We're coming into the homestretch of our month long education about PTSD symptoms, causes, effects and treatment.
Today, an interview with Tapas Fleming, creator of a very popular information processing technique that's shown great results with trauma survivors. Last week, a very cheerful, chatty, informed and giving Tapas provided in-depth answers to my questions. Enjoy!
Tapas, your Tapas Acupressure Technique® (TAT®) has helped thousands of people heal psychological issues. Before we get into the meat of things, describe what, exactly, TAT is.
Michele, TAT is a real easy way to end stress and create a happy life. It combines placing your hands on a few key points near your eyes and at the back of your head while you put your attention on a series of statements.
It's always interesting to me to learn the theory behind a technique. I feel the more we know, the more we get out of treatment and the more we can imagine new ways to apply the ideas even outside of a practitioner's office. Can you explain the theory behind TAT?
Yes – the central idea is that when we’re very stressed or traumatized we become identified with thoughts and beliefs that seem like they’re going to help us make it through. After the trauma has passed, we’re still living our lives stuck in those points of view and it doesn’t work – we can’t relax and be happy.
For example, a real typical point of view that gets born during a trauma that’s extreme enough to result in PTSD would be “I have to be on high alert all the time.” Another one would be “I’m not safe.” These stuck beliefs result in not being able to sleep, not being able to connect with people, always sitting with your back to a wall so you can keep an eye on everything, and so on.
Even though we can see we’re not in the original situation, somehow, we don’t “get it”. We keep operating on old information that doesn’t apply anymore. The points we touch at the front and back of our head with the TAT Pose allow us to “get it”. Acupuncture points have a lowered electrical resistance compared with the rest of our skin and thoughts have electrical fields that easily interact with our bodies at these points. It’s like the particular points of the TAT Pose are a computer port where we can download information. Once the new information is in our system, our body, emotions, chemistry, thoughts, and interpersonal relationships instantaneously update reflecting the new information. Life is often better for us right away.
As the pioneer who developed TAT, give us some background about what motivated or inspired you to develop this breakthrough technique.
In the beginning of the development of TAT, I was just trying to find an easier way to help my acupuncture patients get over allergies. Many of them were very ill with multiple allergies, couldn’t work and didn’t have much money. Even the drive to see me and the drive home were stressful. I wanted to find something that was effective and inexpensive so they wouldn’t have to see me so often and could get a lot of help at each visit.
After I discovered the TAT Pose, I worked with a patient who had been sexually abused as a child. We were doing TAT to help with her allergies. When we finished, she told me that she had no more “charge” on her whole childhood times of abuse. I realized then that TAT could be used to heal traumatic stress. That was really exciting! I’d spent earlier years in my life trying to get over stuff that had happened to me as a child and nothing ever really did it. I knew that lots of other people had all kinds of things that had happened to them that they’d love to get over so they could move on with their lives. I felt that no one wanted to keep imprisoned in old, dark emotional junk – they wanted to be happy and feel loved and be able to love and express their own unique gifts. That’s what inspired me.
TAT was one modality I used during my PTSD healing. I always enjoyed the immediate feeling of in-the-moment centered peace it gave me. Outline for us how TAT works, i.e. what it does/affects in our bodies that effects a change in our minds.
As I mentioned above, thoughts affect our whole system – not just inside our bodies but even how life turns out. We all know this, but haven’t known a real simple way to get our thoughts to really interact with our bodies on a cellular and emotional level. We’ve had plenty of advice to think positive and lots of us have tried it…but it hasn’t really totally “clicked”. The reason TAT really “clicks” is because our thoughts get in there and change everything and…the real beauty of it is that our true nature is peace. As you said, it’s an immediate feeling of in-the-moment centered peace. I’m happy that you know that from your own experience. What’s going on is that we’re no longer identified with something like “Life isn’t safe” as being at the core of our being – we’re just simply being ourselves again and there’s nothing better than that!
Describe for us the general process/steps of TAT.
You place your thumb and fourth finger just above the upper inner corner of each eye and your middle finger just between and a bit above the level of your eyebrows. Then you spend around a minute with your attention on each of several statements. You don’t try to force or resist what’s happening – you just notice what’s going on as you do it. The statements (called the Steps of TAT) include accepting what happened, that it’s over now, forgiveness and apologies, and choosing the positive, happy life we want for ourselves now. All that new information is received and you’re done. You don’t have to say a word and you certainly don’t re-live any trauma doing TAT.
We have the whole process available for free at our website, tatlife.com. It’s available in a dozen languages or so, too.
How effective have you found TAT to be for people struggling with PTSD?
In my experience so far, totally effective. What I mean by effective is: there’s no stress or emotional upset in doing TAT or after, one trauma can be a done deal in around 20 minutes, and life is instantly better. If there are loads of traumas over years, after 10 times or less doing TAT, all that stress is gone. People can sleep -- and without nightmares --, they can be around people, they’re not on hyper-alert, they can connect with their families and they don’t have a plan to kill themselves anymore. The part of them that was left on the battlefield or as a frightened child or whatever the scene was that resulted in PTSD, returns to them in the here and now and they’re whole and integrated.
For someone who's anxious about trying a new and unknown therapy, what tips would you give someone to get them prepared for their first session?
Feel at ease knowing that it’s normal to be anxious, critical or even cynical about something like this. Some people think “If this is so great, how come everyone doesn’t already know about it?” Other people think “It isn’t possible something this easy could help me.” It’s OK to give it a try even though those thoughts and feelings are there. You don’t have to “believe in it” for it to work.
The first thing people do who’ve never done TAT before is to do the TAT Pose with their attention on thoughts like:
“TAT will never work for me. It’s too simple to be of any value.” And then, people do the TAT Pose with their attention on thoughts like, “TAT is easy and it’s possible it could work for me.” We’re not saying it’s going to work, just that it’s possible. It’s all there in the free how-to download.
Doing that clears the way to give it a try and see for yourself.
If someone wants to try TAT, what's the best resource for finding an accredited practitioner?
Our website, www.tatlife.com, has a listing of Certified TAT Professionals who are trained to help people reduce traumatic stress or any stress and create a happy, healthy life. Many of these folks work over the phone, so anyone can find someone they like and give it try.
Thank you so much for your time, Tapas. Any last words to offer people in support of their PTSD healing journey?
Thank you for the chance to get the word out about TAT, Michele. To you who are still suffering with PTSD, my heart really goes out to you. I imagine that if I were you reading a little interview like this, I might think, “Oh yeah, sure. You want me to believe that something this easy can help a problem I’ve been seriously suffering with for years? You just don’t get it, lady. I’ve been trying all kinds of stuff for this and I’ve only had a tiny bit of relief now and again. Why should I try this?”
My reply is that I’m still amazed that this works the way it does and I’ve been using it around 15 years. Even now, when I’m in the middle of some negative belief that has me in its grip, I still am wondering if TAT is really going to work on this one. Then, around 15 minutes later, my eyes are big with amazement and I’m saying “Good old TAT. Wow! I feel so much better.”
I invite you watch videos by a recent combat veteran and read what few combat soldiers who had PTSD have written about it here. You might also like hearing the audio interview with a retired colonel who used TAT for his PTSD, a therapist who has worked with veterans for 25 years, a man who had PTSD since Vietnam, and a TAT Trainer who participated in a two-week course for combat veterans are interviewed about TAT.
We’re just about to get card decks printed that show you how to do TAT for getting over stress from any trauma and put into action the process of creating your happy life. (They also work for playing any card game.) TAT is that easy. If you want to be informed about when the card decks are available, get on our list at tat4trauma.com and we’ll let you know as soon as we have them in hand.
You have my best wishes for your happiness and health. You’re my inspiration for creating TAT and getting it out there.
I have a request: if you try it and it helps you, please get the word out about it.
Michele, thank you for helping get the word out about TAT. Thank you for all that you do to help us all be happy.
Do you have experience with TAT? If you've tried it or heard about someone's success leave a comment!
(Photo: Tapas Fleming)