Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): 5 Benefits & How to Do It!

A woman in a blue blouse holding her fingers to her eyes in a home setting.

"I tap daily to release negative emotions and energy. It helps me stay grounded in the present moment," says Kate W., an emotional freedom techniques (EFT) tapping practitioner and teacher from San Francisco. "I’ve used EFT tapping for anxiety, healing, loss, fear, and so much more."

This method involves gentle tapping on your body on specific meridian points and has been clinically shown to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and other issues.[1]

What's The Story Behind Emotional Freedom Techniques?

Invented by Gary Craig, emotional freedom techniques (EFT) were designed to eliminate stress and free you of emotions that drag you down. When people say EFT, they most commonly mean tapping, a scientifically well-documented method that involves applying pressure on specific points of the body.[1] To do EFT tapping, you use your fingertips to gently tap on these points while focusing on the issues you want to resolve and saying phrases out loud (see below for a script).

Craig’s original techniques also included other therapies, such as the movie technique, where you tap while thinking of specific negative experiences, helping to lessen their intensity. Emotional Freedom Techniques draw on acupuncture, acupressure, neurolinguistic programming, psychology, and energy healing to provide physical and emotional benefits, such as reducing stress.[2].

EFT also incorporate elements of traditional Chinese medicine. Tapping stimulates meridian points in the body, part of a energy system that moves "chi" — which means the energy of life — around.[2] It's believed that tapping on these meridian points helps release negative energy and stressful feelings.[2]

Because stress is intimately connected with your immune system, eliminating or reducing it will improve your overall health and wellness.

5 Amazing Health Benefits of EFT

"I’ve personally seen the benefits of EFT in my own life and have seen it help others, too," says Kate W. "It’s my go-to technique for getting rid of stress and worry. It makes me feel calmer and more centered,"

Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of EFT.

1. Eases Depression

Reviewing 20 independent studies, experts rated EFT as highly effective in easing depression in multiple settings and among different groups of people.[3] EFT studies overall were more effective than antidepressant drugs or psychotherapy.[3] Time frames ranged from one to 10 sessions.

People using EFT in these studies also maintained their more positive mood over time.[3] It appears that EFT effectively helps people release negative emotions, which lifts mood.[2, 4]

2. Lessens Anxiety

If you have anxiety, the emotional freedom technique may help.[4] In a group of 5,000 people, 90 percent of those who did EFT tapping saw an improvement in their symptoms of anxiety compared to 63 percent who did traditional cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).[4]

The EFT group only required three acupoint tapping sessions to start seeing results.[4] That’s pretty impressive! Other studies have shown similar findings.

3. Decreases Pain

EFT may be useful for a variety of conditions that cause pain, including fibromyalgia, tension headaches, frozen shoulder, traumatic brain injury, and others.[4]

Paula O., a business coach from Calgary, Canada, explains that tapping eases pain because it gives the mind something else to focus on. "It’s like you’re rewiring the brain to relax and shift the physical pain," she says.

4. Eases PTSD Symptoms

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the emotional freedom technique may help. EFT may reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body, which is usually high in people who have PTSD.[5]

"Tapping on the body seems to counteract the effects of cortisol by soothing you and actually changing the hormones in your body," says Julie P., author and mindfulness expert from La Jolla, California.

5. Reduces Cravings

Resisting food that’s not good for your body isn’t easy. A few EFT sessions may help reduce cravings, helping you achieve your desired weight.[4]

When a group of people had to rate their craving for chocolate before and after doing EFT, they wanted the treat less after tapping.[4] EFT may also help you resist cravings for carbohydrates and fast food, so you’re able to stick to a weight loss plan better.[6]

A 15-Minute EFT Tapping Sequence

Although you can do EFT on your own, it’s easier to follow a tapping sequence script. Please refer to the infographic below, which identifies the meridian points you should tap during this exercise.

An illustrated infographic of a woman referencing various tapping points related to Emotional Freedom Techniques.

Use index and middle fingers on your left or right hand. It doesn’t matter which side of the body you tap on. Pick the one that feels most comfortable.

The following script is for dealing with stress. Feel free to modify it to fit other concerns you may want to work on.

  1. Start by identifying the issue. In this case, we’re focusing on stress. Think about all the stress in your life.
  2. On a scale of one to 10, rate how much stress is affecting you right now. One means it has minimal impact on you, and 10 means it’s a huge concern. You’re rating the intensity of the stress you feel in your body and mind. (This rating serves as a benchmark for tracking how you feel before and after EFT.)
  3. Take two of your fingers and begin tapping gently on the karate chop point of your hand. While tapping, state out loud, "Even though I have all of this stress, I deeply and completely love and accept myself." You should say the phrase once and tap on the karate chop until you have finished saying it. Some people prefer to say the words silently inside their minds. Either works.
  4. Move to the top of the head and tap it with two fingers while repeating the phrase above once.
  5. Next, repeatedly tap each point with two fingers in the following order while saying the phrase above. When finished with saying the statement one time, move on to the next point. The sequence goes like this:
    1. Top of head
    2. Inner eyebrow
    3. Side of the eye
    4. Under the eye
    5. Under the nose
    6. Chin point
    7. Inner collarbone
    8. Under the arm (on ribcage)
  6. Repeat steps three through five, but use this phrase while tapping: "All this stress I’m feeling."
  7. Repeat steps three through five again, but use this phrase while tapping: "Even though I have all this stress, what if I could release it? What would that feel like right now?"
  8. Repeat steps three through five again, but use this phrase while tapping: "I want to release the stress. I’m releasing the stress."
  9. Stop tapping and take three deep breaths in and out.
  10. On a scale of one to 10, rate how much stress you feel now that you’ve completed the tapping exercise. It should have reduced. If it’s still a high number, go through all the steps in the script again and see if tapping lowers it.

Other Ways to Reduce Stress

The emotional freedom technique isn’t the only way for you to reduce stress. You can also consider the other suggestions below.

Move Your Body

There’s nothing better than moving your body to forget about and relieve stress.[6] People tend to avoid exercise when under pressure. Remembering to move is essential for your health and overall well-being.

Stress-Relieving Supplements

Supplements made from herbs and vitamins are another way that I fight stress. I use tulsi[7] to relax naturally. Organic chamomile tea is also a great way to ease my mind.


In a way, EFT is a type of meditation since it relaxes you. Meditation is one of the best ways to lower stress.[8] I find that deep breathing exercises and mantras help calm my mind and make it easier to find that elusive inner peace. Another one of my favorites is doing a body scan meditation when I want to feel grounded.


Laughing brings enormous benefits to your health physically and psychologically. It reduces pain, reduces anxiety and depression, and eases stress.[9] Laughing works by reducing cortisol naturally, and has similar effects to exercise on the body.

Points to Remember

The emotional freedom technique (EFT) or tapping is a type of acupressure exercise with roots in traditional Chinese medicine. You use the fingertips to tap on specific meridian points (energy pathways) on your body while saying phrases out loud to promote healing.

Much evidence has shown that EFT can successfully ease depression, lessen anxiety, decrease pain, relieve PTSD symptoms, and reduce food cravings. You can use our easy-to-follow EFT script to tap or create your own. It’s such a simple, DIY self-help technique that it certainly can’t hurt to give it a try, especially if you are feeling stress and anxiety.

Other ways to lower stress include meditating, stress-relieving supplements like tulsi, moving your body, and laughing!

What about you? Have you ever tried emotional freedom techniques? What was your experience?

References (9)
  1. Church D, et al. Guidelines for the treatment of PTSD using clinical EFT (emotional freedom techniques). Healthcare (Basel). 2018;6(4):146.
  2. Aung SK, et al. Traditional Chinese medicine as a basis for treating psychiatric disorders: a review of theory with illustrative cases. Med Acupunct. 2013;25(6):398-406.
  3. Nelms JA, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized and nonrandomized trials of clinical emotional freedom techniques (EFT) for the treatment of depression. Explore (NY). 2016;12(6):416-426.
  4. Bach D, et al. Clinical EFT (emotional freedom techniques) improves multiple physiological markers of health. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2019;24:2515690X18823691.
  5. Church D, et al. Guidelines for the treatment of PTSD using clinical EFT (emotional freedom techniques). Healthcare (Basel). 2018;6(4):146.
  6. Stapleton P, et al. Online Delivery of emotional freedom techniques for food cravings and weight management: 2-year follow-up. J Altern Complement Med. 2020;26(2):98-106.
  7. Jamshidi N, Cohen MM. The clinical efficacy and safety of tulsi in humans: a systematic review of the literature. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:9217567.
  8. Feeling Stressed? Stress Relief Might Help Your Health. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dec. 2014. Accessed 12 June 2020.
  9. Louie D, et al. The laughter prescription: a tool for lifestyle medicine. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016 Jul-Aug; 10(4): 262-267.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.