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Dealing with the emotional fallout of cancer (EFT)

Breast Cancer Haven

Breast Cancer Haven provides free support for people affected by breast cancer from its network of centres across the country, including the West Midlands.

There, people can access a range of emotional support, therapies and practical advice tailored to their own particular needs and concerns.

A range of helpful therapies can help with side-effects and the emotional fallout from diagnosis and treatment. Some, including massage, acupuncture and counselling are well known, but other therapies are less common. Here, Breast Cancer Haven discusses how Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) - sometimes described as ‘acupuncture without the needles’, can help with a range of emotional and physical concerns.

How does EFT ‘Tapping’ work?

EFT is a form of acupuncture but without needles. We show how to tap on the body’s well established acupuncture points whilst focusing on an emotional or physical problem.

  • People often feel calmer, lighter more peaceful following a session of EFT or Tapping.
  • EFT can be used to address all aspects of a person: body, mind and spirit.
  • When addressing issues, the intention is to release negative emotion and focus on the body’s capacity to help itself.

Tapping on the body’s acupressure points releases stress and calms the body’s nervous system (it gives the body’s nervous system an opportunity to rest).

This allows the person to clear their head and regain their confidence and control. With the mind clear and the stress/anxiety being released, the visitor’s body is able to focus on regaining its strength and energy.

One of the positive side effects of releasing stress and anxiety is that visitors often find this can help them sleep better.

EFT can be helpful at every stage of breast cancer, from the shock of diagnosis – through distressing body changes like hair loss, anxiety about the effects on family, the physical side effects of treatment – to the fear of the cancer returning and what the future may bring. It can be very helpful when the treatment ceases and visitors feel they are on their own.

EFT is ideal for helping to reduce a persons focus on their body and future in a negative way. By dealing with the emotional burdens of the past as well as fear and anxieties for the future, EFT assists in promoting a feeling of trust and wellbeing.

With EFT we always start with where our visitor is at the moment. What negative emotional and or physical barrier is getting in the way? How would they like to feel? The use of EFT helps to knock down barriers and assist people in worrying less about the past and the future; we often find people are able to live in the moment and focus on what they can control and how they want to feel.

We also teach people affected by breast cancer to use EFT themselves so they can use it at home, just when they need it.

Other common challenges EFT can help with:

  • Losing control - the confident person who was once in control of the house, family, their career are often left feeling traumatised by the diagnosis and treatment
  • Emotional distress. Constantly stressed, feeling weak, helpless, lost, often putting on a brave face, working off a reserve tank of energy and therefore easily knocked off balance
  • Worrying about every ache or pain
  • Emotional stress: shock, fear, guilt, anger, sadness, anxiety, panic, self-pity, grief etc
  • Finding it difficult to ask for help. Unable put themselves first by sometimes saying ‘no’
  • Negative body image

Positive Change   

We have an underlying programme that runs our life. Often, because of stress, fears and traumatic experiences that programme does not serve us well. This is especially significant in people suffering with cancer as the body’s fight or flight response to stress is constantly being triggered. Incredibly, EFT can be used to release that stress and reprogram the circuit.

We show visitors subtle tapping points they can use at any time that send calming messages to the brain. This has proven to be a great source of comfort for visitors who may be worried about attending a consultation or whenever they feel stressed.

By helping visitors release not only the past, but also their fears and worries about the future, it brings to the surface the essence of them; their talents, strengths and spirit. This allows them to take small positive steps along a new path, enabling them to feel optimistic and excited about the future.