Psychological Acupressure: Get Familiar With the Emotional Freedom Technique
You might be familiar with acupressure and acupuncture, two methods of alternative healing. Did you know that you can achieve similar effects with the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)?
EFT is also referred to as “tapping” or “psychological acupressure.” The concept is similar to acupressure and acupuncture: practitioners believe there are energy meridians in the body. By tapping on those energy “hotspots,” we can heal psychological, emotional and physical pain.
It might sound odd, but EFT has been successful in helping treat PTSD and anxiety. Could this technique be right for you?
How EFT works
EFT operates on the same Chinese energy healing principles as acupressure and acupuncture. When the energy flow is disrupted, pain and distress result. The idea is that tapping energy hotspots can help send your brain signals to control stress. By tapping, you can release stress and negative emotions, which helps you balance your energy.
There are five main steps to tapping:
- Choose one issue to work on: First, pick one issue to target at a time. Maybe you’re stressed about having to travel to see the family for the holidays—during your EFT session, you’ll exclusively focus on the emotions and physical sensations this brings up.
- Rate the intensity: Rate the intensity of your negative feelings on a scale from one to ten. This helps you set a benchmark and will allow you to measure your progress.
- Choose a key phrase: Next, you’ll need to pick a sentence that sums up your issues, and acknowledges your self-acceptance. This is typically phrased as, “Even though I have this [issue], I deeply and completely accept myself.” In the holiday example, you could say, “Even though I’m stressed about visiting my family, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
- Tap, tap, tap: Next, you’ll tap the main meridian points while reciting your key phrase. Start with your eyebrows, then move to the side of the eye, under the eye, under your nose, your chin, the beginning of your collarbone, under the arm and finally, at the top of your head. Tap five to six times in each area before moving to the next, still reciting your key phrase. There’s no need to use heavy pressure. You may need to repeat the sequence two to three times.
- Re-rate the intensity: When you’re finished, re-rate the intensity. Your distress should have lowered. You can repeat the process until your negative emotion is gone, or at least at a manageable level.
That’s all there is to it. It’s easy and free, and can be performed anywhere (as long as you’re not afraid of weird looks from passersby). If you need guidance, there are many free EFT tutorials and apps available online.
Will EFT work for you?
Results may vary for different individuals. The severity of your symptoms and whether you’re using other treatments can affect whether EFT will work for you.
However, the outlook is good. In 2013, this study demonstrated EFT’s effectiveness in treating PTSD in veterans. Researchers found that EFT significantly reduced their stress within a month, and over half the participants no longer fit the criteria for PTSD. Another study in 2016 showed promising results when treating anxiety.
We’re not advising you to ditch your therapist or quit psychiatric drugs cold turkey. As always, alternative methods are best used in conjunction with other treatments, including therapy and medication. Think of EFT as a way to manage difficult episodes, and negative emotions or sensations in between other treatment.
Because EFT requires no special equipment, it’s easy to sneak away and practice tapping during tough times. Escaping to the restroom, your car or closing the door to your office can help you achieve quick, on-demand stress relief.
What can EFT treat?
As you now know, EFT has been proven effective in treating anxiety and PTSD. Some aficionados swear by it for treating phobias, insomnia, physical pain, performance anxiety and more. Studies have explored EFT’s effectiveness for diabetes, psoriasis and even dyslexia, with promising results.
While efficacy may vary, depending on your condition, it’s worth a try. The key is to make your practice as consistent as possible. Whenever you feel stress, anxiety or other negative sensations, take five minutes to follow the five-step process above. You’re guaranteed to feel more grounded and centered—and with consistent practice, you should be able to reduce or eliminate tough sensations.