Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
The paradigm for emotive release was the “cathartic method” developed by Breuer and Freud in the late 1800s, which served as the precursor of psychoanalysis. The theory behind the method was that neurosis developed as a product of psychical traumas that evoked fright, anxiety, shame, or physical pain if there had not been an adequate discharge of affect at the time.
What to expect?
Emotion then was so bound up that it could only be discharged subversively in the form of symptoms. It was posited, however, that a cure might be achieved by reviving the memory of the event and putting the buried emotion into words.
How does it work?
The idea of emotive release still form a basic part of the philosophy behind later abreactive, emotionally oriented release methods, including those of scream therapy, active analysis, narcotherapy, primal therapy, expressive hypnotherapy, bioenergetic analysis, orgone therapy or Rechian Therapy, direct analysis (Rosen J, 1947, 1962), and scientology among others.
For instance, some scream therapy interventions are rationalized by the theory that the release of rage is a precursor to eliminating resistance to emotional growth and development. In one technique to induce rage, the patient is placed on the laps of six or eight people who physically restrain him or her while the therapist, on whose lap the patient’s head rests, fires pointed questions at the patient about his or her past. Simultaneously or somewhat later the therapist tickles or prods the rib cage of the patient to induce discomfort or pain. This usually releases cries of helpless protest and violent rage. The “treatment” goes on for as long as 4-6 hours until the patient is literally exhausted. The patient is then released and embraced affectionately by members of the group and the therapy.
Various rituals are organized around each of these therapies focused on breaking down defenses to the presumably barricaded early psychic traumas. After a period of treatment with the release of a good deal of emotion and the lessening of tension we would expect an impact on the physiological state of the individual, such as the pulse, temperature, and blood pressure. This effect can be significant (Karle et al, 1973), and indicates a reduction of tension as registered on body organs. In some patients, too, there is at least temporary improvement in their psychological state as a consequence of the total therapeutic experience. Whether this improvement is any greater than in other kinds of treatment is open to question. There are some patients whose learning patterns are singularly susceptible to release techniques, particularly when rendered by an enthusiastic and charismatic therapist. Other patients fail to respond to these techniques and do better with non-release modalities to which they are more attuned.
When is it used?
The catharsis open up an awareness in the patient about the of their emotional imbalance, creating a space for personal growth of the individual. The catharsis of the negative emotions which were practically difficult to express for the client is believed to be the first step in personality reorganization.
Role of therapist:
The task of the therapist was to induce the patient to give utterance to the traumatic event “with an expression of affect.” This could be done by eliminating the defense or resistance to permit the proper release or abreaction. Neurosis was thus essentially a “splitting of consciousness” between memory and affect, the cure lying in the healing of this split.