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Release Emotional Pain from the Body by Using EFT

Purpose: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) may reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, phobias, and physical pain.


Over 100 clinical studies, including dozens of randomized controlled trials in peer-reviewed journals, show that Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a significantly effective treatment for anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, and physical pain. EFT works by removing stressful emotions from memories, and thereby alleviating physical symptoms that have an emotional component. There are several variations of EFT, but the one which has been primarily researched and is presented in this WavyFields topic is called Clinical EFT.


Clinical EFT involves the recall of a negative emotional experience, which is referred to as an exposure. The exposure is then paired with a new cognitive input of self-acceptance, such as “I deeply and completely accept myself.” Then, acupressure points on the body are tapped on while thinking of the exposure and the new cognitive input of self-acceptance. Acupressure points are areas of the body that stimulate a feeling of relaxation when tapped on. Nine acupressure points are tapped on during EFT. Please review the illustration below for the locations of these nine acupressure points:


The process of saying a new cognitive input of self-acceptance while tapping on acupressure points, diminishes the stress response that arises when recalling the exposure, regardless of how long-held the memory is. The stress response pathways that were associated with the exposure then diminish, releasing the physical sensations that were attached to it. Neurological research in a field called memory reconsolidation shows that there is a brief window between when a memory is recalled and when the emotions associated with it are triggered, during which time the emotion can be untagged. The untagging of the emotion and the insertion of the new cognitive input, while tapping on acupressure points, allows someone to recall the exposure without triggering a stress response. Once enough of the most disturbing exposures that created the symptom of anxiety, depression, PTSD, phobias, or physical pain are resolved, then the entire pattern of the symptom may diminish.

Practice: This practice can help someone release unprocessed emotions from the body.

To practice Clinical EFT, please try the following:


Step 1: Start by selecting a specific negative emotional experience (the exposure) to work on. Be as specific as possible. For example, “depression” is very general, whereas each individual experience that created the pattern of depression is specific. If necessary, dig deeper into each exposure by selecting “aspects” to focus on. An aspect can be one of the five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell that occurred in the exposure and creates a stress response.


Step 2: Rate the level of discomfort that is felt when recalling each exposure right now, on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being no discomfort and 10 being the most discomfort. In EFT therapy, this scale is referred to as Subjective Units of Discomfort (SUD). It is also worth noting where in the body the discomfort is felt right now.


Step 3: Create a Setup Statement. The first half of the Setup Statement contains a few words naming the specific negative emotional experience (the exposure) and the second part contains a self-acceptance affirmation (new cognitive input). The affirmation is designed to help someone accept themself just the way they are. For example, “even though (the exposure), I deeply and completely accept myself (new cognitive input).” 


Step 4: Use either hand to tap on the acupressure points on either side of the body. Use the illustration in the Background section above as a reference for where the acupressure points are located. 


Step 5: Begin tapping by using four fingers on one hand to tap on the pinkie finger side of the other hand. Say the Setup Statement empathetically (silently or out loud) three times while tapping here.


Step 6: Next, condense the Setup Statement into a Reminder Phrase, which consists of a few words that will help to remember the exposure. Continue saying the Reminder Phrase as the acupressure points are tapped on. For example, If someone has test-taking anxiety, the Reminder Phrase may be “The test” or “The test I get to take tomorrow, or “That test I failed.”


Step 7: Tap on the remaining 8 acupressure points while repeating the Reminder Phrase.

Step 8: Continue tapping for up to 10 rounds. Then, evaluate the current level of distress when thinking about the exposure. If the SUD rating is higher than is wanted, then do another 10 rounds and reevaluate. If another round of EFT is needed for the exposure, then consider changing the exposure in the Setup Statement. For example: “Even though I still have some anxiety about taking the test tomorrow, I completely and deeply accept myself.”

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