Tap into better health with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

tapping emotional freedom

Did you know that you can ‘tap’ into better health with a process called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)?  EFT, also known as ‘Tapping’ works like emotional acupressure to release the negative emotions and beliefs which underlie our problems and pain, healing emotional issues and undoing the damage from the past.

Many traditional psychotherapies can be slow in bringing results, often taking months or years of relying on input from an experienced therapist. But tapping is different, it can take only weeks to experience effective and lasting relief.

And, it’s something we can learn to do for ourselves - any tool which equips and empowers us for better self-care is a big plus!

I recently met Virginia Hayden, a Clinical Hypnotherapist and an experienced Certified EFT Practitioner, who works with clients with a wide range of concerns. 

Virginia kindly agreed to Guest Post to explain more about what EFT, how tapping works and to give us a 'basic recipe’ (with a short video demonstration) of how to begin tapping. So over to you, Virginia….


EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or Tapping, is a form of ‘energy’ medicine and an effective and empowering therapeutic tool for a surprising range of health issues.  The basic ‘recipe’ for EFT is something which we can easily learn to use for ourselves.

Gary Craig, the developer of EFT has been keen to make the method accessible to as many people as possible. Working with a trained EFT practitioner can not only help us to identify issues to ‘tap’ on but can help to access and tap on deeper issues. I’m going to explain the basic ‘recipe’ I use with my clients to get them started, but it’s advisable not to try the more advanced levels of the technique, such as those used to treat trauma and PTSD without the help of a certified practitioner.

What is EFT?

EFT is actually a form of energy psychology: ‘energy’ because we tap on meridian points (sometimes EFT is called acupuncture without needles); ‘psychology’ because we talk aloud about problems whilst tapping on meridian points around the body.

Why do we use EFT?

Typically, we turn to EFT for problems related to stress, anxiety, depression, phobia and trauma.  Yet EFT may be used on just about ‘anything’, for example:

  • To treat chronic pain.
  • To manage uncomfortable emotions such as anger, grief, sadness.
  • Specific issues such as body image, weight management, cravings and unhelpful habits, troubling memories, limiting beliefs, sleep difficulties, can all be helped or resolved with EFT.
  • We also use it with myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) and chronic fatigue syndrome (C.F.S.) and chronic medical conditions, including cancer; the benefits of working with the emotional aspects of cancer, for example, relate to positive effects on the immune system.

The tapping technique

To start using a basic tapping recipe, take a look at the main tapping points below:

tapping technique

Image credit: Livestrong
  1. Set yourself up

Begin with a statement:Even though (………. state the problem) and ends with a positive affirmation about yourself.

For example, a set-up statement may be:

Even though I’m so scared when I stand up to make a presentation and it makes my stomach churn, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

Most of us are accustomed to self-criticism, for example: “I’m useless at X”; “I’ll never be any good at Y”; “I’m too fat/too thin” and so on.

Using a positive affirmation in the set-up can be a signal to the unconscious part of our brain that we are beginning to think differently - the first step in changing our neurochemistry.

The affirmation “I deeply and completely love and accept myself” may be too strong for some.  My North American clients may be comfortable saying this, whereas British clients may prefer something less forthright, such as “I accept myself” or “I’m OK as a person”.

When working with children it might be appropriate to say something like “I’m a good kid/boy/girl. 

  1. Assess how you feel

Give your feelings a value out of 10. When putting together the set-up statement, we can give it a value out of 10 to indicate how strongly we feel scared and feel the churning in our stomach. ‘Feelings’ are both emotional and physical; they are effectively the same thing as emotions are located in the body, so we always include any physical manifestations of an emotion, like a churning stomach. We can watch the value we give a feeling come down, as we continue with the EFT sequence.

  1. Start tapping

Start by tapping on the karate chop point on the side of one hand, with the edge of the other hand, whilst stating the problem followed by an affirmation.

Even though I’m so scared when I stand up to make a presentation and it makes my stomach churn, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

Repeat the set-up statement twice more, whilst tapping on the karate chop point (as above):

“Even though I’m so scared when I stand up to make a presentation and it makes my stomach churn, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

  1. Remind & Tap

Next, use a ‘reminder phrase’ as we systematically go around all the tapping points, tapping with two fingers and saying:

Feel scared, with my stomach churning.”

Usually, we begin with the inner eyebrow point, going to the outer eyebrow, then under the eye, under the nose, the chin, on the collar-bone, under the arm and finishing on the top of the head.

Tap about 7 times on each point whilst repeating the reminder phrase. After completing one round, repeat, again beginning with the inner eyebrow.

  1. Pause

Now take a deep breath and a drink of water – it’s important to keep hydrated whilst tapping.

  1. Reassess & Repeat

Now reassess that initial value out of 10 - it may come down a couple of points or even more.

To reduce the difficult feelings even more, simply repeat the basic recipe, but add in the word “still”:

Even though I still feel scared and my stomach still churns when I make a presentation, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

Followed by the reminder phrase:

Still feeling scared and my stomach is still churning”.

tapping basic recipe

(Scroll down to the end of this article for a short video by Virginia demonstrating the 'basic recipe' for the tapping technique)


Feeling awkward about tapping in public?

EFT looks rather strange; some people feel awkward or embarrassed when tapping and talking aloud to themselves. But the awkwardness doesn’t last long though, as the beneficial effects quickly manifest.

When in public, we can use ‘Touch and Breathe’ instead: lightly touch and hold each tapping point with two fingers whilst taking a complete respiration - i.e. inhaling then exhaling. The words can still be used, either aloud or in the mind.

Alternatively, we can simply imagine tapping and say the words in our mind – research shows that visualising an action is as powerful as physically doing it.

How often do you need to tap?

There’s no need to worry about using it too often!  When working with a particular concern, repeat the EFT as often as is necessary to bring the 0-10 value right down.

When we are accustomed to using EFT, we may find we use it often on a variety of things.

Does EFT actually work?

In fact, there is a good deal of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of EFT and energy psychology. Over 100 research studies, review articles and meta-analyses have been published in professional, peer-reviewed journals.

This evidence includes 50 randomized control trials and 50+ pre-post outcome studies. 98% of these 100 studies document the effectiveness of energy psychology. There are currently three meta-analyses which show effectiveness for depression and anxiety and 1 meta-analysis which shows that EFT is effective for trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).

Another study, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, shows changes in the brain when EFT is used for removing food cravings. Extremely interesting is the work done by Dr Dawson Church on EFT and epigenetics. Dawson found gene expression to be influenced by EFT: Genes involved with strengthening the immune system were up-regulated (more strongly expressed) after EFT; those associated with inflammation (the basis of many diseases) were down-regulated (turned down) following EFT.(1)

How does EFT work?

The Primo Vascular System

EFT and other forms of energy psychology use the ‘meridian system’ described in Traditional Chinese Medicine; it is these meridian points that we tap on. For those of us in the West, who may doubt the existence of these meridians, a study from South Korea in which scientists detected the Primo Vascular System - a previously undetected system in the body – which corresponds to the meridian system. Bio-photons are transmitted through this Primo Vascular or Meridian system at the speed of light. It may be that this transmission is the vital energy known as Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine. We shall know more as research continues.

Amygdala depotentiation

Dr David Feinstein shows how EFT functions as an ‘amygdala depotentiation technique’. The amygdala is a primitive region of the brain which scans our environment for potential danger. When the amygdala registers a threat, our Flight-Fight-Freeze stress response is triggered: On experiencing a stressor – physical or emotional – a signal is sent from the amygdala to the adrenal glands, releasing the stress hormone cortisol and initiating a cascade of physiological changes in the body.

When we use EFT, tapping on the meridian points and talking about our stress-related problem, that signal from the amygdala is turned down or even off. The production of stress hormones reduces or stops. This ‘depotentiation’ explains how it is that we can feel so much better – our emotional or physical distress is alleviated – after a couple of rounds of tapping with EFT.(2)

Virginia HaydenVirginia's therapy and hypnotherapy practice Change for the Better is based in Daventry, Northamptonshire though she does also work on-site for organisations. She helps clients improve emotional and mental well-being with an emphasis upon increasing happiness as well as alleviating problems. The concerns she works with are wide-ranging but include stress, anxiety, trauma, depression, phobia, unhelpful habits, weight loss, recovery from relationship breakdown. Medical conditions can also be helped by focussing upon their emotional and psychological aspects.

Virginia has a Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy; NLP & Life Coaching and she is a Certified Practitioner of EFT.  She is a Member of the British Institute of Hypnotherapy & NLP and a Senior Associate of the Royal Society of Medicine.



(1) Dr Robert Schwartz, Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, 2018. Available online: https://www.energypsych.org/ (Accessed 28.09.2018)

(2) Feinstein, D. Acupoint stimulation in treating psychological disorders: evidence of efficacy. Review of General Psychology, 16, 364-380, 2012. Available online: https://www.innersource.net/ep/images/stories/downloads/Acupoint_Stimulation_Research_Review.pdf (Accessed 28.09.2018)

Izabella Natrins

I'm here to inspire and support women at midlife and beyond to re-ignite purpose and meaning to take back control of their health and create the radical, resilient heath they want and deserve. As a whole-health expert with over 30 years experience in the field, a qualified Health and Wellness Coach and Ballymaloe-trained nutritional chef, my real food nutrition and lifestyle medicine programmes support women fighting fatigue, struggling with overwhelm, weight gain, sleep, energy and niggling or multiple diagnosed health issues. As an advocate for real food nutrition, regenerative agriculture and whole-health, my book 'The Real Food Solution' is an evidence-based treasury wisdom for energy, vitality and better health for people and planet and a call to action to change the way we grown, source and cook our food. As the CEO at The UK Health Coaches Association, I'm proud to continue the task of leading the first professional association for Health and Wellness Coaches in the world and the gold standard for the UK and Ireland.

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