EFT?
1. P. Stapleton, PhD, The Science Behind Tapping: A Proven Stress Management Technique For the Mind & Body, HayHouse UK Ltd. 2019, p.33.