Emotional Freedom Technique

Updated: Jan 12

I want to share with you the basics of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) also known as EFT Tapping. This is a painless and effective way to do energy work. It's so easy you can learn to do it in less than 10 minutes! Despite its simplicity, it can profoundly change your life.


EFT is an interesting mix of psychology and Chinese acupressure. Dr. Roger Callahan and Gary Craig are attributed with its discovery and development in the 70s and 80s. They found that a wide variety of emotional, mental, and physical issues disappeared or were drastically eased when using tapping. Since then, thousands of case studies and many research studies (read more here) have supported the effectiveness of EFT Tapping for PTSD, anxiety, depression, pain, emotional trauma, and more.


So, what is this incredible healing system? It is a format of acknowledging your problems, traumas, and beliefs while tapping on 8-10 specific acupressure points on your body. Done well, it can release energy, emotions, beliefs, memories, and pain. Hard to believe, right? Just look up EFT Tapping on YouTube and you will find hundreds of wild stories of how this has changed people’s lives.

Little girl hiding behind her hands

What is the science behind this? Well, the research on this is ongoing, but they do know the basic mechanisms. Your limbic system is the part of your brain in charge of behavioral and emotional responses. One of its many functions is to rate everything you experience as “safe” or “not safe.” It then creates triggers that will warn you if events you are experiencing come close to your “not safe” label. When this happens, you will experience some level of the typical “flight or fight” symptoms of stress and panic. The problem is that many of these things are encoded in childhood or during times of extreme stress. So, all kinds of strange things can be labeled “unsafe” and become future stressors for you. If you’ve lived a pretty normal life, you still have all kinds of “unsafe” things stored in your brain. If you’ve experienced any kind of trauma, you definitely have a lot of “unsafe” stored in your brain. Unfortunately, it can be hard to change the categories stored in your limbic system.


Psychology has developed a number of ways to get into your past experiences to clear them from your limbic system (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one you probably know). These therapies can be helpful or not, depending on a number of factors. Here enters Dr. Roger Callahan, a clinical psychologist, who worked with a patient for years with little success. After reading about Chinese acupressure, he convinced his patient to try tapping on an acupressure point while working on her phobia. Her problem immediately and irreversibly resolved itself. Thus, tapping was born and what was once hard became much easier.


So why does the tapping help? Well, Chinese acupressure works with lines of energy that run around your body called meridians. We can access these meridians at certain points when they come close to the surface of the body. These are acupressure points. There are many acupressure points, EFT uses only a handful that interact with all the major meridian lines of the body. While tapping on the EFT points and expressing the problem you want to address, you release any energy stored in your meridians related to the problem. With the release of this energy, your stress levels go down and your limbic system is able to release the old category of “unsafe” and replace it with “safe.” You essentially tell your brain that it is OK to recategorize your memories.


Woman with headache

This is why EFT works so well on past experiences. You recall the experience in a way that removes the stress response to it and allows your brain to let go of old associations. Now when you are in similar situations, your stress response is not triggered.


In my blog post Let Go of Who You Are, we talked about limiting beliefs that are keeping you from moving forward in life. These beliefs are mostly created in childhood and are stored in your brain. In a way, they are just a different form of the “safe,” “not safe” categories. Believing something (such as I’m not good with money) keeps you “safe” in some sense, so your brain will stop you any time you try to act in a way that goes against this belief. This is why change that runs counter to our unconscious beliefs is so hard. Your brain is constantly trying to steer you away from that “unsafe” thing. EFT is also incredibly effective in changing these limiting beliefs. Once you identify the belief, you tap on it using the EFT process and install a new, updated belief. Now the brain can categorize this new belief as “safe,” and you are free to create change without your own mind fighting against you.


When I was thinking about leaving my job and totally changing my life, EFT helped me deal with the fears and limiting beliefs holding me back (you can read more of the story here). I spent a lot of time puzzling out where some of these fears originated and trying to understand what my biggest triggers were. I also used EFT as one of the techniques I used to help heal my food sensitivities. Since then, I've worked with clients on all kinds of issues. One session of EFT can leave them feeling calm and hopeful about problems that have bothered them for a long time.


Tapping has been used to work on weight issues, phobias, pain, relationships, finances, goals, and much more. There are tons of books, websites, articles, and videos out there to help you learn to tap. It feels a little dorky to do at first, but after your first big success you will never want to go back. I’ve used tapping for a million little things over the past eight years. It's an incredible, easy, and free form of energy work.

Counselor and client talking.

Although tapping itself is free, there are many professionals out there who use it in their practice. Psychologists, coaches, energy workers, therapists and others have this powerful tool in their box to help their clients get unstuck. So why would you pay someone to help you tap if it's effective doing it alone?


The most important reason is if you have some deep trauma in your life, DO NOT try to tap through it on your own. You do not want to retraumatize yourself in the process of trying to get rid of old trauma. There are many excellent practitioners who can help you release the old trauma safely. Find a psychologist, therapist, or counselor that is experienced in your type of trauma and who also does EFT. You will not be sorry you asked for their help. (Find practitioners here or here.)


You may also want to pay someone to help you tap if you don’t like to learn things on your own. Some people learn better doing it with someone. Some people also process their issues verbally and could use a listening ear to help them work through what they need. Sometimes past issues can be tricky and the issue you think you are working on isn’t really the root issue. You need to dig a little deeper to find the root experience, the core belief, or the original problem and tap on that. Having an experienced EFT professional help you through the process can improve its efficiency and effectiveness.


There are also many ways to use tapping. The basic technique is simple and easy to learn, and you can use it for many things. But there are a lot of ways to tweak the process to make it work for various special circumstances. An EFT professional has studied and trained in a wide variety of situations and knows how to adjust the process to fit your particular needs. If you try EFT and aren't having any success, you may want to contact a professional to help you use it more effectively.


So, if you want to try tapping on your own, and you can do it safely, go for it! I’ve created a 3-page tapping procedure that will guide you through the process. You can also look up many videos on YouTube that will teach you how to do it. Ideally, watch a video and read the document. That will give you a good foundation to start. Then, pick a problem and give it a try! Start with something simple such as a stress you feel, a pain you have, a belief you know you need to get rid of. Read the document, create your setup statement, create your outcome statement, and then go for it! It might feel weird at first, but it is worth it!


If at any point you feel really stuck, contact me and we’ll work on it together. (Please note that I am not qualified to work on the deep trauma mentioned above.) I do standalone EFT sessions via videoconference. You may just need one coaching session to get you ready to go out on your own or you may want to meet with me more regularly. Contact me through my website to set up a time to talk.


Good luck with your tapping experiments! I hope you find it to be as rewarding as I have.


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