About 25 emotional freedom techniques (EFT) practitioners met in a private home in Newtown, Conn., on Saturday to discuss ways they can help the Newtown community cope with the trauma that occurred on Dec. 14, 2012, when a heavily armed gunman shot and killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The volunteers are part of an initial group of EFT practitioners who are undergoing training as part of The Tapping Solution for Newtown: Stress and Trauma Relief Project. Those chosen to participate in the first phase of the project live within driving distance of Newtown or have ties to the community.
During Saturday’s training session, project founder, Nick Ortner, and project leader, Lori Leyden, Ph.D., who uses EFT to work with genocide victims in Rwanda as part of Project LIGHT: Rwanda, discussed the importance of using a standardized EFT approach when working with people affected by the shooting. They also led “tapping” sessions to help volunteers release emotions they felt about the shooting and other issues that may come up when working with people in the Newtown community.
“We have to be completely present when we work with anyone traumatized by the shooting,” says Mystic, Conn., resident Roberta Lewis, a certified hypnotherapist and EFT practitioner at Whole Mind Health. “People need to be able to say what they feel, and we need to be able to go with them where ever they go without having our own issues come up.”
EFT — which is also called tapping —is a scientifically validated technique that uses ancient acupressure principles and modern psychology to provide relief from stress, trauma and a host of other emotional and physical problems. When using EFT, people focus on a specific issue, express their feelings about the issue and tap on the body's acupressure points. The tapping sends calming signals to the brain that help neutralize painful emotions.
Last week, Ortner and Leyden worked directly with members of the Newtown community, including a 6-year-old girl from Sandy Hook Elementary School who has refused to go back to school and staff at the medical examiner’s office who handled the bodies after the shooting.
“The leaders and group members have the highest intention for transformation and healing,” Lewis says. “There is so much work to do here and for such a long time.”