Do you ever find it challenging to deal with negative emotions?
Maybe you struggle with fear, anxiety, or overwhelm caused by a post-traumatic stress disorder or some psychological trauma in your past.
Or maybe you find yourself consumed by feelings of anger, shame, or resentment because you were never taught how to process these feelings in a healthy way.
The good news is, you have the power to release those emotions and free yourself from their hold on you! EFT tapping is a powerful kind of cognitive behavioral therapy tool that can help you do that.
EFT tapping therapy gives you the power to heal yourself and puts control over your destiny back into your own hands – so you can liberate yourself from trauma and PTSD symptoms as well as other mental health conditions that may be holding you back from being your best self.
In this article, you’ll discover how EFT tapping therapy works and learn a simple tapping sequence that you can use whenever you’re dealing with perceived stress or anxiety symptoms.
What is EFT Tapping Therapy?
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping is a form of “energy psychology” that uses a kind of acupressure treatment to deal with physical pain and emotional distress.
Also referred to as “tapping” or “psychological acupressure,” EFT tapping involves repeated tapping on certain pressure points on your face, collarbones, and wrists to release trauma stored within the body’s energy system and help people heal from emotional and physical pain.
It’s based on the idea that trauma and strong emotions cause a physiological reaction that can remain within the body, causing you to relive that physiological response whenever trauma or strong emotions come back to you.
By accessing your body’s energy system through acupressure, you can prompt a meridian-based intervention that interrupts the physiological response and releases the trauma once and for all.
This alternative tapping therapy has been tested in randomized and nonrandomized trials and used with success to help people overcome anxiety and manage the psychological symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and other forms of psychological distress.
Tapping Therapy Example
In one recent clinical psychology study, participants in a four-day EFT workshop experienced significant declines in anxiety (-40%), depression (-35%), (posttraumatic stress disorder) (-32%), pain (-57%), and cravings (-74%).
Participants in this randomized controlled trial also experienced significant improvements in their stress biochemistry, lowering their blood pressure and resting heart rate.
Best of all, they said they felt an increased sense of happiness and calm after their clinical EFT sessions.
And the great thing about EFT tapping therapy is, once you learn how to do it you can practice it on yourself whenever you want, allowing you to more easily process strong emotions in the moment and maintain calmness and positivity no matter what’s happening in your world!
Advantages of EFT Tapping
EFT tapping has many advantages over more conventional treatment strategies for helping to lower the stress hormone cortisol, manage anxiety, and alleviate mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, or phobias.
Emotional freedom techniques can also help people better manage chronic pain or deal with body image, disordered eating, or weight loss issues. And EFT tapping therapy is a lot less costly and time-consuming than other forms of therapy.
Exploring the Meridian Points
According to many traditional Eastern cultures and alternative medical practices, meridian points are the points within your body where energetic channels known as “meridians” intersect.
For thousands of years, medical practitioners have focused their healing methods on stimulating these energy “meridians” or pathways throughout the body to release pain and trauma and speed healing.
These energy pathways send electrical impulses throughout the body to keep all systems working, but—in addition to moving and storing energy — they’re also believed to store emotions.
Some healthcare professionals even speculate that illness or chronic pain in a specific area of the body could be the result of an energetic block caused by emotional pain stored in that meridian. Releasing the energy results in psychological trauma symptom improvement.
Familiarize Yourself with these Points
There are 12 major meridians that mirror each side of the body and correspond to an internal organ. EFT treatment focuses on these nine meridian points:
- Karate chop (KC): small intestine meridian
- You activate this meridian point by tapping on the outer edge of your hand, right where you would hit a block of wood if you were performing a “karate chop” on it.
- Top of head (TH): governing vessel
- This meridian point is at the very top center of your head.
- Eyebrow (EB): bladder meridian
- Access this meridian by tapping on the innermost edge of your eyebrow just above and to the side of your nose.
- Side of the eye (SE): gallbladder meridian
- This meridian point is located on the bone on the outer side of your eye.
- Under the eye (UE): stomach meridian
- This meridian point is on the bone beneath the center of your eye about an inch below your pupil.
- Under the nose (UN): governing vessel
- Activate this point by tapping between your nose and upper lip.
- Chin (Ch): central vessel
- You’ll find this point just above the bottom of your chin.
- Beginning of the collarbone (CB): kidney meridian
- This is the inner edge of your collarbone where it meets up with your breastbone and the top of your ribs.
- Under the arm (UA): spleen meridian
- The last meridian point in the EFT tapping cycle is about 4 inches below the center of your armpit. You’ll need to raise your arm to access it properly.
During a typical emotional freedom technique tapping session, you begin tapping at the karate chop point then work your way down from the top of your head to your upper lip, chin point, and then below your armpit.
Repeat as necessary until you experience a significant reduction in your negative emotional response to whatever is triggering you in that moment.
How Does EFT Tapping Work?
Your body, like everything in the universe, is composed of matter and energy. Alternative medicine practitioners believe that energy circulates through your body via your meridian channels and that emotional freedom techniques and other forms of acupressure allow you to tap into this energy and release it.
When you perform EFT tapping on the nine meridian points identified above, you trigger a brief energy psychology intervention in your system that interrupts the physiological response associated with your stored emotional trauma.
This helps restore balance and flow to the energy systems in your body and allows you to separate yourself from your emotions and free yourself from feelings that have typically overwhelmed you.
EFT Tapping Therapy and Your Brain
Neuroscientists have discovered that the brain doesn’t become fixed and unchanging by the time one becomes an adult, but can adapt, evolve, and grow at any age. New neural connections can always be formed, no matter how old we are.
Unfortunately, this can work against us. When you experience trauma or something that triggers a negative emotion, your brain creates neural pathways that support the re-triggering of negative emotions.
As an example, if you have an experience that causes you to believe that people are mean or dangerous, you will look for evidence to support this belief and ignore evidence to the contrary.
Thus, everywhere you look, you see people acting terribly, which causes you to form the belief, “people are bad” – when really, that’s not true at all.
Our brain also creates neural pathways that support limiting or disempowering beliefs that may have been created in a moment of trauma.
Conditions like phobias and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) exist because the brain creates a feedback loop that builds and enhances neural pathways.
Some fears are so strong that they can actually immobilize you. If you have a full-blown phobia, such as a fear of flying or fear of being in an elevator, it can seriously inhibit your ability to be successful. Some people even have a fear of success itself, which is the real thing holding these people back.
The good news is, just as your brain has adapted to support these limiting phobias and beliefs, you can change your brain so that it releases these fears and beliefs and creates more positive beliefs instead.
EFT tapping therapy is a powerful tool that can help with this.
Proof that EFT Tapping Works
People who are new to emotional freedom techniques often have a difficult time believing it works – especially if they don’t practice alternative medicine or completely accept it as a valid form of treatment.
But the fact is, hundreds of studies have been conducted to ascertain the effectiveness of EFT tapping and the results show that the emotional freedom technique improves multiple physiological markers and relieves the psychological symptoms of trauma.
In one large-scale study of 5000 patients seeking treatment for anxiety, patients received either traditional anxiety treatment in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), with medication if needed, or eft tapping therapy with no medication.
Scientists found that 90% of patients who received EFT tapping treatment experienced an improvement in symptoms compared to 63% of the CBT participants.
Studies have also shown that students suffering from anxiety and healthcare workers suffering from depression experienced noticeable improvements after using EFT tapping to treat their symptoms.
Emotional freedom techniques are so powerful that they’ve been used with genocide victims in Rwanda and Bosnia, for disaster victims in Haiti, by a trainer of the British Special Forces in the Congo, and with U.S. soldiers returning with PTSD panic attacks from the battlefield.
How to Use EFT Tapping Therapy
The first part of the tapping therapy protocol is to close your eyes, focus on the fear, anxiety, emotion, pain, or belief that you wish to release, and then determine on a scale of 1 to 10—10 being high—how intense the feeling or belief is.
The basic tapping sequence—to eliminate fears and negative beliefs and to neutralize negative events— then starts by tapping the “karate chop” spot on the heel of your hand 10 times, firmly enough to feel it, but not hard enough to bruise your hand.
As you tap your hand, repeat aloud the belief, physical pain, or experience of hurt you are dealing with as you—most important—tune in to the emotion that belief or hurt brings forth. Do this three times.
Then you follow up your statement of the belief or hurt with the affirmation “I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
“Even though I fear that no one will ever love me, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
Or, “Even though I believe I don’t deserve to be successful, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
Continue tapping on the “karate chop” spot on your hand while you repeat that phrase 3 times, then proceed with the tapping sequence below while continuing to focus on the past hurt, limiting belief, emotion, stress, pain, or source of anxiety.
Tap 5 to 7 times firmly at each point. Accompany each tapping point with a statement that keeps you focused on the emotion.
EFT Tapping Sequence Example
Here’s an overview of what a typical clinical EFT tapping session looks like.
Think of an issue that’s bothering you.
For example, maybe you have a strained or difficult relationship with a family member.
Measure how your issue makes you feel.
On a scale of 1-10, when you think about your troubled relationship, how upset/angry/unhappy does that make you feel? There is no right or wrong answer here – the important thing is to gauge the emotional impact this negative situation is currently having on your mindset (and therefore, your life).
Create a statement that describes your issue, followed by a statement of self-acceptance.
For example, “Even though my parents think I’m a selfish person and a terrible mother, I still love and accept myself.”
Tap repeatedly on the edge of your palm, below your little finger.
Repeat the above statement aloud as you tap on the “karate chop” point of your hand. Keep tapping there until you have repeated the statement in its entirety.
Now tap on the rest of the points on your body, one at a time.
Keep repeating the statement as you tap on each meridian point. So as you tap on the top of your head, say, “Even though my parents think I’m a selfish person and a terrible mother, I still love and accept myself.”
Then when you tap on your forehead above your eyebrow, say it again: “Even though my parents think I’m a selfish person and a terrible mother, I still love and accept myself.”
Keep going until you have completed one full circuit from your karate chop point, your head and eye points, upper lip, chin point, and under your arm until you are back at your karate chop point.
Stop and remeasure how you feel about your issue.
Once you have completed one full cycle, pause and consider how you feel about the issue now.
For example, if your perceived negative response level was at 9/10 before you started tapping, is it still 9/10? Or does it feel like it’s dropped down to 6/10 or even lower?
Repeat the steps as needed.
Ideally, you will keep tapping until your negative response level is at 0/10. But in the case of serious negative emotional reactions, that may not always be possible.
Remember that getting it down to 3 or even 2/10 is still a serious win! And as you continue to practice these emotional freedom techniques over time, your negative response will continue to weaken.
As you proceed through these steps, feel free to express your statement in different ways that allow you to express the emotion you’re experiencing more powerfully.
The point is to feel the emotion as deeply as possible as you use emotional freedom techniques to interrupt the physiological response and process and release the emotion once and for all.
Overcoming Your Fears Example
Here’s what this process could look like when using emotional freedom techniques to overcome your fears or anxieties around a situation you might be dealing with at work:
- Consider how the situation makes you feel and evaluate your negative emotional response to it on a scale from 1 to 10.
- Tap firmly and steadily on your karate chop point as you say aloud, “Even though I’m scared to ask my boss for a raise, I still love and accept myself.” Repeat this statement three times, allowing yourself to fully feel the emotion you are expressing.
- Tap on the top of your head as you say, “Even though I’m scared to ask my boss for a raise, I still love and accept myself.” Repeat three times.
- Tap on the bone above your inner eyebrow and say, “Even though I’m terrified to ask my boss for a raise, I still love and accept myself.” Repeat three times.
- Tap on the bone beside the outer corner of your eye and say, “Even though I’m scared he’s going to say no, I still love and accept myself.” Repeat three times.
- Tap on the bone under your eye and say, “Even though I will be mortified if he says no, I still love and accept myself.” Repeat three times.
- Tap under your nose and say, “Even though the idea of embarrassing myself like that terrifies me, I still love and accept myself.” Repeat three times.
- Tap your chin and say, “Even if he says no because I really don’t deserve it, I still love and accept myself.” Repeat three times.
- Tap your collarbone and say, “Even though my fear of asking for a raise is holding me back from succeeding, I still love and accept myself.” Repeat three times.
- Tap under your arm and say, “Even though I am often my own worst enemy and the biggest roadblock to my success, I still love and accept myself.” Repeat three times.
- Pause a moment to assess how strong your emotional response is to the situation now. Has it gone down at all or do your emotions still feel overwhelming?
- Continue through this process until your emotions are at a manageable level (e.g., 0-3 max if possible).
Remember that the exact words you say as you work through these emotional freedom techniques aren’t important.
What’s important is that you are continually tuned in to your emotion as you activate your energy systems to alleviate any psychological symptoms that you associate with the situation that is causing your anxiety and overwhelm.
Is EFT Tapping Therapy Right for You?
Evidence-based integrative medicine research shows that emotional freedom techniques have been successfully used to treat anxiety, depression, phobias, and PTSD symptoms.
EFT tapping therapy has also proven to be effective at helping people deal with chronic pain, burnout, weight management, disordered eating issues, and even poor sleep.
If you struggle with any of these issues, EFT tapping could be a powerful tool in your mental health toolkit.
Just be aware that tapping therapy is best used as part of a holistic treatment plan and can be easily integrated into existing treatment plans (traditional Western medicine-based as well as alternative) for psychological disorders and mental and physical health concerns.
As with all things health-related, it’s important for you to consult your doctor before embarking on any new treatment plan.
Start Using Tapping Therapy
If you often find yourself struggling to deal with overwhelming emotions, I encourage you to give emotional freedom techniques a try!
EFT tapping therapy is a powerful and proven way to process strong emotions and alleviate stress and anxiety. It’s been approved as treatment by the US Veterans Administration and has been used to treat posttraumatic stress disorder in veterans who have returned from combat overseas.
There are several ways for you to get started. You can check out my YouTube channel for helpful free videos that walk you through the tapping process.
Or you could find an EFT practitioner online or in your local area to work with you one-on-one and offer expert insight and support as you work through the emotions that have been holding you back from being your best self.
The important thing is to make this commitment to yourself and take action!
The more effort you put into releasing negative feelings and the limiting thoughts that spring from them, the more happiness, meaning, and abundance you will experience in every moment.
Looking for more helpful mindset tools?
Meditation is a powerful companion to EFT tapping therapy as it allows you to calm the incessant chatter of your monkey mind and become more aware of your thoughts.
It helps you release the thoughts that don’t serve you and replace them with more empowering thoughts that help you stay positive, respond calmly and thoughtfully, and get better results in everything you do.