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EFT Research Paper

Words to Tap By: The Use of Language in Energy Psychology Protocols

Citation: Feinstein, D., Words to Tap By: The Use of Language in Energy Psychology Protocols, Journal of Energy Psychology, Volume 11, Number 1, May 2019, p. 2-16,


Most Energy Psychology protocols include a component in which the client is guided in the use of personally tailored wording related to a target problem or goal. These phrases are stated simultaneously with the stimulation of selected acupuncture points (acupoints) via tapping. Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and its popular derivative, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), are the most well-known variations of the acupoint tapping approaches. These therapies have been validated for their efficacy and unusual speed in resolving psychological and physical conditions in more than 100 clinical trials and several meta-analyses. Clinicians and life coaches wanting to incorporate acupoint tapping into their practices can readily learn the basic protocols but are often unsure about how to formulate the most effective wording to accompany the client’s self-tapping. This paper presents a qualitative analysis of videotaped statements that were judged to move the treatment forward in relationship to three process outcomes: (a) the statement resulted in the practitioner becoming better attuned to the client’s intentions for and experience with the therapy, (b) it explored the issues relevant to the client’s needs and goals in order to deepen both the client’s and the practitioner’s understanding of them, and/or (c) it led the client toward more effective ways of addressing pertinent issues. These three categories—attune, explore, lead—were derived from the 62 therapeutic functions of language that were identified as the videotaped wording was being coded. The list is only an initial formulation, based on one clinician’s sessions as analyzed by that clinician. It is intended as a first step toward a more comprehensive investigation of the use of language in Energy Psychology sessions, its impact on client outcomes, and its implications for practitioner training.

Craig’s Comments:

This paper is written by psychologist and researcher David Feinstein, PhD. It is a summary of his personal and professional exploration in working with EP clients over the past several decades and draws from his rich and diverse background in many psychological theories and technique/approaches. I was privileged to review the transcript and offer suggestions prior to publication.

While I have particular leanings and preferences as a teacher and trainer of EP protocols (EFT and Matrix Reimprinting) that may or may not be completely in alignment with all of David’s suggestions, there is a wealth of material in this published article and here is but one snippet of useful offerings:

Targeted Outcomes for Acupoint Tapping Based on the ACEP Practitioner Survey:

  • Eliminating an unwanted physiological/emotional response to a specified trigger
  • Eliminating an unwanted physiological/emotional response to a traumatic or otherwise difficult memory
  • Eliminating a maladaptive belief about self or how the world operates
  • Eliminating a maladaptive behavior habit
  • Eliminating emotional obstacles to reaching a desired goal
  • Shifting an unwanted baseline affective state (e.g., depression, generalized anxiety)
  • Establishing and reinforcing beliefs and behaviors that overcome a problem or support a desired goal.

This is an unusual article for the field and so I felt it important to post in this directory.