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11.04.09

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Happy Tapping

Rob Nelson's quest to heal eco-depression

By Juliane Poirier


A new form of energy therapy is credited with helping even the most eco-depressed people recover their positive thinking. Developed by a Sonoma County local, emotional freedom techniques (EFT) is an East-West touch, or tapping, therapy that allegedly cures the depression that sensitive people feel in response to planetary crises. More significantly perhaps, for the past 15 years it has helped war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Help is in the fingers. Santa Rosa EFT practitioner Rob Nelson claims a half-hour of this guided tapping can often do the trick. "Some clients have come to me virtually paralyzed by anguish over the state of the earth. Some people reach such a level of hopelessness that they can hardly get out of bed in the morning," Nelson says. "We're talking serious depression."

To help folks, Nelson gives tapping sessions. Along the body's chi meridians, mapped by Chinese physicians centuries ago, EFT therapists show clients how and where to rhythmically tap away what's bothering them. "We use about nine acupuncture meridian points, close to the surface," Nelson explains. "Instead of inserting needles, we tap on these points while calling up whatever is disturbing the person. It may be an old trauma. But it doesn't matter what the cause is. The tapping sequence will still work. Even young children can learn to use it."

Nelson claims the method can be self-taught at a basic level by using a manual downloadable for free at www.emofree.com. Other more advanced materials are "modestly priced and can be copied up to 100 times to give, not sell, to others," says founder Gary Craig of Sea Ranch. Craig is a Stanford-trained engineer, self-described as an outsider to the field of psychology. "I've always had an interest in personal psychology, but I'm not stuck in the conventions of someone trained in the field," Craig says.

Free, then, to experiment, Craig recast a complicated system taught to him by psychologist Roger Callahan. "Engineers take things apart and put them back to together," Craig reminds. "So I simplified his system and put it out to the public. Now I've got hundreds of thousands of people doing this around the world. It's an emotional version of acupuncture, very simple in concept. It's a fresh look." Emotional freedom techniques differ from traditional Western psychotherapy by positing that negative emotions are disruptions in the body's energy systems.

Nelson claims the fix is fast. "It takes about half an hour to bring eco-depressed clients back to a comfort level, with a renewed sense of purpose and hope," he says.

War veterans with PTSD have proven to take a bit longer to cure—about five or six hour-long sessions. Craig and his colleagues worked in cooperation with the Veterans Administration in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s when EFT was new. "We didn't really know what we were doing then," Craig admits, "but after their sessions, veterans began sleeping better. A few even checked out of the facility. The techniques worked."

Craig and others, now including a group of EFT practitioners collaborating on an initiative called the Stress Project, have worked successfully with veterans, from those who served in Iraq to those who served in Vietnam. Their website (www.stressproject.org) streams a video depicting effects of tapping sessions on veterans (caution: footage of vets describing combat atrocities in graphic detail). The EFT sessions demonstrated measurable success, including cortisol levels reduced by an average of 25 percent. Published research shows that veterans, even those who have carried trauma in their bodies for decades, have tested negative for PTSD after completing sessions of EFT. The Stress Project has helped over 400 veterans of American wars, for free or at low cost.

Compared to combat trauma, it's no surprise that eco-depression and garden-variety anxiety are a cinch to fix with tapping. "One of the things I love about EFT is that it only eliminates the negative energies, the depression, phobias, anxiety or rage," Nelson says. The good stuff, presumably, remains. "We could tap all day, and my activist clients are never going to lose their healthy levels of outrage or their caring," he says. "They'll never lose concern for the earth."


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