Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a collection of techniques designed to improve people’s quality of life by clearing harmful emotions and limiting beliefs. It was created by Gary Craig in California around 1995, who studied and incorporated elements from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Roger Callahan’s Thought Field Therapy (TFT). It belongs to the category of Energy Psychology and uses stimulation of a select set of acupuncture points with tapping while focusing on the emotion or issue to be treated. Some people refer to it as emotional acupuncture without needles.

Normally an EFT practitioner models the tapping for the client who taps on themselves, and provides phrases for the client to repeat. A round of tapping consists of repeating a setup phrase, which includes a declaration of the specific problem and a complementary declaration of self-acceptance, while tapping on the side of the hand (small intestine acupuncture point), followed by tapping on a series of 8 more acupuncture points while repeating a reminder phrase to hold present the issue being treated. Between tapping rounds there is a verbal exploration process which provides material for phrases to be used in subsequent rounds.

EFT is an extraordinarily easy technique to learn and well-suited to self-application so that it empowers the client to carry on resolving their own issues once they’ve learned the basics. Thousands of reports from practitioners and clients have been published describing its use on wide-ranging emotional issues and physical ailments. There is also a growing body of research on EFT and it is progressing rapidly to becoming an evidence-based technique.


1. Identify the emotional or physical discomfort and rate it on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is maximum discomfort and 0 is none. Be as specific as possible in identifying the discomfort. For example: Fear of how a cockroach moves.

2. Tap on the side of the hand (known as karate chop point) while saying 3 times: Even though I have this fear of how a cockroach moves, I deeply and completely accept myself.

3. Repeat “How a cockroach moves” while tapping on each of the following points: Top of head, beginning of eyebrow, side of eye, under eye, under nose, under mouth, collar bone, under arm.

4. Imagine how a cockroach moves and rate the fear now on the 0 to 10 scale. Repeat until fear of this specific aspect is 0, then check for other aspects.

The sentence we repeat while tapping on the karate chop point is known as the setup phrase. We can be very creative with this phrase, but it needs to contain 2 basic elements: A statement of the problem and a statement of acceptance. It could be “Although I really screwed up today, I’m willing to forgive myself” or “I spilt my milk but I’m still a great kid” or “I trust my body to fix itself in spite of this pounding headache.” Repeating the setup phrase helps the message reach the subconscious mind. When guiding another person, use their words to state the problem and make sure it sound’s right to them.

The phrase we say as we tap on each of the other points is known as the reminder phrase. It should briefly describe the aspect of the problem we are working on; it can even be a single word like “anger”. This keeps us focused on the issue at hand while stimulating the points. initially it’s simpler to repeat the same phrase at each point, but with practice you can help keep the mind engaged by varying slightly the reminder phrase on each point.

Tapping on the karate chop point while saying the setup 3 times and then on each of the other points while saying the reminder is known as a round of EFT. It’s best to do rounds with one aspect of the problem until the associated discomfort is 0, unless another aspect becomes dominant. Do rounds on all the different aspects of the problem. Aspects may include sights, sounds, sensations, various emotions and their triggers, etc. It’s a good idea to work with the details of a specific event. Present day problems often have thsir roots in a childhood event, and clearing the emotional charge on such an event will do wonders.

Working with trauma:

The simple procedure above will usually work well for uncomplicated emotional and physical issues. However, when dealing with trauma a gentler, indirect approach is better. We can ‘sneak up’ on the problem by using more general language before getting specific. We might start with “Even though something bad happened, I’m OK.” As the tapping exerts its calming effect, we can gradually get more and more specific in successive rounds.

Another gentle approach involves tapping to relieve pain or physical discomfort. This is usually completely non-threatening and surprisingly softens the repressed emotional pain, to the point where the client may become willing to apply tapping explicitly to the emotional suffering.

When the client is willing to talk about the traumatizing event, we can apply, as appropriate, the Trauma Buster Technique created by EFT Master Rehana Webster.