NORWAY — Eight years into her career, Jessica Taylor, a nurse practitioner at Western Maine Family Medicine, was “feeling stuck” in the middle of two competing forces.
On the one hand was a longtime habit of procrastinating, and on the other, persistent worries about all the things she wasn’t getting done.
“I hated the feeling of not being caught up,” Taylor recalls, “but I just couldn’t buckle down to get it done.”
Several friends and family members suggested she try a strategy that had worked for them in similar situations — Emotional Freedom Technique, commonly called tapping.
At first, Taylor was resistant to the idea because “it sounded weird.” As her dilemma grew more acute, she relented. What resulted was a personal and professional epiphany.
“Tapping uncovered the emotional reason for my putting things off in the first place,” Taylor said.
According to Taylor, “Most physical conditions, from headaches and fatigue to chronic pain and fibromyalgia, have an emotional component. For some patients, medications are not always wanted or effective.” She said tapping is most useful for anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.
Taylor describes the technique as a method of stress reduction for mind and body.
To employ it, patients tap themselves with their fingers on a series of acupressure points while verbally focusing on troublesome feelings. The purpose of the tapping is to calm the sympathetic nervous system, thus making it easier to face unwanted emotions that keep resurfacing.
In June of last year, Taylor attended a workshop in Washington, D.C., for Level 1 EFT training, and another in October for Level 2. Since then, 130 of her patients have availed themselves of the treatment.
“Overall the response has been very good,” Taylor said. “It really seems to be helping people.”
She emphasizes that tapping is not a quick fix, but a new skill that becomes increasingly effective with practice and that will give patients “a new tool to use for future problems.”
As an example, she recounts the case of one of her patients, who had success in physical therapy easing her chronic pain, but was still nagged by the fear that it could resurge to its earlier intense level. Because stress was a frequent trigger of her pain, she did experience some regression, which, in turn, seemed to validate her fears of a relapse. After practicing tapping, the woman wrote to tell Taylor that the technique had helped her to break this cycle.
“It is not only calming, but empowering. It makes me realize that I have a choice between trusting my anxieties and trusting myself,” she said.
Tapping is one of three “wellness services” Taylor brought to Western Maine Family Medicine.
In 2016, she also became a yoga teacher and now offers patients a weekly class. Taylor’s initiative brought another wellness modality to Norway — Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Lifestyle Change. Taylor participated in a course last fall, after which she decided to offer one to her patients. Through it, she introduces them to the relevance of mindfulness to their nutrition, physical activity, relationships, mental state and sleep.
Activities include guided meditation, chair yoga, resistance-band exercises and mindful eating. Taylor asserts that by practicing Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Lifestyle Change patients can improve existing chronic medical issues and reduce the risk of developing new ones.
She also requires each participant to take a “strengths survey” to help everyone achieve and maintain a positive focus.
She believes that Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Lifestyle Change serves a need because “many medical problems are lifestyle driven” and can be addressed more effectively through group visits, which allow patients to share their experiences with one another.
At this point, Taylor’s wellness services are available primarily to Western Maine Family Medicine patients.