Emotional freedom technique: Learn how to tap
Reviewed by therapist.com team
Written bytherapist.com team
Last updated: 09/20/2023
The Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT tapping, is an alternative therapy that uses the body’s pressure points to alleviate both physical and psychological pain. It is also referred to as tapping.
The Emotional Freedom Technique was adapted from principles of Chinese medicine by Gary Craig in 1995. Tapping applies pressure to the body’s meridian points, which are believed to be areas in which energy flows through the body.
Acupuncture is based on the meridian system of qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is a vital energy that flows through the body via twelve meridian points. These points on the body correspond with certain major organs.
The theory is that your qi can become blocked or imbalanced, requiring intervention at the applicable meridian point. Acupuncturists help balance or unblock your qi by inserting thin needles into your skin at your meridian points, stimulating your body’s energy and allowing it to flow.
The Emotional Freedom Technique applies acupressure, not acupuncture, to the body’s meridian points. Instead of inserting needles into the skin, you can apply pressure to the body’s meridian points by tapping them five to seven times with your fingertips, encouraging the body’s energy to flow.
There are twelve standard meridian points identified in the body, but the nine most often used for tapping are:
- Karate chop (KC) point: Located on the side of the hand; associated with the small intestine meridian
- Eyebrow (EB) point: Located at the beginning point of either eyebrow; associated with the bladder meridian
- Side of the eye (SE) point: Located by following the brow bone down to the side of the eye; associated with the gallbladder meridian
- Under the eye (UE) point: Located by following the bone at the side of the eye underneath the eye; associated with the stomach meridian
- Under the nose (UN) point: Located under the nose and above the upper lip; associated with the governing vessel
- Chin (Ch) point: Located at the crease between your lower lip and your chin; associated with the central vessel
- Collarbone (CB) point: Located below the hard ridge of your collarbone; associated with the kidney meridian
- Under the arm (UA) point: Located about a hand’s width beneath either armpit; associated with the spleen meridian
- Top of the head (TH) point: Located at the center of the top of your head; associated with the governing vessel
Yes, you can tap on yourself. One of the benefits of tapping is that you can do it on your own without any special equipment, as opposed to acupuncture.
- Identify your issue: What problem are you facing? What fear is holding you back? Choose one problem to focus on for your tapping exercise.
- Determine the initial intensity: Once you choose a problem, rate it on a scale of zero to 10 in terms of the intensity of your physical or psychological pain or discomfort. This will help you more accurately evaluate any progress you may make after your tapping exercise.
- Choose a setup phrase: Your setup phrase should address your issue and promote self-acceptance. Most setup phrases follow a similar framework: “Even though [issue], I accept myself.”
- Tap in sequence: Say your setup phrase three times while tapping on your karate chop point on the side of your hand. Then, continue to tap the nine meridian points in the sequence listed above, expressing your feelings about your problem as you continue to tap.
- Determine the final intensity: After you are finished tapping, rate the intensity of your pain or discomfort on the previous scale of zero to 10. Notice if your intensity has dropped. Repeat your tapping sequence until your final intensity reaches zero.
EFT tapping is an alternative therapy method that can benefit people struggling with physical and/or psychological pain. It’s particularly useful for:
Experts are still researching the effectiveness of EFT tapping. While there have been some promising studies regarding PTSD, depression, and anxiety, more research needs to be done to determine if tapping is an effective treatment plan on its own. Until then, you should only use tapping alongside more traditional therapies.
Tapping can work surprisingly well with other, more traditional forms of therapy. Common therapies that can incorporate the Emotional Freedom Technique include:
You can use EFT tapping any time, any place. Although you need to be able to speak out loud, most people are able to incorporate tapping into their daily routine fairly easily. You can use tapping as an at-home strategy for strengthening your mental health in a number of ways, such as:
- Self regulation: Tapping can help you self-soothe and calm your body’s stress response during intense situations.
- Stress management: You can use the Emotional Freedom Technique as a way to prevent or manage stress in a number of settings, such as work or school.
- Self-care: You can incorporate tapping into your regular self-care routine to help you stay mindful of and ultimately address any physical or psychological pain you may be carrying.
Tapping is a technique that many people find helpful to manage their stress, anxiety, and other physical and psychological pain. If you want to find a therapist who uses tapping alongside more traditional approaches to therapy, click here.
About the author
The editorial team at therapist.com works with the world’s leading clinical experts to bring you accessible, insightful information about mental health topics and trends.