Tapping Anxiety Away: How to Use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for Anxiety, OCD & Trauma
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), also known as Tapping or EFT Tapping, has been described as “one of the most successful psychology self-help techniques ever developed.“
This sentiment seems to hold true for millions of people around the world who practice EFT including licensed therapists, psychologists, doctors and other respected healthcare professionals.
EFT/Tapping has become increasingly popular over the past few years for use on an almost infinite number of issues, from anxiety to pain, guilt and trauma to better performance in sports and business.
If you're new to EFT/Tapping and want to better understand how it works and how to use Tapping for anxiety you've come to the right place.
If you think this whole Emotional Freedom Techniques “stuff” is just too “woo-woo” or you've tried some Tapping after watching a YouTube video and determined it didn't work; I urge you to read through this article.
Keep an open mind, yes, but simply try what I will be discussing and see for yourself.
There are a lot of “Tapping” videos and articles online that show tapping for anxiety and other issues that are simply incorrect, overly exaggerate what to expect or taught by someone that doesn't fully understand how EFT works.
There is a lot of misinformation out there on EFT and a lot of exaggerated claims.
In addition to showing you how to get started with EFT/Tapping and more specifically how to use EFT/Tapping for anxiety and other issues; I'll also clear up the misinformation, explain realistically what to expect and show you how to use Emotional Freedom Techniques the right way!
There is more to Tapping than just “tapping,” it can be a truly effective form of therapy if used correctly.
So let's get you started…
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Empath's Survival Guide
Many of us with anxiety tend to have a sensitive or empathic nature – we may often feel overwhelmed, dragged down or emotionally drained by others.
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What is EFT/Tapping & How Does it Work?
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or Tapping is a form of energy psychology (or mind/body therapy if you prefer) originally created by Gary Craig that has become an increasingly popular set of techniques used to overcome a variety of physical and emotional issues.
EFT involves the working through of negative emotions, memories or physical symptoms by focused attention on a specific issue while tapping meridian or acupressure points.
These points (typically 9 points, although there are other points sometimes used) are based on the Chinese meridian system, which is also used in acupuncture.
The points used in EFT/Tapping are specifically chosen for their ability to calm the nervous system and down-regulate the amygdala – which if you've read our article “THE Guide to How Anxiety Works” you'll remember the amygdala is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response and overall levels of fear/threat.
EFT operates under the assumption that ALL physical and psychological problems are the result of unresolved emotional issues.
When tapping on these points while focusing on the problem we are addressing, we can essentially neutralize (and often release) the “charge” or negative hold the emotion or memory has on our current state.
This is often done quickly and gently without the need to rehash past problems over and over again.
Standard forms of therapies often try to release the emotional impact of an event by talking about it, changing our thoughts or repeatedly exposing ourselves to the situation.
If we are working with more severe issues, this can often take months or even years of therapy and A LOT of work to see real permanent results.
EFT releases (neutralizes) this emotional impact often within a few short sessions, or for more mild issues, within minutes.
An Example of How EFT/Tapping Works
Let's use an example so you can see how this would play out and why neutralizing negative emotions or past memories is a powerful way to overcome anxiety, trauma and other issues.
We all have situations, past events, or images we imagine that instantly create feelings of tension, anxiety or fear.
Let's say you have a fear of dogs based on a childhood memory of a dog that bit you as a child. Even imagining being close to a dog elicits anxiety and fear.
If you were to thoroughly “tap” on this issue (as we will discuss how to do below) you could neutralize the feelings around the memory (ie. anxiety, fear) and it would either drop out of mind or remain a memory but no longer have the negative charge.
So instead of instantly recalling the memory of the dog biting you as a child whenever you are around a dog in the present, which kick starts fear and anxiety – you're reaction is neutral.
There is no longer a fear-based charge to the memory.
Which means the memory no longer automatically activates the amygdala, which means there is no longer a flood of stress hormones and adrenaline, which means no more fear and anxiety.
And the results can be permanent if done correctly.
Sounds pretty incredible right?
If you're still thinking about how crazy this all sounds or if you think EFT sounds weird or “woo-woo,” you're right, it is pretty weird, but it works.
Just a few decades ago here in the West; meditation, mindfulness and yoga were thought of as weird or something only for “hippies,” now it's accepted and promoted among therapists and the medical community.
Whole therapies have been built around mindfulness concepts and more and more traditional therapists are adopting aspects of mindfulness and yoga into their practice.
The same goes for acupuncture. Once weird or “new age” – now recommended by doctors as an alternative to pain meds for pain management.
Give it time.
EFT is already working its way into the mainstream and into the medical community.
Therapists and doctors alike have begun using or recommending EFT/Tapping for anxiety, pain, PTSD and other issues.
So the “new age,” “woo-woo” viewpoint is quickly getting replaced with a more accepted, scientifically proven, clinical approach.
The Research on EFT
If you're a skeptic that's entirely understandable, I was the same way when I first heard of EFT.
I chalked it up to just another fad that would quickly go the way of other ineffective fake techniques.
It was only after I learned more about it and, more importantly, began using it that I became a believer.
In fact, I believed in its effectiveness so much I took professional training courses in EFT, attended seminars and began practicing with others.
You don't have to completely buy into EFT or energy psychology in order for it to work.
But do try to keep an open mind and try it for yourself.
Everything we promote, recommend and teach at Profound Anxiety Solutions has been proven effective in scientific studies and EFT is no exception.
Here is some of the research that has been done on EFT to date. At the very bottom of this article you will find a “Resources” section with links to this research as well as many other studies.
Possibly the most impressive study is this one – which compares the results of EFT/Tapping to CBT:
A large-scale study of 5,000 patients over a 5 year period compared the results of EFT/Tapping (without medication) versus CBT (with medication if needed) and the results were astounding:
- An improvement was found in 90% of patients who received the EFT/Tapping therapy VS 63% who received CBT
- Only 3 Tapping sessions were needed to reduce anxiety VS 15 sessions for CBT
- Complete relief of symptoms was seen in 76% of patients who used Tapping therapy VS 51% in the CBT group
- One year later improvements were maintained among 78% of patients in the Tapping group VS 69% in the CBT group
- There are currently more than 100 peer-reviewed published studies and 43 Random Controlled Trials on EFT, 98% were found to have positive effects
- In 2017, the U.S Veterans Administration accepted EFT as a safe form of therapy
- Studies have shown a 43% decrease in the stress hormone Cortisol after using EFT/Tapping
- EFT has been shown to produce real positive biological changes in the brain and body measured by EEG brain scans, fMRI and MRIs, and blood and saliva testing
- EFT has research showing major improvements in anxiety, pain, PTSD, depression and cravings
- Across the board, the average reduction in anxiety is between 40% and 53% for less than 5 EFT/Tapping sessions
What Can EFT/Tapping Be Used For?
One of the things that is most impressive about EFT and Tapping is that it can be applied to nearly any physical or emotional issue.
We will describe exactly how to use EFT/Tapping for anxiety as well as OCD, Trauma and Pain later in this article. But Emotional Freedom Techniques is not strictly limited to these issues.
Below is a short list of common problems EFT has been known to work with effectively.
One additional note: Tapping can be used for taking the “edge off” any time. It can be useful for taking the edge off before tapping on or facing issues that are otherwise hard to deal with.
Different Forms of EFT and Tapping
Before we discuss the different forms of EFT, let's clarify the different key terms people often use for these techniques.
Emotional Freedom Techniques, EFT, Tapping and EFT Tapping are often thrown around interchangeably or in different contexts, which can be confusing to those who are new to these techniques.
To be clear, all of these terms refer to the same thing, whether it's referred to as “Tapping” or “EFT Tapping” or “EFT,” doesn't matter.
Some teachers and programs tend to exclusively use one term over the other but they are all based on the same original techniques, Emotional Freedom Techniques, even if they are slightly altered.
In my experience, the more mainstream the teaching, such as the “Tapping Solution” by Nick Ortner or many of the Youtube videos available, the more it tends to be referred to as “Tapping.”
The more clinical, professional or closer to the original EFT teaching of Gary Craig, the more likely they will use the term EFT.
But this isn't a hard and fast rule, in most cases the terms will simply be used interchangeably.
It's just something I've noticed along the way as I began researching and training in EFT.
As far as the different forms of EFT/Tapping and EFT programs – there are many.
Rather than go through and list every different program or teaching out there or compare and contrast the different nuisances between them, I'll simply provide a few of the ones I believe to be good options for most people.
I'll also provide a shortlist of resources and EFT programs at the end of this article if you want to look into them for yourself.
A Few Online Courses Worth Checking Out
Gold Standard (Official) EFT Tutorial (emofree.com): this is the original EFT training by the founder of EFT, Gary Craig; it's still free and still remains one of the best tutorials available
EFT Universe: The Tapping Course (thetappingcourse.com): online EFT/Tapping course by respected teacher Dawson Church PhD; Dawson has helped publish many scientific studies on EFT and helped to establish EFT as more respected scientifically proven approach to therapy
EFT Professional Skills 1 (eftonline.org/eft-course): if you're a professional in the healthcare field looking for certification and training in EFT I highly recommend this training provided by ACEP, they offer live trainings where you can practice with other students; you can also earn 14 CE hours for the training; ACEP is approved by the American Psychological Association
The Truth About EFT & Online Tutorials: What To Really Expect with EFT/Tapping
EFT/Tapping is extremely effective for all types of issues including anxiety, OCD, Trauma and pain, often working where nothing else worked before.
EFT can also provide results more quickly than almost anything else I've come across…
But is it a magic cure for every ailment or issue?
Will it permanently cure you of anxiety or pain in a matter of minutes?
If your doing it on your own and your just starting out – most likely not.
Can EFT/Tapping help you to overcome anxiety and other issues with proper use?
In fact, I believe EFT (used in the right way), to be the most powerful technique for overcoming anxiety and negative emotional mental patterns there is.
But it has to be used in the right way to achieve permanent results.
This boils down to 3 important points:
- How EFT is applied (the process): this includes the training and how EFT is applied to particular issues
- Going deeper with the work: while quick fixes and short term relief are great, simply working on surface-level symptoms is unlikely to provide deep long-lasting improvements, we have to go deeper into the core issues and uncover the different aspects of those issues, this involves work
- Actually doing the work: we must do the work to achieve results, period. For deeper issues such as Trauma, the help of a trained EFT specialist or EFT therapist may be necessary
So what about all of the many different video tutorials on YouTube or online EFT courses and programs?
The truth is, while watching a 10-min Tapping video on YouTube may provide some relief, as mentioned above there is deeper work required in order to see real permanent results.
This also applies to paid EFT/Tapping courses and programs as well.
Any course or video that only focuses on surface-level issues or broad areas such as “stress relief” or “feeling good” or broad issues like “worry” will only provide surface-level results.
In the end, the core issue will not be fully resolved and will come back.
Lastly, to be 100% honest and transparent with you, you do not need to pay for training in EFT or buy some highly touted expensive EFT/Tapping program in order to learn how to use EFT/Tapping for anxiety or any other issues.
The process laid out in this article is more than enough to get you started and seeing real results.
But we can only go so deep in one article.
To truly overcome anxiety and other issues we need to do some work and uncover the root underlying emotions/memories so we can work on the issue at its core.
You can practice and go deeper on your own or deepen your understanding of EFT with online training.
The founder of EFT, Gary Craig, provides his Gold Standard EFT training free of charge.
Every paid course or program available is essentially a spinoff of his core teachings.
Gold Standard EFT is mostly presented in long-form text format and isn't necessarily a step-by-step program but it does provide everything you need.
The presentation of the material aside it still remains one of the best EFT trainings available online and it's totally free.
If your looking more for a step-by-step guide presented in an online video course format, a paid online program such as “The Tapping Course” may be a better fit.
Whichever route you choose to take is up to you but be aware that everything you need to know is available for free online if you have the time and desire to learn it.
You can get started with this guide and then dig into Gary's free training or if you prefer a more step by step online course format you can check out the The Tapping Course mentioned above.
For dealing with very traumatic memories or experiences it may be best to work directly with someone professionally trained in EFT that can guide you gently through the process.
Digging into traumatic memories on your own when you are just starting out with EFT is not a good idea.
Caution: Before You Begin
If you are currently under the care of a mental health professional and/or take prescription medication, it is highly advised that you discuss EFT with your doctor/psychiatrist before starting. While EFT/Tapping can be very effective and work rather quickly, you should under no circumstances discontinue medication without the advice/help from your doctor. The advice given in this article is in no way meant to be taken as medical advice or substitute for the advice of a medical professional. This article is for informational purposes only.
EFT/Tapping Basics: How to Get Started
So enough with the preamble, let's jump into how to actually use EFT/Tapping for anxiety.
The basic procedure for EFT involves 5 steps. We will go quickly go over each one now.
Step 1: Identify the Issue
To begin, identify the issue you want to work on. Focus on one issue at a time and make it specific.
An issue such as “this anxiety” is too broad. While you can receive some benefit to tapping on general issues like “this anxiety,” you will make much better progress if you focus on specifics.
For example, “this tightness in my chest when my daughter borrows the car,” would be a good specific issue to work on.
Step 1a: Break the issue down if Necessary
If the issue you have identified is complex, break it down into specific aspects and focus on one aspect at a time.
Using the example above, let's say you decided to work on “this anxiety.” Since the issue is too broad you looked at specific instances that cause you anxiety.
You decided that your daughter borrowing the car is one of the most anxiety producing situations for you right now. Rather than work on “this anxiety when my daughter borrows the car” you can break it down even further into all the different aspects of the situation.
The aspects you work out are: “My heart races,” “I worry she will get into an accident on the way home” and “I get tightness in my chest.”
You decide to focus on the aspect “this tightness in my chest when my daughter borrows the car.”
Step 2: Check the SUDS level
Once you have identified a specific issue or aspect, you want to check the current intensity of the issue.
We measure this intensity using SUDS, or Subjective Units of Distress. This is simply a scale from 0-10 that is commonly used in many forms of therapy.
We use this 0-10 scale to rate our current level of distress or pain, or level of discomfort, in whatever form it takes. With 0 being no intensity at all or completely neutral (which is where we want to reach after tapping) and 10 being severely intense.
For emotional issues simply bring the memory or related thoughts into mind as deeply as you can and assess the current level of discomfort/intensity. How intense is the emotion when you vividly bring to mind the issue/memory?
For physical issues you would simply assess the current level of discomfort for the particular physical ailment. What level of pain do you feel in that specific area right now?
Again using the example above, you would picture in your mind that moment right before you experience that tightness in your chest when your daughter borrows the car. It could be right after you hand over the keys or as soon as she pulls out of the driveway.
Whatever part of the situation triggers the issue for you.
After vividly imagining the scenario, you have determined “this tightness in my chest when my daughter borrows the car” is currently an 8.
Step 3: The Setup Statement
Each round of Tapping begins with the setup statement. This is a statement we use to acknowledge the problem while accepting ourselves despite the present issue. The actual statement goes like this:
“Even though I have this ______________, I deeply and completely accept myself.“
The blank will be the specific issue you identified in the first step. So for example:
“Even though I have this tightness in my chest when my daughter borrows the car, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
As we state the Setup Statement we begin tapping on the “Karate Chop” point with 3 or 4 fingers.
The Karate Chop (KC) point is located on the side of the hand where we would perform a karate chop. Between the pinky joint and the wrist.
As we say the Setup Statement we tap on the KC point. This is the proper setup before we begin the Tapping Sequence.
Step 4: The Tapping Sequence
This is the actual tapping sequence that is used to balance the body's energetic pathways while we work on these issues.
While Tapping, we will repeat a short “reminder phrase” while we tap on each point to keep us focused on the aspect/issue we are working on. The reminder phrase is typically a shortened version of the aspect/issue that we filled in for the Setup Statement.
Using the same example we would shorten “this tightness in my chest when my daughter borrows the car” to “this tightness in my chest” which we state as we tap on each point. (For details on the actual tapping points, see the diagram below)
EFT Tapping Points
After doing the Setup Statement while tapping on the Karate Chop (KC) point, we begin the actual tapping sequence.
Starting with the 1st point at the Top of the Head and working our way down – ending with the point under the arm.
Tapping is typically done using 2 to 3 fingers to tap on each point while stating the Reminder Phrase one time at each point.
(4 or 5 fingers can be used for larger areas such as the top of the head and collarbone, if desired)
Each point is tapped several times before moving down to the next point. Basically long enough to clearly state the Reminder Phrase.
Personally I don't tap each spot a specific number of times before moving to the next, in general it is between 5-10 taps before moving to the next point.
Tapping can be done on either side of the body using one hand, or both sides of the body simultaneously using two hands to tap.
Step 5: Reaccess the SUDS & TEST
After completing one round of tapping (after we have reached the last point, under the arm) take a second to assess your SUDS level on the issue you were working on. What is your new number (0-10 scale)? Did your number drop? Did the intensity change at all? Did the discomfort move? Did something else come up stronger?
Once we reaccess we can continue working on the particular aspect if it is still above 0, refocus on something that came up during the round or move on to the next aspect of the original issue if it's at or near 0.
If you were working on an emotional issue related to a memory, to determine the SUDS & test you would bring the issue back into mind as vividly as possible and then determine the new level of intensity.
Essentially we repeating the process of Step 2. Reaccessing and testing in this way helps to guide us on what to work on next.
Using the same example of the chest tightness, we would bring into mind handing over the car keys to our daughter (or whatever particular scenario triggers the response) and then noticing the intensity of the chest tightness.
If our SUDS didn't reach 0, we would repeat the process with another tapping session and continue repeating until it is 0.
If it is 0 then we would access the other 2 related aspects we came up with and repeat the process with the one that is the highest intensity.
EFT Tapping Demo
Now that we have a solid explanation of the EFT/Tapping process from start to finish, let's see a brief demonstration to get a better idea of what the process actually looks like.
While the process may seem complicated in writing, seeing it in action can help us to understand how truly simple the process can be.
The video below is courtesy of Gary Craig, founder of EFT (emofree.com)
Applying EFT/Tapping to Different Types of Problems
One of the greatest advantages to EFT and Tapping is that it can be applied to nearly any emotional or physical issue you can think of.
And it's extremely fast, efficient, effective and gentle.
I've already laid out the basics and how to get started above.
The 5 step process provided is the same process you would use for any issue you want to address.
It doesn't matter if the issue you are working on is physical or emotional.
The basic process remains the same.
That being said there are different approaches and strategies that we recommend for different types of issues you choose to work on.
The main difference boils down to where you place your focus.
Because the core process (the 5-Step process outlined above) is the same no matter what your issue happens to be, I'll simply layout where to focus and how to move along to receive more permanent results for each major issue.
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How to Use EFT/Tapping for Anxiety
EFT/Tapping is extremely effective for all types of anxiety. I've actually found it to be the most effective single approach to anxiety, there is.
And that's no exaggeration.
Tapping for anxiety is done just like any other issue but let's break it down to help you determine where to place your focus so you can get started.
Based on the 5-Step model outlined above, the first step would be to identify the issue you want to work on.
This is where many people mess up.
Trying to work on “my anxiety” from the outset is just too broad. We need to break it down into particular aspects.
Anxiety always has particular aspects that arise that may bother us. These could be physical, emotional or mental.
If we go even deeper, anxiety often has an event (now a memory) that occurred in the past that is behind our particular anxiety or fear. Rooting this out and working on it would allow much more profound (and permanent) healing to occur.
So Step 1 would be to layout the exact issue and then break that issue down into specific aspects.
If we can root out the core experience(s) from the past that has caused our anxiety and work on these events one at a time we will see much greater progress.
However, if you are new to EFT, this can be difficult, therefore we can simply begin with a particular aspect that is presenting itself right now, starting with the most intense based on the 0-10 scale.
(Oftentimes, when we begin working on an aspect, memories of past events will spring into mind. This is excellent, we want to work on those memories as they are often at the core of our anxiety).
Tapping can also be used on present symptoms to help calm ourselves in the moment; such as “this nervousness,” “this shaking,” “these racing thoughts,” etc.
While EFT/Tapping can be highly effective for this purpose, just understand that without getting to the root cause, tapping on these broad issues is likely to provide only temporary relief.
Once we have decided on an aspect we want to focus on we can proceed using the basic routine stated above.
As a reminder:
- Identify the issue and a particular aspect to work on
- Check the SUDS level (0-10)
- State a Setup Statement
- Use the Tapping Procedure
- Reassess the SUDS & Test
So let's show an example to better illustrate this process for using EFT/Tapping for anxiety.
Let's say you want to work on “my social anxiety.”
As you should know by now that is too broad, so let's find something more specific.
How about “my social anxiety whenever I go to the grocery store.”
This is getting better.
Let me make a point that you may not be aware of. Social anxiety isn't actually a specific issue or “disorder.” Your “anxiety” around social situations can be drastically different depending on the actual situation.
Your anxiety around going to a grocery store is most likely a lot different than your anxiety around going to a bar with your friends or going to the mall alone, etc.
This is why we need to work on these situations and aspects individually.
Anyway, so let's break down the grocery store situation even further.
What about going to the grocery store is anxiety-producing?
What specific situation bothers you? What are your thoughts or fears? What do you imagine happening? What physical symptoms do you have?
Let's see if we can tease out 3 aspects
“When I'm at the checkout counter I feel like everyone is judging me.”
“My throat constricts before walking in the store.”
I have the anxious thought “I'm going to have to leave the store without being able to checkout.”
Now focus on one at a time and think back to your earliest or most intense experience of each thought/fear. Put yourself in the scene.
If this is a new issue and not something you have actually experienced in the past, simply bring the imagined scenario into mind as vividly as possible.
Now rate each aspect on the level of intensity from 0-10 on how it affects you NOW in the present.
Begin working on the one with the highest intensity using the basic process as described above.
Once you bring this particular aspect down to 0 you can reassess the remaining aspects and work on the next highest intensity.
If earlier or more intense past events come into mind as your working, these are core issues that you want to address.
Typically the earlier and more intense the event, the greater the benefit of working on it.
Bonus Section: Tapping on Other Issues
In this article, I wanted to focus primarily on getting started with EFT and how to use EFT for anxiety.
Since EFT/Tapping is effective for so many different issues I also wanted to briefly go over how to apply EFT/Tapping to a few additional issues that many of us struggle with.
The 3 issues we will discuss below can often accompany anxiety and are dealt with in a similar way to what we have already discussed.
One quick note, which I'll reiterate again below; for severe OCD or Trauma, the help of a trained EFT professional and/or therapist or an intensive treatment program is highly recommended.
EFT/Tapping for OCD
The traditional treatment for OCD is typically some form of Exposure and Response Prevention. This is where the patient is exposed to some sort of stimulus that creates a strong urge to perform whatever obsessive/compulsive action (ritual) they are working on.
For example; your compulsive behavior is washing your hands over and over again, believing they are dirty. With Exposure and Response Prevention, you would exposure yourself to something that makes you feel dirty or contaminated, such as rooting through a trash can, then work to prevent the compulsive response of washing your hands by not allowing yourself to follow through.
This treatment has worked for many people in the past but is often extremely difficult and uncomfortable process.
With EFT, the treatment is to soften the compulsive urge through tapping on the urge in the present moment and (more powerfully) uncovering core events from the past that likely instigated the compulsive behaviors in the first place.
OCD is very much a control issue. We struggle to maintain control over an otherwise out of control situation or the “chaotic” world outside of us. Repeating certain actions or behaviors is one way we gain some semblance of control or organization.
Using EFT/Tapping for OCD is performed in a similar way to how we would use it for anxiety.
We focus on the issue, break it down into specific aspects and try to root out core events from the past that have caused the obsessive/compulsive behaviors or rituals.
As with anxiety, finding the core events isn't always easy, so if we are just starting out we can begin by tapping on the present urge.
For example, the urge to wash our hands, the urge to check the locks, the urge to tie and untie our shoes, etc.
Tapping on obsessive/compulsive urges can help soften the urge and relieve the tension around it.
However, it is usually a temporary solution. Getting to the core events, as I have mentioned over and over again in this article, is the key to more permanent changes.
For mild to moderate OCD, EFT/Tapping can help significantly if done in the right way and we continue to go deeper with the practice.
For truly severe OCD, I highly recommend seeing a professional or looking into an intensive treatment program. With severe OCD, medication can also be extremely beneficial or even necessary.
Severe OCD can often be debilitating and difficult to treat. As a fellow OCD sufferer, you do not have to deal with it on your own.
There are great programs and organizations out there that can help.
If you suffer from severe OCD, check out the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF): iocdf.org
EFT/Tapping for Trauma
We are all likely to experience some form of trauma in our lives. In fact, I would argue that almost no one goes through life without facing some type of trauma.
When people think of trauma they often think of extremes like war, rape, abuse or some other form of violence.
While these experiences can indeed cause Trauma, trauma is essentially any negative event where the energy of the situation is beyond what our internal resources can handle.
In many forms of therapy, traumatic events are often described in 2 different ways.
Little “t” traumas; which include many of the common experiences nearly all of us end up facing at some point in our lives; divorce or breakup, death of a loved one, loss of a job, financial difficulties, broken trust, etc.
Big “T” Traumas; are more severe Traumas like what we mentioned above; war, rape, abuse, incest, domestic violence, etc.
The truth is, our sensitivity and inner resources determine the level of the trauma more so than labels.
For one person a divorce may very well be a big “T” trauma, while for another it may not be traumatic at all.
While the loss of a job may not be traumatic initially, if you go months without finding another job, your car gets repossessed and you end up losing your house, it may turn into a traumatic experience.
So don't allow others to label trauma for you.
Working on trauma is done in the same way as we've been discussing so far. The goal with trauma is to focus/work on a traumatic event, particularly a traumatic memory, and determine the intensity of it now and then work until we bring that situation down to a zero.
For best results we need to break the event down into particular aspects and work on the particular emotions that comes up around that aspect, one at a time.
For example, if you're working on the time your boyfriend/girlfriend left you for another person, the first emotion that comes up when you think about it may be anger. So you could begin working on the anger around it. As you're working, other emotions may begin to come up; feeling abandoned, betrayed, etc.
It's important to work on these emotions one at a time.
If you want to work on traumatic memories on your own, I sincerely recommend sticking to small “t” traumas.
Even though EFT tends to be one of the most gentle approaches to dealing with trauma, diving head first into big “T” Traumas like rape or years of abuse as a child without proper guidance can bring up more than you may be able to deal with.
This can end up having the reverse effect and make matters worse.
Even if the event was a long time ago or doesn't feel “too bad” in the present, it can be surprising how much unresolved shit we are holding onto and how truly intense it can be when floods our awareness.
Just be smart and go slowly. If your dealing with severe Trauma, reach out to a professional.
EFT/Tapping for Pain
Tapping for pain is not much different than tapping for anxiety or any other issue.
You may be wondering if you need to uncover past events or specific aspects of the pain in order for it to work.
The answer is a resounding YES.
While pain can often seem to be entirely physical (ie. without emotional or event-driven causes) there almost always is some kind of stressor, emotional pain or suppressed memory/emotion behind the pain.
This applies to nearly any type of pain you can think of with the exception of pain caused by actual physical injury.
Remember EFT operates under the tenet that ALL physical and emotional problems (which includes pain) is caused by unresolved emotional issues.
This something I also agree with completely based on my own experiences and training and the experiences of thousands of others.
So in order to work on pain, we proceed in the same way that I outlined above for anxiety. Identifying the issue and then breaking it down into specific aspects.
Again, if we can uncover the past events or emotions behind the pain we can reach greater, more permanent results.
But as I mentioned before, if we are new to EFT and can't pinpoint the events right away, simply begin by focusing on the pain in your present experience and then break it down into specifics.
Where is it located specifically? What does it feel like? What characteristics does it have? Is it hot? Cold? Is it sharp like a stab or dull like an ache?
Be as specific as possible.
For example, don't work on “my back pain,” be specific, “this dull ache in the lower right side of my back,” etc.
By being specific we can determine if the pain has changed in any way after each round. Quite often people will notice that the pain will move or change in intensity. We need to readjust and focus on the new experience for each round until it is gone.
Again, as we go through and continue working on the pain, past events (memories) or emotions may come to the surface. This is what we want to work on.
For true physical pain caused by injury, we will simply be focusing on the actual pain. Oftentimes, negative emotions can make the pain worse and keep us from healing in a normal time frame.
By tapping on the pain or any negative emotions, we can not only reduce pain but assist our bodies in healing faster.
Before I sat down to work on this article I asked myself:
“What would I want to know if I could only read one article on EFT/Tapping?”
Not just the superficial – tap here, then tap here – but how it works, why it works and how to do it correctly for permanent results.
This article is the result.
Like a lot of the articles I write, it's a lot longer and more in-depth than I expected but it serves to provide everything you need to know to get started with EFT for anxiety or any other issue you may have.
Hopefully, it helps you to begin practicing EFT or at least trying it and seeing real results.
EFT/Tapping has helped me personally throughout the years as well as millions of others around the world.
I hope it can do the same for you!
EFT Courses & Tutorials Mentioned in this Article
Gold Standard (Official) EFT Tutorial (emofree.com)
EFT Universe: The Tapping Course (thetappingcourse.com)
EFT Professional Skills 1: Professional Certification (eftonline.org/eft-course)
Related Articles You May find helpful:
- EFT Universe: a list of over 100 papers published in peer-reviewed professional journals
- NCBI: Clinical EFT Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health
- American Psychological Association: Reexamining the Effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques on Stress Biochemistry
- Science of Tapping: Preliminary Report of the First Large Scale Study of Energy Psychology with Brain Scans