Do you think angst and hard work are necessary for accomplishing wellness goals? Have you ever heard of a healing tool so simple you automatically dismissed or mistrusted its potential? Many claim Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), offering emotional and physical restoration “at your fingertips,” is that easy…and works.

Sometimes referred to as Psychological or Emotional Acupuncture, or Tapping Therapy, EFT (considered an Energy Psychology) is a self-healing technique integrating modern cognitive/thought practices with ancient Chinese healing methods. EFT developer Gary Craig based it on the premise that “the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.” The idea is that stimulating acupuncture meridian points (with fingertips rather than needles) while focusing on a particular issue or problematic feeling and speaking key phrases releases the negative charge blocking the body’s energy (and, therefore, health). When emotional and/or physical stresses are alleviated, balance and flow can be restored. EFT can be practiced with a therapist/coach or by yourself.

Among EFT’s benefits? Minimal time commitment (minutes a day); anyone can learn and utilize it anytime, anywhere; results (whether dramatic or subtle) may be felt immediately and are said to be lasting; it can be used for virtually any issue; it’s free (additional education/materials are available for a fee); and, it empowers holistic self-healing without pills, drugs, or needles.

EFT is not a substitute for medical or psychological treatment, though it has been used as supplemental healing to cope with issues like insomnia, fear/anxiety, PTSD, fibromyalgia, diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, sports performance, creativity blocks, overwhelm or stagnancy, grief, chronic pain, addiction…the list continues as evidenced by the videos, workshops, books and websites dedicated to the practice.

Basic EFT Tapping Procedure

Note: Though similar in framework, different individuals/practitioners may vary techniques, wording and approaches.

Bring to mind/identify the specific feeling that is bothering you, whether physical or emotional (e.g. migraine, or feeling angry, depressed, etc.). Rate the intensity of the discomfort on a scale of 1 (least intense) to 10 (most intense).

The Setup Statement, which comes next, acknowledges the specific feeling/problem you wish to release followed by affirming self-acceptance and is repeated three times while tapping on either hand’s Karate Chop Point (the fleshy part at the side of the hand under the pinky). Setups often begin with “Even though…” followed by an affirmation. Examples? “Even though I feel guilty whenever I overeat, I accept myself completely,” or “Even though I have this back pain (or resentment or anxiety, etc.), I deeply and completely accept myself.” While perhaps initially awkward, it is important to voice the affirmation.

The Tapping Sequence follows the Setup. While focusing on the stated issue, tap with your fingertips a few times each on the meridian points below while repeating a Reminder Phrase (a few words about the emotion/problem named in the Setup). For overeating issues, for example, begin tapping at the Eyebrow Point (and then each ensuing point) while repeating a phrase such as “my craving” or “it feels so overwhelming.” Rather than worrying about “correct”articulation, simply think of words you might use when describing the discomfort to someone you trust.

Tap on the Eyebrow Point (the bridge of the nose), then

Side of the eye (between the eye and temple)

Under the eye (the bone just below the eye)

Under the nose (between the nose and upper lip)

Chin (indentation between the lower lip and chin)

Collarbone (just below the collarbone’s hard ridge)

Underarm (about four inches beneath the armpit) and

Head (center/top of the head)

Once a full round is complete, take a deep breath, focus on the original emotion or problem, and rate the intensity of the feeling like you did at the outset. Compare this number with the initial rating. Honestly assess if there is complete, partial or no relief.

If desired, more tapping rounds may be utilized to continue releasing the same issue or working on a different aspect. Setup and Reminder Phrase wording could stay similar or shift to something like “Even though I still have some remaining anxiety around this issue, I deeply and completely accept myself” and “This remaining anxiety.” The ultimate aim is to reach a point where you rate your feeling’s intensity at zero. Once there, having cleared the negative feelings, you may even want to tap through the sequence again while integrating positive phrases, such as “I feel confident and excited about making this change.”

Practice tips include:

  • Tap using the pads of 2-4 fingers (one hand or two, whichever feels right).
  • Use firm but gentle pressure to stimulate change without hurting yourself.
  • Be specific as possible when identifying your initial discomfort.
  • Sometimes when treating one issue, another aspect of the problem arises. Notice if emotions/pains shift during the tapping. This may indicate new issues needing relief (e.g.: if tapping about anger and that feeling subsides but sadness emerges). When this happens, it may help to do a separate round of tapping and simply change the Setup Statement and Reminder Phrase to reflect the new emotion or sensation.
  • Persistence is key to success.

Intrigued? Skeptical? It’s easy to try EFT and note whether this simple process really can make a difference. You decide.