Benefits and Uses of EFT Tapping

Tapping is a type of alternative therapy used to enhance emotional health. By tapping fingers on specific points on the body, practitioners are thought to clear away negative emotions.

A form of energy healing, tapping includes such therapies as Emotional Freedom Technique (also known as "EFT tapping"), Progressive Emotional Release, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Neuro-Emotional Technique, and Thought Field Therapy.

A man talking to his doctor on couch
 Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

How Tapping Works

Tapping therapies generally focus on the same points used in acupuncture and acupressure. According to practitioners, each of these points lie on meridians through which the body's energy flows.

While negative emotions are thought to cause blockages in the flow of energy, tapping on these points is said to clear up such blockages and release the negative feelings.

When practicing tapping therapy, individuals typically target a specific emotion that they wish to release. Focusing on a positive affirmation while tapping on the specified point is thought to enhance emotional healing.

Uses 

In alternative medicine, tapping is used to treat the following problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Stress

Tapping is also said to help promote recovery from traumatic events, alcoholism, and addiction, as well as improve well-being in people struggling with illness or chronic pain.

Benefits

While research on the health effects of tapping is fairly limited, there's some evidence that tapping may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available studies on tapping.

Stress

Tapping may help reduce stress, according to a study published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease in 2012. For the study, researchers assigned 83 people to an hour-long EFT tapping session, an hour-long psychotherapy session, or no treatment. Results revealed that those assigned to EFT tapping experienced a significant decrease in their levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as significant improvements in anxiety and mood.

Anxiety

In a 2012 study of 45 people with anxiety disorders published in the journal Explore, researchers found that participants treated with Thought Field Therapy experienced significantly greater improvements in anxiety symptoms than study members assigned to no treatment.

A 2016 review of 14 studies affirmed these results. The analysis included 658 subjects and found EFT treatment was associated with a significant decrease in anxiety scores. However, the study authors noted more research is needed to compare EFT to standard treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Pain

Several studies indicate that tapping may be of some benefit to people with chronic pain. In a 2008 study published in Chiropractic & Osteopathy, for instance, Neuro-Emotional Technique was found to improve symptoms in individuals with chronic neck pain. The study involved 60 chronic neck pain sufferers.

In addition, a 2013 study published in Explore found that EFT tapping may be beneficial for people suffering from tension headaches. Involving 35 participants with chronic tension headaches, the study determined that EFT tapping helped reduce headache frequency and intensity.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

EFT appears to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well. A 2017 survey of 448 EFT practitioners found that more than 60% of veterans with PTSD who were treated with EFT were relieved of their symptoms in 10 sessions or less.

The study authors recommend EFT should be used in addition to group therapy, online self-help resources, and social support. People with subclinical PTSD should be treated with five EFT sessions while those with clinical PTSD should be treated with 10 sessions.

Alternatives 

A number of alternative therapies may be helpful in improving your emotional health. For instance, studies show that massage therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, guided imagery, and meditation may have positive effects on emotional well-being.

Physical exercise, whether vigorous aerobic activity or more moderate forms of exercise such as tai chi, yoga, and qi gong, has also been shown to have measurable effects on mood and overall well-being.

Caveats

It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition (such as depression) with tapping and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it, talk with your doctor first.

Working With a Tapping Practitioner

Although tapping can be performed on your own, working with a qualified practitioner is important for learning and understanding tapping techniques.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bach D, Groesbeck G, Stapleton P, Sims R, Blickheuser K, Church D. Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2019;24:2515690X18823691. doi:10.1177/2515690X18823691

  2. Bablis P, Pollard H. Anxiety and depression profile of 188 consecutive new patients presenting to a Neuro-Emotional Technique practitioner. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15(2):121–7. doi:10.1089/acm.2007.0805

  3. Church D, Yount G, Brooks AJ. The effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: a randomized controlled trial. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012;200(10):891–6. doi:10.1097/NMD.0b013e31826b9fc1

  4. Irgens A, Dammen T, Nysæter TE, Hoffart A. Thought Field Therapy (TFT) as a treatment for anxiety symptoms: a randomized controlled trial. Explore (NY). 2012;8(6):331–8. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2012.08.002

  5. Clond M. Emotional freedom techniques for anxiety: a systematic review with meta-analysis. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2016;204(5):388–95. doi:10.1097/NMD.0000000000000483

  6. Bablis P, Pollard H, Bonello R. Neuro Emotional Technique for the treatment of trigger point sensitivity in chronic neck pain sufferers: a controlled clinical trial. Chiropr Osteopat. 2008;16:4. doi:10.1186/1746-1340-16-4

  7. Bougea AM, Spandideas N, Alexopoulos EC, Thomaides T, Chrousos GP, Darviri C. Effect of the emotional freedom technique on perceived stress, quality of life, and cortisol salivary levels in tension-type headache sufferers: a randomized controlled trial. Explore (NY). 2013 ;9(2):91–9. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2012.12.005

  8. Church D, Stern S, Boath E, Stewart A, Feinstein D, Clond M. Emotional freedom techniques to treat posttraumatic stress disorder in veterans: review of the evidence, survey of practitioners, and proposed clinical guidelines. Perm J. 2017;21:16-100. doi:10.7812/TPP/16-100

  9. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. About mind-body therapies.

  10. Chekroud SR, Gueorguieva R, Zheutlin AB, et al. Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study. Lancet Psychiatry. 2018;5(9):739-746. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30227-X