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EFT Research Paper

A Phenomenological Enquiry into How Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Practitioners Conduct Surrogate EFT

Just note: Free access to complete PDF of the study

This research paper was written by Sunita Pattani as part of her MSc. disertation in association with the Professional Development Foundation (PDF),Middlesex University, September 2019

The paper has not at this time been published in a formal publication. I have included it in this database as there is a paucity of writing on this subject.


Surrogate EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a distance healing energy psychology technique which involves an individual tapping on their acupressure points for the benefit of another. Whilst cases of surrogate EFT have been documented, not much is known about practitioner experiences. This study is a phenomenological enquiry into how EFT practitioners conduct surrogate EFT, with the aim being to elicit lived experiences as well as protocols being used. The research method employed was an interpretative phenomenological analysis, in which six participants were interviewed using a semistructured interview approach. Interview transcripts were carefully analysed, resulting in the emergence of seven themes: 1) protocols; 2) connection; 3) physical experiences; 4) practitioner skills; 5) permission; 6) practitioner beliefs and 7) contraindications. The findings suggest that conducting surrogate EFT is a multi-faceted procedure, going far beyond just a step-by-step protocol. The findings have revealed a transpersonal aspect, with many of the lived experiences described being similar to those experienced by spiritual mediums. Whilst further consideration still needs to be given to the ethical framework and practitioner safety, the insight provided by both the lived experiences and the specific protocols used, provide the foundation for developing a standardised protocol for further systematic studies.

Craig’s Notes:

I was intrigued by the subject matter and thought the best way to present her findings as they were reports based upon the subjective experiences of the six experienced practitioners, am presenting a summary of some of the author’s study highlights:

  • In recent years reports of “surrogate tapping” have emerged, during which the practitioner taps on him or herself and applies other elements of energy psychology protocols as if he or she is the person whose problem is being addressed, all the while holding the intention of helping that person (Feinstein, 2013). Surrogate EFT can be considered as a form of distant healing, which is defined as, “a conscious dedicated act of mentation attempting to benefit another person’s physical or emotional wellbeing at a distance” (Sicher et al., 1998, p.356).
  • The other major literature contribution comes from Feinstein (2013)… 193 unique cases were identified, with 100 of these cases meeting the following criteria:
    1) A “sender” had applied an energy psychology protocol to him or herself with the
    intention of being helpful to the “receiver.”
    2) The sender did not physically tap on the receiver, but may have been in the same
    room, or the two may have been isolated by distance.
    3) The receiver did not apply the protocol to him or herself.
    4) The positive outcome was attributed to the surrogate tapping.
  • This study can be a: first step towards establishing a standard protocol required for conducting systematic studies into the efficacy of surrogate EFT at a later stage.
  • Seven themes were identified that were of particular relevance to the research question: 1. Protocols; 2. Connection; 3. Physical Experiences; 4. Practitioner skills; 5. Permission; 6.Practitioner beliefs and 7. Contraindications.
  • She describes a 3 step process used by several of the 6 participants: 1. The three steps consisted of the practitioner tapping on themselves whilst either,“talking about” the issue, 2. The second step involved “talking to” the client who was receiving the surrogate tapping, (although it should be noted that the receiver didn’t have to be present) and 3. The third step involved “talking as if” the practitioner was the client.
  • The data analysis revealed 4 skills that practitioners felt were necessary to employ whilst conducting surrogate EFT: 1) non-attachment to the outcome, 2) not overthinking the process, 3) non-judgment, and, 4) use of intuition.
  • Regarding Permission: All participants addressed permission in some way, however their views and protocols did differ. Permission was either sought directly in-person, or “energetically”, in the mind’s eye, with some participants using both approaches…Not all participants had clear-cut guidelines on asking for permission; for example, whilst participant 1 specified that permission was sought at the beginning of her protocol, she also stated that she relied on her gut instinct when it came to asking for permission. Both participants 1 and 5 also stated that they used muscle testing* to ascertain whether permission had been granted…Not all participants however, shared this view.
  • Regarding Contraindications: The data revealed three contraindications, (situations in which surrogate EFT should not be used). Firstly, to be mindful of one’s energy. Participant 6 felt that because surrogate EFT was affecting one’s energy field, practitioners should be mindful of not going in and causing harm. Secondly, participant 5 mentioned, “don’t go where you don’t belong”, emphasising the importance of a practitioner being ready to conduct surrogate EFT by working on oneself before entering another’s energy field. Finally, the third contraindication was not changing somebody else for one’s own benefit.