I’ve got two words to describe Sunday night’s episode of “I Can Make You Thin:” not impressed. Although McKenna did a pretty good job of explaining why people use emotional eating to cope with their feelings, the whole episode had an infomercial feel to it.  It had a high fluff to content ratio, with lots of testimonials and recaps from the last episode. 

The worst bit: his tapping technique. When I first learned that he would be demonstrating this technique during this episode, I was immediately skeptical but decided to try and be scientific about it and give it a fair chance.  But it just seemed so silly, not to mention hard to remember how to follow (tap here, tap there, hum this, look here, etc.).  I came across a great blog post (http://mycrocosmos NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2008/03/24/i-can-make-you-crazy-with-paul-mckenna/) where the author did some research and found some unsavoury information about the man who developed this technique: again, not impressed.  I suppose it might be helpful for some people, if they can manage to remember how to do it, but my feeling is that it works mainly by distraction.  In fact, it reminds me a lot of a highly controversial technique developed for treating trauma called “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” (EMDR).  Although some studies have found it to be effective, the general criticism levied against it is that is uses the usual process of treating trauma, but adds in the repetitive eye movements as a form of distraction from the high levels of emotions that arise.  It seems to me this tapping technique works in a very similar way.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with distracting yourself. If you’ve got the urge to eat when you’re emotional, and you decide to distract yourself by turning on the TV, listening to music or checking your email, then that’s a lot better then giving in to the urge.  However, in the long run, distracting yourself every time isn’t going to help you solve the problem that got you feeling emotional in the first place.  Plus, you’d end up spending a whole lot of time being distracted instead of really living.  The best strategy is to deal with that problem directly, and to use coping skills that can help you deal with the overwhelming emotions when they happen.  There are lots of things you can do to cope instead of distract yourself: take a bubble bath, go for a walk, call a friend, express your needs, write in your journal, practice mindfulness technique, and lots more.  Therapy is a great way to help you learn these coping skills that you can rely on again and again, and will help you need them less and less over time.