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What is the Emotional Freedom Technique, aka tapping?

Emotional freedom technique, aka EFT or "tapping", is a simple but powerful mind / body tool. It works in a similar fashion to acupressure and acupuncture by releasing trapped, congested energy that sits along the meridian lines of our bodies. All it takes is for us to tap with the tips of our fingers on specific spots on our body that correspond to acupressure meridians.

Tapping preoccupies the conscious mind and opens a direct line to our subconscious, where all healing takes place.

When we practice EFT tapping in combination with spoken affirmations, we're simultaneously engaging our subconscious mind (via affirmations) and the physical body (by stimulating acupressure points). Through a process that's well documented, but little understood, the body responds to the message received while tapping to clear out blocked energy, and promote healing.

emotional freedom technique

Does EFT tapping work?

EFT tapping has worked wonders for many people. It's simple to do, taking just a few minutes. It can be used to remedy almost any physical, emotional, or material problem. It's non-invasive, drug-free, and costs us nothing but a few minutes of our time. EFT’s effectiveness is supported by research (see References below).

It requires some mental focus on the issue we're trying to address. We achieve this by speaking an affirmation as we tap.

EFT is most effective when our affirmations are worded specifically. Paradoxically, it’s not essential to follow the tapping sequence to the letter. 

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Our bodies contain twenty energy pathways known as meridians. In a healthy body, energy flows up and down these pathways unimpeded.

Emotions, like all thoughts, are biochemical events with an electrical signature. Emotions that come from traumatic events create disturbances that congest the meridians, disrupting the free flow of energy within the body. This manifests in real life as physical illness or emotional imbalance.

Acupressure points, of which there are hundreds along the skin surface, are stations along the meridians. Acupuncturists place needles at these points to energize them for healing purposes. Massage therapists trained in Chinese massage techniques use their hands to stimulate the points and release knots that can gather at the acupressure points.

Stimulating acupressure points, whether by needles or with the hands, clears them of blocked energy, and can affect areas of the body far removed from that spot.

In short, repressed emotions create stuck energy, which makes us sick. Releasing that sticky energy heals!

Why does EFT tapping work?

Rhythmic tapping on an acupressure point works in a similar fashion to acupressure. Fortunately, we need work only the nine points in the sequence spelled out below. We multiply the effect of tapping by speaking an affirmation tailored to the release of a specific issue within our bodies.

That's as close as I can get to a full explanation of why, exactly, EFT tapping works. Acupuncture, to the Western mind, likewise defies explanation, yet it has been used to heal for thousands of years.

emotional freedom technique

Benefits of tapping

EFT tapping helps us to remove the emotional baggage connected to past traumatic life events or to states of mind that torment us. By removing that emotional charge, we begin to see life events or illness with a fresh perspective.

Physical ailments have been shown to lose their power when we lower our emotional attachment to them. In this way, EFT promotes physical healing.

Cortisol, produced in the adrenal glands, is the body’s main stress hormone. Research has shown that tapping reduces levels of cortisol, thus mitigating its bad effects, which include increasing blood sugar and weakening the immune system.

The emotional freedom technique also reduces blood supply to the amygdala, the “fight or flight” structure in our brains, leading to a decrease in fear, anxiety, and aggression.

EFT tapping, therefore, reduces the negative effects of stress.

Tapping for children

Tapping teaches children that it's okay to have strong feelings, and that having them doesn't mean they're bad or unworthy. They learn that people get mad, frustrated, and annoyed, but these are just feelings that come and go, and don't reflect on or define the person's character or value.

Contrast that with the common practice of scolding kids for getting mad or frustrated. This causes the young person to swallow their anger, leading to repressed emotions and a life-long habit of assigning values to feelings.

In fact, feelings are neither bad nor good, they just ARE. There are consequences for misunderstanding this crucial point.

In the scolding scenario, the "bad" feelings get buried deep into the mind-body in favor of the "good" ones. The bad ones eventually find their way out, though, in ways the young person can't control, much less comprehend. And the good feelings can't be fully expressed because the child has learned to distrust their feelings.

Teaching kids to "tap out" their frustrations helps form more responsible adults, and heaven knows the world needs more of those! It provides a healthy outlet for frustrations that prevents the curse of repressed emotions. 


How does EFT tapping work?

We start with an affirmation that addresses a specific issue, or aspect of the greater issue. Fortunately we have an affirmation template into which we plug the applicable text string to make it specific.

The template goes like this: "Even though I have this [NAME THE ISSUE], I completely love, honor, and accept myself for having it".

The exact wording is flexible. [NAME THE ISSUE] is just my placeholder for the specific issue you wish to address.

Before you start, focus your attention on the issue and rate the intensity of the emotion it brings up from 0 - 10, with zero being unnoticeable and ten unbearable.

Your issue could be a specific fear or worry, such as public speaking or flying in airplanes. It could also be a physical ailment, chronic illness, or simple ache or pain. The emotional freedom technique is highly adaptable, and lends itself well to creative applications.

To do the EFT tapping sequence, we simply tap with at least two fingers of one hand on certain areas of our body that correspond to known acupressure points, while speaking the affirmation out loud:

  1. The outside blade of the hand, also known as the karate chop area,
  2. The top of the head, aka the crown chakra point,
  3. Between the eyebrows,
  4. The bone on the outside part of our eyes,
  5. Directly below the eyes, one inch below the pupils,
  6. Upper lip below the nose,
  7. Between the lower lip and chin,
  8. The bow tie spot, where two collarbones join at the throat (thump with a fist!)
  9. One hand breath below the armpit.

1 - 9 is one tapping sequence. After a series of three sequences, refocus on your issue and rate its emotional intensity again. If the intensity decreases, tap a new series and re-rate. Keep going until you can rate your issue as a zero.

You may not notice a change after a series. You may be addressing a larger issue that will take more time. Do three sequences, twice a day, for two weeks, and you should notice a difference.


OK, Strider, this all seems weird to me.

I know, right? I was quite skeptical when I first learned about the emotional freedom technique. That is, until I said "what the heck" and gave it a try.

With coaching clients, I’ve used EFT to successfully address limiting beliefs and chronic illness. I've used it to combat negative feelings of my own that well up when I'm under work pressure. I've also been using it to work through some nagging physical maladies.

My suggestion is that you try EFT with an open mind for several days and monitor how you feel. It costs very little, but offers big rewards.



Article: Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine

Article: Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Audio Course: Centre of Excellence

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