Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or 'tapping' is often referred to as psychological acupressure. Here we explore how it can help release emotional blockages.

As with many other therapies, EFT works on the premise that the body contains energy channels. When these energy channels become blocked or unbalanced, it is believed to lead to emotional and physical illness.

Using tapping techniques, Emotional Freedom Technique looks to correct these imbalances. 

What is EFT (tapping)?

Emotional Freedom Technique incorporates theories from holistic therapies such as acupressure, energy medicine and neuro-linguistic programming.

Many eastern medicine models are founded on the belief that there are channels of energy within the body. It is thought that when these channels (known as meridians) become blocked, energy becomes unbalanced. When this happens, it is thought to lead to physical and emotional symptoms.

In the western world, we are beginning to catch up with the premise that emotional health is imperative to physical health. As well as affecting our health, emotional blocks can lead to limiting beliefs and behaviours. This may result in phobias, anxiety, depression or even addictions.

EFT acknowledges this and combines energy medicine with psychological interventions for a truly holistic approach.

In a similar way to acupuncture, EFT looks to release blocked energy by stimulating the meridian points. Rather than using needles, however, this therapy uses tapping techniques. Tapping (using the fingertips) on certain points on the body, combined with voicing positive affirmations is thought to neutralise the emotional block in energy.

Holistic therapists who offer Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

How does EFT work?

EFT practitioners believe negative emotions and illness are interlinked. Physical problems create emotional responses and emotional problems often manifest as physical symptoms. For this reason, it is important to approach healing in a holistic manner, looking at both emotional and physical energy.

Emotional Freedom Technique aims to tackle both negative emotions and unbalanced or blocked energy. This is done by tapping meridian points on the body while focusing on the issue and repeating positive affirmations.

This combination of stimulating meridian points whilst thinking about root cause enables the energy system to 'straighten out'. This is believed to eradicate the 'short circuit' to the body's learnt response or negative emotion.

The basic technique involves repeating a positive affirmation then focusing on the concern (for example anxiety) while tapping on each meridian point. This is a very basic method and your EFT practitioner may advise you on variants of this depending on what you are addressing.

In this Ted X talk, Dr. Peta Stapleton discusses how EFT tapping works.

What are the benefits of EFT?

A well-known motto within the EFT community is "try it on everything". Because the therapy is non-invasive, entirely natural and safe, there is nothing to lose by trying it on any issue. Advocates of the therapy say it can offer long-lasting relief and often works where other approaches fail.

EFT works well for recurring problems as they aim to tackle the root cause, rather than simply treating symptoms.

Below is a list of issues people commonly turn to EFT for:

  • addiction
  • depression
  • fears and phobias
  • stress
  • pain management
  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • trauma
  • anger management
  • weight loss
  • insomnia

It is important to note that EFT is a complementary therapy and therefore should be used alongside medical advice. If you suffer from any of the above, be sure to speak to your doctor. You should also advise your EFT practitioner if you're undergoing any other form of therapy or are taking medication.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that while EFT does tackle emotional concerns, it should not be used in place of mental health treatment. For some, EFT will not be suitable. Be sure to tell your doctor/mental health practitioner before starting any new therapies.

It’s thought that the physical action of tapping calms the nervous system by interrupting our fight-or-flight response, and increasing our endorphins. By saying positive affirmations as we do this, we can stimulate our energy channels and ‘neutralise’ emotional blocks.

- Read our beginners guide to EFT tapping.

Do I need to see an EFT practitioner?

In all situations where you are looking at psychological concerns, working with a qualified professional is helpful. Emotional Freedom Technique can be self-applied, and indeed this is what draws many people to it. Being able to take your healing into your own hands can be empowering and allows you to work consistently on yourself.

Having said this, learning the techniques from a professional initially is highly recommended. This is because they can talk to you about your personal circumstances and your specific concerns. Knowing this, they can recommend a tapping routine that will work best for you.

When addressing psychological concerns you may need to think about situations that worry you. Doing this in the presence of a professional offers a safe environment. Having a greater understanding of psychology allows EFT practitioners to guide you through the process.

Of course, once you feel you understand how to use the therapy on yourself (and your practitioner is happy for you to) you can continue your work alone.

As tapping requires no equipment, it can be done anywhere at any time. This turns it into a tool for you to use as and when you feel you need it.

Is it safe?

Emotional Freedom Technique has no known negative side effects and is considered very safe. There are certain situations that a qualified EFT therapist will be better equipped to handle, however, such as:

  • situations where emotions are heightened
  • situations where the problem appears to get worse
  • knowing points to avoid when pregnant

If you are unsure, be sure to speak to a professional EFT practitioner and inform your doctor of any new therapies you are trying.


This therapy uses tapping techniques to stimulate energy within the body. The tapping itself is done by your fingertips. There are thought to be many meridian points on your fingertips themselves. Therefore, using them during tapping allows you to target multiple meridian points at once.

The number of fingers you use when tapping depends on the type of EFT you are carrying out (some traditional types require you to use specific fingers). Generally however you are encouraged to use more fingers when tapping larger areas, and less on smaller, more delicate areas.

The tap should be solid, but not hard enough to hurt or bruise you. You can use one or two hands, as long as you cover all meridian points. Some EFT practitioners recommend using both hands, but alternating the taps slightly. This is thought to act in a similar way to eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

Typically, you will be asked to tap each point between five and seven times - ideally the same length of time as it takes you to complete one full breath.

In most cases, the order of points you tap is not essential as long as you hit each point. Most practitioners will advise you to go from top to bottom, purely because this helps you to remember to tap every point.

What are the tapping points?

The tapping points within EFT are located in the upper part of the body. To ensure you are hitting the right points, be sure to consult with a professional. The locations are as follows:

  • top of the head
  • eyebrow
  • side of the eye
  • under the eye
  • under the nose
  • chin
  • collarbone
  • under the arm
  • the side of the hand

When you are tapping these points, try to keep the following in mind:

Be specific - The language you use during EFT is important. It is the combination of language and the kinetic energy raised that makes Emotional Freedom Technique effective. The more specific you can be with your language, the better.

Stay focused - Sometimes carrying out EFT brings up difficult thoughts and feelings. You may feel an urge to recoil or distance yourself from this, but being tuned in and focused is key. If you are finding it too difficult, tell your EFT practitioner.

Notice any changes - After each round of tapping, come back to your thoughts and note your thoughts and feelings. Has anything changed?

Stay hydrated - Emotional Freedom Technique is thought to access electrical energy, and as water conducts electricity it is considered helpful to be well hydrated when tapping. Drinking enough water is generally beneficial to our health anyway, so ensure you are getting the recommended amount of water each day. 

How to find an EFT practitioner

In any form of therapy, it is advised that you search for someone suitably qualified. As Emotional Freedom Technique addresses psychological concerns, it is important to ensure the practitioner you see has had the necessary training.

On Therapy Directory we check to ensure members have proof of qualifications and insurance or are a member with a recognised professional body.

This should offer you peace of mind when searching for a practitioner. Browse profiles of those in your area and read their profile to learn more about the therapy and what they can help with. Once you feel you have found someone, simply send them an email or give them a call to arrange a consultation. 

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