A Mind-Body Practice: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

As learning specialists, professional tutors, and teachers alike, over the last decade, many of us have witnessed firsthand with our students and clients that soft academic skills and educational strategies are not enough. For the long educational journey ahead, naturally, our academic and social responsibilities increase as we move toward adulthood. Our student’s today thrive when they have learned specific healthy coping skills. The use of these skills coupled with school accommodations in the learning moment is a powerful combination for success. When a student has healthy coping skills accessible in their own “toolbox,” for them to use in the learning moment (e.g., a seventh grade Life Science test with a lab, or tenth grade Chemistry final exam in addition to using one’s academic accommodations for 50% extra time and/or while taking a test one-on-one, or in a small group for a reduction of distraction) students shine. 

It is ever more important for students to create resilience. As relationship psychotherapist, Esther Perel, says, “…you create resilience, not learn it. It is to know how to use your resources effectively for life’s uncertainties.” And, for students, to know how to use this as a “tool” in their toolbox for life, knowing how to manage their academic anxiety and student identity, while learning the greatest gift of all: self-acceptance and self-compassion. 

When parents call my office at school, and the same concerns are evident in my private practice, I often hear them share that while academic anxiety increases from middle school to high school, their self-worth, self-perception and self-love is further depleted. For alternatives to intervention with anxiety management, many parents often ask for referrals for targeting support with a different approach. My dear colleague, and friend, Susan Gonzales, EFT, former Learning Specialist at Crossroads School (2012 – 2022), shared with me her new professional journey harnessing in on emotions stored within the body to release the negative energy and associations from the student’s learning experience for creating a calm self to change the automatic response and shifting to a refocus on the task at hand. 

Susan reconnected with me over a morning Zoom and coffee as she shared with me her years of wisdom and insight as an Educational Therapist since 1999. Her new professional journey, a post-pandemic decision in education she “… researched and thought and searched, and nearly a year ago, I embarked on an inspiring journey to expand my professional offerings to include Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), powerful tools for stress reduction.” 

EFT, commonly known as “tapping”, is a mind-body practice that combines elements of exposure and cognitive therapy with tapping on acupressure points. Susan further explained that “…we carry our emotions as sensations in our bodies. As tapping sends a signal of safety to the body, stress releases, naturally.” 

This practice resonated with me right away. Over 100 evidence-based research studies demonstrate that tapping effectively relieves symptoms of depression, anxiety, phobias, and PTSD. Susan recognized the connections to how important these life skills are for students as she has known all along as an Educational Therapist and School Learning Specialist for more than 24 years. 

“First and foremost, we cannot effectively engage in executive processes while we are in a state of stress. We saw this in full focus during the pandemic as educators….” She further explained in our conversation that despite our best efforts as educators, our students in schools’, and our clients’ in our private practices, remain in a holding pattern, “stuck” like glue if there is unresolved emotional distress attached to the learning goals and outcomes. 

Lasly, Susan highlighted that tapping can work directly with the brain’s emotional centers to release (often quickly) the grip of old, automatic patterns of response and behavior. In other words, tapping supports the sensory information with an opportunity for a safe exposure to create a calming signal to the body when it is exposed to the negative feelings, associated with an experience (e.g., test anxiety, and college readiness around planning and admissions). To learn more please visit Susan GonzalesEFT or email her directly at susan@susangonzalesEFT.com

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