Emotional Freedom Technique Made Simple

Why (EFT) or Tapping is a Tool You Need in Your Belt

Reposted from November 27, 2023

Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and any other methods discussed are not substitutes for professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, therapist, or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychological condition. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

I’ve been having vivid, unpleasant dreams lately. This usually happens when I’m pushing to new levels of growth—the ego’s way of keeping me down, perhaps. In any event, a long-buried memory was resurfaced and stayed with me long after waking. I used two of my go-to tools to move through this memory and the difficult emotions accompanying it: first journaling and then tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT took my discomfort level from an 8 to a 2 in under two minutes!

Here’s Emotional Freedom Technique, made simple.

Background of EFT

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) was created by Gary Craig, an engineer by training and a personal performance coach. He developed EFT in the early 1990s, building upon Thought Field Therapy (TFT), which psychologist Roger Callahan developed. Craig simplified Callahan’s approach and structured it into the form of EFT that is widely used today.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), commonly known as “tapping,” is a method to help individuals move through emotions, particularly those that are stuck or causing discomfort. It’s a form of psychological acupressure that combines elements from traditional Chinese medicine, like the meridian points used in acupuncture, with modern cognitive therapy.

The basic premise of EFT is that negative emotions are caused by disruptions in the body’s energy system. By tapping on specific meridian points while focusing on a particular emotional issue, EFT aims to release blockages in this energy system, thereby reducing emotional distress. It is often used to manage stress, anxiety, phobias, emotional disorders, and even to improve physical pain conditions.

Why EFT Works

It functions largely by using the body’s meridian points:

  • Energy System Balance: EFT operates on the premise that emotional distress is due to a disruption in the body’s energy system. Tapping on specific meridian points aims to balance this system, similar to acupuncture but without needles, potentially reducing feelings of emotional distress.
  • Cognitive Focus: While tapping, focusing on a specific emotional issue helps to target and process that issue cognitively. This can increase awareness and understanding of the problem, contributing to emotional relief.
  • Physical and Psychological Release: The act of tapping and concentrating on the problem simultaneously engages the brain’s stress and relaxation responses. This dual engagement can decrease physiological arousal associated with stress, leading to a sense of calm and the psychological release of emotional blockages.

How to Tap, or Use EFT

The tapping process involves the following steps as an overview:

  1. Identifying the Problem: Focus on a specific issue you want to address, which helps target the emotional response or discomfort being experienced.
  2. Rating the Distress: Assess the intensity of the distress on a scale from 0 to 10, which provides a baseline to measure progress.
  3. The Setup: While tapping on the side of the hand (the karate chop point), vocalize an affirmation acknowledging the issue and affirming self-acceptance despite the problem. For example, “Even though I’m afraid to be seen, I deeply love and accept myself.”
  4. The Sequence: Then tap on a series of points on the body (see below), typically the head and torso, while thinking about the problem and repeating a reminder phrase. This helps keep the brain focused on the issue at hand.
  5. The Resolution: After several rounds of tapping, reassess the level of distress, aiming for a reduced intensity compared to the beginning of the session.

The tapping provides dual stimulation of the energy meridians and the cognitive-emotional aspect of the problem, which can help desensitize the emotional impact of the issue and promote a sense of calm and clarity.

If you’re visual, here’s a video of me doing EFT as a demonstration:

The Tapping Sequence (#4 above) in depth:

Tap 5-7 times on each of the following points while repeating a reminder phrase related to the issue:

  • Eyebrow
  • Side of Eye
  • Under Eye
  • Under Nose
  • Chin
  • Collarbone
  • Under the Arm (where your bra strap would be)
  • Top of the Head

Moving through this cycle once takes me about a minute and a half. Continue cycling through until the discomfort level has dissipated.

For particularly intense feelings, you can write out simple affirmations to say beforehand and take them from negative to neutral to positive. For example, in my latest EFT session, I said, “Even though I’m afraid of being seen, I deeply love and accept myself.” I could make this more neutral by saying something like, “It’s safe to be seen.” And in the final round(s), I could shift it to be more positive by saying, “I am ready and excited to be seen.”

Additional Sources

Church, D., Yount, G., & Brooks, A. J. (2012). The effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 200(10), 891-896.

  • This study showed that EFT could significantly reduce cortisol levels and symptoms of psychological distress.

Clond, M. (2016). Emotional Freedom Techniques for anxiety: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 204(5), 388-395.

  • This paper is a meta-analysis that found EFT to be an effective treatment for a variety of psychological disorders, including anxiety.

Karatzias, T., Power, K., Brown, K., McGoldrick, T., Begum, M., Young, J., Loughran, P., Chouliara, Z., & Adams, S. (2011). A controlled comparison of the effectiveness and efficiency of two psychological therapies for posttraumatic stress disorder: EMDR vs. EFT. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 199(6), 372-378.

  • This study compared EFT to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), finding that EFT was an efficient treatment for PTSD.

If you try tapping, I want to hear how it worked for you! Drop a comment or send me a DM on Instagram at @alessiacitro__.

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