What Is Emotional Tapping Therapy Or EFT?

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated March 29, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Emotional Freedom Techniques, also known as EFT, is an emerging treatment for physical pain and mental health conditions. Theoretically, this type of therapy uses tapping movements on various areas of the body to balance the energy in the body and, in turn, lessen physical and emotional pain. The Emotional Freedom Technique is still being researched, but it appears to be an effective treatment for PTSD and anxiety disorders among other conditions. Here, you can learn more about how emotional tapping therapy works and who may benefit from this type of tapping therapy.

Are you experiencing emotional distress?

Overview of EFT tapping

The Emotional Freedom Technique was founded in the 1990s by Gary Craig, a Stanford graduate, and a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Emotional tapping therapy is a type of body-centered therapy that uses the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture as its cornerstone. 

Acupuncture focuses on the idea that energy flows along particular pathways (known as meridians) and that there are different points in the body that correspond with certain organs. For example, the area under the eye corresponds with the stomach, while the side of the hand corresponds with the small intestine. Studies show that acupuncture can be a beneficial and effective treatment for certain pain conditions.

EFT tapping draws upon the foundations of acupuncture to treat various health conditions and psychological symptoms. However, instead of using small needles as one would in acupuncture, EFT tapping is performed with the hands, which apply pressure to specific areas. The idea is that gentle tapping solution sends signals to the brain to lessen stress and promote more positive emotions as the energy in the body becomes rebalanced. 

What can EFT tapping help with?

Research shows that Emotional Freedom Technique tapping can help with anxiety, ease pain and depression, lessen cravings, and treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The same research indicates that EFT can also improve resting heart rate, cortisol (known as the stress hormone), systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure in the body.

EFT treatment may be suitable for people who are interested in alternative therapies or those who cannot or do not want to take medications for physical or mental health conditions. It may also be effective for those who have tried and benefited from acupuncture treatment.

How does EFT tapping work?

EFT can be practiced independently or with a certified EFT practitioner. Typically, an individual using EFT will first focus on a problem or feeling they want to resolve. Once they have this issue in mind, they can note their feelings of distress about that issue on a scale from one to 10. 

Individuals are then encouraged to think of an affirming statement or mantra to repeat throughout the tapping process; these mantras usually center around self-acceptance. An example of an affirming statement might be, “Although I am anxious about giving a presentation tomorrow, I completely accept and love myself.”

Next, individuals continue to repeat the affirmation as they tap various parts of the body. Once they’ve completed tapping each area, they can, once again, assess their level of distress from one to 10. If the distress has decreased to a number they are satisfied with, they can end their EFT session there. If they are not satisfied, they can repeat the EFT tapping sequence until they feel better. 

EFT tapping points


There are several points along the face, hands, and body that may be tapped during EFT. Many people use a standard sequence in an EFT tapping session. A popular tapping point sequence is as follows:

  • Top of the head (TOH): center of the top of the head
  • Beginning of the eyebrow (EB): the start of the eyebrow nearest to the nose
  • Side of the eye (SE): the bone on the outer side of the eye
  • Under the eye (UE): the bone under the eye
  • Under the nose (UN): the area between the nose and upper lip
  • Chin point (CH): between the lower lip and bottom of the chin
  • Beginning of the collarbone (CB): the center of the collarbone
  • Under the arm (UA): four to five inches below the armpit

Individuals may tap around five times on each area to move through the sequence. 

EFT for post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that may occur after a person witnesses or experiences a traumatic event such as a car wreck, natural disaster, or losing a loved one, for instance. People with PTSD may experience symptoms like nightmares, nervousness, irritability, flashbacks, and others. 

In a 2013 study involving 30 veterans with PTSD, EFT reduced PTSD and psychological distress significantly, leading to psychological trauma symptom improvement. Moreover, a 2017 survey of EFT practitioners revealed that 10 or fewer sessions of EFT could help treat complex PTSD. Nearly 90% of the surveyed EFT practitioners reported that almost all their clients (over 90%) made progress with EFT.

EFT for depression

Depression is a common mental health condition that can involve symptoms of sadness, loss of interest in things once enjoyed, sleep problems, appetite changes, fatigue, and more. Many people experience depression at some point in life, and it can be a challenging condition to live with. A 2016 meta-analysis demonstrated that clinical EFT (or EFT provided by a certified practitioner) was highly effective in reducing symptoms of depression. Moreover, individuals involved in the studies seemed to benefit from EFT over time. 

EFT for anxiety

Anxiety is another common mental health condition that can make people feel worried, restless, and on edge. Anxiety can lead to sleep and appetite changes, along with interpersonal problems. There are many ways to treat anxiety, and EFT appears to be one of them: a 2016 randomized controlled trial demonstrated EFT as an effective treatment for anxiety

Benefits of therapy

Are you experiencing emotional distress?

EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) can be an effective form of treatment for several health conditions. Additionally, this intervention is usually pain-free and relatively easy to implement. However, EFT has not been proven to treat all mental health conditions. 

If you’re experiencing challenges related to your mental health, it could be a good idea to investigate other types of therapy in addition to EFT tapping. Many online mental health professionals are trained in a variety of therapeutic modalities, including CBT, DBT, and other types of therapy that can target specific issues like depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. 

Through online therapy, you can connect with a therapist without leaving your home. You can also message your therapist throughout the day, which can be helpful for those experiencing frequent or severe symptoms. Additionally, online therapy can offer the flexibility to schedule appointments without having to address logistical challenges like parking, commuting, and taking time off work, for example.

You may wonder whether online therapy is as effective as in-office therapy, and the answer, often, is yes. One study tested the effectiveness of online counseling for major depressive disorder, and results indicate that people using online psychotherapy experience significantly decreased symptoms of depression after receiving therapy.


Emotional freedom technique (EFT) tapping is an alternative therapy that involves physically tapping on specific points on the body and thinking of a challenge while repeating an affirmation or mantra. The process is meant to help individuals reprocess a negative situation by turning it into a positive or neutral situation. EFT tapping therapy, though still being researched, can be an effective treatment for several mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Reach out to BetterHelp today to be matched with an online counselor who can support your emotional needs.
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