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So WTF is EFT Anyway?!

eft emotional wellbeing Apr 27, 2022

It seems that Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) finds you when you need it and sticks with you once you observe its permanent effects on your life. That's been my experience anyway. 

I attended a free year-end type of event with Gabby Bernstein in 2016 or 2017, and she used EFT Tapping as a way to help us all release a limiting belief. It was interesting to me. I enjoyed it, and felt something shift a bit. But not enough to explore it further. Then not too long after that, my therapist used EFT in a session. It took me from significant self-frustration to uncontrollable laughter. We didn't bypass anything on the way to the giggles. Again, I didn't take it as something to keep doing for myself—more like it was a novel thing you try once in a while.

Then in 2021, I was experiencing panic attacks in the form of heart palpitations and night sweats. My burnout was so bad that I had to leave my job. And it was then that EFT showed up again, and I grabbed onto it like a life preserver. The opportunity to study it and become a practitioner showed up right on time! Now it is central to my own well-being and to how I help coach my clients beyond their doubts and into neutral observance—the space from which they can consciously choose to follow inspired action in their lives.

No, really, WTF is EFT?!

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques. It's often referred to as "Tapping" because the practice involves self-applied two-finger tapping through meridian points on the body. It combines the Western approach of talk therapy with the Eastern somatic practice of acupressure. 

By tapping on these meridian points, it is proven that EFT reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels and calms the amygdala and hippocampus in the brain. When all this chills out (we're not in flight-flight-freeze mode), we can make better decisions and choose our next actions.

"Tapping is better experienced than explained."  —Jackie McDonald

But when the body is activated by stress, anxiety, fear, overwhelm, and patterns of trauma response, it doesn't believe it should chill out. It's ready to the run for the hills or do anything (including fawning into inaction) to escape the perceived danger. 

The most common issues that EFT has been shown to address are:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • chronic pain
  • weight loss 
  • many other issues

EFT Tapping in action

EFT is a gentle and approachable tool that anyone can use. It can be a game-changer in a moment of heightened anxiety. It can be used prior to anticipated stress (like a test, travel, tough conversation, etc.) to soothe the nervous system. Also, using EFT for affirmations and manifestation is a powerful and playful.

No matter the reason, the process of EFT Tapping is the same—and it's simple. Here are the steps to try tapping:

1. Identify present issue to explore.

Choose one area to focus on (anxiety, stress, pain in foot, etc). Start simple and specific. It can be a feeling in the body or an emotion ... or a combination of both.

2. Measure the level of distress with SUDs

You can assess your own experience and progress by using the Standard Units of Distress (SUDs) scale. Rank the intensity of the issue on a scale of 0–10, with 10 being the strongest expression of that issue. You will use the same SUDs scale after tapping to assess its effectiveness. It's helpful if you jot this down on a piece of paper.

3. The setup phrases

Prior to starting a round of tapping (moving through all accupoints on the body), you will choose a simple reminder phrase to repeat while tapping the "side of the hand" (a.k.a. karate chop point), which is the fleshy part on the outside of the hand.

The reminder phrase combines acknowledging exactly where you are with the issue and bridging into a level of self-acceptance (even if you don't entirely believe it.) Here's an example:

“Even though I am feeling [emotion], I love and accept myself anyway.”

4. The tapping sequence

When tapping, you'll use two or more fingertips to tap about five times on each meridian point. You can use both hands to tap along both sides of the body or use only one hand and one side of the body. Both are equally as effective. When tapping with a practitioner, you will be guided through each of the tapping points and the language to accompany it.

5. Measure your SUDs again.

Again, rank the intensity of the issue on a scale of 0–10. Ideally, this will have improved. Repeat the process until the intensity reaches 0 or plateaus.

What the research says about EFT

More and more research continues to emerge that shows the positive and lasting impacts of EFT for anxiety, stress, depression, and food issues.

Dr. Peta Stapleton, Clinical and Health Psychologist, and world leading researcher and trainer in EFT is the author of The Science Behind Tapping. This is a great book for anyone curious about EFT and is the current most extensive literature review on this amazing practice. She is constantly gathering and sharing the research being done in the field. You can check out her TEDx Talk that outlines how her own research began with EFT.

Moreover, research studies have shown that military veterans experiencing PTSD can benefit from using EFT.  If you want to read more science-y and research-y articles on tapping, you WebMD has this article and there's this research article.

EFT is better experienced than explained 

My EFT teacher and mentor, Jackie McDonald*, always says that "Tapping is better experienced than explained." And it's so true! She also says the magic is in the specifics. So while it can be really helpful to tap through a "global session" (one that is appropriate for a broad audience), the real healing and movement takes places when you get into your specifics. 

A certified EFT practitioner can help you identify the sticky areas of limiting beliefs and fears while also holding the space to bring you into a neutral emotional space. We're usually willing to only go so deep on our own. It's pretty amazing to be guided by a professional that is dedicated to your healing process—it's a beautiful collaboration.

To get started on your own, you can try my free EFT training or you can try tapping through affirmations. Here are a few you might try:

  • I am learning to face my fears.
  • I choose to believe I can feel peace.
  • I am willing to release the pain.
  • I am hopeful.
  • I choose peace today.

No matter how you get started, I hope that you try EFT and share it with your loved ones. The world needs more of us operating from regulated nervous systems and making conscious choices. I'm honored that you read this blog and welcome the opportunity to support your journey to becoming the higher observer in your own life. Want to learn about how a coach can server you on your path? Book a free call here—I'd love to chat!


* As an affiliate of Jackie McDonald I get paid for referrals to her certification program.

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