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Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a controversial psychotherapeutic tool that is claimed to be able to relieve many psychological conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, stress, addictions and phobias. The basic EFT technique involves holding a disturbing memory or emotion in mental focus and simultaneously using the fingers to tap on a series of 12 specific points on the body that correspond to meridians used in Chinese medicine. The theory behind EFT is that negative emotions are caused by disturbances in the body's "energy field," and that tapping on the meridians while thinking of a negative emotion alters the body's energy field, restoring it to "balance."


EFT was created by Gary Craig in the mid 1990s, and is meant to be a simplification and improvement of Roger Callahan's Thought Field Therapy techniques. It is numbered among other non-traditional psychotherapeutic theories known collectively Energy psychology.

Empirical Studies Supporting EFTEdit

A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology seem to lend strength to the effectiveness of EFT against deep breathing techniques when used on small animal phobias. EFT was shown to be more effective on a number of measures, and the effect of the EFT lasted much longer than any effect perceived by the deep breathing group.[1]

The conceptEdit

The basic principleEdit

The basic principle of EFT (as given in the Free EFT Manual) is:

The underlying cause of all negative emotions is an imbalance in the body's energy system

How emotional problems ariseEdit

The theory states that negative emotions are built in us in the following stages:

  • A negative experience occurs
  • Negative emotions are felt in response to this negative experience, leading to inappropriate programming inside the body
  • The body's energy system gets disrupted due to these negative emotions

The contention of EFT is that in order to remove the negative responses, tackling the negative experience is not enough, because doing so cannot correct the energy imbalance. Rather, the energy imbalance must be restored along with curing the negative emotions.

Differences from TFTEdit

The main difference between EFT and TFT lies, not in principles, but in application. In TFT, a specific sequence of tapping points (known as an algorithm) is used for a particular problem. This sequence can be diagnosed using a procedure borrowed from applied kinesiology called muscle testing.

In EFT, the order and sequence of tapping point is not deemed to be important, and therefore there are no individual algorithms for different problems [1]. Instead, a comprehensive algorithm is used for all problems, and no diagnosis or muscle testing is required.

The EFT application procedureEdit

Two components to EFT applicationEdit

There are two parts to the application of EFT -- the tapping, which is the physical part used to rebalance the energy centers, and the verbal part which involves making the appropriate statements that direct the body to correct the relevant imbalances.

It is believed in some circles that the tapping part of EFT has little to do with its healing abilities, and the credit for the successes it has shown so far is due to the statements made along with the tapping. Under this view, EFT is simply an extension of techniques such as NLP.

Further, it is not clear how important the location of tapping is to the whole process.

It is also possible that even if the tapping turns out to be irrelevant in many cases, the framework of ideas developed in EFT will lead to further development of psychology and self help.

Emotional issuesEdit

The coming paragraphs describe the theory as propagated by Gary Craig.

Most emotional issues, despite the global nature of their statements, are based on some very specific events rooted in the past. These specific events triggered off strong emotional responses, resulting in the long standing energy disruption. The global emotion can be likened to a table top with each specific event as a table leg.

EFT is applied turn by turn to each of the table legs. As each table leg breaks, the table top becomes more and more unstable and may soon collapse.

What if an emotional issue has hundreds of table legs? Gary Craig says that in his experience, it sufficient to chop off a few of them to collapse the whole table. Two possible reasons are:

  • The underlying similarity behind the specific events may lead to the resolution of all of them as one of them is being resolved. Thus, the specific events borrow benefits from each other.
  • If the events picked up are key events, then the resolution of these may help the mind and the body see the other events in the proper perspective. That is, these events are the strongest and most foundational table legs.

Gary Craig calls this a generalization effect.

Applying EFT to specific events (preparation)Edit

Before applying EFT, Gary Craig suggests the following:

  • Make a mental movie of the specific event
  • Try to locate the emotional crescendos of the event, that is, the moments of greatest emotional intensity
  • Provide a title to the movie, preferably related to the crescendo
  • Judge the emotional intensity of recalling the movie now, on a SUDS of 0 to 10

The setup phraseEdit

The Setup Phrase for applying EFT to specific events tries to:

  • accept the past experience
  • reaffirm love and acceptance of oneself and one's surroundings

The recommended setup phrase is -- even though I had this (movie title) experience, I deeply and completely accept myself. Slightly more elaborate forms are -- even though I have (this emotion) with (this intensity) about this (movie title) experience, I deeply and completely accept myself.

The setup phrase is said along with the first tapping point, usually the Karate Chop (KC) Point or the Sore Point on the chest (the sore point is to be rubbed, not tapped). This statement sets the tone for the tapping. It is asserted, in line with the theory of energy meridians, that the setup phrase helps remove PRs (Psychological Reversals), that is, thoughts and feelings that resist the healing process. (PRs are believed to actually be encoded in the body as tiny cells with their polarities reversed). While saying the setup phrase, it is not necessary to believe it, but it is necessary to let the mind run over the statement (something that will happen automatically if the person has just relived the experience in the mind).

The remaining tappingEdit

The remaining points must be tapped three to four times each, and with each tapping, the movie title needs to be repeated. Technically, this is termed the Reminder Phrase. Its role is to keep the mind (and body) tuned into the issue that is being resolved. There is no elaborate rule for the order of tapping, and the order recommended is simply in a way that is most convenient to remember.

In order to do the tapping, it is recommended that the tapper make a light fist and tap with all the fingers. In this way, the tapping process covers the maximum possible area. Further, if the tapper is not sure of locating the ponit exactly, it is recommended that he or she tap in a small circular enclosure around the point meant to be tapped. This way, even if the point is not tapped, the percussion created by tapping in its vicinity may have the desired effect.

  • Top of the Head (H): This point has been added more recently. It is on top of the head, towards the front side.
  • Beginning of the Eyebrow (EB): Slightly above the eyebrow, towards the inside. here are two such points, on the left and the right. Both of them can be tapped together because of their proximity.
  • Side of the Eye (SE): Level with the eye, on the outside. Two points, on opposite sides of the face.
  • Under the Eye (UE): Just under the eye, on the inside, near the top of the nose. Two points, on opposite sides of the face.
  • Under the Nose (UN): This is midway between the nose and the upper lip.
  • The Chin Point(Ch): This is midway between the lower lip and the chin.
  • Beginning of the Collarbone (CB) : This point is at the edge of the collarbone, where it meets the breastbone. There are again two such points, and they can both be tapped simultaneously.
  • Under the Arm (UA) : This is about three to four inches below the armpit, roughly level with the chest.

Some other points, not part of the Shortcut Sequence, are:

  • Below the Nipple (BN): This was removed from the standard sequence because it is embarrassing to tap in public, especially for ladies
  • Thumb (Th)
  • Index Finger (IF)
  • Middle Finger (MF)
  • Baby Finger (BF)

There are some other points in more elaborate EFT procedures, including points on the fingers and the wrist.

After the tappingEdit

After the tapping, the person reevaluates intensity on the SUDS scale. The EFT procedure has worked if the intensity has reduced.

Sometimes, the tapping may not appear to be effective, but may actually be effective. Gary Craig discusses two concepts:

  • Aspects: A given traumatic incident may have many aspects. For instance, a car accident may have headlights, screaming, people running around, and so on. After tapping with EFT for one aspect, it may happen that that aspect gets resolved completely, but another aspect now dominates. This aspect may have a different crescendo point and invoke different emotions. Tapping can now be applied on this new aspect.
  • Emotions: A feeling of anger at some incident may, after the tapping, get converted to a feeling of deep sorrow. The next step is to apply EFT to the new feeling.

Subtleties in the application of EFTEdit

The 9 Gamut ProcedureEdit

The 9 Gamut Procedure involves performing nine "brain stimulating actions" while tapping the Gamut point (according to the EFT Manual). Here are the nine actions:

  • Eyes closed
  • Eyes open
  • Eyes hard down right while holding the head steady
  • Eyes hard down left while holding the head steady
  • Roll eyes clockwise as though nose was at the center of a clock and you were trying to see the numbers in order
  • Roll anticlockwise now
  • Hum 2 seconds of a song
  • Count rapidly from 1 to 5
  • Hum 2 seconds of a song again

Daisy chainingEdit

EFT practitioners have observed that as one specific event or emotional issue gets resolved, their clients get reminded of another. This is because of the very emotionally excitable state in which the client is as he or she succeeds in resolving one issue. Gary Craig urges the practitioners and clients not to let go of this opportunity and to keep tapping on all the issues that arise as EFT application is under way, so that a large number of issues get resolved in a single session.

Chasing the PainEdit

The distress that a patient experiences when recalling a painful issue is often experienced as tightening and constriction of the muscles in certain regions of the body. One of the methods of EFT to handle this is called chasing the pain. In this method, the tapping and statements are made keeping in mind the physical location of the pain.

After some rounds of tapping, the pain in that location may vanish, and the dominant pain may shift to another area. The pain is now chased away from this area.

Stages of confronting the issueEdit

For a highly traumatic experience, EFT is typically applied carefully in gentle stages, so that a lot of the intensity is gone by the time the issue is finally confronted for resolution.

Initially, tapping is done very globally, with the setup phrases referring only to the general issue, and an acceptance of oneself. The acceptance statements oscillate between:

  • Accepting oneself
  • Accepting the experience
  • Accepting the other players in the experience
  • Accepting that everybody did the best they could, given the writing on their walls
  • A condemnation of their acts, quickly combined with a redeeming statement about them
  • Exaggeration of the severity of the situation to the level that it seems humorous

Because these statements are global, they can be applied even before getting into the specific issue. An intensity reduction at this stage (if it is successful) then leads to greater ease in playing out the actual events.

Because the global statements are common across events, it is even believed to be possible to achieve these benefits by borrowing benefits via tapping for others.

Once the intensity at the prospect of recounting the story is down to a SUDS level of 0 or 1, the recounting of the story begins. As the story is recounted, the person may realize that he or she is beginning to get emotionally intense. At this stage, further rounds of tapping are done to ease the further story.

Once the patient can recount the entire story without any SUDS, some elements of the events are played out, and under that state, the intensity is again brought down. For instance, if I have a fear of elevators due to a past trauma, I will try entering an elevator and see if I still experience fear. If so, then further rounds of tapping are done with the elevator right in front.

There are three specific techniques that have been combined in the above discussion:

  • Sneaking up on the issue
  • The Tearless Trauma technique
  • The Movie technique

Borrowing BenefitsEdit

Borrowing Benefits is a technique where a client:

  • first focusses on one of his/her specific issues
  • then, picks up a specific issue of some other person, and taps for that other person, as if he is that other person. This is best done along with many other people, each tapping for the same person
  • after some rounds of tapping, determines the intensity of his/her own specific issues

Gary Craig asserts that when we tap for other people's issues, our system draws the necessary parallels with our own issues while saving us the pain of directly confronting them. This could happen even if the issues do not resemble each other superficially. Thus, while tapping on the other person's issues, the client may find his own issues clearing up.

The technique of Borrowing Benefits has the added advantage of making the client more sympathietc and sensitive to the issues of others, leading to greater oneness and spirituality. Gary Craig recommends its use by psychotherapists on themselves before, during, and after the treatment of clients. This is believed to be hepful to both the therapist and the client.

A Borrowing Benefits workshop was conducted by Gary Craig at Flagstaff and the psychologist Dr. Jack Rowe studied the progress made by clients treated by Gary Craig in the workshop using the SCL-90-R (Symptom Checklist 90 Repeatable) psychological assessment test. This test is a checklist of 90 items used to evaluate nine primary symptoms. It is repeatable. A link to the study is given at the end.

About the tapping pointsEdit

Some further suggestions on the tapping points given on the EFT website:

  • Many of the tapping points are on both the left and the right side of the body. In this case, tapping on either side is claimed to be reasonably effective, though, for added effect, it may be better to tap vigorously on both sides.
  • The situation and environment of tapping, as well as the hand used for tapping, should be changed on a regular basis to help the body expose more hidden issues.
  • While tapping on the various points, it may be useful to shift viewpoints and positions, to see the inherent humour, and the harmlessness, of the trauma to which there continues to be emotional reaction.

Perceived negative effects of EFT applicationEdit

Some cases have been recorded where a client reports feeling worse after some rounds of EFT. This happens, according to Gary Craig, because the initial rounds of EFT tapping take the lid off some repressed and suppressed emotions which now come to the surface. This should be viewed as an opportunity, rather than a problem, as it means that the underlying issues are now exposed and can be resolved while the client is still in an emotionally excited state.

Learning EFTEdit

The official websiteEdit

EFT can be learned for free from Gary Craig's official website. The Get Started Package available on the website gives a free downloadable EFT Manual that explains the so called Basic Recipe of EFT and also gives automatic subscription to the free EFT Newsletter. Many people who claim to have used EFT with personal success have picked it up from the Manual.

Gary Craig also sells DVD sets for EFT and related skills.

From other practitionersEdit

Maryam Webster, on her websites, gives a succinct summary of the EFT procedure, along with a number of useful tips regarding it in her "EFT In A Nutshell" tutorial. Written for Energy Coaches who use EFT with clients, this short tutorial features a more accurate photographic diagram of the points used, plus new points recently added to the protocol by Craig and other developers.

This short tutorial can be found here for laypersons and here for professionals. This site additionally features free audio of live EFT sessions conducted by Webster and students.

In addition much can be found on Geoffrey Smith's bilingual English/French website found here where in depth techniques are detailed, discussed and commented on by site visitors.


EFT is often labeled by critics as pseudoscience. This controversy largely stems from EFT's unverified assertion that "meridians" and "energy fields" exist in and around the body. Studies assert that EFT's success stems from "characteristics it shares with more traditional therapies" rather than the tapping of energy meridians.[2]

Anecdotal nature of claimsEdit

While one scientific study implicates possible validity for EFT[1], this study does not involve human subjects and posits no causal explanations. The Waite & Holder study partially invalidates EFT using human subjects.[2] Thus far, large scale studies of TFT, a related practice to EFT, have not validated the TFT apprach.[3] Consequently, most of the vast body of material available to proponents of EFT is Anecdotal evidence.

No causal explanationEdit

Some critics feel that the EFT website does not give a convincing explanation of why EFT works as dramatically as they claim it does. This may be because the focus of Gary Craig is to develop a method that works, and not figure out in detail the reasons behind it. However, certain assertions made on the website intended to attract popular attention undermine the validity of EFT by mixing up concepts of Einstein and relativity when, in fact, there is no known link of EFT with either.

The ACEP contains a number of articles describing the possible reasons behind the success of energy therapies. The possibilities rely on the flow of electricity in the body and the way the sympathetic nervous system responds to tapping. Because this posits an unverified (and perhaps unverifiable) phenomenon without forwarding an actual theory, EFT is treated with skepticism.

Placebos and connections with earlier therapiesEdit

Some critics assert that the success of EFT stems from its similarities with earlier therapies. Again, the algorithms and methods for applying EFT, as outlined by Gary Craig, are designed to make use of a combination of a large number of methods, because the priority in his algorithms is to have the maximum success rate. This makes it difficult for control studies to be done based on these algorithms.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Steve Wells, Kathryn Polglase, Henry B. Andrews, Patricia Carrington, A. Harvey Baker (2003). Evaluation of a meridian-based intervention, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), for reducing specific phobias of small animals (p 943-966). Journal of Clinical Psychology 59 (9).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wendy L. Waite and Mark D. Holder (2003). Assessment of the Emotional Freedom Technique: An Alternative Treatment for Fear. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 2 (1).
  3. Brandon A. Gaudiano and James D. Herbert (2000). Can we really tap our problems away?. The Skeptical Inquirer 24 (4).

Further readingEdit

  • Dr. Silvia Hartmann (1999). Adventures in EFT; DragonRising Publishing.
  • Dr. Silvia Hartmann (2003). The Advanced Patterns of EFT; DragonRising Publishing.
  • Ananga Sivyer (2000). The Art and Science of Emotional Freedom; DragonRising Publishing.
  • Dr. Fred Gallo (2000). Energy Psychology; CRC Press.
  • David Feinstein, Donna Eden, Gary Craig (2006). The Healing Power of EFT and Energy Psychology: Revolutionary Methods for Dramatic Personal Change; Piatkus Books

External linksEdit

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