Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

What is EFT?

Emotional Freedom Technique (or EFT) is a non-invasive, easy to learn therapy which can be self-applied.  Although not yet accepted as an evidence based therapy, recent clinical trials have tentatively indicated that EFT is extremely effective for trauma, cravings, phobias and stress. It is also used by medical professionals, in clinical practices and in an NHS oncology unit, where EFT has also been used to alleviate pain and the side effects of cancer treatment and help with the inherent emotional challenges.

EFT may also be referred to as ‘meridian therapy’, ‘tapping therapy’ or ‘energy psychology’. It is often described as being similar to acupuncture but instead of using needles, the meridian points are gently tapped with the fingertips. EFT is a relatively new branch of complementary therapy that also utilises the mind/body* energy system to bring about positive changes in emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

What is the history?

As EFT itself has only been developed in the last two decades, its history is very brief though its origins go back 1000’s of years to acupuncture, acupressure and shiatsu. The earliest signs of acupuncture being used on humans can be traced back to 3,200 years BC.

What can EFT help with?

EFT has been known to help with a range of psychological, emotional problems including physical symptoms. Below are some examples:

Pain Relief                                                    Anger

Fears & Phobias                                            Allergies

Mood problems/ depressed mood                   Anxiety

Trauma/PTSD                                               Low self esteem

Sexual performance                                      Sleep problems

Blood pressure                                             Eating problems/disorders

Migraines                                                     Side effects of cancer treatment

Sport and academic performance                   Addictions

How can EFT help with physical issues?

It is well known that psychological and emotional stress in itself is linked to a variety of health problems, such as increased heart disease, compromised immune system functioning, and premature cellular and cognitive aging. Numerous studies published since 1960 demonstrate the efficacy of mind-body medicine techniques in lowering blood pressure and stress hormone levels, relieving pain and improving immune functioning, as well as improvements in clinical conditions such as HIV, cancer, insomnia, anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

*Using EFT on these mind/body stressors has been shown to improve symptoms.

How does EFT work?

No-one can actually prove how EFT works as many scientists differ in their theories. What has been demonstrated is that by gently tapping on certain meridian points whilst focusing on negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, cravings, anger is that they either disappear or significantly lessen.  Unhealthy negative beliefs such as low self- esteem, negative body image or irrational thoughts are replaced with logical understanding.

EFT is particularly helpful for traumatic memories as there are gentle techniques that ensure the process is relatively pain free.  EFT allows the memory to exist but removes the previous automatic emotion.

If the memory or event is particularly uncomfortable to recall, there are gentle techniques within EFT to ensure the process is as pain free as possible.

What to expect from an EFT practitioner

It is important to choose an EFT Practitioner who has been trained and accredited by a reputable organisation/association that has strict codes of conduct and ethics.  A fully qualified EFT Practitioner would take a history from the client and explain how EFT is applied and either show the client how to tap or obtain consent from the client for the Practitioner to tap on them.  The EFT Practitioner would explain the effects that they may feel whilst experiencing EFT which are not harmful and perfectly normal.

What happens during EFT?

When the body’s energy system is rebalanced with EFT, negative symptoms are replaced by healthy functioning. For instance, a phobic response to spiders would be replaced by a calm response to spiders and the aspects related to the phobic response would be normalised. Therefore, physical sensations of distress (eg racing heart, lumps in the throat or sensations in the pit of the stomach) are alleviated. Disturbed thoughts (such as catastrophic predictions) are normalized. Negative emotions (fear, panic, anger, confusion, etc.) are replaced by inner peace and calm. Unhelpful behavioural tendencies (flight or fight or freeze responses, for example) are corrected. All of this can be achieved through the use of EFT.

During an EFT session, any or all of the following sensations may be experienced – all of which are perfectly normal and natural but should be explained to clients.

  • Desire to yawn or sneeze
  • Tingling sensation
  • Tightness in parts of the body
  • Emotional (sad, angry etc)
  • Feeling hot or cold
  • Feeling light headed/spaced out
  • Shaking
  • Coughing

What research is there on EFT?

Research has been carried out by professionals including Robert Scaer, M.D. Lawrence LeShan, Ph.D., Richard E. Worthington, Ph.D. Claus Bahne Bahnson, Ph.D, to name but a few; we see more and more evidence that emotional trauma contributes greatly to disease.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming (EMDR)  is a similar technique to EFT.  EMDR has reached the minimum threshold for being designated as an evidence-based treatment. A UK NHS-based clinical trial (published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease [2011]) compared EMDR to EFT for post- traumatic stress and EFT was shown to be as effective.  It must be borne in mind that because there is still limited scientific evidence and differing theories as to how EFT works, there will still be some scepticism and resistance from those who need gold standard evidence.  However, this doesn’t deter some medical/mental health professionals and complementary therapists from using EFT in their practice.   You can read on some of the clinical trials and studies on the AAMET website from the AAMET EFT Research Team.

Where can I found out more?

You can download a Free EFT Manual and find qualified and accredited EFT Practitioners and Trainers anywhere in the world from the AAMET International website at www.aamet.org.

It is recommended that when seeking the help from an EFT Practitioner that you find one who is qualified and a member of a reputable organisation.  AAMET International (www.aamet.org) is a legal and professional not for profit Association that represents up to 2,000 EFT Practitioners and Trainers. Members agree to sign up to codes of conduct and ethical practice and to be insured .  AAMET also has a formal complaints procedure in place.  AAMET is associated with other professional stakeholders and its aim is to provide high quality training programmes to ensure Practitioners are fully competent.

Points to consider:

Although it is a relatively new technique it has a high percentage of successes. As with all therapies it may not be suitable for everyone. EFT can be self-taught and applied but some issues are very sensitive and need the intervention of a skilled practitioner to create a safe and appropriate environment to allow the process the opportunity to work. 

*An EFT Practitioner should never claim to cure or heal any condition but explain that EFT may help reduce or remove their presenting symptoms.


Kindly provided by:
An international ‘not-for-profit’ EFT Association

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