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Tapping with Teens A Self-Care Practice Everyone in the Family Can Use by Jill Greenbaum, Ed.D.

Imagine the life of a teen: busy, exhausting, exciting, and filled with moments of uncertainty, emotional highs and lows, and relationships that are intense, tense, and mercurial. The life of a teen is often like being on a roller coaster. While the highs can be extremely fun and rewarding, the low points and the ever-constant changes taking place, definitely take their toll.

Our lives hold a variety of experiences—times when we get to realize our hopes and dreams and also times full of worry, sadness, and uncertainty. When problems are specific, like a fight with a parent, stress around an upcoming test or event, a poor grade or an argument with a friend, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can provide relief. EFT or tapping is an effective method for handling the stressors that arise in our lives.

What is EFT/Tapping?

EFT is a collection of self-help techniques that enable us to work more effectively with our mind-body connection. It can help us to lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives. EFT is founded on an understanding of Eastern meridian systems of the body and the way that our thought and energy fields interact with the body. Tapping is comprised of simple, fast, and effective techniques that can relieve distress and anxious feelings, and other emotional and physical issues through tapping on energy meridians or acupoints. While there are certified EFT practitioners, everyone can learn the basics to achieve greater clarity and emotional stability.

How do I start tapping?

EFT practitioners partner with clients— children, teens and adults—to identify an issue or concern. For teens, it might be feeling anxious about an upcoming event, an important conversation with a friend, a memory of a failed test, or an interview for college. Tapping works best when an incident, memory, concern or issue is specific.

Next, the pair would focus on the feelings associated with the issue, identifying the intensity, and then work through a Set Up Statement about the thoughts and feelings—though not re-experiencing the issue or concern—while tapping on the fleshy ‘karate chop’ part of the hand (the acupoint) with fingers from the other hand.

After some elaboration around the issue, the tapping shifts to the meridian endpoints on the head and torso. Reminder phrases are used while tapping about the issue, feelings, and intensity. They tune the teen into the energy disruption, to interrupt the negative pattern. The phrases change over time to reflect the desired outcome and rebalance the energy so that it can move more freely throughout the body/energy system. The body relaxes and the teen experiences an increase in the sense of self-control bringing relief, comfort, and confidence.

EFT is a simple, though not simplistic, process. Getting clear on the issue, discovering the feelings and one’s intensity around it, working through the process using the right language and sorting out any additional related concerns take time and patience.

When and how often should I tap?

Tapping can be done whenever it feels appropriate—and there may be times when tapping as described above might be awkward. However, these meridian points are places that can be rubbed while out in public, in a subtle way. The language that is used can be said to oneself and not aloud. The beauty of tapping is that it is always available at our fingertips, easy to learn and use, and keeps us focused on the here and now, and what we want to achieve.

Now, imagine being the parent, guardian or grandparent of that teen— who now has the ability to manage his or her emotions even better. Wouldn’t that be a great technique to learn for those times when life happens to get overwhelming? Finding healthy habits that support us as we work and play through our lives is critical. Note: It’s important to understand that EFT is not a substitute for psychological or medical treatment.

Jill Greenbaum, Ed.D., is passionate about personal transformation. Her practice centers on relationship issues, parenting skills, and the realities of life as a teen. She primarily works with teens and their parents as they face challenges on the path from high school to college campus. She helps individuals shift from anxious, confused, and overwhelmed to confident and successful in reaching their goals. Through coaching and EFT, she helps her clients gain clarity and connection in their personal lives and relationships. For more information, contact or 201-294-1828.

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