learn more about this cognitive, somatic energy tool
Tapping into resiliency: What is eft (tapping) and how can it help me?
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), known informally as "Tapping," provides a practical method to target and clear stored emotional energy with gentle self-applied acupressure paired with verbal processing and affirmations.
the revolution of emotional freedom techniques
EFT was first developed by Gary Craig in the 1990's based on previous research of psychotherapist Dr. Roger Callahan who found that tapping on certain energy points connected to the meridian system (Traditional Chinese Medicine) while discussing an emotional problem or issue, lead to improvement for his patients.
Following the integration with NLP (neuro-linguistic processing) techniques, Gary Craig developed a research supported practical tool called EFT. The version he taught (and continues to teach) is also referred to as Clinical EFT, since this process is the exact sequence of tapping and statements used in research studies, thus the only type of EFT we know to be clinically effective.
Clinical EFT has been shown time and again to reduce emotional intensity, regulate the nervous system, and restructure how the individual thinks and feels about troubling memories. The results of good, clinical EFT have shown long-term effectiveness with clearing intensely charged memories, addressing anxiety and fears about the future, as well as providing immediate emotional regulation in present moment distress.
First used as a clinical treatment of Veterans with PTSD in 2008, EFT has since been used in schools, hospitals, in psychotherapy offices, and various community settings worldwide.
According to EFT International, a reputable accrediting body for EFT professionals, research supports EFT's use in helping with:
- stress related issues
- chronic pain
- weight loss
Since EFT is a relatively new tool, it currently falls under the CAM category in modern medicine (Complementary and Alternative Medicine). With over 100 publications showing the effectiveness of EFT, this novel tool is well on its way to earn the credential of an Evidence-Based Practice.
how EFT works
EFT works on the foundation that energy runs in and through the body (meridians) which can be disrupted (blocked or overactive) leading to illness: mental, emotional, and physical. When our energy is out of balance, we are more likely to experience distress both in the present and chronically.
The premise behind why EFT Tapping works is that we can influence our energy system through manipulation. In this case, manipulation is through acupoint stimulation with the fingertips. Imagine having multiple buttons on your body that when pressed could help reset and clear unwanted energy. EFT functions essentially the same way.
Now imagine that every time you have a certain thought or relive an unpleasant memory, the energy in your body mimics the emotion of that memory, causing you to feel sad, angry, fearful, etc. Have you ever heard the statement "thoughts are energy?" The thinking mind (cognition) is part of what is being addressed with EFT.
When EFT is done correctly, past unpleasant memories are processed (mentally, emotionally, and energetically). Once processed or "cleared," the memory becomes neutral. When a memory is cleared, often a client will say something like this: "Hmmm...wow. Yeah, I guess I don't feel anything now. Like I can see the memory of what happened but it doesn't upset me anymore."
EFT works to restore the energy system but what it actually addressed are the emotions. When past emotions get stored in the body, this can result in negative thinking, cognitive distortions, and limiting beliefs. These conditions of the mind often show up in how we behave in the world or even manifest as physical symptoms.
Once EFT has helped to release negative stored emotions, the effect on the thinking mind is almost instant. This often sounds like "Yeah, I guess I can see it differently now," or "I realize now that ___________." Once these mental shifts are made, individuals are freed up to behave differently according to their updated perception.
It's important to note here that not all EFT is the same. There are EFT tapping scripts, tap-along videos, and general tapping that do not work the same as clinical EFT. Good EFT works to address specifics; specific emotions tied to specific events or memories.
The clinical model of EFT includes the following:
- a specific event (past, present, or future)
- a specific emotion and it's intensity on a 0-10 scale
- the specific location one feels sensation in the body
Learning how to use EFT correctly by working with a Certified Practitioner or following reputable resources is recommended for all 'tappers', new and old alike.
how can EFT help me
The use of EFT Tapping can provide a bounty of positive effects. First, EFT works well as a self-help tool, when used properly. The use of 'tapping' as an ongoing personal development and healing tool is a good strategy to help address smaller memories or problems one can identify on their own. This could include physical pain symptoms, emotional upset, food/substance cravings, etc.
In addition, deep work with a practitioner can address the areas we can't seem to reach on our own. Working with a trained, Certified EFT Practitioner is ALWAYS recommended when dealing with any traumatic memories or when a person is not getting the results they desire by tapping alone. EFT for both self-help and professional work with a practitioner can lead to more personal growth and resiliency.
Resiliency can be defined as the "ability to recover quickly from difficulties." EFT promotes resiliency in two ways. First, EFT helps to regulate the nervous system. When the nervous system is regulated, the body is able to function naturally to communicate with other systems so that you can sleep better, digest your food, relax, and experience repair of damaged cells or fight infection. When you are regulated, your health and wellbeing improve and you can manage the stress responses in the body.
Secondly, EFT improves resiliency by helping to decrease perceived stress and increase healthy coping responses. This happens when stressful triggers get processed using EFT, reducing the negative emotions associated. For example, in one study of 30 pregnant women, the average resiliency score increased by 31% after 8 sessions of EFT and the score of perceived stress decreased by 33.5%.
In another study tracking the effects of EFT on Veterans with a high risk of developing PTSD, the average reduction in risk for PTSD dropped by 64% after just 6 EFT sessions. The same Veterans saw a decrease in anxiety, insomnia, and symptoms of traumatic brain injury symptoms as well. This study shows that there is an ability to help improve the "bounce-back" from traumatic memories, such as war related trauma, reducing the likeliness that it will cause problems later in life.
Notably, EFT often works rather rapidly. When tapping on your own or with a practitioner, it can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes to experience noticeable improvement with emotional intensity, possibly even less time to notice a reduction in pain or emotional distress when addressing specifics. Typically significant improvement can be made in resolving traumatic memories within 6-8 sessions with a Certified EFT Practitioner, though there may be exceptions.
When used at home, EFT can help you cool down for intense emotions within a short period of time. It can also help you process emotional events as they come up, reducing the likelihood to get stored in the body, creating lingering effects of the stress.
The long-term effects of EFT can be even more profound. For instance, imagine there is a pattern in your life you have experienced for years. Once you begin to address these concerns with EFT, the long-term payoff can be exponential. Imagine no longer experiencing fear such as public speaking or a fear of flying. How might you live life differently over time? EFT works to help reroute and rewire our thoughts, emotions and energy so that a person can experience life more fully, free from the limits of our conditioning.
For more information about working 1-on-1 or to book a free consultation with a Certified EFT Practitioner, use the Calendar below or learn more here.
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- Nelms, J. A., & Castel, L. (2016). A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized and nonrandomized trials of clinical emotional freedom techniques (EFT) for the treatment of depression. Explore, 12(6), 416-426.
- Gaesser, A. H., & Karan, O. C. (2017). A randomized controlled comparison of Emotional Freedom Technique and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to reduce adolescent anxiety: A pilot study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(2), 102-108.
- Church, D., Stern, S., Boath, E., Stewart, A., Feinstein, D., & Clond, M. (2017). Emotional Freedom Techniques to Treat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Veterans: Review of the Evidence, Survey of Practitioners, and Proposed Clinical Guidelines. The Permanente journal, 21, 16–100. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/16-100
- Church, D., Yount,
G., & Brooks, A. J. (2012). The effect of emotional freedom techniques on
stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nervous and
Mental Disease, 200(10), 891–896. https://doi.org/10.1097/NMD.0b013e31826b9fc1
- Stapleton, P. (2010). Clinical benefits of Emotional Freedom Techniques on food cravings at 12-months follow-up: a randomized controlled trial. Energy Psychology Journal, 4.1: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 13.
- Stapleton, P., Crighton, G., Sabot, D., & O'Neill, H. M. (2020). Reexamining the effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.
- Ghamsari, M. S., & Lavasani, M. G. (2015). Effectiveness of emotion freedom technique on pregnant women's perceived stress and resilience. Journal of Education and Sociology, 6(2), 118-22.
- Church, D., Sparks, T., & Clond, M. (2016). EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and resiliency in veterans at risk for PTSD: A randomized controlled trial. Explore, 12(5), 355-365.