We all carry around fears, physical pain or emotional problems. Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping therapy from traditional Chinese medicine, claims to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and trauma. Does tap therapy literally tap into the body’s own ability to heal?

EFT Tapping Basics

Like acupuncture and acupressure, EFT, or tapping, is a set of techniques that works with the body’s energy meridian points. Proponents of the therapy claim that you can stimulate your body’s own energy and healing power to treat a variety of issues.

The basic technique requires you to focus on the negative emotion at hand: a trauma from your past or anything that is bothering you. While focusing on this issue, use your fingertips to tap five to seven times each on nine of the body’s meridian points. Tapping on these points while concentrating on resolving the negative emotion accesses your body’s energy to help return to a balanced state.

Though still under research, EFT tapping has been used to treat people with anxiety as well as those with PTSD.

Tapping in Three Steps

EFT tapping can be divided into five steps that are easy to do no matter where you are. If you have more than one issue you want to address, repeat this sequence.

  1. Identify one issue at a time. For the best outcome, focus on a single memory, trauma, issue or problem at a time.
  2. Choose a phrase that explains what you are trying to resolve. Focus on two main goals: acknowledging your feeling, and accepting yourself in spite of the issue. The common setup phrase is: “Even though I have this [fear or problem], I deeply love and accept myself.” It is important that you focus on your own actions or feelings and not someone else’s.
  3. Complete the tapping sequence.

EFT focuses on these nine meridians:

  • karate chop (KC): small intestine meridian
  • top of head (TH): governing vessel
  • eyebrow (EB): bladder meridian
  • side of the eye (SE): gallbladder meridian
  • under the eye (UE): stomach meridian
  • under the nose (UN): governing vessel
  • chin (Ch): central vessel
  • beginning of the collarbone (CB): kidney meridian
  • under the arm (UA): spleen meridian

Begin by tapping the karate chop point while reciting your setup phrase three times. Next, tap each subsequent point seven times moving down the body in this order:

  • eyebrow
  • sides of the eye
  • under the eye
  • under the nose
  • chin
  • outer points of the collarbone
  • under the arm
  • top of the head

While tapping these points, recite a reminder phrase, such as "focus on your eyebrow," to maintain attention on your problem area. As you move through the points, imagine letting go of these negative feelings and surrendering yourself to feelings of acceptance and positivity.

Benefits of EFT Therapy

Can simply tapping and reciting affirmations really treat anxiety, PTSD, and physical pain? Further research needs to be done on the effects, but early studies are promising.

In a 2013 study, researchers studied the impact of EFT tapping on veterans with PTSD compared to those receiving standard care. Within a month, participants receiving EFT therapy had significantly reduced their psychological stress. More than half of the EFT test group no longer fit the criteria for PTSD.

There is also promising research in reducing anxiety using EFT tapping. A 2016 review compared the effectiveness of using EFT tapping over other options for anxiety symptoms. The study concluded there was a significant decrease in anxiety scores compared to participants receiving other care.

Self-healing may need more research, but positive affirmations are a great way to give yourself some much needed self-care. And don’t give up right away; it may take time to get stuck energy moving, so keep practicing until you feel a change. Happy tapping!