Associate Professor at Bond University, Queensland registered Clinical & Health Psychologist and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) researcher and trainer.
Imagine if a wide range of mental and physical health issues could be fixed by tapping different spots on your head and body.
Research led by Dr Peta Stapleton, Associate Professor at Bond University is showing that EFT- Emotional Freedom Techniques - is delivering compelling results for tackling many conditions.
Dr Stapleton mainly works in the area of eating disorders, but the technique is also being used in pain management, cancer treatment and even to help quit smoking.
For the past 15 years, Dr Stapleton has been researching EFT as a stress reduction technique. She describes it as like “psychological acupuncture” but without the needles. Through Bond University on the Gold Coast, she is leading Australia’s international work to have the technique validated as a mainstream treatment.
“With this technique, we have broken away from traditional therapies especially for application where stress is present,” she says.
“We've been researching it for food cravings and emotional eating – and more recently for chronic pain management.”
“We've been able to show that when you reduce the stress response in the body through this technique, you get lots of other flow-on positive effects. In the food area, that includes weight loss, and with chronic pain, it includes being able to reduce medication.”
The research shows that tapping changes the brain’s response to emotional and physical stimulus leading to visible changes which can be seen in MRI scans. In trials, the evidence shows that food cravings can be eliminated leading to lasting health, social and economic benefits.
Dr Stapleton has had a long-time interest in the treatment of food disorders – whether that be bulimia or obesity. She is Australia’s lead researcher for EFT and her work has helped to change government policy internationally, as well as in Australia. In the UK and the US, medical authorities have accepted the tapping technique as a legitimate treatment. In Australia, Dr Stapleton is hoping it will also be accepted and covered by Medicare soon.
“At present our work is being examined by the American Psychological Association. That's important as this body determines whether psychological treatment is evidence-based. That means is there enough research to show the impact?”
She is optimistic that when the American Psychological Association accepts there's enough research on EFT, it will be included in things like Medicare in Australia. It will make the treatment more accessible and take EFT into the mainstream and outside the environment of research and trials.
“The adoption of the technique has already been included in the NDIS – the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We've had what the university calls a real translational impact at the ground roots level of service-based industries – and this is because we've done the research.”
Dr Stapleton is driven and passionate and importantly is backing herself – she’s a great ambassador for women in psychology and academia.
Her passion for her research and teaching work is matched by her passion for the Gold Coast.
As a Destination Gold Coast Ambassador, she has supported bids to attract national and international meetings to the city.
She sees it as “giving back” to the city as well as being a vehicle for sharing knowledge and building networks.
“Gold Coast is unique. It’s unlike any other city in the world.”
“We wouldn't choose to live anywhere else - what we can access here is special - our high-quality living standard, the air quality and our beaches and waterways.
Dr Stapleton says that the Gold Coast offers a level of freedom and access unlike any other Australian city.
“Our city is spread out, yet you can still be just 15 to 20 minutes away from all the infrastructure you need. You can be enjoying the peace and serenity of the mountains or hinterland and also be close to work, transport and other services.
For those who come to the Gold Coast for conferences she says it’s the ideal destination – the city can deliver the venues, hotels and attractions for the delegates and also be a wonderful pre or post destination for the families and accompanying people.
It is clear, Dr Stapleton can see the big picture – the opportunity for change in a much-needed area of community and global health. She can also see the need for training others in the area of EFT practice. As such, she’s been the advocate for introducing a new subject which will teach students at Bond University the EFT practice.
“Our student will be able to use the technique with clients when they go into the field on their placements,” she said.
This simple motion of tapping on critical connectors to the brain can have lifelong benefits for so many and the research is being produced here on the Gold Coast by Dr Peta Stapleton and her team.