Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques

EFT is a practical self-help method that involves using the fingers to gently tap on the body’s acupuncture points along the meridian lines of Chinese medicine. It is often referred to as ‘EFT Tapping’ or simply as ‘Tapping’. The therapeutic effects of this technique are recognized around the world.

EFT tapping is an alternative treatment for certain emotional and physical conditions. Some research indicates that it may be effective for anxiety, depression, emotional turmoil, PTSD, and some other conditions.

There have been relatively few studies on EFT, but the body of research has grown in recent years.

In addition to the studies that evaluate EFT on people with both anxiety and depression, other research focuses on EFT for those with depression  or PTSD alone.

In a 2013 study, 30 veterans who received EFT treatment along with standard care had significantly less psychological distress and PTSD symptoms than those who were on a waiting list for treatment.

In addition, after three and six sessions, 60.0% and 85.7% of these participants respectively no longer met the PTSD clinical criteria. At 6 months after the treatment, 79.5% of participants did not fit the criteria, which the researchers said indicated the long term benefits of EFT.

In a 2017 survey of EFT practitioners, most (63%) reported that EFT could resolve even complex PTSD in 10 sessions or fewer. Almost 90% of respondents stated that less than 10% of their clients make little or no progress.

More recently, a 2019 study involving 203 individuals tested the physical reactions and psychological symptoms of people attending EFT workshops. The majority of people that took part were women over the age of 50 years.

The researchers reported that participants experienced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms, as well as in pain levels and cravings. They also reported improvements in happiness.

Physical measures in a subset of participants showed improvements in heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

In other research, students with anxiety reported that EFT helped them feel calmer and more relaxed.

In addition, practitioners often combine EFT with other approaches, including cognitive therapy, which may play a role in the treatment’s success

What is EFT and who uses it?

EFT,  first came to prominence in the 1990s when developer Gary Craig published information about the therapy on his website EFT International dot org.

It involves tapping specific points on the body, primarily on the head and the face, in a particular sequence, on one or both sides of the body at particular spots. While doing this, the person focuses on the issue that they wish to treat.

How does it work?

As with acupuncture and acupressure, tapping involves the body’s energy meridian points, which are a concept in Chinese medicine. Proponents believe them to be areas of the body through which energy flows.

In this theory, blocks or imbalances in the flow of energy lead to ill health. According to EFT advocates, tapping on these meridian points with the fingertips restores the balance of energy to resolve physical and emotional issues.

It can also work in a similar way to mindfulness, as it can draw a person’s attention to their body and breathing. It may serve as a mental distraction from the issues that are causing anxiety or stress.

How to do EFT tapping

People may also be beneficial for a person before an event that they expect to cause stress or anxiety.

To use EFT tapping, follow these five steps:

1. Identify the issue

During this step, the person thinks about the problem that they wish to resolve. They should only choose one issue to focus on at a time.

2. Test the initial intensity

A person should rank the intensity of the issue on a scale of 0–10, with 10 being the worst the issue has ever been. This ranking system allows the person to assess the effectiveness of the tapping at the end of the treatment.

3. The setup

Before beginning each round of tapping, the person should decide on a simple reminder phrase to repeat while tapping the karate chop point. This point is at the center of the fleshy part of the outer hand.

The reminder phrase should acknowledge the issue and convey self-acceptance in spite of it. For example, a person might choose to say:

“Even though I have [issue], I deeply and completely accept myself.”

4. The sequence

During this step, the individual taps on specific points on the body while repeating the phrase that they have chosen. If a practitioner is performing the treatment, they will carry out the tapping.

The tapping points, in sequence, are as follows:

  • top of the head (TOH) — directly in the center of the top of the head
  • beginning of the eyebrow (EB) — the beginning of the brow, just above and to the side of the nose
  • side of the eye (SE) — on the bone at the outside corner of the eye
  • under the eye (UE) — on the bone under the eye, approximately 1 inch (in) below the pupil
  • under the nose (UN) — the point between the nose and upper lip
  • chin point (CH) — halfway between the underside of the lower lip and the bottom of the chin
  • beginning of the collarbone (CB) — the point where the breastbone (sternum), collarbone, and first rib intersect
  • under the arm (UA) — at the side of the body, approximately 4 in below the armpit

When tapping, use two or more fingertips and repeat the tap approximately five times on each point.

While some points have a “twin point” on the other side of the body, it is only necessary to tap on one side. However, individuals can tap these points on both sides if both of their hands are free.

5. Test the intensity again

Again, rank the intensity of the issue on a scale of 0–10. Ideally, this will have improved. Repeat the process until the intensity reaches 0 or plateaus.