Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Tapping
What is Emotional Freedom Technique?
The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is sometimes known as Tapping, is a therapeutic strategy that uses physical movement as a means of balancing your energetic fields.
EFT is sometimes likened to a psychological version of acupuncture, and it is based on the idea that applying pressure to particular points on the body can help release blocked emotions and reduce negative feelings. EFT is often learned under the guidance of a trained practitioner, but once you have experience in the technique, it’s possible and often recommended to use it on your own outside of sessions.
EFT is often used as a complement to other therapeutic interventions and is particularly common in conjunction with creative arts therapy or other modalities focused on self-expression. It doesn’t take long to learn and is sometimes taught in single-session workshops, but in other cases, you may work with a practitioner across multiple sessions for ongoing support.
How does EFT/Tapping work?
EFT or Tapping is a form of energy work, which means that it rests on the idea that blockages in the body’s energy fields can result in physical and psychological ailments.
EFT aims to release these blockages and rebalance the body’s energy. The points where pressure is applied during EFT depends on the nature of the problem you’d like to solve and the locations of the body’s energy meridians, a concept drawn in part from traditional Chinese medicine.
By combining mental focus with physical pressure on the correct points, EFT aims to help you acknowledge painful emotions and resolve them through psychological acceptance and energetic balance.
Structure of EFT/Tapping sessions
Most EFT sessions follow the same basic structure. You’ll likely begin by working with your practitioner to specify the problem you’d like to resolve, whether it’s a worry about a life circumstance, a general feeling of stress or anxiety, or even a physical ailment. Your practitioner may ask questions to help you clarify your focus, but unlike psychotherapy, the focus of sessions will not be on discussing the origins of your concerns of the details of your emotional state.
Once you’ve focused your goal for the session, EFT usually begins by declaring the problem aloud and then proceeding through a series of motions designed to rebalance your body’s energy. The movements of EFT are a series of short, firm taps with the tip of your fingers, focused on various pressure points. Though EFT involves this physical component, it is not physically demanding and should never be physically painful or exhausting.
While working through the sequence of taps, you will usually repeat an affirmation designed to counter the negative feeling or emotion you’re looking to release. In some versions, you might also state the intensity of your emotional reaction to your problem once at the beginning of the sequence and then again at the end, so that you can track your progress. Once you’ve resolved the feeling or emotion you’re targeting, you may move on to other target feelings.
It usually takes only a session or two of training to be able to implement EFT on your own, and if you’re working with a practitioner on an ongoing basis, sessions may also include a review and discussion of how the technique has been working for you between sessions.
What can EFT/Tapping help with?
EFT is commonly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related conditions. It may also be used as a treatment for anxiety, depression, addiction, and some kinds of physical ailments such as chronic pain. Additionally, EFT may also be helpful for individuals who do not have a mental health condition but who are dealing with specific, short-term emotional challenges.
Does EFT/Tapping work?
Because EFT is a somewhat new modality and falls under the umbrella of alternative therapy rather than conventional psychology, there is relatively little reliable research on its effectiveness. However, some studies have found that it may be an effective strategy for relieving emotional distress. One study found that EFT was helpful in reducing PTSD symptoms among veterans. Another study found that EFT seems to be an effective treatment for anxiety, while also noting that further evidence is needed to know whether it works as well as other therapies.
What to look for in an EFT/Tapping therapist
There is no specific credential that all EFT practitioners have, and some practitioners do not have training or licensure in mental health treatment.
To make sure you’re working with someone qualified, be sure to ask potential EFT practitioners about their education and training in mental health, their experience using EFT with clients, and their experience with whatever specific issues you’re interested in working on. If possible, choose to work with a trained mental health professional such a psychologist or social worker.
Some EFT practitioners also offer online sessions, which may be a helpful alternative if you’re having difficulty finding a qualified practitioner in your area.
New to therapy? Learn about how to find a therapist here.