Emotional Freedom Technique is a psychotherapeutic tool that intends to relieve many psychological conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, general stress, addictions and phobias. The basic EFT technique involves holding a disturbing memory or emotion in mental focus and simultaneously using the fingers to tap on a series of 12 specific points on the body that correspond to meridians used in Chinese medicine.
The theory behind EFT is that negative emotions are caused by disturbances in the body’s “energy field,” and that tapping on the meridians while thinking of a negative emotion alters the body’s energy field, restoring it to “balance.” EFT has been described as pseudo scientific by some critics, while others have suggested that its utility stems from its more traditional components, rather than from manipulation of energy meridians.
The EFT technique has been very successful in helping riders with many diverse issues. See professional for information.
See EFT website.
More on EFT
The Science Behind EFT
An Engineer Looks at the Science of Psychology
This course is written by a Stanford engineer. I’m not a psychologist with a long list of initials behind my name. People call me Gary and not Dr. so and so. If you are a conventional thinker, that might bother you. After all, what business does an engineer have intruding into the field of psychology? The physical sciences and the mind sciences appear to have nothing in common. True. But 40 years ago I realized that the quality of one’s life was directly related to their emotional health. Emotional health is the foundation beneath self-confidence and self confidence is the springboard to achievement in every walk of life. This is not a new idea, of course. Virtually everyone agrees with it and the self-help section in every major bookstore is burgeoning with books on the subject.
Most people take this idea for granted and read a book or attend a seminar on it now and then. But I took it seriously…very seriously. As long as I’m going to spend a few decades on this planet I might as well make it a joyous experience for myself and others. So I went on a 40-year search to find tools that would help people in this regard. I read all those books (by the hundreds) and spent thousands of dollars on seminars and tapes. I chased down every lead I could find with the enthusiasm of a newspaper reporter on the hunt for that “big story.” I talked to psychiatrists and psychologists and psychotherapists of every kind to find what worked. And EFT, by far, is the most fascinating, most rewarding, most effective tool I have ever found for personal improvement. It lives up to its name and does, indeed, provide freedom from negative emotions. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I want to trace through some of the milestones of my search because they form an important base on which to build your introduction to this ingenious discovery.
First, please understand that I have never formally used my training as an engineer. I have always chosen people oriented professions and have, at the same time, always pursued my true passion as a Personal Performance Coach. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t influenced by my scientific training. Indeed, that training led me to many useful personal performance tools. You see, engineering is an exact science. It is very practical. Two plus two must equal four. There is a reason for everything. Logic tends to rule in the thinking of an engineer. So, when I set out to find personal improvement tools I took that mindset with me. To me a tool had to make sense…it had to be practical…it had to be scientific. In short…if it didn’t work in the real world I wasn’t interested. So I began reading those books and attending seminars on psychology. It was the “logical” thing to do. But psychology was a puzzle to me. I was looking for the same logic and precision that I was used to as an engineer but it didn’t seem to be there.
After many years of probing the institution known as psychology I can assure you that the science of engineering and the science of psychology bear little relationship to each other. On the surface, psychology seems to be very scientific. There are laboratories in nearly every major university in America dedicated to research on psychological issues. Theories are put forward and rigorously tested. “Controlled” studies are done to assure the findings are valid. These studies then form the basis of carloads of professional papers written by the most highly esteemed practitioners in the field. It all seems very impressive and, in many ways, it is. All this research does uncover many valuable aspects to our thinking process and our behaviors. They are used effectively in sales and advertising and many other fields. But the vast majority of them do very little to give people rapid, long lasting relief from their emotional problems. I know that sounds a little irreverent and I mean no one disrespect. But by an engineer’s standards…that is a very true statement. There are some exceptions, of course, but the vast majority of the conventional techniques have poor track records.
Please understand, this is not a criticism of psychotherapists. I find the members of that profession to be among the most dedicated people on earth and I count many of them as my personal friends. They are very caring individuals who have great concerns for their patients. They work long hours and are constantly seeking new ways to improve on the tools they have been given to work with. EFT is a new tool for their “people helping toolbox” that contains a distinctly scientific component. That scientific component would satisfy even the most demanding engineer. It has to improve any therapist’s performance. Some people undergo therapy for months or years for relief from their fears, anger, guilt, grief, depression, traumatic memories, etc. and make little or no headway. So they switch therapists in hopes someone else has “the answer.” The results are often the same. They switch again…and again…and again. They spend money. They spend time. They go through emotionally painful sessions. But if anything positive happens for most of these people, it doesn’t appear to be much.
I found this rather curious. To me there was something obviously wrong with the methods used because (1) they weren’t working (at least by my standards) and (2) they were painfully slow. So I asked therapists and patients, “Why does it take so long to do so little?” The answers varied, of course, but generally speaking they went something like this…. **”Well, the problem is deeply ingrained” or **”It is a deep scar” or **”We don’t know for sure…we are dealing with the mysteries of the mind, you know.” My engineering mind tossed these answers out immediately as convenient ways to explain away, or rationalize, methods that just didn’t do much. But to most people they sounded good. They sounded reasonable. So they were accepted and pursued. Besides, what else could be done? Real answers weren’t available.
Also, I don’t mean to imply here that no one gets any help or relief from therapy. That just isn’t so. Some do. But in general it is among the slowest, most ineffective sciences on earth. To this engineer the only scientific laboratory that counts is the real world and there is only one criteria for whether or not a given psychological theory is valid. Namely….does it work for the client? If an engineer designs a computer, for example, it had better work in the real world and work perfectly. Otherwise, consumers will return it promptly for a refund and may send a nasty letter to boot. In emotional health, however, if a new method seems to work once in a while (and as long as it is not too radical) it is often heralded as a breakthrough and the discoverer of the method gets rich by writing books and giving lectures. Interesting…but that’s the way it is.
In the early years of my search for personal improvement tools I considered getting degrees in psychology. But the more I was exposed to that field the more I concluded that to do so would work to my disadvantage. Why? Because I would have to learn about methods that didn’t work…at least by my standards. I just couldn’t see the merits in going through all that schooling to learn something that, to me, was of questionable value. It would, paradoxically, distract me from my true goal of finding personal improvement tools that work. As the years went by I discovered a list of helpful tools that I used for myself and taught to others. None of them, incidentally, came from psychology text books. They were all well received and effective when properly applied. One of the tools that I thought was quite helpful was euro Linguistic Programming (also known as NLP). I dove into that head first and became quite proficient at it. I became certified as a Master Practitioner and helped a lot of people with it. I recommend anyone study it who is interested in personal improvement.
Then my search for reliable personal improvement tools took a mega jump to a new level. I was told about a psychologist in Southern California, Dr. Roger Callahan, who was giving people relief from intense fears (phobias) in minutes. So, ever the eager beaver, I called him immediately to inquire of his methods. He told me that his methods weren’t limited to just phobias. They applied to all negative emotions. That included depression, guilt, anger, grief, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and any other negative emotion I could name. Furthermore, the method usually only took minutes to perform and the result was usually permanent.
On the one hand I was enthusiastic about his claims. But I must also admit to a fair amount of skepticism as well. The statement sounded a bit grandiose…even to me. But I was still listening. Then he told me the method consisted of tapping with the fingertips at the end points of the body’s energy meridians. “You mean meridians like in acupuncture?”, I said. “Exactly,” he replied. “Hmmm”, I thought, “That’s a little far out.” Here was a PhD making some startling claims and trying to explain them in terms of the subtle amounts of electricity that circulate throughout the body. Psychology and electricity seemed rather far apart to me but I bought some of his videos anyway so I could see a demonstration. I was stunned by what I saw. Clearly and obviously people were getting beyond the most intense of emotions and they were doing so in moments and…the results were long lasting. I had never seen anything close to this, anywhere.
I still didn’t see the connection between emotions and the body’s energy system but it did have a scientific ring to me. Perhaps I was about to find a truly scientific approach to psychology. Indeed, that is what I found. The true cause of negative emotions, it turns out, is not where everyone thinks it is. It is not where psychologists have been looking. That’s why they haven’t found it. They have been looking in the wrong place. The cause of all negative emotions is involved with the body’s energy system. This is an important, paradigm-shifting concept…even though it sounds a bit strange. But the proof is in the results. For me, the only laboratory that counts is the real world and that is where these techniques excel.
You will see that repeatedly throughout the live tapes included with this course. The speed, efficiency and long lasting nature of these techniques is far beyond anything I have come across in 40 years of intensive searching. This discovery is the engine that runs EFT. Without it, this course wouldn’t exist. So to better build your understanding we need to focus a bit on that vital energy system.
The Body’s Energy System
Our bodies have a profound electrical nature. Any beginning course in anatomy covers this. Shuffle your feet across a carpet and then touch an item made of metal. Sometimes you can see the static electricity that is discharged from your fingertip. This wouldn’t be possible unless your body had an electrical nature to it. If you touch a hot stove you will feel the pain instantly because it is electrically transmitted along the nerves to your brain. The pain travels at the speed of electricity and that is why you feel pain so quickly. Electrical messages are constantly sent throughout your body to keep it informed of what is going on. Without this energy flow you would not be able to see, hear, feel, taste or smell. Another obvious bit of evidence regarding the existence of electricity (energy) in the body are the electroencephalograph (EEG) and electrocardiograph (EKG). The EEG records the electrical activity of the brain and the EKG records the electrical activity of the heart. These devices have been used by medical science for decades and are the ones you see in TV hospital dramas hooked up to dying patients. When the screen stops “blipping” the patient is dead. Our electrical systems are vital to our physical health. What could be more obvious? When the energy stops flowing, we die. Ask your doctor about this. No one disputes it. In fact, civilization has known about this for millenniums.
About 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered a complex system of energy circuits that run throughout the body. These energy circuits…or meridians as they are called…are the centerpiece of Eastern health practices and form the basis for modern day acupuncture, acupressure and a wide variety of other healing techniques. This energy courses through the body and is invisible to the eye. It cannot be seen without high tech equipment. By analogy, you do not see the energy flowing through a TV set either. You know it is there, however, by its effects. The sounds and pictures are your ever present evidence that the energy flow exists. In the same way, EFT gives you striking evidence that energy flows within your body because it provides the effects that let you know it is there. By simply tapping near the end points of your energy meridians you can experience some profound changes in your emotional and physical health. These changes would not occur if there was no energy system. Western medical science tends to focus on the chemical nature of the body and has not paid much attention to these subtle, but powerful, energy flows until recent years. However, they do exist and are attracting an expanding group of researchers.
Read the following for more details:
**Becker, Robert O. and Selden, Gary. The Body Electric. Morrow, NY, 1985
**Becker, Robert O. Crosscurrents. Tarcher, NY, 1992
**Burr, H.S. Blueprint for immortality: the electric patterns of life. Neville Spearman, London, 1972
**Nordenstrom, B. Biologically closed electric circuits: clinical, experimental and theoretical evidence for an additional circulatory system. Nordic, Stockholm, 1983.
A growing number of health practitioners are finding ways to use this vital energy system to help physical healing. Acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic are but a few of them. Bookstore shelves are loaded with books on energy meridian techniques to promote good physical health.
Dr. Callahan’s First Experience
The science behind EFT was not developed like many other discoveries. That is, it was not created in a laboratory and then tested in the real world. Instead, a stunning turn of events in the real world pointed the way first. Here’s the story. In 1980 Dr. Roger Callahan was working with a patient, Mary, for an intense water phobia. She suffered from frequent headaches and terrifying nightmares, both of which were related to her fear of water. To seek help, she had been going from therapist to therapist for years with no material improvement. Dr. Callahan tried to help her by conventional means for a year and a half. He didn’t make much headway either. Then one day he stepped outside the normal “boundaries” of psychotherapy. Out of curiosity, he had been studying the body’s energy system and decided to tap with his fingertips under her eyes (an end point of the stomach meridian). This was prompted by her complaint of some stomach discomfort. To his astonishment, she announced immediately that her phobia was gone and she raced down to a nearby swimming pool and began throwing water in her face. No fear. No headaches. It all went away….including the nightmares. And it has never returned. She is totally free of her water phobia. Results like that are rare in the field of psychotherapy…but commonplace with EFT.
The Discovery Statement Now, with this in mind, here’s the essence behind EFT. We will refer to it henceforth as the “Discovery Statement.” Let’s put this in terms of Mary’s water phobia. When she was experiencing her fear, the energy flowing through her stomach meridian was disrupted. That energy imbalance is what was causing her emotional intensity. Tapping under her eyes sent pulses through the meridian and fixed the disruption. It balanced it out. Once the energy meridian was balanced the emotional intensity….the fear….went away. Therein lays the most powerful thing you are ever going to learn about your unwanted emotions. They are caused by energy disruptions.
Now, let’s examine the discovery statement in more detail. First, notice what it does not say. It does not say that a negative emotion is caused by the memory of a past traumatic experience. This is important to recognize because that presumed connection of traumatic memories to negative emotions is a mainstay in conventional psychotherapy. In some circles, it is the accepted practice to “treat the memory” and, in the process, ask the client to repeatedly relive some emotionally painful event. EFT, by contrast, respects the memory but addresses the true cause….a disruption in the body’s energy system. People call me from all over the country for help over the telephone. Without my asking, they invariably start telling me in detail about their past traumas. That’s because they mistakenly believe I need all these details to help them. To them, these memories are the cause of their problems.
I care deeply about helping people who needlessly carry around all these emotionally charged memories. That’s why I created this course. But it always seems strange to people when I tell them they don’t need to painfully relive all those horrid details for EFT to help them. These memories may contribute to an unwanted emotion (you’ll see how later), but they are not the direct cause. Accordingly, we don’t need to spend time painfully dwelling on them. It is superfluous to do so. Thus there is relatively little emotional suffering involved with EFT. It is relatively painless. You will be asked to briefly recall your problem (there may be some discomfort in that), but that is all. There is no need to relive the pain.
In fact, with EFT, generating prolonged emotional discomfort is frowned upon. This is but one example of where EFT is a radical departure from conventional methods. As a further aid to your learning, it might help if you compare the energy flow in your body to that of a TV set. As long as the electricity flows through your TV normally, the sound and picture are both clear. But what would happen if you took off the back of the TV set and poked a screwdriver amongst all that “electronic spaghetti?” You would, quite obviously, disrupt or reroute the flow of electricity and an electric “zzzzzt” would occur inside. The picture and sound would become erratic The Discovery Statement “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system. 1 8 How a negative emotion is caused Distressing Memory Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 The Intermediate Step “zzzzzt” A disruption in the body’s energy system Negative Emotion and the TV would exhibit its version of a “negative emotion.” In the same manner, when our energy systems become imbalanced, we have an electrical “zzzzzt” effect going on inside. Straighten out this “zzzzzt” (by tapping—sometimes skillful artistry is necessary—see the tapes) and the negative emotion goes away. It’s that simple. I’m well aware of how strange this may sound and how difficult it can be to believe….at least at first.
I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t seen so many marvelous changes in people after applying these techniques. The intermediate step…the missing piece. Once you accept it, though….once you “let it in”….its logic becomes undeniable. It becomes obvious and you begin to see all the weaknesses in other methods. For example, the “treat the memory” method mentioned above becomes glaringly erroneous in the light of these discoveries. It is assumed, in that method, that the past traumatic memory is the direct cause of the emotional upset in someone. It is not. There is an intermediate step…a missing piece…between the memory and the emotional upset. And that intermediate step, of course, is the disruption in the body’s energy system. It is that disruption, the “zzzzzt”, that is the direct cause of the emotional upset. This is portrayed graphically below.
Please note that if step 2, the intermediate step, does not occur then step 3 is impossible . In other words…if the memory does not cause a disruption in the body’s energy system then the negative emotion cannot occur. That is why some people are bothered by their memories and others are not. The difference is that some people have a tendency for their energy systems to become imbalanced under such a memory, while others do not. With this in mind, it is easy to see how the “treat the memory” method misses the mark. It addresses step 1 and ignores step 2. This is why some people tend to get worse when conventional psychology aims for the memory and not its cause (the energy disruption).
Addressing step 1 by requiring someone to vividly relive a distressing memory serves to induce more disruption in the energy system. And that means more pain, not less. It can, and often does, aggravate the problem. If step 2 was addressed instead of step 1, then there would be relatively little pain. The energy system would be balanced (by appropriate tapping) and internal calm would replace the negative emotion. The result would be rapid relief because the true cause was being addressed. This happens repeatedly with EFT. Now back again to the “Discovery Statement.” Please notice that it is all inclusive. It says, “The cause of ALL negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.” This includes fears, phobias, anger, grief, anxiety, depression, traumatic memories, PTSD, worry, guilt and all limiting emotions in sports, business and the performing arts.
That’s a comprehensive list and covers just about every restrictive emotion we can experience. Differently stated, this means that all these negative emotions have the same cause….an electrical “zzzzzt” in the body. It also means…they can all be relieved in a similar manner. Thus, grief has the same basic cause as trauma, guilt, fear and a baseball player’s hitting slump. So the same general method can be used for all these problems. This “one cause” idea is also a blessing for mental health professionals. They are accustomed to an endless, ever changing number of explanations for the seemingly countless emotional concerns of their clients. To learn that there is only one cause greatly simplifies their efforts.
Can you diagnose for energy imbalances? Yes, the existence of any energy imbalance can be detected using some unique muscle testing diagnostic techniques. Anyone skilled in these techniques could discern which energy meridian(s) were out of balance and would then know precisely where to tap—at least that’s the theory. You need to know, though, that muscle testing requires a great deal of practice and very few become skillful at it. An end run around diagnosis. However, you don’t have to know anything about diagnosis to have success with EFT. This is my contribution to these discoveries.
EFT creates an effective end run around diagnosis. This is not to say that the ability to diagnose is unimportant. In fact, I teach an elegant version of diagnosis in our tape set, “Steps toward becoming The Ultimate Therapist.” Professional therapists, especially those dealing with clinically disturbed patients, will want to go this extra step. However, the “100% overhaul concept” (described next) works admirably as a substitute. Diagnosis is not necessary for the majority of issues with the majority of people.
The 100% Overhaul Concept
To understand how this end run works, let’s go back to our TV set analogy. Suppose your TV picture is fuzzy….there is a “zzzzzt” somewhere inside….and you want it repaired. Now suppose further that your TV repairman has no tools with which to diagnose the problem. He has no way of telling whether you need something major like a new picture tube or something minor like a new capacitor. How then, does he repair your TV? Here’s the answer: In order to fix your TV…he overhauls the whole thing–just as an auto mechanic might overhaul an entire engine. He replaces every electronic gizmo in sight….the picture tube, the resistors, all the wires, every capacitor, etc. Is he overdoing it a bit? Oh sure!. But the important question is, “Is he likely to fix the problem?” Oh sure again! In fact, since he is replacing everything, his odds approach 100%. Of course the overhaul will be of limited help if the TV is located in a poor reception area where interference is present. But that’s usually not the case.
By the same token, a few people (less than 5%) have energy systems that are subject to substantial interference by allergic type reactions. We will discuss more on this topic later. The Basic Recipe . The 100% overhaul concept is EFT’s end run around diagnosis. We overdo it. We use a memorized process called The Basic Recipe with which we apply enough tapping procedures to overhaul the whole energy system. This way, our odds of fixing the specific energy imbalance, or “zzzzzt,” are greatly enhanced….even though we have no ability to diagnose. The only difference between the TV repairman and EFT is that our overhaul takes only a few minutes…..not days. Therefore it is very practical to do.
The 100% overhaul concept requires that you tap near the end points of numerous energy meridians without knowing which of them may be disrupted. In this way you “overtap” and will, in the process, tap on some energy meridians that are flowing normally. You might wonder if this does any harm. The answer is no. Thus “overtapping”, as EFT requires, has the same effect as overhauling a TV set. No harm done….and you’ll probably fix what’s wrong. Summary so far.
To this point we have covered some basic background and discussed what to expect. We have also developed the science behind the techniques and have learned that, “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.” This is a radically new discovery and requires thinking outside the normal boundaries to be truly appreciated. We also learned that diagnosing for energy imbalances can be important but is impractical, and unnecessary, to teach in this course.
Fortunately, diagnosis can be avoided in a great majority of cases by using the 100% overhaul concept. The 100% overhaul concept requires a memorized tapping procedure. This procedure is the centerpiece of EFT and is referred to as The Basic Recipe. It is your primary tool and “best friend” for emotional freedom. You now have the necessary background to appreciate its power. As a reminder, please recall from our opening comments that the emotional and energetic releases brought about by EFT frequently result in profound physical healings.