Young Adult Mental Health & Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

What Is Emotional Freedom Technique?

Emotional Freedom Technique, commonly referred to as EFT, is a tapping technique used as an alternative therapy for mental health conditions. By tapping specific points on the body while focusing on the emotional issues they’re addressing, people often feel relief from psychological pain and stress. Below, we provide a more in-depth answer to the question of what is Emotional Freedom Technique, and look at research on its effectiveness.

When to Seek Help

If you or someone you love is experiencing intense sadness, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, or inability to function at work or in school, now is the time to seek help without delay. While working with EFT tapping points can be helpful for young adults during stressful times, it’s not enough support for someone struggling with anxiety, depression, or trauma. However, EFT tapping technique, either taught as a healthy coping skill that can be self-administered or done by a trained EFT practitioner, can be a beneficial part of a treatment plan for young adults.   

Know the Facts

Emotional Freedom Technique research has shown that the method is effective for a wide range of mental health issues, including trauma and PTSD, anxiety, depression, phobias and substance use disorder 

What Is Is Emotional Freedom Technique and How Does It Work?

Emotional Freedom Technique was created in the 1990s by Gary Craig. Like acupuncture and acupressure, it utilizes points along the body’s energy meridians—the “highways” or channels through which the body’s energy flows, according to Chinese medicine. For that reason, EFT tapping is sometimes called “psychological acupressure.”

According to the theory behind EFT, activating these meridian points by tapping them with the fingertips helps restore the balance of energy in the body. In this way, the tapping technique can alleviate both emotional and physical issues. The EFT methodology also draws from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and exposure therapy, by pairing the tapping with focused thoughts about a specific issue or traumatic experience.

“Often with specific anxiety, the patients are aware of the events or memories that trigger the discomfort. Using EFT, the patient revisits the event(s) in question, the energy meridians are thus re-disturbed, and then the physical symptoms caused by that particular disturbance can be healed by correcting the meridians with EFT.

EFT founder Gary Craig

What to Expect

Emotional Freedom Technique involves activating EFT tapping points for anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other issues, while incorporating focused thinking and specific phrases. Below are the steps that are taken within an EFT sequence.

  1. Identify a particular issue that is causing distress.
  2. Rank the emotional (or physical) intensity of the issue on a scale of zero to 10.
  3. Formulate a simple phrase that names the issue and also includes an expression of self-acceptance or self-compassion despite the issue.
  4. While repeating the phrase, tap on Emotional Freedom Technique tapping points on the head, collarbone, and under the arm, using a specific sequence. Use two or more fingertips and tap five times on each point.
  5. Re-test the intensity.
  6. Repeat the steps until the intensity is minimal or no longer improves.

What to Expect with an Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner

EFT can be either self-administered or facilitated by a practitioner with Emotional Freedom Technique training. A practitioner may administer the tapping, or they may guide the client through the tapping technique verbally. A trained EFT practitioner can help a client uncover the core issue that is troubling them and formulate the most effective phrase addressing the issue.

EFT practitioners, also called tapping practitioners, are usually psychologists, therapists, or counselors who use tapping points for anxiety, trauma, or depression as part of their repertoire of therapeutic modalities. Professional coaches may also use EFT as a way to help clients break through self-limiting beliefs or challenges that keep them from reaching their goals.

Emotional Freedom Technique Research

A number of studies have been done on the efficacy of this tapping technique since its creation some 30 years ago. Here is a sampling of Emotional Freedom Technique research:

  • A 2016 review of 20 EFT studies found that it reduced depressive symptoms in a variety of populations and settings. 
  • In an EFT study done in 2019, participants experienced significant decreases in anxiety, depression, and PTSD, as well as a significant increase in happiness.
  • Research from 2016 found that the tapping technique was highly effective for relieving anxiety.
  • Two-thirds of practitioners in a 2016 study on EFT for PTSD reported that even complex PTSD cases could be relieved in 10 or fewer EFT sessions. 
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Care at Newport Institute

At Newport Institute, young adults’ tailored treatment plans include a variety of evidence-based modalities. Some individuals may respond better to cognitive therapy like CBT or DBT, while others find a somatic (body-based) modality like Emotional Freedom Technique tapping is more effective.

Our approach is customized to meet the needs of each young adult and address their personal and family history, as well as their current circumstances and challenges. Along with group and individual therapy, clients also strengthen life skills and executive functioning in our Learning Labs.

Contact us today to learn more about Newport Institute’s specialized care for young adults during this pivotal time of life.

Newport Institute

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