This is Part 1 of a 3-part series.
As a school counselor, regardless of which age you work with, you know that a significant part of your job is to help your students navigate challenges they face and equip them with tools they need to succeed. As a former school counselor myself, the tools that very quickly became my go-to were Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). EFT is a set of stress-management tools that works on a somatic level by sending a deactivating signal to the fight/flight center of the brain. EFT is also referred to as “Tapping,” as the techniques involve tapping on specific acupressure points. With these techniques, I was able to support my students with a deeper level of healing in a shorter period of time. My only regret is that I didn’t learn EFT sooner!
In this introductory blog post, I will share the first three ways school counselors can support their students with EFT: emotional regulation, stealth tapping, and building resilience.
#1 Emotional Regulation
Regardless of their age, students often enter the School Counseling Office with big emotions. Before we can even think about problem solving, we need to help regulate the nervous system and bring the prefrontal cortex back online so they can think more clearly. Young students, in particular, are still developing their self-regulation skills and might need support from a trusted adult in this process.
There are many simple ways EFT can be incorporated into those initial minutes with a student to help settle intense emotions. For example, many school counselors are familiar with the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise: 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you smell, 2 things you touch, 1 thing you taste. From my experience, this is a wonderful way to include tapping. Students simply tap on the particular acupressure points as they go through the sequence. Using this technique helps students to calm their fight or flight response thereby allowing access to the rational part of the brain for problem-solving to occur.
#2 Teaching Stealth Tapping
Once my students recognized that EFT could help reduce the intensity of their emotions, we discussed ways that they could access these skills in class. If the teacher uses EFT/Tapping with the entire class on a regular basis, students might feel comfortable using the typical tapping points as needed, but if the culture has not been established, they might need another way to access the benefits of EFT. Stealth Tapping involves tapping on acupressure points on the fingers and is a much more discreet way to access the tools without drawing attention to themselves.
I have spent time with my students to practice the various ways of incorporating Stealth Tapping to see what feels the most comfortable for them: tapping, holding the points, or simply squeezing the ends of the fingers. Students can use the finger points in class, on the bus, while they are waiting in line for lunch, in the bathroom, or even just walking down the hall.
#3 Building Resilience
Resilience is an essential component of emotional well-being. It helps students bounce back from setbacks, overcome challenges, and face adversity with a more positive outlook and mindset.
Learning how to use EFT can be empowering as it teaches students how to manage those challenging emotions that often accompany adversity. Oftentimes, as those emotions begin to subside, their mindset shifts from a negative outlook to a positive one, enabling them to adapt better to new situations, cope with stress more effectively, and build a stronger sense of self-confidence.
One particular student I worked with struggled with the “Sunday night blues.” She started getting worked up just thinking about coming to school on Monday even though she knew she was fine after she settled into school. She developed stomach symptoms and it was starting to become a struggle getting into school. She and I tapped together on the various thoughts and feelings that came up on the most recent Sunday. I also taught her how to use stealth tapping to empower her so she had a tool she could use on her own. She tapped on Sunday at home and again on the bus on Monday morning. When I checked in with her that Monday morning, she was all smiles. She didn’t need my help any longer because she had the tools to manage the situation herself.
Stay tuned for the second installment of this 3-part series on 10 ways school counselors can support students with EFT where I will share how EFT can be used for academic success.
To learn more about how we can work together to bring EFT into your school counseling practice, click the button below to sign up for a Complimentary Consult where we can discuss the options for getting you started with these amazing techniques.