What if someone told you that there’s an easy way to let go of stress, anxiety, phobias, and trauma. All you need to do is to tap certain parts of your body with your fingers. It’s called the “EFT tap,” and it serves to help with our mental discomforts.

Sounds fishy? Too good to be true?

This clinically used method officially called the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – or EFT Tapping – is known to be effective for mental health interventions. There’s a scientific basis to it and it’s used globally across the world as an easy-anywhere-practice. Below we’ll introduce the basics, why it’s helpful, and how to try it for yourself!

What Is EFT Tapping?

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a form of mental health intervention that draws from theories such as acupuncture, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), energy psychology, and Thought Field Therapy (TFT). It’s popularly known as “EFT Tapping” and was developed by Gary Craig, a Stanford engineering graduate who claims to be neither a psychologist nor a licensed therapist.

EFT techniques involve tapping specific acupressure points on the body, primarily on the head and the face, in a particular sequence. The person focuses on the issue that they wish to treat while using these tapping techniques.

EFT Tapping is commonly used to treat or help with the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Physical Pain
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobias
  • Stress
  • Weight Loss

Many people used to disregard the technique as the origin and effects are seemingly controversial, but as more recent research suggests, EFT tapping can be extremely helpful in coping with our emotional struggles. We’ll explain the science of EFT below for the skeptics!

EFT Tapping for anxiety, stress, and depression.

Is EFT Tapping Scientifically Proven?

A quick google search will show that EFT tapping can be controversial as some people consider it “pseudo-science.” However, more and more recent research indicates interesting results. More than 100 studies show that clinical EFT does have an impact on a patient’s mental and physical well-being.

A 2019 meta-analysis and review study set to find out whether EFT was an evidence-based practice since there have been dismantling studies that lead to the skepticism of it. When their results were measured under the standards of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Empirically Validated Treatments, EFT was found to be an “evidence-based” practice for anxiety, depression, phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Results showed not only psychological but physiological benefits as well.

  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
    In 2013, researchers studied EFT tapping and it’s effectiveness on veterans with PTSD compared with standard care. Within a month, EFT coaching recipients successfully reduced significant amounts of psychological stress, and more than half of the same group no longer fit the criteria for PTSD.
  • Anxiety:
    A 2016 review compared EFT tapping and standard care for anxiety symptoms. EFT indicated a significant decrease in anxiety scores compared to other forms of care. Other cases show that EFT can help with public speaking anxiety, and a 2018 Indian study concluded EFT as equally effective as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for anxiety and depression.
  • Depression:
    Results of a meta-analysis review from 2016 that shows clinical EFT to be highly effective for depression.
  • Weight Loss and Physical Performance:
    The physical impact of EFT is less studied than the psychological effects, but there are cases of successful weight loss through EFT. Researchers found EFT weight loss treatments to lead to decreased symptoms of depression as well. The significant reduction in cortisol levels after EFT sessions lead to a hypothesis made in 2013 that EFT could improve both depression and obesity through the reduction of cortisol. A 2010 journal also mentions clinical reports and accounts that EFT is practiced in professional and college-level golf, baseball, and American football to increase athletic performances.

How to Try EFT Tapping

STEP 1: Identify Issue and Discomfort Intensity

  • Use your device or a piece of paper to write down all of the issues you are experiencing, one by one. Try to separate each issue and don’t clump many into one.
  • After all the issues are identified, go down each issue to rate the intensity of discomfort you feel on a scale of 0 – 10 with 0 being the lightest and 10 being the worst. The scale assesses the emotional or physical pain and discomfort you feel.
  • Choose one issue that hits the highest number on your intensity scale. This will be your first focal point as we practice the tap sequence. Focusing on only one problem at a time enhances the outcome.
A professional therapist guiding a patient to identify and test the intensity of an issue.

STEP 2: Establish a Phrase

Before starting the tapping sequence, you need to establish a phrase that addresses two goals:

  • Acknowledging the issue
  • Accepting yourself despite the problem

The common setup phrase is:
・“Even though I have this [fear or problem], I deeply and completely accept myself.”

You can alter this phrase to fit the issue, but it should never involve someone else’s.

An example of a non-effective phrase involving someone else’s problem would be:
・“Even though [Name] is sick and struggling, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Focus on how the problem makes you feel in order to relieve the distress it causes.
It’s better to address a situation where someone sick is impacting your life, by phrasing:
“Even though I’m sad [Name] is sick, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

A great setup phrase for personal stress would be:
・“Even though I feel stress, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

STEP 3: Tap Specific Points

  1. First, take your four fingers (excluding the thumb) and tap the karate chop point on both sides of your hands. As you tap, simultaneously recite your setup phrase 3 times.
Karate Chop Point

2. Using the same four fingers, lightly tap each following point 7 times as you recite your phrase 1 time.

Move down the body points in this ascending order on just one side of the body:

  • Top of the head (starting & finishing point) – directly in the center of the top of the head
  • Eyebrow – the beginning of the brow, just above and to the side of the nose
  • Side of the eye – on the bone at the outside corner of the eye
  • Under the eye – on the bone under the eye, approximately 1 inch (in) below the pupil
  • Under the nose- the point between the nose and upper lip
  • Chin – halfway between the underside of the lower lip and the bottom of the chin
  • Beginning of the collarbone – the point where the breastbone (sternum), collarbone, and first rib intersect
  • Under the arm – at the side of the body, approximately 4 in below the armpit
  • After the underarm, go back to the top of the head to finish your last taps there

If the phrase is too long, you can use reminder shortened phrases. If your setup phrase is, “Even though I feel stress, I deeply and completely accept myself.” your reminder phrase can be, “This stress.” Recite this phrase at each tapping point. Repeat this sequence two or three times.

STEP 4: Retest the Intensity of the Issue

At the end of your tapping sequence, rate your intensity level on a scale from 0 to 10. Compare results with your initial intensity level. If you haven’t reached 0, repeat this process until you feel a difference. It could take multiple attempts for some people to feel the difference. If the intensity level has decreased, you can take another issue from your initial list to work on.

Although tapping can be performed on your own, a qualified EFT practitioner may help you further in learning and understanding tapping techniques for more serious problems.

It’s unbelievable that such simple tapping and phrasing could have such significant impacts on our mental and physical wellbeing. Many schools around the world are starting to implement EFT programs to better equip students with the coping skills to face adolescent challenges and other environmental stressors. No matter how small the problem, taking early care of stress is essential to our wellness. Give EFT tapping a try next time you feel stressed!

If you’re looking for more tips on how to care for your mental health, check out some of our past blog posts!
→ Looking to improve your mental health? Try the SELFMIND app FREE for a week!

Emotional Freedom from anxiety, stress, and depression.

Image : Unsplash

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