Over 30,000 people search Google about EFT or tapping therapy every month. What does tapping have to do with trauma, and how can you use this self-soothing technique to feel safe and calm in-the-moment?
If you’ve experienced trauma, you’ve probably noticed you sometimes feel things or do things that don’t line up with the current situation. For example: why can’t I trust someone who has always been kind to me? Or: why do I keep doing this thing that I know doesn’t help me?
When you’ve had trauma in your life, many of the lasting effects stem from feeling unsafe. Therefore, trauma is often associated with behaviors that boil down to either avoiding danger or finding comfort–think of addiction, isolation, commitment issues, or struggles with food. These behaviors often feel necessary to us, even if they clearly don’t make sense in the moment, because they are attempts at making ourselves feel safer.
So what if you had a healthy, easy way to self-soothe, instead of the unhelpful ways you’ve tried before? What if you could “tap out” of trauma by simply…tapping it out?
To resolve the root cause of trauma-related behaviors, you often don’t have to go into detail, re-living what happened to make you feel unsafe in the past. Instead, to combat trauma’s after-effects at home, just make yourself feel safe in the here-and-now. Try tapping.
Tapping may help reduce various indicators of stress in the body, such as heart rate, circulating cortisol levels. But if nothing else, it’s a mind-body practice that involves dedicated, mindful time to yourself.
In general, exercises that involve both the body and the mind are known to help with the after-effects of trauma, which tends to separate you from awareness of your mind, your body, or both.
It’s still unclear exactly how “tapping therapy” (formally known as Emotional Freedom Techniques or EFT) works, but it is considered “an ‘evidence-based’ practice for anxiety, depression, phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
People who have experienced trauma may especially benefit from extra self soothing skills for two reasons.
Firstly, because trauma is associated with nervous system dysregulation. If you’ve been through trauma, your nervous system may act in ways that don’t line up with the present moment. Self-soothing techniques can help bring your body back into the present.
Secondly, if your upbringing is the source of your trauma, you may not have learned self soothing skills to begin with.
Tapping is a good way to start self-soothing, because you can do it quickly, easily, on your own, and at home. Formal guidance is available, but if you’re unable to access that, you may still safely find benefit in an at-home version.
“Whether I know it or not [trauma] is running some of my decisions. It’s limiting how good I can feel. Even though I’m carrying at least somebody’s trauma, I choose to deeply and completely love, honor, and accept myself.”
This video addresses recent trauma all the way through ancestral trauma, walking you through an 8 minute tapping practice. It also includes the key disclaimer: “Please remember to take full responsibility for your own well-being – practice great self care, and seek appropriate professional assistance as needed. Thank you :)”
For those who feel extra stressed by hearing voices, this tapping guide from Ulf Sandström simply demonstrates what to do using an animation. Copy the character in the video over the course of 5 minutes.
“This video shows a first aid self-help technique that has proven helpful in calming emotional responses related to stress and traumatic experiences. While it has been an effective first aid treatment for many people experiencing different kinds of trauma, it is not intended to replace professional help or psychotherapy.”
The Tapping Solution promotes the use of EFT techniques “to relieve stress, reduce physical pain, and release pent-up emotions.”
Here is one viewer’s take on the tapping technique: “I am the biggest skeptic when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I just did this at my desk at work 3 times and I already feel better.”
Tapping may help you to calm down when feeling triggered or “activated” by trauma. By starting a proactive habit of tapping for trauma, you may help keep yourself in the present, and hopefully tone down some of the unhelpful impulses that come with unresolved trauma.
What do you feel when you use tapping to soothe trauma symptoms? Have you tried it? Want to talk to others who have? Peers are available to chat 24/7 at the anonymous online support network.