People seeking treatment for physical pain are often looking for new solutions. Emotional freedom technique, or EFT, maybe something you’ve heard about but aren’t sure how it integrates into your current treatment.
EFT, also known as EFT training or EFT tapping, is designed to help with both physical and emotional distress. It has also been called a type of psychological acupressure.
What Is EFT?
EFT training was developed by Gary Craig. In EFT, the belief is the body has an energy system that, when balanced, can treat pain holistically without the use of pain medications. When something causes a disruption in a person’s energy system, negative emotions and pain occur.
While not fully backed by research, it’s an alternative treatment that may help some people dealing with substance abuse and mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
What Happens During Tapping Training?
In this method, it is believed that the body has meridian points, also known as energy hot spots. This is much like the meridian points used in acupuncture.
Energy flows through these hot spots and circulates throughout the body. Restoring proper energy flow to these areas using EFT tapping may help to reduce some of the negative emotions or pain a person has.
Meridians are located throughout the body and are illustrated on an EFT tapping chart. Meridians follow a pathway throughout the body, delivering important energy throughout the body to keep you healthy. When something creates an imbalance in that flow, it’s thought to lead to illness or negative thought patterns.
In traditional acupuncture, practitioners use very fine needles placed into meridian points. EFT practice involves using a finger to tap on the area, applying pressure to gain the same type of benefit.
Applying pressure through tapping allows access to the body’s energy system. This helps to send messages to the brain. Specifically, the messages are said to travel to the area of the brain that controls stress functions.
Tapping sends a signal to the brain to reduce the amount of stress hormone in the body. This, in turn, should help a person to feel better physically and emotionally.
How Tapping for Anxiety and Depression Works
Once mastered, proponents of this alternative treatment believe a person can control energy flow throughout the body, improving many facets of their health and well-being. The EFT process is broken down into five specific steps.
1. Identify the Issue
The first step is to identify the issue that is occurring. This can be a fear, which is common for people with anxiety, or the specific cause of the pain present. When tapping, a person needs to focus on that issue solely. It’s important to focus just on one issue at a time to ensure the best results.
2. Set a Benchmark
The second step involves setting a benchmark for intensity. The intensity of the tapping ranges on a scale from 0 to 10 and is illustrated on an EFT chart. A person tapping with an intensity of 10 is experiencing the worst or most difficult level of anxiety.
The goal is to attribute a number on this scale with the amount of discomfort or pain present due to the identified issue. In practice, this level only helps with understanding the improvement after the process. A person facing extreme anxiety at a 10 at the start may feel a 5 after the tapping process, showing marked improvement.
3. The Setup
The next step in the process is called the setup. Here, you create a phrase that explains the issue and then accept yourself even though you have this problem. A very common statement is, “Even though I am afraid of (issue here), I am completely accepting of myself.” It’s important that the phrase is specific to your needs and beliefs. For example, a person may say, “Even though I am sad that my friend is sick, I completely accept myself.”
4. EFT Tapping Sequence
In the fourth step, a person works through the EFT tapping sequence. This is a very specific sequence in which a person taps methodically on each of the nine meridian points in the body. Though there are 12 meridians, EFT focuses on the following nine:
- karate chop (KC): small intestine meridian
- top of the head (TH): governing vessel
- eyebrow (EB): bladder meridian
- side of the eye (SE): gallbladder meridian
- under the eye (UE): stomach meridian
- under the nose (UN): governing vessel
- chin (CH): central vessel
- beginning of the collarbone (CB): kidney meridian
- under the arm (UA): spleen meridian
Each of these meridian locations has a specific name, for example, the small intestine meridian is called the karate chop location, the part of your hand you would use to deliver a karate chop. The process involves tapping on the meridian location while repeating the setup phrase three times. From there, a person works through the next eight points following a specific path that moves from the top down.
5. Note Improvement
In the final step, a person notes the current intensity level. The goal here is to assess the improvement and, as necessary, repeat the process until they reach a 0 level, indicating no fear or anxiety.
What Is the Scientific Backing for This Approach?
Researchers are unsure if this tapping treatment works. In one study, conducted in 2013 with military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the results found that EFT tapping does play a role in calming anxiety and fear, but more research is needed.
Some evidence exists to show that the process of focusing on the phrase and tapping process helps to distract the mind enough to stop thinking about the actual issue. Since a specific process needs to be followed, there might be a soothing benefit to simply tapping on these areas.
What Can EFT Help With?
While there is no indication that EFT tapping helps with all aspects of mental health disorders, proponents of this method claim it can help with:
- Stress relief in a general manner
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Should You Use EFT Tapping?
If you’re struggling with mental health disorders or pain from substance use disorders, the use of EFT tapping can seem like a good option. As with any holistic treatment, it’s important to view it as a way to complement existing therapy. Like massage therapy and acupuncture, EFT training may offer some benefits, but it can’t cure or take away the underlying cause of these stressors in your life.
Seeking Help from FHE Health for Your Needs
If you struggle with stress or anxiety from mental health disorders or substance use disorders, reach out to FHE Health. Allow our team of counselors to help you create a treatment plan to address all of your health needs, including using holistic treatments. Call us at (833) 596-3502 for immediate help.