The purpose of this article is simply to help you get started using EFT and putting tapping into practice right now.
The Basic Tapping Sequence
EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques, plural. While there are many EFT protocols, we will begin with the Basic EFT shortcut method. This is the foundational approach which you will be using most of the time that allows you to focus on emotional blocks to a specific desired outcome. While many people have altered the technique to integrate other mind-body approaches into it, we offer it to you in a form that is best described as clinical EFT – the protocol that the majority of EFT scientific studies are based upon.
One of the reasons that EFT is so powerful is that it weaves together and integrates several elements of awareness; the cognitive (thoughts/beliefs), the emotional (feelings), somatic (body location and sensations) and the energetic (meridians).
Before you begin tapping, we are going to put several of these pieces into place. First, there is the creation of “the Set-Up Phrase,” which consists of the words you will be saying aloud while you tap. Let’s go over how to create that.
First Identify the Problem:
We all want to get over our problems! People use EFT for many reasons and often it’s to reduce stress or to change a behavior that is not working for them. Identifying one particular problem at a time is an important element for success. Effective EFT includes doing your best to get specific for what problem you wish to solve. The broader and more general a target, the less likely you are to see rapid improvements.
For example, you might be wanting to change your pattern of procrastinating. That is a great intention, but just tapping on being a procrastinator is far less effective than focusing on a specific example of it occurring in your life. Let’s say that you have a work project that is due tomorrow and you know it won’t be done in time and you will have to tell your boss it is not complete and you will have to ask her for an extension. This can be described as being a part of the cognitive element.
Secondly Identify the Emotion, Emotional Intensity and Body location:
Once you identify the target of your tapping, you will next want to explore the felt sense- how you experience the problem subjectively.
When thinking about the challenge, i.e. having to communicate with your boss tomorrow about not having your project complete, notice what you feel about it right now. EFT focuses on what are often called the “negative emotions” like anger, stress, guilt, shame, sadness, worry, doubt, frustration, grief etc. The truth is that no emotions are truly negative, and all emotions serve important purposes. What we are doing with EFT is helping those emotions to be felt and not get stagnant, blocking us from moving forward in our lives.
In this example, perhaps the best word to describe what you are feeling is worried. It is not uncommon to feel more than a single emotion i.e. worry and fear. For now, simply choose which single emotion that is highest or most intense. You can make a note of the other emotions and return to those later. So, let’s say that worry is the chosen emotional element. Once you have selected the emotion you wish to focus on and tap on, do your best to rate its intensity from 0 (no intensity) to 10 (extreme intensity). This number will help you to track the changes in intensity of the emotional focus and is commonly referred to as your SUD score (Subjective Units of Distress).
Next is the somatic element of EFT. In other words, where do you feel the emotion in your body? Perhaps you notice as you tune into the feeling of worry that you experience a constriction in your chest. Some people are more kinesthetic and notice these body-based elements to their emotions very easily; others do not. You may even notice that sometimes you do feel a body connection and other times you do not. For example, as you tune into the worry about asking for an extension, you notice that you are feeling a pressure sensation in your chest. We will be adding this element to the set-up phrase.
So far you have the first half of the statement which might sound like: Even though I feel worried in my chest thinking about tomorrow having to tell my boss that I’m behind and haven’t completed my project.
Lastly Create Your Self-Acceptance/Affirmation Phrase:
The final piece of the set-up statement that needs to be created is the self-acceptance statement. The most commonly used phrase and the one most documented in the research literature is I deeply and completely accept myself. Of course, there are times when that is not congruent with how we experience ourselves and it needs to be altered. Other options are I accept myself or I accept that’s how I feel, or I am open to the possibility that I can accept myself or I am learning to accept myself.
So in this example the final set-up phrase could sound like: Even though I feel worried in my chest thinking about tomorrow having to tell my boss that I’m behind and haven’t completed my project I deeply and completely accept myself.
A Tip: Try to keep your set-up statement focused and not overly wordy as it may get hard to remember and repeat and too much verbiage will tend to lose the focus on the emotion you are working to reduce the intensity of.
How Do I Tap?
After creating your set-up statement you tap on the side-of-hand point repeatedly and gently (you can tap at your own pace and as many times as you like, the standard recommendation has been about seven times) saying the statement aloud while tapping 3 times. Then tap (again seven or even fewer times is just fine) on the face and upper body points cascading from the top down: top of head, eyebrow, side of eye, under eye, under nose, chin point, collarbones and under arm points. While tapping on these acupoints say aloud either “this ____ emotion” or “this_____ emotion in my _____.” So, the example would sound like: “this worry” or “this worry in my chest.”
After completing a round, take a moment to check in with yourself and reconsider the focused example of what you are tapping on. Notice what changed. If the SUD level reduced, great! Continue another round with “Even though I still have some remaining (worry) in my chest, I deeply and completely accept myself, or whatever your specific words were. If the SUD level stayed the same, no worries, this is quite normal. Try to see if you can be a bit more specific to what you are feeling or thinking about. If the SUD level increased, this also is a normal circumstance especially as a person goes from thinking generally about the tapping focus and begins to really tune into it and sometimes the intensity temporarily increases. Adjust your set up as needed especially if what emerges is a Shifting Aspect. This is what we refer to a change or shift to a new and different emotion or a different body sensation/location or even if you starting thinking about an entirely different scenario in which you then need to create a new set up statement.
EFT is incredibly forgiving, so even if you forget a point, it still works. If you even forget the words, just keep tapping the points even silently, and you will likely still notice a reduction in intensity. That being said, can you tap on everything and anything that bothers you? Well you could, but as a beginner trying to tap on emotionally intense or traumatic situations in your life can feel overwhelming and you may feel a like of progress or even worse afterwards. That is a sign that you really should be getting the help of a certified practitioner who can gently and skillfully guide you on your path and process.
Written by Craig Weiner, DC
Craig is a certified master trainer of trainers as designated by EFT International. Together with his wife Alina Frank, they direct the EFT Tapping Training Institute and offer in person and online continuing education trainings and workshops to professionals who are learning EFT and desiring certification credentials.