Healing approaches

The power of EFT and matrix reimprinting: Working with your ECHO

Man enjoying freedom

By Gemma Kennedy, transformational coach

I spent five intense, incredible days in Brighton recently completing a number of practitioner courses with Karl Dawson, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Master and founder of the ‘matrix reimprinting’ approach, which builds on it. Here is an overview of some of the things I learned:

What is EFT?

EFT, which is also known as tapping, was first introduced to the public by Gary Craig in 1995. Craig found that tapping on the body’s meridian points with your fingertips released trauma and improved both mental and physical symptoms.

After sharing his knowledge, often for free, at large conferences and recorded training sessions, EFT spread around the world and is becoming increasingly popular as a tool in the rapidly-growing field of ‘energy psychology’. This term is used to describe the coming together of ancient Eastern wisdom with modern-day psychology and neurology. Often described as acupuncture without the needles, EFT can be useful for all kinds of issues, including anxiety, depression, phobias, and addictions.

Moreover, with scientists such as Bruce Lipton giving such ideas more credibility by demonstrating the link between emotional disharmony and physical dis-ease, EFT is now being used to deal with chronic illness more and more – and often with fascinating results. The publication of more than 55 peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the efficacy of tapping and other energy psychology approaches also means that its use is only expected to grow.

Dawson says: “In essence, with tapping, we verbally and energetically tune in to an issue – emotional, physical, mental or spiritual – and tap on several different acupoints on the body whilst repeating a reminder phrase about the issue. This then reduces the fight or flight signal from the brain and results in emotional and cognitive shifts.”

The beauty of EFT is that it can achieve powerful results in a shorter timeframe than many conventional talking therapies. What clients might spend months or even years talking about may be solved in a limited number of EFT sessions. Some issues take longer as a result of deep trauma or the persistent nature of core beliefs, but this is where ‘matrix reimprinting’ really comes into its own.

Inner child

How matrix reimprinting builds on EFT

While EFT can bring down the intensity of feeling surrounding particular issues, matrix reimprinting goes further by helping to create a harmonious picture around an event. Doing so raises an individual’s vibration and, according to Dawson, “floods your system with positive energy and beliefs every time you pull it up”.

These events could be either small or large traumas. But the idea is that, whether you experienced a natural disaster or were on the receiving end of a seemingly insignificant comment as a child, you will have formed a belief about yourself or the world that will continue to affect you until you find a resolution. Matrix enables you to do so without being re-traumatised, which can happen with some other therapeutic approaches.

Using EFT as the cornerstone, matrix reimprinting enables clients to work with their younger selves or ECHOs (Energetic Conscious Holograms). In other modalities, the ECHO is referred to as the inner child.

Many believe that, in the case of trauma, part of us splits off to protect ourself, while another part relives the event repeatedly as though it had never ended. It is this reliving of trauma that matrix can bring to an end, both because we stay separate from our younger selves during the session and because the memory is completed, allowing us to move forward.

To demonstrate how this approach works, I will share an example. For as long as Olivia could remember, she had experienced low self-worth and a negative body image. As a result, she had tried various therapies to little avail.

During a session, her therapist used EFT to tune into her body’s discomfort and asked her subconscious to take her back to a time when she had previously experienced the same feeling. A memory came up of when she was 20 and had been stood up on a date.

When asked for an earlier experience of the feeling, she was able to connect with a memory of when she was 13 and had been bullied during a physical education class because her classmates considered her “overweight”. She was next taken back to the age of six when one of her parents had shouted at her, telling her not to eat another biscuit or she would be “as big as a bus.”

lost little girl

Working with your ECHO

By going back to that earliest memory and working with her ECHO, she was able to calm her younger self down and query what beliefs she had formed about herself that day. The ECHO told her that she felt unloveable and unattractive. Looking at the other memories in the same stream, she noticed how her later experiences had further compounded these beliefs.

Having identified the beliefs that little Olivia had formed, she was then invited to bring in anyone, or anything, who had helped support her. She talked about her granny, who reminded her that she was enough just the way she was, and her pet hamster who she felt loved her unconditionally.

She also told her ECHO that the way her parent had reacted that day was linked to their own issues rather than to Olivia herself. Once this picture was as positive as she could make it, Olivia was guided through the reimprinting process and asked to revisit the memory daily over the coming weeks to assist in re-wiring her brain. The aim was to cement her new beliefs of being loveable and of her body being good enough just as it was.

While these are likely to be deeply ingrained beliefs that would require more than one session in order to work through other reinforcing memories, the resolution and shift in perspective afforded to Olivia were still invaluable.

Hopefully it is clear that this approach is not about pretending a memory never happened. Instead it is simply about changing the meaning that is attributed to it, allowing us to change how we engage with the world moving forward.

I, for one, was certainly struck by the transformation experienced by both myself and my peers in only 30 to 60 minutes, a situation that makes the possibilities of matrix reimprinting potentially truly endless.

If you would like to find out more about the approach, Dawson has written a book entitled ‘Transform your Beliefs, Transform your Life’, which is available from both Hay House and Amazon.

Gemma Kennedy

Gem Kennedy is a Body Positive activist and transformational coach. Having started her first diet aged 10 and spent many years promising herself that this would be the year to lose weight and start living, a switch flicked in 2017 when she discovered the Body Positive and Fat Activist communities. After training as a transformational coach, she now specialises in coaching and mentoring clients both individually and in groups to help them shed the burden of today’s diet culture and feel confident enough to be in the world exactly as they are, right now.

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Healing approaches

Men’s mental health: Talking about the issues that matter

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By Helen Preston, counsellor

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of campaigning to highlight issues around men’s mental health. High-profile males from the world of sport, the music and entertainment business as well as the royal family have all been open and honest about their personal struggles with mental wellbeing.

But although such candidness has paved the way for a more honest discussion of male vulnerability, many of my male clients’ report feeling exposed and weak if they share with their family and friends that they are struggling to cope with painful emotional challenges.

Maybe there was a time when ‘man up’ meant ‘shut up’, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how many men actually take the step of coming for counselling – although some do admit to being ‘sent’ by their wives, partners or mothers.

In this instance, they often show initial reluctance to explore their feelings and have little aim other than to appease their loved ones (who are frequently much more aware of the struggle going on within them than they think). But they come along anyway and, with rare exceptions, continue to come.

More recently though, it has been noticeable how many men are referring themselves. Some say that because male mental health issues are spoken about more publicly these days, they feel more confident to seek help.

For example, a recent episode of ITV drama Cold Feet raised the issue of men in counselling and portrayed the process quite positively. Adam, a happy-go-lucky, Jack the Lad character is shown to have unresolved emotional ‘stuff’ going on too.

As a counsellor working with men, it is heartening to see – especially as 75% of people who commit suicide are males, with men between the ages of 45 and 49 the most likely group to take their own life. Nonetheless, figures from the Samaritans show that the male suicide rate in the UK is currently at its lowest in more than 30 years – and those are statistics worth talking about.

During counselling sessions, men are offered a safe and confidential space to discuss their fears and concerns. Many judge themselves harshly as being weak for having negative feelings and angry or fearful emotions. They believe they are the only ones feeling this way and that there is something wrong with them. But counselling helps them recognise that they are not on their own.

Compounding the problem

Unfortunately though, it appears that modern social influences are compounding the problem and making men more fearful. While throughout history, some men have done terrible things, it is certainly not all of them. But feminism, while empowering for women, can feel to men as if it is just about male-bashing.

This situation may account for the popularity of Canadian psychologist, Professor Jordan Peterson. His book ‘12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos’ has been topping best-seller lists for some time, and his YouTube videos are hugely popular with young men. In these works, he explores what is going on for males and why so many of the young ones in particular are so disillusioned.  

One of the key issues here is that, with all of the social change that has taken place over the last 40 years, men are now unsure of how to behave. Is holding open a door for a woman polite or an insult? Is paying for dinner still a ‘requirement’ or out of step with ideals of sexual equality? Is it OK to approach a woman in a bar and complement her on how she looks (when she has obviously taken the time to look good) or is that too intrusive?

The most surprising thing for me as a female on becoming a counsellor was just how much boys and young men have to deal with. Almost all the teenagers I have worked with suffer from anxiety and depression. There is a general lack of self-confidence and self-belief.

Fear of failure is also a big issue, even with young men who are bright and achieving well academically. But the biggest revelation of all was the levels of shame they experience. Shame is a big one for everyone to deal with, but social media seems to make it almost unbearable. There was a time when mistakes could be made in private and lessons learned quietly, but not any more.

The young men I work with tell me that they find relationships a minefield. They fear being publicly humiliated and shamed by girls they have dated or have chatted with online. Boys have feelings too, and some girls can be incredibly hurtful.

Then there is the beauty industry. Having saturated the female market, it has now moved onto males, resulting in boys being exposed, and conditioned to conform, to the same unreal images. As a result, boys are more insecure than ever about how they look, with eating disorders, self-harming, anxiety and depression all becoming more common.

Strength

Sharing emotional struggles

However, talking therapies give men an opportunity to know and understand themselves better, to explore what is real, to find solutions and to make positive changes. It is about reframing past negative experiences.

Most importantly, they can also spend time in a space where there is no judgment – and in a world where they feel constantly judged, that can feel very liberating. It is possible to explore what is going on for them in a safe environment in order to understand what is bringing about their mental struggles, which often manifests itself in physical pain.

Key questions include: what does being a man mean to them? Where did they learn about what being a man is and are there ways of doing things that feel more authentic for them? In terms of role models, some of my older male clients are still doing what they were taught when they were brought up, even though it does not bring them, or those around them, either satisfaction or happiness.

Indeed, too many experience loneliness, even if they are in long-term relationships. Key challenges include family pressures; being the main provider; supporting a spouse while still trying to focus on work; fear of losing their job or of re-entering the workplace following time out after redundancy or illness, and anxiety that if they confide in their partner about how they feel they will be seen as weak and not manly enough.

In general, women find it easier to share their emotional struggles with each other. But men often don’t. Some, for various reasons, lose the group of friends they once had and find it hard to make new ones – which is why counselling can be such an important avenue towards supporting their metal wellbeing.

So let’s keep on talking about these issues. Let’s make it more acceptable for men to talk to a counsellor in non-judgemental confidence about their particular struggles. Let’s help them understand that there are ways to move beyond what may seem like impossible obstacles, and that talking about it out loud can help.

With this in mind, if you know a man who is struggling, take a moment to ask him if he’s really OK. Just encourage him to talk because it really can make a world of difference.

Helen Preston

Helen Preston is a counsellor, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) expert and reiki practitioner. Her approach to therapy acknowledges the crucial inter-relationship of mind, body and spirit. Helen is a member of the National Counselling Society and has an Advanced Diploma in psychotherapy and counselling, a Diploma in Hypnotherapy and an EFT Master Practitioner certificate. 

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A healthy heart: What’s love got to do with it?

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By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist

The heart represents many things. More than just an organ that pumps oxygenated blood around our bodies to keep us alive, it is also a universal symbol of love and governs our ability to give and receive this vital emotion.

As a result, the kind of language we use in relation to the heart tends to be quite profound. We say things are ‘heartfelt’ and advise others to ‘speak from the heart’ or ‘follow your heart’. The phrase ‘you can’t decide with your head, you need to trust your heart’ is also a common one and positions this important organ as a key link between mind and body.

In physiological terms alone, the heart is an incredible machine. The size of a fist, it weighs about 10oz (283 grams) and beats around 70 times a minute. In that time, it moves five to seven litres of blood around the body, or up to 7,600 litres a day. Without its constant activity, we would die immediately.

The heart also has its own electromagnetic field, which being the largest in the body, permeates every cell and sends signals to our brain. Electrocardiograms (ECG) have indicated that the power of this field is 60 times greater than that of brain waves and can be measured several feet away from the body. The heart and brain synchronise through these energetic impulses and scientists working in the relatively new discipline of neurocardiology believe they are the basis of heart-brain communication.

These scientists have also discovered that the heart is a sensory organ, which consists of 40,000 neurons that are commonly associated with the brain. In fact, according to the HeartMath Institute: “The heart acts as a sophisticated information encoding and processing centre that enables it to learn, remember and make independent functional decisions that do not involve the cerebral cortex” of the brain.

Such information may help to explain why cardiac surgeons counsel patients and family members about the surprising after-effects of some heart transplant surgery. The patient who receives a donated organ can take on the characteristics, memories, tastes and preferences of the donor.

heart-brainlink

Heart-brain link

Recipients may also recall their donor’s personal details and in some instances, recognise and even feel love for their family and friends. In the words of Dr Daniel Keown, a practitioner of both Eastern and Western medicine and author of ‘The Spark in the Machine’, this scenario would appear to indicate that the heart has carried the donor’s memories within itself and shared them with its new recipient’s brain.

But there is also other evidence of a heart-brain link. For example, more heart attacks take place at 9am on a Monday morning than at any other time of the week, possibly due to an association with stressful situations such as work.

Stress-induced or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, otherwise known as broken heart syndrome, likewise occurs when part of the heart is temporarily no longer able to pump well. This condition is commonly seen in patients following the death of a loved one. Metaphorically and physically, they are heart-broken.

But the heart is just as responsive to love and compassion. According to Deepak Chopra in his book ‘Training the Mind, Healing the Body’, the survival rate of patients who have had a heart attack is 80% higher if they believe their partner loves them. Research also shows that people who are in loving, kind and affectionate relationships experience less hardening of the arteries.

If someone is caught up in negative emotions such as anger, frustration or anxiety, on the other hand, their heart rhythms become more erratic and disordered as the endocrine system responds to the situation and their body goes into fight or flight mode.

Experiencing positive emotions such as appreciation, love or compassion produces the opposite effect though, creating highly ordered or coherent patterns that move the body into a state of peace. The heartbeat becomes even and synchronises with other bodily functions, such as blood pressure, digestion and breathing, which calms everything down.

boy gives flowers

Being kind

Another consideration in this context are the health benefits of being kind. The feelings generated from performing acts of kindness and compassion, or even of simply witnessing them, creates oxytocin – the ‘happiness hormone’ – in our body. Oxytocin, in turn, produces nitric oxide, which softens the walls of our arteries, improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.

So it makes sense, both for ourselves and others, to choose a day each week to undertake kind acts. As Dr David Hamilton indicates in his books ‘Molecules of Kindness‘ and ‘Born to be Kind’: “We are genetically wired for kindness. The kindness gene, in fact, is 500 million years old – it’s one of our most ancient genes – which is WHY kindness impacts our biochemistry. It’s our deepest nature.”

Hugging someone, including your pet, is also another great way to produce oxytocin. Doing so will lead to a drop in your heart rate, reduce your stress hormones, cut your production of free radicals and lessen inflammation.

A lovely correction technique that I also use from the Creative Kinesiology school of practice is called ‘Heart Appreciation’. You can try it yourself by simply concentrating your mind on someone or something that you really appreciate and feeling how good it feels to do so.

Then breathe the feeling into your heart and let it spread throughout your entire body. Imagine your heart as a cup and watch it overflow. Your whole body will relax and your energy levels will rise significantly. Because it really is about feeling the love at every level – in body, mind and most particularly in the heart.

Anita Ramsden

Anita Ramsden is a kinesiologist. She is emphatic about affecting positive change and her work encourages wellbeing for mind, body and soul. Anita is also a member of the Kinesiology Federation.

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Counselling: Embarking on a journey of self-discovery

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By Helen Preston, counsellor, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) expert and reiki practitioner.

People who come for counselling generally wish to understand either themselves or a situation, or both. The goal can, and often does, change as sessions progress, but therapy creates a safe, non-judgmental space where it is possible to discuss anything.

Current issues may spark off unresolved issues from the past. Areas of unhealed pain and suffering may come to the surface. When we as individuals try to process problems alone in our own heads, our viewpoint is often limited and we may feel stuck and hopeless. But therapy can offer a new perspective from which to find a solution.

The point is that we can only view the world from our own perspective, which is gained through experience. This may result in us thinking we are the only person in the world feeling the way we do and no one understands us or how we feel. It is a very lonely place to be.

But counselling offers an opportunity to be understood and, perhaps even more importantly, not to be judged simply for being who we are. After all, each one of us is a work in progress and has the capacity to grow and flourish. Therapy can help you move from merely surviving to thriving.

What should you expect?

The first session is often the hardest so it is important to feel at ease with your counsellor. You are seeing a stranger with the intention of sharing painful and intimate details about yourself and your life. I believe it is always important to acknowledge this situation and each client’s courage and vulnerability.

Therapy happens at a pace that the client dictates. It is like digging for a diamond and fresh insights are revealed as each new layer is exposed. So while it may not be possible to change the past, it can be healed. Such healing is a deeply personal process that clients are guided through by their therapist so they do not have to go it alone.

Only two things are required for the process to succeed: someone to speak their truth out loud and someone to hear it. Listening is key and it is vital for people to feel heard and for their therapist to be fully present as they experience often difficult emotions. This is about empathy not sympathy.

Counselling sessions last an hour and usually take place weekly, but the overall duration depends upon the issues and goals to be dealt with. As therapy progresses, sessions may take place at longer intervals, but flexibility is important.

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What issues do I focus on personally?

My clients are aged 14 upwards and come from a wide range of backgrounds. The common thread that runs between them though is that they feel stuck or unable to resolve a particular issue, with many suffering from depression or anxiety as a result.

There can be any number of reasons why people end up feeling how they do, which includes both internal factors and external events. Life can be a tricky journey, but my aim is to walk this part of their life beside them.

As a result, I take an integrated approach and explore the present, past and possible future situations. Sometimes simply talking about an issue and sharing the emotions it evokes can be enough to generate positive change. At other times, the situation is more complex and requires a range of therapeutic approaches over a longer period of time.

But on other occasions, talking is simply not enough. At such points, it is often beneficial to use Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) to help release energy from the body, aid relaxation and relieve stress, before reframing the problem so that hopefully the subconscious will let the issue go.

Why did I become a counsellor?

As long as I can remember, people have shared their secrets with me. Friends said they felt safe confiding in me. Strangers that I met only briefly would tell me about private matters, adding “I don’t know why I told you that.”

But I have always been genuinely interested in other people, their stories and their life experiences. I have also always been aware of my own inner world – that part of us so few of us get to know either within ourselves or within each other.

So over the years, I have built on this framework to develop further self-understanding not only by attending seminars and workshops, but also by reading or sitting in the silence of meditation. I have likewise learned much from experience and from ‘feeling’ things for myself.

But when my children were in their early teens, I came to a crossroads in my life: continue my career in law or take a different path? Stick to the familiar or delve into the unknown?

So I retrained as a counsellor. I learned how to understand my own subconscious, challenge my self-limiting beliefs and heal old wounds. I learned how to empower myself and gathered the tools to help empower others. This approach fitted with my core beliefs and values as I felt I could really be of service to others.

But I am also aware that, while knowledge can be acquired in many different ways, wisdom comes from within. From an early age, we are all taught to conform to everything from family rules and values to the social norms of our birth place, school, workplace, religion, government and so on.

Sometimes these things work for us and sometimes they do not. But ultimately, I believe humans are hardwired to be happy, which makes it necessary to sift through these learned rules and values in order to see what fits us now – and that is the true aim of therapy.

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Helen Preston is a counsellor, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) expert and reiki practitioner. Her approach to therapy acknowledges the crucial inter-relationship of mind, body and spirit. Helen is a member of the National Counselling Society and has an Advanced Diploma in psychotherapy and counselling, a Diploma in Hypnotherapy and an EFT Master Practitioner certificate.