Introducing Emotional Freedom Techniques

What is EFT?

EFT is a form of Energy Psychology. It is often referred to as ‘tapping therapy’ as the process involves gently tapping on meridian energy points on the body whilst focusing on an emotional issue and repeating phrases that describe it. When working with a practitioner, the practitioner forms the phrases on behalf of the client and the client repeats them back. EFT combines the acupuncture theories of energy meridians with the emotional focus of talking therapies.

Energy Psychology attends to the connection between the mind and the body and specifically considers the embodied psyche. It acknowledges the body as an energy system and views physical and psychological distress as disruptions in that energy system. The mind/body link is clearly established in all psychotherapeutic approaches. We know that if we think of something distressing we can feel distressed. Energy psychology says that whatever is in the mind is encoded in the body. Energy Psychology offers simple procedures to locate and release these codes or disruptions.

History of EFT

Gary Craig developed EFT in the 1990’s in the United States. A Stanford Engineer turned ‘personal trainer’, Gary developed EFT out of the combined theories of acupuncture, Applied Kinesiology [Dr George Goodheart] and Thought Field Therapy, [Dr Roger Callahan]. 

How Does it Work?

One of the features of energy psychology is that it is based more on observation of results than on theory. It works, and is evidenced to work, but there are different explanations as to why or how it works.

One theory is that it is the neurobiological effects of somato-sensory stimulation that create the therapeutic effect rather than the clearing of an energy field, (Ruden, 2005 and Andrade, 2003).

Others see EFT very much in the CBT tradition of verbally exposing the client to a distressing thought, memory or emotion whilst carrying out the soothing, affect regulating process of tapping.

Others draw parallels between EFT and EMDR in the use of somatic processes to desensitise trauma, (Mollon, 2008 p22).

Gary Craig’s core belief regarding the reason that EFT works, what he calls ‘the discovery statement’, is that ‘the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system’. Sometimes events in life create blockages in the system where the energy becomes stuck or slow. Our emotions are feedback of this happening, telling us that there is a disruption in our system. The aim of EFT is to repair the disruption to allow the free flow of energy, thereby restoring emotional balance, (Craig, 2010 p71).

Research Evidence

A significant body of evidence is building for the efficacy of energy psychology in general and EFT in particular. 

Research Papers

EFT is building up an impressive body of research evidence to support its efficacy. See these papers for more information.


Andrade, J and Feinstein, D, (2003). Preliminary report of the first large scale study of energy psychology.

Craig, G, (2010). The EFT Manual. CA: Energy Psychology Press.

Mollon, P, (2008). Psychoanalytic Energy Psychology, GB: Karnac Books.

Ruden, R.A, (2005). Neurobiological basis for the observed peripheral sensory modulation of emotional responses, Traumatology, 11:145-158.

Recommended Reading

Craig, G, (2010). The EFT Manual. CA: Energy Psychology Press.

Hartman, S, (2012). Energy EFT, UK: Dragon Rising Publishing.

Mollon, P, (2008). Psychoanalytic Energy Psychology, GB: Karnac Books.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Letchworth Garden City, Herts, SG6
Written by Julie Sale
Letchworth Garden City, Herts, SG6

Julie Sale is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and COSRT Accredited Sex and Relationship Psychotherapist. She co-Directs Local Counselling Centre a counselling service supporting the Herts, Beds and Bucks communities.


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