The old one-dimensional female archetypes -- the soccer mom, the starving artist, the successful-but-lonely boss lady -- are dead. Women are creating new, multidimensional archetypes and defying stereotypes. The most fulfilled women are constantly creating in multiple areas of their lives, whereas burnout often happens when we feel like the routine of our day job is all we have time for. The Archetypal Woman Series is a tribute to inspiring women who rearrange time and space to explore and excel in a range of activities. May their stories encourage you to expand into your own uniqueness for the benefit of you and everyone in your orbit.
Editor's note: Full disclosure: Amy is my bestie, and because we're so close, it took me a moment to step back and realize just how multidimensional she really is. Seemingly every weekend, Amy is taking care of patients as a speech pathologist at the hospital or taking a Kundalini yoga or Emotional Freedom Technique advanced training.
She's a true healer with both Western and alternative modalities in her toolkit. Her Midwestern sensibility and sense of humor keep her grounded while living in Los Angeles. Read on for her thoughts on the science behind Emotional Freedom Technique (an effective alternative to medication) and where she draws the line when it comes to wellness trends. ~ Mary Margaret
How did you discover Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping? And what exactly is it?
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) brings Chinese Acupressure and modern psychology together. EFT is often called emotional acupuncture because it combines gentle tapping on key acupuncture points while focusing your thoughts on physical pain, unhappy memories, uncomfortable emotions, traumas, fears/phobias, or any other problem.
I discovered EFT first as a client. A good friend recommended it, as I was feeling really stuck. I had gone through a painful break-up a year earlier, and I knew I was still carrying around heavy emotion and sadness around it. After a few sessions, I had released a lot of old beliefs that no longer served me. I began dating and met someone within two months and started a relationship (a healthy one!).
Patterns that I had been repeating over and over were shifted and eliminated so quickly. I knew I needed to learn and become certified in this practice so I could share this gift with others.
Can you speak to the skeptics among us? How can tapping actually serve as an alternative to medication and other mainstream therapies? Is there any science behind it?
I love EFT because it does have a science background. It differs from traditional talk therapy in that we are tapping on actual meridian points while talking about the problem.
The tapping is working directly with the limbic brain, specifically the amygdala, where our stress response (flight/flight) is controlled. Tapping has a direct and immediate effect to down-regulate the amygdala. Words alone do not register with the parts of the brain that control fight/flight (and fear, anxiety, etc). Therefore in talk therapy, we are not accessing these parts of the brain, as the limbic brain is non-verbal. When we stimulate certain meridian points by tapping on them, we are telling the limbic brain that the trauma is over.
We consciously tune into specific issues and emotions. Simply thinking about the problem will stir up the energy disruption. The emotional factors that contribute to the problem are typically released along with the energy blocks.
Research behind it: There have been a lot of studies with EFT and PTSD and the veteran population. There have been amazing results with this population. It has been the most researched as it has more of a control group and results can be measured more accurately.
What’s the most compelling story you’ve heard about someone who had great results with tapping?
Oh, so many! The most profound I would have to say comes from my mentor, Rob Nelson. He worked with a woman who was afraid to leave her home. She had severe agoraphobia due to being violently attacked by her son, suffering extreme stab wounds. She survived of course, but was terrified to leave the house.
She had run out of groceries, and reached out for a phone session with my mentor. After working with him for less than an hour, she was able to release the trauma and was able to leave the house and go shopping. We are not erasing the memory, but the body/mind/energetic reaction to the trauma.
You’re also a speech pathologist, with a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology. What’s an average day like in this role?
I work in both hospital and subacute rehabilitation settings. It’s a pretty fast and intense environment, as people’s lives have been turned upside down due to trauma. You have to be compassionate and productive, as these patients' families are devastated and want their loved one to return quickly back to “normal" --to how they know and love that individual.
A speech pathologist not only works on speech production, but cognitive deficits (short- and long-term memory, reasoning/logical thinking, awareness) and swallowing deficits due to brain injury.
Do you feel like your two worlds are ever in conflict? Or do the two disciplines (tapping and speech pathology) share anything in common?
Yes, I do feel a conflict daily, as these medical settings are based on a Western medical model. So often, when a patient is having a symptom, such as insomnia, depression or anxiety, a prescription is written immediately to address these symptoms. These symptoms are real and to be expected, as this individual has just gone through a massive event, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury. But there are alternatives to dealing with these symptoms.
It pains me to read through the list of meds my patients are taking--on average at least ten medications. It’s unbelievable. Moreover, these meds often decrease their alertness, as they often sedate the patients. This makes it difficult to work on their speech and cognition when meds are continually layered on top of one another. I have to stay within my profession when I’m in these environments, which is challenging as I have a toolbox of alternatives to medication.
What they have in common is that both professions are working to heal from trauma--just different approaches. I would love to merge the techniques of EFT with my formal educational training in my current work places (hospital/rehab settings).
I feel I can really reach a level of life-changing results that would not be attainable without using these techniques. I am hopeful that hospitals and acute rehab settings will begin to introduce more alternative therapies. They are beginning to offer Reiki in some LA hospitals. This is a good sign!
I’m also so impressed with you because of the continued education you seek out as a Kundalini yoga teacher. You were certified several years ago, and you continue to invest in intensive training. What’s your motivation to keep studying and teaching Kundalini?
Kundalini has transformed my life in so many ways. My daily practice helps me remain grounded and really keeps my intuition razor-sharp. So much information is coming at us on a daily basis. We have to have a tool to stay connected to our own truth.
While I’m working with people, I have to take what they’re telling me, their report on what they believe the “problem” is, but also see their subconscious beliefs/belief systems that may be beneath their level of awareness. Kundalini helps cut through all of this so I can be of better service to my clients.
You moved to Los Angeles almost three years ago now from the Detroit area, where you grew up. Did you experience any culture shock? What are the main differences between the two cities? Why did you feel like you had to be in Los Angeles?
I love LA for its energy current of possibility. Everything feels possible here. Everyone is here to do something--to create something, to grow something. Even just their own personal growth. I also feel that everyone supports each other’s endeavors. When I told people I started a business in EFT, I got an overwhelming response of “That’s amazing! Do you need a website guy? Do you need someone to do your photo shoot?”.
Something must be in the water here. There's a belief here that it's never too late to start something new. There is always room to grow and change. That is what I most adore about LA.
I love being from the Midwest. It is no joke that it gives you a great, solid, reliable foundation. But I felt the need to move because I knew I needed a push to really change. It was easy for me to play it safe in the Midwest; to stay in the comfort zones that I had created for myself. It’s a very cozy, loving place! But I needed to be thrown into new, confronting situations; to confront anything that was holding me back. You can definitely find that here in LA!
Culture shock came from the overwhelming amount of health and wellness options out here. There is a healer for everything you could ever imagine. And suddenly I felt the need to do it all. (I never knew people did yoni steaming? Who knew the yoni needed this service? No one even says the word yoni in the Midwest.) I became an easy target audience for a multitude of healing modalities!
But I eventually came back to my tried and true tools: EFT and Kundalini.
You have an open mind, but is there anywhere you draw the line when it comes to Los Angeles wellness trends?
Just a few months after I moved here, I went to an intimacy/relationship workshop which was great overall. But one of the exercises, you had to pretend to be an infant just coming into the world. This was too much. We took turns with a partner. I had a guy in my lap and had to cradle him and stroke his hair. I couldn’t stop laughing. But it was so great, because it taught me a great lesson: don’t take yourself too seriously.
No, honestly I draw the line at constantly seeking the next greatest wellness trend. I think this can be very toxic. After the first six months or so of living here in LA, I had to work really hard to tune out new trends, to put blinders on and stick to what I know works for me (EFT, Kundalini, and acupuncture). I had to stop running around thinking the next thing would give me more information about myself. I think it’s great to try new things of course, but within reason.
What do you want people to know about their own health and wellness?
That anything is possible, no matter how permanent something feels or how many years you have been carrying a certain pattern or way of being. Even if it’s all you’ve ever known, there is always room to grow and change. Once the limiting beliefs are uncovered, the space is created to change.
My formal education is as a Speech-Language Pathologist; my career has involved working with adults who have suffered brain injuries. I work mostly in acute and subacute rehabilitation settings. My love for EFT began in 2015. I worked with a practitioner and was hooked. It quickly cleared old patterns that had been holding me back. I became trained in EFT in 2016 and a certified practitioner in 2017. Simultaneously with EFT, I also went through Kundalini Teacher training, which really set my trajectory for growth and change. Merging the techniques of EFT with my formal educational training has had a profound effect; I feel I can really reach a level of life-changing results that was not attainable before using these techniques.
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