EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques

What is EFT in a nutshell?

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques – a powerful approach that works directly with the body as an energy system in order to release physical, mental and emotional distress. Developed by Gary Craig in the 1990s as a simplified version of Roger Callahan’s Thought Field Therapy (TFT), EFT represents a synthesis of elements drawn from traditional Chinese healing arts on one hand and contemporary psychological and psychotherapeutic approaches on the other hand. It can be used by trained practitioners in the context of a therapeutic process or as a self-help method by their clients. 

How does EFT work?

EFT works directly with the human organism as an energy system. Experience has repeatedly shown that our unresolved traumas and limiting thought patterns contribute greatly to mental, emotional and physical distress. This in turn appears to be intimately related to a disturbance in the body’s energy field. With EFT, we gently tap on (or sometimes just touch or massage) key ‘acupoints’ located on all the main energy meridians known from Chinese acupressure and acupuncture while naming, and tuning into, the specific issue we wish to address. More often than not, blockages in the natural flow of our vital energies are allowed to dissolve, which in turn brings lasting relief from negative thoughts and emotions as well as physical tension or pain. 

This framework is not unique to EFT but underlies much of Energy Psychology – an umbrella term for a range of approaches to psychological issues that work with the human bio-field and its pathways as essential to mental and emotional balance. EFT appears to be the most well-known in a family of meridian therapies including Thought Field Therapy. But whereas TFT requires the use of specific tapping sequences determined by muscle testing and can be administered by trained clinicians only, its cousin EFT is a simplified method based on the use of a standardized treatment protocol, which lends itself to being applied by both trained practitioners in the context of therapy and by their clients as an effective self-help modality.


When to use Emotional Freedom Techniques

EFT is primarily used to address emotional issues, but it is frequently effective in alleviating physical tension or discomfort as well. EFT is not meant to replace the intervention of a qualified medical professional but may support the organism’s natural healing ability in surprising ways. The method often works wonders as a cure for what’s sometimes called the ‘common upset’. Even beginning practitioners may expect a 50-60% success rate; more complex issues tend to require dedicated application over a period of time and are best approached with the help of an experienced EFT practitioner or psychotherapist who uses EFT as an integral part of his or her tool box. Since its inception in the 90s, EFT master practitioners have come forward to further expand the method’s range of creative applications. Thus, instead of focusing on problem areas only, EFT is also increasingly used to enhance performance and overcome blocks to achieving important life goals. Beyond that, EFT can serve as a master tool that allows us to shed the burden of a destructive core beliefs or painful life narrative that limits our ability to realize our full potential as human beings.

EFT has been successfully used in the following areas:

  • Repeated stress, overwhelm and burnout

  • Longstanding anger, resentments, ‘unfinished business’

  • Acute and post-traumatic stress, prolonged grief

  • Self-esteem issues, lack of self-confidence

  • Fear of heights, snakes, spiders, air travel, etc.

  • Fear of speaking in public, extreme discomfort in social situations

  • Difficulty with learning and text anxiety

  • Eating imbalance and other addictive patterns

  • Physical conditions and pain with obvious or hidden emotional components

  • Blocks to creative expression and self-actualization

Scientific Validation

Since the 1990s, an increasing number of mental health professionals as well as health and performance coaches have incorporated EFT and related modalities into their work, reporting significantly more rapid and lasting progress than relying on verbal interaction alone. Research on energy healing continues to be promising, and there is evidence that stimulation of specific acupoints affects brain wave activity, especially the limbic system which is involved in coping with fear i.e. the fight and flight response.

Scientific validation of meridian therapies is growing. There are over a hundred studies on the effectiveness of EFT – many of them clinical controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals. A satisfying theoretical framework of energy psychology including EFT calls for an expanded view of reality, elements of which have been formulated by cutting-edge thinkers, bio-scientists and quantum physicists. To benefit from energy healing interventions such as EFT, you are not required to believe in their effectiveness; simply bring curiosity and a beginner’s mind to the process.