Don’t write off “woo-woo” approaches to teen anxiety

I’ve spoken before on this blog here, and on my podcast Teenage Kicks, about teenage anxiety and good mental health strategies for teens. But what if you’ve exhausted all the medical options and your teenager is still struggling? My guest on this episode of the podcast suffered huge anxiety as a teenager. After trying all the traditional medical remedies for stress, Devorah Goldblatt discovered something she never thought would work – EFT tapping.

EFT tapping for anxiety in teens.

What is EFT?

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques and involves tapping on acupressure points to reduce emotional distress. It’s an evidence-based treatment for anxiety, depression, PTSD and phobias that’s backed up with solid research.

Devorah explains how she was hospitalised with severe anxiety and PTSD as a teenager, following an assault. She says she had all the support possible, but still couldn’t get past her depression and trauma. It took a “woo-woo” friend, who convinced her to give EFT a try, to open her eyes to her own ticket back to recovery.

Devorah describes how “cringe” she found the class (speaking my language!) But she went along with it and to her amazement, her stress reduced noticeably – immediately.

Can you learn EFT online?

Now I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic where alternative therapies are concerned, so when Devorah invited me into a live experiment of tapping whilst I was online recording the podcast, I was out of my comfort zone! Listen to the podcast to find out what happened with my very real anxiety when I tried tapping for the first time.

EFT tapping benefits

EFT can be practiced anywhere – Devorah explains how her teenage clients tap in the toilets at school before an exam, and in the car before a driving lesson. So it’s just as good for in-the-moment stress like exam nerves and panic attacks as it is for long term anxiety and depression. Plus, tapping is completely harmless and non-toxic, involving no medications or treatments. It’s also free, once you’ve learned how to do it.

Tapping has also been proven to help with sports performance (search athletes tapping on YouTube – it’s even been used by professional athletes at the Olympic games), and after trauma of any kind; in the USA it’s being used by experts to help war veterans.

How to do EFT tapping

Devorah gives a full explanation of how to tap on her website, but here’s the EFT tapping script she took me through. First she made sure I was hydrated, as that helps. Then she asked me to pick a particular anxiety of mine (the more specific you can be, the better) and rate it on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being maximum intensity. She used this to create a set-up phrase that I would repeat (it felt like a mantra to me) as I was tapping. For me it was “Even though my child will be alone in the night with her diabetes, I deeply and completely love and accept myself, and it’s going to be okay.” which Devorah said was a mouthful – yours doesn’t have to be so lengthy.

Tapping activates the amygdala in the brain, which becomes highly activated under times of stress. It’s also where we process emotional memories. Tapping on these acupressure points helps to regulate the amygdala’s response as you’re focusing on your particular anxiety.

Next, tapping the fingers of one hand quite quickly (but comfortably) several times, she talked me through tapping on:

  • The side of my hand below my little finger
  • The crown of my head
  • The side of my eyebrow closest to my nose
  • The other end of my eyebrow closest to my ear
  • Underneath my eye on the bone
  • Under my nose
  • Under my mouth
  • Just underneath my collarbone
  • Under my armpit, just above my bra band

All of these were done whilst repeating my personalised statement, moving quite quickly from one point to the next intuitively. Devorah says that teenagers often don’t want to keep repeating their statement, but reassured me that it’s possible to have relief just from the tapping, once that initial tapping on the first point is done. So it’s absolutely something that can be done quietly when they don’t want anyone to hear them. The trick is to mentally focus internally on the the issue that causes the anxiety.

For me, there’s a deep fear of low blood sugar in the night, because I had a friend with diabetes at university who died in her sleep. As my tapping progressed I switched my focus from a generalised anxiety to that specific fear, which came up part way through the process. As you will hear in the podcast recording, Devorah says that’s really natural, and lots of people shift focus during a tapping session. I also found I was getting relief by staying on one specific point, and Devorah confirmed that that happens too, and is just as useful as going through the whole routine. It felt very intuitive to me.

Listen to the podcast

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Who is Devorah Goldblatt?

Devorah is a holistic counselor helping teens and early 20’s overcome depression and anxiety with holistic modalities.

Devorah’s depression and anxiety resolved permanently after 3 months of holistic treatment — and has never recurred in nearly 20 years. That’s why she does the work she does.

She believes passionately that when we tell people that the only way to heal anxiety and depression is with medication and mainstream therapy, we are doing them a huge disservice.

She also believes that with the skyrocketing rates of anxiety and depression in our teens, it is unconscionable that we are not equipping every one of these kids with holistic tools that are now evidence-based treatments for depression and anxiety.

Subscribe to the Teenage Kicks podcast

Thank you so much for listening! I really appreciate every listener, and would love you to subscribe and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to explore previous episodes that might be of interest to you or a friend – including losing a parent, being hospitalised with mental health problems, and battling an eating disorder.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for future topics on the Teenage Kicks podcast. Contact me here, or you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @iamhelenwills. I appreciate every message, and love to hear from my listeners.

For information on your data privacy please visit Zencastr. Please note that I am not a medical expert, and nothing in this blog or in the podcast should be taken as medical advice. If you’re worried about a young person please seek support from a medical professional.

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