Emotional Freedom Technique

Last updated 8th August 2022 | Next update due 7th August 2025

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping or EFT) is a non-invasive therapeutic healing tool which has become very popular in recent years due to its simplicity to use and its positive outcomes. It is known among its users as a ‘modern miracle’. 

What is the Emotional Freedom Technique? 

EFT is a complementary therapy which works with the body’s subtle energy system to bring about positive changes in physical, emotional and behavioural issues. It is believed that the body has a network of energy pathways called meridians. By ‘tapping’ near the end points of the meridians, which are located just beneath the surface of the skin, we can promote emotional and physical healing. Meridians are mapped out in pairs around the body and when using EFT, we mainly use the upper body and hands.

What is tapping?

Tapping was originally created in the 1980s by Dr Roger Callahan, a clinical psychologist who studied the Ancient Art of Chinese Acupuncture. He discovered that instead of inserting a needle into a meridian point as you would do with acupuncture, a vibration could also be caused by simply tapping on a meridian point. He called his discovery Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and he eventually developed different recipes or algorithms for each problem to be worked on.

EFT was later developed by Dr Callahan’s assistant, Gary Craig in the 1990s. EFT is a more simplified version of TFT and uses just one basic sequence of tapping points for all problems, which makes it easier to use for both the therapist and client.

Gary Craig believed that “the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body's energy system." In other words, painful memories, experiences and events cause disruption or ‘short circuit’ in the body’s energy system and if this is not resolved, negative emotions are formed. By tapping on a problem, blockages in the energy system are removed and energy flow is balanced, thus leading to emotional and physical healing.

The practice of EFT involves tapping on a series of meridian points on the body whilst speaking your thoughts and emotions as they arise. It may seem strange to focus on negative thoughts and emotions, but what we are doing is bringing the problem to the surface in a mindful and gentle way.

As we are focusing on the thought, feeling or emotion, specific areas of the brain are activated. However, as we tap, we’re also sending a calm signal to the brain and telling it that the mind and body can relax when we think about the problem. With the help of a therapist, we are then able to deal with different aspects of a problem as they arise.

The benefits of EFT

One of the greatest benefits of EFT is that you don’t need to re-live or talk about painful memories if you don’t wish to. An EFT practitioner will use gentle techniques so as not to re-traumatise clients and healing can be achieved without going into great detail about the problem. It’s also very simple to use for adults as well as children.

Other benefits include:

  • EFT can be used as a self-help tool between therapy sessions.
  • You don’t need to re-live traumatic or painful memories. A therapist will use gentle techniques to help you resolve an issue.
  • Sessions can take place in person, online or by telephone.
  • EFT is safe to use.
  • You can learn to use EFT covertly, without anyone realising you are using it.
  • EFT is a natural complementary therapy.

EFT can help with a variety of emotional and physical issues, including; fears and phobias, PTSD, grief, anxiety conditions, weight loss, limiting beliefs, habits, performance issues, cravings, pain, sleep issues and addictions. 

EFT and hypnosis: How the two work together

Many hypnotherapists have chosen to add EFT tapping as part of their existing therapy tools which enables clients to have a wider choice of therapy options. EFT can be used as a stand-alone therapy, or in conjunction with other therapies. You may also be given some tapping homework to use between sessions. 

What to expect from an EFT/hypnosis session

An EFT session can be booked as a face-to-face appointment, online via a secure platform or by telephone. Depending on the issue presented, your therapist may also ask you to speak to your medical practitioner prior to therapy. 

The number of therapy sessions needed to resolve a problem differs from person to person and depends on the complexity of the issue. Your therapist should be able to give you a good idea of how many therapy sessions may be needed.

During your appointment, your EFT practitioner will explain exactly what EFT is and how it can help you. They will also help you to identify what you would like help with, your goals and your expectations of therapy. 

Your therapist will clearly explain where the EFT tapping points are. They will ask you to briefly explain your problem so that they can identify how best to help you.

You do not need to go into specifics if this causes emotional pain. An experienced EFT practitioner can help you release and resolve issues without reliving the trauma. You may also be asked if you wish to be tapped on by the practitioner or if you would like to tap on yourself (mirror tapping) - the choice is yours.

As you start the EFT therapy session, you will be asked to tune into the problem and scale it from 0-10, with 10 being the worst feeling and zero being where the feeling has gone. During the session, your practitioner will ask you where you are on your scale, which will help them to measure the effectiveness of the therapy.

At the end of a session, most clients report feeling relaxed, calmer and happier than they did at the beginning of a session. They may find that the issues that used to bother them no longer trigger an emotional response, and the physical symptoms associated with the issue, such as pain, are significantly reduced or gone. 

Finding an EFT practitioner

If EFT appeals to you, it is important to find an EFT practitioner that is a good fit. Many therapists will offer an initial consultation so that you can discuss what you would like help with and how many sessions you are likely to need. You may also want to ask them if they will be using EFT on its own, or in combination with other therapies. 

This page was written for Hypnotherapy Directory by clinical hypnotherapist and EFT practitioner, Elizabeth Hollywood, in July 2022.

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