Making sense of chronic disease using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): An existential view of illness

Mahima Kalla*, Margaret Simmons, Anske Robinson, Peta Stapleton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Highlights

•Physical diseases may be viewed as somatic metaphors of patients’ meanings and subjective stories, often referred to as “symbolic diseases"

•Assessing the psychosocial and existential aspects of an illness as a routine part of medical diagnostic procedures would be valuable for patients
•EFT offers promise as a suitable therapeutic approach to help chronic disease patients make sense of their life stories and lived experiences, and consequently, symbolic meanings of diseases.
•The exploration of illness symbology and meaning-making may offer therapeutic value to patients, from both an existential and a health behaviors perspective.

Objective: This article explores chronic disease patients’ personal symbolic meanings of their diseases, as emergent from their experience of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) therapy. The present study is part of a larger study that explored chronic disease patients’ and EFT practitioners’ experiences of using EFT to support chronic disease healthcare. 

Design: Eight chronic disease patients who had received EFT were interviewed for this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted face to face, or via telephone, or the online videoconferencing platform, Zoom. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis methodology. 

Results: Three themes emerged, namely ‘illness as an embodiment of unresolved emotional issues’, ‘illness as body's call for time-out and attention’, and ‘illness as a boundary from other people’. 

Conclusion: EFT offers promise as a suitable therapeutic approach to help chronic disease patients make sense of their life stories and lived experiences, and consequently, symbolic meanings of diseases. The exploration of illness symbology and meaning-making may offer therapeutic value to patients, from both an existential and a health behaviors perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-224
Number of pages11
JournalExplore
Volume16
Issue number4
Early online date17 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

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