Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are part of an evidence-based alternative therapy that combines cognitive therapy and acupressure stimulation, derived from Thought Field Therapy.
Also commonly referred to as “tapping”, Emotional Freedom Techniques are designed to reduce stress. It is a self-help therapeutic method that meets the criteria of the American Psychological Association’s Division 12 Task Force on Empirically Validated Treatments for a variety of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, phobias, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
When compared to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the “gold standard” treatment therapy for anxiety and depression, studies suggested that EFT was equally effective at reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms.
How Does EFT Work?
The idea behind EFT is that as one experiences a traumatic event (any event that causes us extreme distress or impact psychologically, it could look differently in different people), it disrupts the way our brain processes the event.
These events sometimes cause our brain to unconsciously develop a negative belief, or reinforce certain psychological symptoms (eg anxiety) to protect ourselves from self-perceived harm.
Your EFT therapist helps you to identify past events in life that might be the cause of your current symptoms. Once identified, the therapist helps you to use Emotional Freedom Techniques in such a way that it allows your mind to make peace with the event, and to release those unwanted symptoms. For example, anxiety symptoms could dissipate after a memory of being bullied at school has been processed using EFT.
What to Expect with Emotional Freedom Techniques
EFT is a therapeutic tool based on Chinese medicine that involves manually stimulating specific acupuncture points on the face and upper body using two fingers, while stating a psychological or physical concern aloud. Tapping on traditional acupressure points has been argued to be a significant contributor to positive outcomes for clients.
During a session, the client would first decide on a specific concern to address, and rate the concern regarding their level of distress or discomfort on a scale. The scale is used as a subjective measure of patients’ feelings.
Next, the client would state a “Setup Statement” that involves stating their negative thoughts or feelings followed by a self-accepting sentence, such as “Even though I am stressed, I accept this about myself”. The client then manually “taps” with two fingers on the side of their hand, then on the eight acupuncture points on the face and upper body while repeating a one to two words “Reminder Phrase” (eg stressed, feel stressed, etc). This tapping and reminder phrase is usually repeated until the individual rates their distress or discomfort at one or zero.
What is EFT used for?
EFT is Especially Effective at Treating:
- Post-traumatic Disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Chronic Pain
- Weight Management
From my experience, when compared to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, EFT provides a more straightforward and quicker healing experience for clients who are troubled by more severe symptoms. However, both CBT and EFT are effective therapeutic approaches depending on the circumstances.
Christopher Lee is a Brisbane psychologist with a keen interest in helping teenagers and young adults with trauma, behavioural and relational issues. In addition to speaking English, Cantonese and Mandarin fluently, Christopher uses evidence-based therapy techniques such as CBT, ACT, EFT, and DBT.
To make an appointment with Christopher Lee try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129 or Vision Psychology Wishart on (07) 3088 5422.
- Callahan, R. (2001). The impact of Thought Field Therapy on heart rate variability. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57(10), 1153–1170. doi: 10.1002/jclp.1082
- Craig, G., & Fowlie, A. (1995). Emotional freedom techniques: The manual. Sea Ranch, CA: Author.
- Church, D. (2013). Clinical EFT as an evidence-based practice for the treatment of psychological and physiological conditions. Psychology, 4(08), 645. doi: 10.4236/psych.2013.48092
- Church, D., Feinstein, D., Palmer-Hoffman, J., Stein, P., & Tranguch, A. (2014). Empirically Supported Psychological Treatments The Challenge of Evaluating Clinical 52 Innovations. Journal Of Nervous And Mental Disease, 202(10), 699–709. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000188
- Church, D., Stapleton, P., Yang, A., & Gallo, F. (2018). Is Tapping on Acupuncture Points an Active Ingredient in Emotional Freedom Techniques? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Comparative Studies. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 206(10), 783–793. doi:10.1097/NMD.0000000000000878
- Bach, D., Groesbeck, G., Stapleton, P., Sims, R., Blickheuser, K., & Church, D. (2019). Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, 24, 2515690X18823691–2515690X18823691. doi:10.1177/2515690X18823691