|Updated: 7/31/2012 10:16 pm
||Published: 7/31/2012 4:31 pm
Imagine being able to instantly zap all your stress and anxiety away with just a simple touch of your fingers. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, promoters of a new form of psychotherapy called "tapping" say it works, relieving stress, phobias, food cravings, even post traumatic stress almost immediately.
The popularity of this alternative therapy is skyrocketing. But others say you may want to find out more before you try tapping.
Christine Cramer used to suffer from such severe anxiety she was unable to perform simple tasks like doing her taxes or driving over bridges.
"I became paralyzed with fear."
Brittany Watkins suffered from emotional food cravings that were ruining her life.
"Every time I was stressed or emotional or upset I would always look for sweets to make me feel better."
But now both women say they're living free of their fears, thanks to an alternative psychotherapy treatment called EFT, "Emotional Freedom Technique" - also known as "tapping."
The practice involves stimulating certain acupressure points on the body while you focus on what's stressing you out.
It can be done with the aid of a therapist or alone during a moment of anxiety.
"It tells your body that that stressful thought you're having isn't a real threat to your survival,” explains Dawson Church, PhD., Research Director of the Foundation for Epi Genetic Medicine. “And once you break the association in your mind between the stressful thought and the fight or flight response one time, it stays broken."
EFT was introduced in the 1990s, but recently its popularity has surged. This year over a half million people signed up for the world tapping summit.
"I believe within a few years we'll see it in many hospitals, many mental health clinics," Dr. Church says.
But the question remains: does it work?
Church and fellow tapping practioners have published many small scale studies showing positive results. One, to be published in the October Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, that found stress hormone levels dropped 24 percent after tapping. No drop was found in the control group.
Dr. Church explains, "So their internal stress biochemistry changed as their emotional states changed as well."
But not all researchers are convinced. A study out of Canada found that while tapping acupressure points did show a significant decrease in anxiety and fear, tapping other parts of the body - or even a doll - offered similar results.
The American Psychological Association says many more large-scale, peer reviewed studies must be performed.
"Has this tapping therapy been proven effective? We don't think so at this point," says Rhea Farberman, Executive Director for Public and Member Communications with the American Psychological Association.
But Brittany and Christine say they've found their answers and are grateful that tapping has given them a new lease on life.
"Rather than popping a pill, we can tap a couple acupressure points and immediately neutralize any negative, negative symptom we have,” Brittany says. “That's amazing!"
The APA says stress and anxiety can be serious issues for some people, but are also highly treatable via proven psychotherapy techniques. They suggest sufferers seek out a mental health professional with proper training and well-established techniques. They do not consider EFT one of these well-established techniques.