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What Is EFT Tapping? And How to use the technique for anxiety relief

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By Sofia Health Staff on June, 21 2022
Emotional freedom technique

As levels of mental distress are on the rise across the country, many people are seeking new ways to relieve stress and anxiety. In addition to more conventional methods like meditation and deep breathing, eft tapping has emerged as a way to address mental health concerns from home.

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This practice —  Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) — is a proven stress, anxiety, and pain reliever. Often known as EFT tapping, this technique offers an alternative form of therapy for stress and anxiety, including some conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 


EFT tapping is a practice that involves tapping on different pressure points in the body, which can balance energy in the body and reduce emotional pain. Whether done from home or with an experienced practitioner, EFT can be a great anxiety-relief option for those seeking body-centered therapy. 


Read on to learn more about the research behind EFT and how you can practice this tapping technique at home. 


What Is EFT Tapping? 

The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is an alternative treatment for emotional distress, including anxiety. It’s more commonly known as EFT tapping or, in some cases, psychological acupressure. 


While EFT tapping is based on ancient forms of treatment like acupuncture, it first came into prominence in the 1990s. According to the developer of EFT, Gary Craig, tapping the body using this technique can rebalance the energy in your body. 


How Does EFT Tapping Work?

EFT tapping draws on a Chinese practice that goes back thousands of years: acupuncture. This practice involves stimulating certain pressure points with needles to improve the flow of energy through the body. Instead of needles, EFT stimulates these points using fingertip touching to apply pressure. 


In theory, tapping specific points — particularly in the head and the face — in a certain sequence can remove energy blocks and restore the balance of energy needed to resolve emotional issues. 


However, the benefits of EFT tapping don’t just come from physical touch. Advocates for the practice say that mindfulness and mental focus are crucial parts of the practice. 


A Guide to EFT Tapping in 5 Steps

Tapping procedures can differ depending on the practitioner, but the standard EFT tapping involves seven to nine taps delivered on several different spots. Each round only takes about one to two minutes and can be repeated as many times as needed. 


Here are the five steps you can take to practice EFT tapping therapy at home. 


1. Focus on the Issue 

To get the most out of your tapping session, it’s important to focus on the issue you want to address. Begin by stating what’s on your mind: a particular issue, fear, or stress point in your life. This will then become your focal point while you tap. 


It’s common for people to have more than one issue they hope to address with EFT. However, you should still focus on only one issue at a time. Other psychological concerns can be addressed in follow-up sessions. 


2. Rank the Intensity 

After you identify the problem you want to address, it’s time to set a benchmark for the level of intensity. This means ranking how severe your issue feels at the moment. At the end of the session, you can use this number to find out if the session worked — and if so, how much it improved your anxiety. 


Rate the intensity of your anxiety, stress, or emotional pain on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the most intense and uncomfortable. 


3. Choose a Phrase

Before you start tapping, you need to set up a phrase that you’ll be repeating throughout the session. This phrase explains what you’re trying to address, allowing you to acknowledge the issue while still accepting yourself as you are. 

For example, a common setup phrase is: “Even though I have this [problem], I deeply and completely accept myself.” 


4. Start the Tapping Sequence 

Finally, it’s time to start your EFT tapping sequences. During this step, you’ll need to tap specific points of your body — known as energy meridians, located just beneath the skin’s surface — while repeating the phrase you chose.  If you’re working with a practitioner, they’ll carry out the tapping, but you will still need to repeat the phrase.  


For the sequence, you’ll tap on these meridian points in order: 

  • Directly in the center of the top of your head 
  • The beginning of your eyebrow, above and to the side of the bridge of your nose 
  • The bone on the outside corner of your eye 
  • The bone about one inch below the pupil of your eye
  • The point between the nose and the upper lip 
  • Halfway between the bottom of the lower lip and the bottom of the chin
  • The point where the collarbone, breastbone, and first rib intersect
  • About four inches below the armpit 

To start, repeat your setup phrase three times. Then, use two fingers to firmly tap the pressure points seven to nine times, moving down the body as you go through each pressure point. As you tap, repeat your phrase and focus on the issue you want to resolve.  


5. Test the Intensity Again 

At the end of your sequence, it’s time to revisit the intensity level. Again, rate the intensity of your emotional distress on a scale from 0 to 10. Compare these results to your original number and repeat the sequence until you reach 0. Some issues may take four to five repetitions to resolve, while others could take 12 or more repetitions. 


To learn about other meditation techniques and benefits, check out our article on meditation here.  

Does EFT Tapping Work?

One study found that EFT tapping can have a measurable impact on the body. After a tapping session, participants had lower heart rates, blood pressure, and cortisol levels (the hormone associated with stress).


Several recent studies suggest that EFT could help treat conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. While research is still limited, the studies that do exist point toward the potential for treatment with tapping techniques. Though still being researched, tapping therapy has been shown to treat other issues including: 

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Weight loss issues


One review of several studies found that EFT techniques can reduce symptoms of depression just as effectively as more conventional treatments. Another study explored the impact of EFT tapping on veterans with PTSD and found that it significantly reduced their psychological distress. 


Most research on the subject relates to EFT tapping for anxiety treatment. A 2016 review found that people who use tapping experienced a significant decrease in anxiety. Another study found that people attending EFT workshops experienced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, pain levels, and cravings. 


The Bottom Line 

EFT tapping offers an alternative form of treatment for stress, anxiety, and emotional pain. It’s an effective, inexpensive self-help technique that you can use on a daily basis to help control your anxiety.


However, if you want to get to the root of your anxiety — or other psychological issues — you will want to work with a qualified practitioner.


With the help of Sofia Health, you can discover leading health and wellness providers and book a session directly on the platform. Ready to find anxiety relief with EFT? Find a practitioner and schedule a session today.   



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