Emotional Freedom Technique – EFT 

EFT has been hailed as the most powerful new technique in
complementary medicine, able to resolve a wide range of both
physical and emotional/psychologial problems.
Homeopath Patty Hemingway who has been using EFT for
some time in her practice, explains what it is and how it works.


EFT was developed by a counsellor, Gary Craig, who was looking for a way to help people in emotional distress to process their feelings and recover their emotional balance as quickly as possible. It was only later that he became aware of its potential to shift physical symptoms and disease.

Gary Craig was used to counselling people and seeing how emotions changed as a result, but he recognised that this was a slow process, and people often remained in therapy for years. Treatments that seemed to work more quickly were those that involved working directly on the body’s energy flow, such as acupressure, kinesiology, or Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Gary had trained with Roger Callahan the originator of TFT (which combines tapping on the energy meridians with talk therapy) but went on to develop and simplify the system. Although Craig insists that EFT therapists must meet his training requirements if they are to offer EFT to other people, he has also placed basic training manuals and information on the internet and on DVDs, which are readily accessible to all, and can be used for self-help.
The people he treats in his workshops, report instant release from pain, and improvements in other mental/ emotional, as well as, physical symptoms.

How does EFT work ?

Energy flows through our bodies along meridians or pathways that connect to each other, and to our organs. These resemble an electrical circuit. You will not find them described in western medicine’s anatomy books, but oriental medicine has understood their importance to human health for centuries.
If the organism is under stress of any sort – either emotional or as a result of a physical or a chemical mismatch such as a food intolerance – then the energy meridian most affected will shut down, or become blocked. There can be a cascade effect as other connected meridians try to take over and keep the energy flowing, but eventually they too become blocked, and often the result is pain and other symptoms or feelings of dis-ease. Gary Craig claims that the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system, and so the way to dissolve negative emotions is through clearing the energy blockage and getting the energy to flow once more.

EFT and allergy

In the specific context of allergy tapping can often reduce or resolve symptoms and I have used tapping in conjunction with homeopathic remedies to successfully treat allergic reactions on a number of occasions. Gary Craig’s EFT website (www.emofree.com) includes a number of similar reports.
Obviously, if you suspect that the reaction may be serious you should still use all the usual emergency techniques (EpiPen, call the ambulance etc) but tapping while you are waiting may help to reduce the tension and buy a little extra time.
EFT sounds an unlikely treatment for allergies until you realise that our emotions affect the course of any disease; they can speed up or delay healing and can frequently precipitate physical symptoms – such as allergic reactions.
We may not realise at the time that our hay-fever may have started after a period of resentment and anger at our boss, or that our child’s eczema first appeared after they had spent a weekend away from home, and probably been homesick, although nothing seemed amiss at the time. When we repress our emotions the body finds other ways of expressing them.

How do I use EFT ?

It is worth investing in a book, or reading the information on Gary Craig’s website (www.emofree.com) before embarking on any EFT self-treatment. Alternatively you might wish to have a session with a trained therapist who can show you exactly how to get started. They will explain the process in stages.

Stage 1

To begin you need to decide what you want to tap ‘on’. This might be a negative emotion such as anxiety or a physical symptom such as pain. Focus on the sensation or the emotion and decide how intense it is. In EFT we assign a score to this out of ten, with ten being the most intense.

Stage 2

Next you need to do the ‘set-up’. Simply tap on the karate chop (KC) – outside of the hand – see diagram – point while saying out loud the set-up phrase, which includes exactly what you are thinking or feeling at the time. Repeat this three times.
An example might be: ‘Even though, I have this pounding headache and I feel sick and dizzy, and I am so angry about how horrible work was today, I deeply and completely love myself’. It is important to use the words in italics before and after your specific description of how you are feeling – see below.
The set-up is important for two reasons. Firstly, it enables you to focus on the problem and any feelings or symptoms associated with it that may have caused an energetic disruption in the system. Only when this disruption to the energy flow appears, can it be dismantled, and an unimpeded flow re-established.
Secondly, using the words, ‘Even though’ and ‘I deeply and completely love myself’, are a means of accepting that you have this problem, but that you can still love yourself, and are ready to change.
In some situations our subconscious may try to block change, mistaking it for a threat to our well-being, and when this happens the energy system remains disordered. In EFT this is known as psychological reversal (PR) and explains why some people cannot completely clear their symptoms with tapping.
There are several techniques for dealing with PR when it happens, but by using the correct set-up you have already begun to clear the problem.
Interestingly, some people report that their symptoms resolve almost as soon as the set-up is completed. Others find it difficult to say ‘I deeply and completely love myself’. When this happens, you know you are dealing with low self-esteem and will need to tap on that to clear it, but to get started you can use an alternative phrase which is acceptable such as ‘I’m OK’.

Stage 3
(Diagrams from Emotional Healing in Minutes by Valerie and Paul Lynch)

The next stage involves tapping with one or two fingers on the ends of the energy meridians flowing through the body (eg the series of points on the head and body detailed on the chart) while saying aloud the reminder phrase, which, in this case, would be something like ‘this angry headache’.
Ideally you should tap each point seven times, which usually means repeating the reminder phrase three times, but do not interrupt your tapping to count, and do not worry about being exact. If you are concerned about the exact location of the points then tap with three or four fingers rather than just one finger, and you will be sure to cover them.
Go round the points a second time, tapping each one seven times and repeating a reminder phrase which may vary slightly from the first round, depending on any changes to how you are feeling.
The ‘tapping’ is literally like turning on a water tap: as you tap (turn the tap on), the energies (water) which have been blocked can flow freely and the emotional blockage resolve.

Sequence of points
1. Beginning of eyebrow, just above the nose
2. On the bone at the outer corner, or side of the eye
3. On the bone just under the eye
4. Between the nose and the upper lip
5. Between the lower lip and the edge of the chin
6. On the collarbone, about one inch from the sternal notch
7. Under the arm, about four inches from the armpit
8. On the outside edge of the thumb, at the base of the nail
9. On the outside edge of the index finger at the base of the nail
10. On middle finger as above
11. On little finger as above
12. Karate chop point is the edge of the hand about one inch below the little finger
13. Gamut point is on the back of the hand, midway between the little finger and the ring finger, and about half an inch below the knuckles.

You will find variations on this sequence that include tapping on the crown of the head, the wrists and the ankles. Avoid wrists and ankles if pregnant. You will also find references to an alternative set-up point, the tender spot, which is as effective as the karate chop.

These three stages form the basic routine. In addition there are variations, which involve a series of eye movements while tapping on the Gamut Point (GP), and these can be helpful in situations where symptoms are not shifting.

How do you know if EFT is working?

Just go back and score your symptoms out of ten and compare this score to the original.
Tapping, while voicing negative emotions, overrides the tendency to close down the energy circuits whenever painful emotions arise. When you finish tapping you may no longer feel the emotion or pain as intensely, and it may even have gone completely. If not, then continue and do another round of tapping on whatever sensation remains.
There are variations on every aspect of this basic routine, which have been developed by EFT Masters, so experiment with different methods and discover what works best for you.

Do try this at home

Most people know what anger feels like, so the next time you feel yourself becoming angry and developing physical symptoms such as tension, shallow breathing, getting hot, red-faced and with your blood pressure rising, maybe with palpitations too, try doing a round of EFT. If you are too upset to manage the set-up before the tapping, just launch into tapping on something very simple such as ‘this anger’ and keep going until you feel calmer when you can re-assess, and then do a new round with a set-up and a more specific reminder phrase
Do NOT think positive

It is not necessary to try to think positive thoughts or to visualise a healing reaction for EFT to be effective. On the contrary, the technique requires you to concentrate on the negative emotion in order to clear it. This makes EFT easy to use because it will work even if the person does not believe it will; it also makes it quite different from placebo.

Surrogate tapping

Surrogate tapping on behalf of someone else can also produce a result, even if the other person is not aware that you are tapping for them. This is useful in situations where someone is incapable of tapping for themselves – a young child, for example, or someone who is very ill.
I decided to give it a go when I was sitting behind a young boy on an aeroplane who refused to be strapped into his seat belt – but the pilot refused to land the plane until everyone was buckled up. The child was clearly terrified and was screaming and lashing out.
I imagined his terror, voiced his fears and described his panic while I tapped on myself, with the intention that I was doing this on his behalf. His panic certainly subsided (although I cannot of course prove that this was due to my tapping) and so did mine – and we were able to land.

EFT and electro-sensitivity

Whatever their particular problem, clients often consult me for EFT because they feel overwhelmed by something that is affecting their health, and which they feel unable to control or cure. Many people with electro-hypersensitivity (EHS) or electro-sensitivity (ES) feel this way about their condition, and their inability to change the environment that triggers it. They are feeling vulnerable in every sense, their home is invaded by electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) from which they cannot escape, their family and friends often do not understand, and even their doctor may be disbelieving.
We now know that there is an effect at a cellular level when people are exposed to EMR. For more information about this see the series of reports on the FM website.
People with ES are bearing an enormous emotional load as well as trying to cope with physical symptoms that range from tinnitus and headaches to heart arrhythmias and bleeding. So the first place to start when treating them with EFT is to relieve their anxiety and any depression. By working on how they are feeling EFT can also start to reduce their physical symptoms.

Tap on everything

If you decide to try EFT, remember the three most important things are to be specific about your problem or how you are feeling; keep going until you feel a change in your symptoms or feelings; and practise as much as you can by tapping on everything that comes up, on a daily basis.

Patty Hemingway is a homeopath and EFT practitioner in South West London and can be contacted on +44 (0)208 333 0413 or visit: www.pattyhemingway.co.uk

To find an EFT practitioner in your area visit: www.aamet.org

For Gary Craig’s own site which includes instructions on the techniques and hundreds of personal testimonials:www.emofree.com

If you would rather work from a book, Valerie and Paul Lynch’s Emotional Healing in Minutes (Thorsons £10.99) is an excellent introduction and guide.


Subscription Cressida and FM part timer, Alena Miklasova, our 'tappers' at the top of this article, have both become EFT enthusiasts and have found the technique helpful in different ways.

If you are touchy and short-tempered (like me) EFT is extremely useful in diffusing strong reactions to difficult situations. Take a classic, the mother-in-law, always getting involved where she isn't wanted. When she makes her infuriating comments, just stop what you are doing, say ‘excuse me’, head off to the bathroom/bedroom/cupboard and tap for ‘I am so angry/hate my mother in law’ and within two minutes you can be back in the room with her. The terrible angry physical reaction has gone, and the brain, no longer heeding the advice of the body’s adrenalin rush, can formulate calm, rational and polite answers, and peace is restored.

EFT is extremely cathartic. I was surprised at how effective it was. It allowed me to address unconscious as well as conscious sources of unresolved conflict, stress and grief and promoted a pro-active approach that, for someone who has battled depression, proved very useful.
I found the ‘set up’, or identification of problem areas, almost instantly removed them before I even got to the tapping – although this only applied to relatively superficial problems. Below the tip of the iceberg, an analogy used by the authors of Emotional Healing in Minutes, the tapping restores a sense of well-being, and provides necessary closure (a balance of energy flow).
It is very important that you follow it through the whole tapping sequence or you will be left feeling very ill at ease, even if the first stage had provided intense release.
It was very interesting seeing how deep-seated emotional issues were released through physical symptoms. Refusing to deal with emotional issues can cause headaches and chronic pains that tapping alleviates.
It can also cause yawning, stomach tightness and sleepiness before the release. It is a very intense process, and if you have experienced severe trauma I would not do this alone.

First published in 2009

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