Depression Treatment with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

Depression is exhausting and everything feels like a struggle … your sleep can be affected … as well as your performance at work … or in the bedroom. What to do if you don’t want to take medication?

According to the Report of the Surgeon General on Mental Health “many episodes of depression are associated with some sort of acute or chronic adversity”. Since the 1991 launch of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), EFT founder Gary Craig and his many practitioners have worked with hundreds of people with depression. They too have noticed that depression tends to be a result of “acute or chronic adversity.” In EFT terms, however, this is referred to unresolved emotional issues such as such as trauma, guilt, shame, fear, anger and sadness.

Fortunately, EFT offers great potential for these unresolved emotional issues. You can use it to pull out the emotional roots of your depression … and enjoy your life again. The basics of EFT can be learned by anyone and can be self-applied (usually in minutes).

Described as “emotional acupuncture”, EFT draws from the principles of acupuncture (stimulating the meridian points balances the subtle energies in your body), but instead of using needles, you tap a series of acupuncture points with your fingertips. When your energy system is balanced, the negative emotional responses to past trauma, guilt and anger subside. Without the emotional fuel, depression can’t start its engine.

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How EFT can help you?

  • Remove Negative Emotions
  • Reduce Food Cravings
  • Reduce or Eliminate Pain
  • Implement Positive Goals
EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over five thousand years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem - whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. -- and voice positive affirmations.

This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the "short-circuit" - the emotional block -- from your body's bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body's balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.

Some people are initially wary of these principles that EFT is based on - the electromagnetic energy that flows through the body and regulates our health is only recently becoming recognized in the West. Others are initially taken aback by (and sometimes amused by) the EFT tapping and affirmation methodology.

Proper EFT Tapping

The basic EFT sequence is straightforward and generally takes only a few minutes to learn. With a little practice, you will be performing each round in under a minute.

NOTE: While it is important to tap the correct area, you need not worry about being absolutely precise, as tapping the general area is sufficient.

It's All in the Fingertips

The first thing to understand is that you will be tapping with your fingers. There are multiple acupuncture meridians on your fingertips, and when you tap with your fingertips you are also likely using not only the meridians you are tapping on, but also the ones on your fingers.

Traditional EFT has you tapping with the fingertips of your index finger and middle finger and with only one hand. Either hand works just as well. Most of the tapping points exist on either side of the body, so it doesn't matter which side you use, nor does it matter if you switch sides during the tapping. For example, you can tap under your right eye and, later in the tapping, under your left arm.

There is also a modified approach of having use both hands and all your fingers, so that they are gently relaxed and form a slightly curved natural line. The use of more fingers allows you to access more of the acupuncture points. When you use all your fingers you will cover a larger area than just tapping with one or two fingertips, and this will allow you to cover the tapping points more easily.

The following information provides an overview of the EFT technique to give you a sense of how this amazing "tool" works. But bear in mind that by far the best instruction for this powerful technique is visual/audio instruction.

Ideally, you will want to use your fingertips, not your finger pads as they have more meridian points. However, if you are a woman with long fingernails you should of course use your finger pads (otherwise you may end up stabbing yourself).

You should also remove your watch and bracelets, as that will interfere with your use of the wrist meridian tapping.

Tap Solidly - But Don't Hurt Yourself!

You should tap solidly, but never so hard as to hurt or bruise yourself.

If you decide to use both hands, t is recommended slightly alternating the tapping so that each hand is slightly out of phase with the other and you are not tapping with both hands simultaneously. This provides a kinesthetic variant of the alternating eye movement work that is done in EMDR and may have some slight additional benefit.

When you tap on the points outlined below, you will tap about 5-7 times. The actual number is not critical, but ideally should be about the length of time it takes for one full breath. There is probably a distinct benefit for tapping through one complete respiration cycle.

Please notice that these tapping points proceed down the body. That is, each tapping point is below the one before it. That should make it a snap to memorize. A few trips through it and it should be yours forever. However, unlike TFT, the sequence is not critical. You can tap the points in any order and sequence, just so long as all the points are covered. It just is easier to go from top to bottom to make sure you remember to do them all.

Remove your Glasses and Watch Prior to Tapping

Glasses and watches can mechanically and electromagnetically interfere with EF, so t is recommended to remove them prior to tapping.

Using EFT in Public: Eliminating any Embarrassment

Many people are concerned about embarrassing themselves by using EFT in public, especially when implementing my revision of it, which really makes one stand out in a crowd.

After a while of using and perfecting the technique - in private quarters, if you prefer - you will be able to use only two fingers of one hand, and to say the affirmation softly under your breath or silently. This way you can do EFT in just about any social setting, and if people even notice what you are doing at all, it will appear to them that you are merely thinking.

The tapping points, and their abbreviations, are explained below, followed by a chart of the points. They are presented below in the exact order in which they should be tapped.

Tapping Points

1. Top of the Head (TH)
With fingers back-to-back down the center of the skull.

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2. Eyebrow (EB)
Just above and to one side of the nose, at the beginning of the eyebrow.

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3. Side of the Eye (SE)
On the bone bordering the outside corner of the eye.

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4. Under the Eye (UE)
On the bone under an eye about 1 inch below your pupil.

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5. Under the Nose (UN)
On the small area between the bottom of your nose and the top of your upper lip.

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6. Chin (Ch)
Midway between the point of your chin and the bottom of your lower lip. Even though it is not directly on the point of the chin, we call it the chin point because it is descriptive enough for people to understand easily.

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7. Collar Bone (CB)
The junction where the sternum (breastbone), collarbone and the first rib meet. This is a very important point and in acupuncture is referred to as K (kidney) 27. To locate it, first place your forefinger on the U-shaped notch at the top of the breastbone (about where a man would knot his tie). From the bottom of the U, move your forefinger down toward the navel 1 inch and then go to the left (or right) 1 inch. This point is referred to as Collar Bone even though it is not on the collarbone (or clavicle) per se.

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8. Under the Arm (UA)
On the side of the body, at a point even with the nipple (for men) or in the middle of the bra strap (for women). It is about 4 inches below the armpit.

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9. Wrists (WR)
The last point is the inside of both wrists.

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General overview and sequence:

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Tuning Into Your Problem


Now that you understand how to actually perform the mechanical tapping and where you need to tap, you will next need to know what to say while you are tapping.

The traditional EFT phrase uses the following setup:
"Even though I have this _____________,
I deeply and completely accept myself."
You can also substitute this as the second part of the phrase:
"I deeply and completely love and accept myself."

The blank above is filled in with a brief description of the addiction, food craving, negative emotion or other problem you want to address.

Examples Using the Traditional EFT Phrasing

While these examples represent a range of problems, keep in mind there really is no limit to the types of issues you can confront with EFT:
"Even though I have this fear of public speaking, I deeply and completely accept myself."
"Even though I have this headache, I deeply and completely accept myself."
"Even though I have this anger towards my father, I deeply and completely accept myself."
"Even though I have this war memory, I deeply and completely accept myself."
"Even though I have this stiffness in my neck, I deeply and completely accept myself."
"Even though I have these nightmares, I deeply and completely accept myself."
"Even though I have this craving for alcohol, I deeply and completely accept myself."
"Even though I have this fear of snakes, I deeply and completely accept myself."
"Even though I have this depression, I deeply and completely accept myself."

Other EFT Phrase Options

You can also try these other phrase variations. All of these affirmations are correct because they follow the same general format. That is...they acknowledge the problem and create self-acceptance despite the existence of the problem. That is what's necessary for the affirmation to be effective.

You can use any of them, but I suggest you use the recommended one above because it is easy to memorize and has a good track record at getting the job done.

"I accept myself even though I have this_________."
Or:
"Even though I have this ____________, I deeply and profoundly accept myself."
OR:
"I love and accept myself even though I have this_______________."

The following information provides an overview of the EFT technique to give you a sense of how this amazing "tool" works. But bear in mind that by far the best instruction for this powerful technique is visual/audio instruction.

Interesting Points About the Affirmation Statements

It doesn't matter whether you believe the affirmation or not...just say it.

It is better to say it with feeling and emphasis, but saying it routinely will usually do the job.

It is best to say it out loud, but if you are in a social situation where you prefer to mutter it under your breath...or do it silently...then go ahead. It will still likely be effective.

To add to the effectiveness of the affirmation, The Setup also includes the simultaneous tapping on one of the acupuncture meridian points.

Tuning in is seemingly a very simple process. You merely think about the problem while applying the tapping. That's it...at least in theory.

"The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body's energy system."

Negative emotions come about because you are tuned in to certain thoughts or circumstances, which in turn, cause your energy system to disrupt.

Otherwise, you function normally. One's fear of heights is not present, for example, while one is reading the comic section of the Sunday newspaper and therefore not tuned in to the problem.

Tuning in to a problem can be done by simply thinking about it. In fact, tuning in means thinking about it.
Thinking about the problem will bring about the energy disruptions involved which then...and only then...can be balanced by applying The Basic Recipe.

Without tuning in to the problem, thereby creating those energy disruptions, EFT does nothing.

Putting It All Together First Round of Tapping

Now you will need to tap on each of the points described above while you are stating the positive affirmation. This will only take a few moments to do.

You should:
  • Select an appropriate affirmation
  • Carefully "tune in" to your problem by actually trying to hold the problem in your thought:
  • State the affirmations in a loud voice with great passion, energy and enthusiasm
If you do this while tapping the points described earlier, it is highly likely you will notice a major decrease in the issue or problem that you were tapping on. If your problem or issue resolves completely, you are done with the tapping.

EFT Cautions and Advice

The following information provides an overview of the EFT technique to give you a sense of how this amazing "tool" works. But bear in mind that by far the best instruction for this powerful technique is visual/audio instruction.

Clinicians and clients should only do what feels right or good to them. You should not enter into emotional or physical waters that seem threatening. It is your responsibility to take care of yourselves in this setting. Remember professional help is easily available. Here are some cautions and advice with EFT.

Be Specific

It is essential for clinicians to be extremely specific with language when using EFT.

Tuning In

The clients need to be totally tuned in to the issue of concern when using EFT. Sometimes, when the material is emotionally painful, clients will want to disconnect from their feelings. Look for any signs that the client is becoming distracted or disengaged and make sure that they repeat the Reminder Phrase as they tap the treatment points.

Cognitive Shifts

As with energy movement, it is essential to pay attention to the cognitive shifts that can occur with even a single round of the tapping. A cognitive shift has occurred when you reframe the problem. Seeing the problem from a new angle, you will often express a sense of surprise and insight. These movements can offer valuable connections and associations and may open new pathways for healing. Following a cognitive shift, you often feel less guilt and self-blame, more hope, or a simple sense of relief in an area where there has never been relief before.

It is important to stop after tapping and see if you notice anything different or if something new came up after you tapped. This is frequently the underlying issue that is the real root of your problem.

Try It On Everything

EFT can be used to treat deep limiting beliefs, fears of the future, fear of success, fear of failure, and anxiety about expectations, poor body image and future relapse settings. One of the favorite sayings of Gary Craig, founder of EFT, is "Try it on everything."

Energy and Intention

Many clients report that they do not have the same success when using EFT by themselves and on themselves. This likely has to do, in part, with the advantage of combining the energy and intention of two people sharing a single purpose during a session. When clients are less than satisfied with their own results, it is best to find a therapist to help them resolve the issue at a deeper level.

Through Me, Not By Me

This is one of Gary Craig's other favorite sayings. EFT practitioners are NOT healing their clients. The healing is done through us if our clients are open to receive it.

Many people see themselves as special healers. This, in fact, interferes with the treatment process. The reality is that they are not healing anybody; the clients are actually healing themselves. Witnessing and facilitating this process is humbling as well as gratifying.

Keep Well Hydrated

Water conducts electricity, and EFT accesses the electrical energy that flows through our bodies and minds. It is very important for both you and your clients to be properly hydrated. That would be about one quart of pure water per day for every fifty pounds of body weight.


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