Is Therapy Facing a Revolution by Peta Stapleton Phd from TEDxRobina
By Dr Lorne Brown, Dr. TCM, FABORM on Fri, Jul 05 2019
Dr Peta Stapleton shares how therapy is going through a revolution. It is so great that EFT and other energy psychology techniques are going more mainstream and have evidence to support their effectiveness. Enjoy the vide below.
What is energy psychology?
Energy psychology (EP) is a collection of mind-body approaches for understanding and improving human functioning. EP focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, sensations, and behaviors, and known bioenergy systems (such as meridians and the biofield). These systems and processes exist, and interact, within individuals and between people. They are also influenced by cultural and environmental factors.
Within an EP framework, emotional and physical issues are seen, and treated, as bio-energetic patterns within a mind-body-energy system. The mind and body are thought to be interwoven and interactive within this mind-body-energy system, which involves complex communication involving neurobiological processes, innate electrophysiology, psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), consciousness, and cognitive-behavioral-emotional patterns.
The use of EP has resulted in the development of associated methods and models to treat psychological and emotional problems, facilitate health and wellbeing, and improve human performance. These models and methods are usually used within an integrative or holistic approach to practices such as psychotherapy, counseling, coaching, integrative medicine, and other healing modalities.
There are several belief change tools I can incorporate and share with you during our acupuncture/laser sessions. I look forward to hearing about your personal transformations. Feel free to ask me about any of these listed below. Contact Acubalance to find out more.
1. EFT. - Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping)
2. Gratitude daily practice
3. Breath 4-4-8
4. Body Scan
5. Inner Child
6. Psych K
7. Bengston Energy Healing Method
8. Clinical Hypnosis
9. Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT)
Dr. Peta Stapleton has led the Australian research into Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or ‘tapping’, which is used to treat a number of conditions including chronic pain, obesity, anxiety and stress. Dr Peta Stapleton has 20 years experience as a registered Clinical and Health Psychologist in Queensland and has been awarded many honours including the Australian Psychological Society Elaine Dignan Award for research into women’s issues, and the 2014 Harvey Baker Award for excellence in Energy Medicine Research. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.
The next time you feel completely stressed out, you're out of your mind. You want everything to go away, you want to curl up in a bowl. If you could radically reduce that feeling in minutes and at the same time change your DNA expression, improve your immune function and lower the stress cortisol in your body. Would that keep your interest for the next 15 minutes?
Now it turns out there is a way and it emerged in the 1970s but it upset the mainstream therapies because quite frankly it was a little bit weird. Now termed emotional freedom techniques or EFT, we often call it tapping because it describes the stimulation of acupuncture points on the body. Now before we get any further, let's talk about those mainstream therapies. You may know there's been three great waves, if you like, and we really did start in the beginning with Freud and you might recall we used to lie on the couch and have our therapy lying down.
But after that came what we call the behavioralists. And you may have heard of Pavlov who used to ring the bell when his dog salivated when he presented them his food. And of course, after that, we had Skinner who used to do experiments on rats. And then what we've seen in the third great wave of psychotherapy is the cognitive approach. So cognitive behavioral therapy, where really what we've learnt is that your thoughts impact your feelings and of course that changes your behavior and your physiology. And now we have blends such as mindfulness.
But there could be a fourth wave that is emerging and these represent the body based somatic therapies. You may have heard of EMDR, the eye movement desensitization reprocessing therapy.
And now what I'm proposing is that EFT, or this tapping technique may well be part of that fourth wave. Now back in the day, 1970s, in the 80s, trying to explain to somebody how EFT worked used phrases such as the body's energy system and meridians because it's philosophy was grounded in eastern approaches, acupuncture, but let me tell you at an academic level, and certainly out there in the medical field that was not well accepted.
People glazed over quite frequently with those types of phrases. We have now had the last 10 to 15 years, clinical trials that are demonstrating that tapping on or stimulating acupressure points on the body can change DNA expression, can radically reduce your stress hormone cortisol, can even change your brain's pathways. So I want to tell you a little bit more about that today, but let's come back to where I started. When I was out ... fresh out of university, clinical and health psychologist, very conservative. I certainly wasn't looking for anything weird, but I had a colleague who reached out to me. I was working in the area of eating disorders, a fairly clinical area and difficult area to work with, but the mainstream therapies were failing me. So I really probably was looking at some level. Now here was a patient man. It was back in the day of dial up internet.
Do you remember how slow that was? I wasn't that patient. He reached out and said, "Look, I have come across something. It is a little bit strange, but I think there might be something in this."
Now, I promptly ignored everything that was coming out of his mouth at that point. He'd used the words weird and strange. Several months later, fast forward, he's assisting me at an eating disorder support group, so we would regularly have 30 and 40 women turn up with eating disorders for these groups, free weekly groups. So he was assisting me. I'm in the middle of teaching a lesson and one of the young girls in the group had a panic attack. He gestured he would take her off just to the side and obviously help her calm down while I kept teaching.
Now, they were back within about five minutes and she was so calm and composed I was absolutely certain he'd given her some medication. Must have had some Valium in the back pocket. End of the night, everyone goes home. I'm fairly keen to say, "What happened? Did you have some medication?" He said, "No, I did that weird tapping thing I've been trying to tell you about." I said, "Okay."
I suspended my disbelief at that point long enough to learn a little bit more. And now of course, as an academic, I've spent the last 10 years researching the impact of tapping on acupressure points, for food cravings and emotional eating. Now before we get any further, I want to show you how this works. So we're all gonna have a go at tapping. We are going to tap on my most commonly researched area, which is food cravings and I promise, nobody's about to give up chocolate. Maybe. How do we start this? So tapping actually works and what we do to begin with is we normally do it when we have something we want to change.
So, that could be a distressed feeling. It could certainly be a food craving, but it could be chronic pain. It could be any one of those elements that we're wanting to do something about. So we normally give that a rating out of ten. So zero would represent, I'm completely calm, but 10 would represent the absolute most level of distress, craving, pain, whatever it might be. So we subjectively give that a rating. We then tap on a pressure point that's on the side of the hand here. So come on everybody do it with me so I'm not the only person tapping in the room and as we tap there we say a sentence that keeps us engaged in what it is. And we are very different to traditional therapies here in that we're very mindful. So, we actually almost at a counterintuitive level state our problem. So I'm going to show you one here and the sentence on this one is, "even though I have this food craving, I accept that I have this food craving, that I feel this way."
Now the next pressure point that we tap on is the start of the eye. So if you were to tap with two fingers there, we would also say "this craving". The next one is the side of the eye, "this craving", under the eye, "this craving", under the nose, "this craving", on the chin, probably a chocolate craving. Under the collar bone about an inch, "this craving", under the arm, "this craving" and the dead center of the head, "this craving". So that constitutes what we call a round of tapping, which took about 30 seconds. It didn't take very long at all and of course, we apply this to a multitude of different areas.
Harvard University has actually done a 10 year research trial on acupuncture points on the body and what they have shown through their brain scans and their research in clinical trials is that stimulation of these pressure points sends a signal back to the stress center in your brain called the amygdala and it tells it to calm down.
So after perhaps 10, 15 minutes of tapping on something like a food craving, that part of the brain no longer sends that response out. We of course, see that as somebody doesn't like their chocolate anymore. Is anyone interested in that? Of course, the impact might be on stress or anxiety. And like I said, we've now got 10 years worth of clinical trials across a range of different areas that show not only do things like DNA change, stress and hormones, but of course those emotional feelings that people have.
I want to talk to you today about three reasons I think tapping and particularly, the body based therapies may well represent this fourth wave that's coming through in the therapeutic space.
And look, it could be somewhat of a disruption, but we are definitely creating change in this area. Now the first reason is tapping is definitely somatic. It's body based. The second one is it works remarkably fast and the third one is it has this unique ability to update the brain's learnings.
So let's have a look at them in turn. So tapping is definitely physical and we know through other researchers that often distress is stored in the body. So you may have heard of Dr Bessel van der Kolk, the Harvard psychiatrist who wrote When the Body Keeps the Score and Bessel showed through brain scans that when people have things like posttraumatic stress disorder, a very debilitating clinical condition, that the area of the brain responsible for speech, Broca's area, goes offline when they're in that state, which means they can't talk about what it is that they need to process. He said distress and trauma gets encoded in the viscera, the body, and that means that even in the context of a warm, supportive therapeutic relationship, change may not happen.
He said, interventions need to be directed at the level of the body. And of course that's what tapping is, that we actually have to state our problem. So if that is the level of distress, that is what we would be stating. But of course, it's the tapping on the pressure points that then sends that signal back.
Now the second point here, this fourth wave, is that tapping does work remarkably fast. We know research is showing that only one hour of tapping can change 72 genes in your body. One hour of tapping can reduce the stress hormone cortisol by 24%.
We know that if you were to just rest, have a lie down or you were to just learn about stress, you'll only get a 14% reduction. So we know that we're having a profound effect here and at a fairly fast rate.
We've done brain scan studies here in Australia of food cravings. Turns out that when you look at your Instagram images or your Pinterest of all of those lovely high calorie food images, particularly after dinner, your brain fires. So that's what we did to people. We had a look at the areas of the brain firing and then we sent them away for a full week and only two hours a week of tapping, an eight hour tapping program and here's what happened four weeks later, the brain no longer fires when they look at those images of food that they have no desire for.
The last one here is in the area of post traumatic stress disorder. That only six sessions, so six hours of tapping in PTSD results in a lack of diagnosis and obviously a reduction in symptoms there that's noticeable to the naked eye. Now gold standard therapies recommend 18 sessions. If we're achieving that, obviously in six, the question might really be here are indeed all therapies really equal. Now of course the idea comes up, has it been compared to gold standards and of course it has and one of the big areas has been test anxiety. So, certainly as an academic, I see my own students in exam times freezing and forgetting. So when we run test anxiety clinical trials, certainly, when we compare to coordinative behavioral therapy, CBT, that it's comparable, EFT tapping and CBT at the end of the treatment are highly comparable. They get the same outcomes.
But here's where the difference lies. It only takes two sessions of tapping to get that outcome. It takes five when you do cognitive behavioral therapy. When you have a look at our food craving research, at the end of a 12 month intervention, so 12 months later when they're finished, EFT tapping and cognitive behavioral therapy are very comparable. They get the outcomes, but it only takes eight weeks of tapping and that's only two hours a week, 8 weeks to get those outcomes and they stay. They remain 12 months later. It takes six months before people that go through cognitive behavior therapy, achieve those outcomes and then obviously maintain them.
It brings us to this last point. Tapping seems to have an ability to update the brain's learnings. So you might think spider in the corner, phobic response, I'll do some tapping, but next time I see a spider, I might have to tap again or chocolate cake, do some tapping. Next time I see a chocolate cake, I have to tap again. And actually the answer is you might not.
So our research is showing, and certainly the long term follow up is showing that once you've done the initial tapping, it lasts over time. This is good news, perhaps for the chocoholics that are out there and look, here's a standard phone call. So it's a year later, we finished our intervention and here's what happens. I ring Mary, "Mary, it's Dr Peta Stapleton here, just calling out. It's been a year now since you're in our trial, how's things going with your food cravings?"
She says, "Yes, I remember that trial. It was really great. We all brought our food into the groups." And I say, "Do you remember what you did you're tapping on?" And there's dead silence on the end of the phone. "Now, Mary?" Mary says, "I know I tapped on something, but I can't remember what it was." I'll remind Mary it was chocolate. Everybody picks chocolate. "It was chocolate and you were eating six, seven, eight bars a day." She goes, "That's right. I remember that. I haven't had one of those for the last year." And of course, we know that the impact of how tapping affects the brain now, that kind of response is becoming common place. Not only is it no longer an issue, but they've forgotten that it ever was an issue. Of course, we keep track of that so that we can actually help them out.
So there appears to be three things if you want to update your brain's learnings, you've got old chocoholic habits or certainly a worry or a stress feeling or whatever it might be. There's three things you need to do. One, you actually have to access the feeling, which really is counterintuitive to a lot of approaches that hope someone can just reframe, make a new meaning or indeed think more positively. In tapping, we actually state the problem, which almost seems like the opposite of what we're used to in these therapies, but at the same time you have that feeling you have to do an opposite. A contrary state, which one would think is one of calm. Now, I don't know the last time you sat in front of a chocolate cake and had a craving, and when I need to feel calm in front of my chocolate cake, it is a fairly difficult thing to do.
But of course in tapping, what we do is apply it straight away. So we start to tap on those pressure points and we send that signal back to the amygdala to feel calm. Of course, then we get a decrease in something like a craving or chronic pain or worry or anxiety in the body. The repetition of that to give the brain a different meaning, of course, in tapping is that repetition of several rounds. So it kind of brings us back to, I guess, where we started that maybe what we've got on our hands here is a fourth wave. Maybe we are creating change in the therapy space and this wave may well be a tidal one. We seem to have the ultimate stress management tool and the research is building, but it's certainly worth another look. It looks different to the first, second and third wave therapies and it is unusually rapid. But if we can achieve the same outcomes for people, our patients and our clients in half the time, and obviously half the cost, might we not consider that true emotional freedom. Thank you.