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Emotional Freedom Techniques vs Emotionally Focused Therapy

Our understanding of therapy is constantly evolving as we become more knowledgeable of the human mind and body. Two different EFTs are emerging to heal the human mind through scientifically supported techniques: Emotional Freedom Techniques and Emotionally Focused Therapy. These two EFTs are leading people to a healthy mind, body, and soul. Each comes with its own benefits and can help treat different problems or issues, so what is the best option for you?

What is Emotionally Focused Therapy?

Emotionally Focused Therapy is short-term psychotherapy used to improve adult relationships. This form of therapy involves a therapist and client(s) carefully examining patterns that exist in various relationships in the patient’s life. Steps to create new patterns are subsequently implemented to create healthier relationships and develop more trust within all interpersonal bonds.

Traditionally, this treatment method has been primarily oriented to couples seeking relationship intervention, but it is also effective in treating individual depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How does Emotionally Focused Therapy work?

Emotionally Focused Therapy centers on the client’s present and the implementation of three steps for improving relationships. First, the negative cycle of interactions is de-escalated and the therapist facilitates client awareness of the dynamics of their relationship. The most common causes for negative cycles in a relationship include personality traits, past trauma, and childhood dynamics. Second, interactions are restructured. This is achieved by both individuals sharing their needs and fears in the relationship. The couple should avoid any further conflict by using positive language. The bond is finally strengthened during the final stage of Emotionally Focused Therapy, during which both sides recognize how they wind up in negative cycles. The therapist assisting through the three stages of EFT will not only shows clients how they arrived at the cycle, but also how they have changed these patterns and can continue respectful discourse moving forward.

This type of therapy is strongly tied to observational skills in a therapeutic setting. The three stages of this therapy occur over 8 to 20 meetings and require a mental health professional who is licensed in Emotionally Focused Therapy. The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy assists associates in providing certification to professionals.

Pros and Cons of Emotionally Focused Therapy

The Emotionally Focused Therapy process is based on attachment theory and emotional regulation as key to the health of relationships. Research has shown it is a highly effective route for couples, individuals, and families to improve communication problems that contribute to a negative cycle of interaction. For some people, however, this form of treatment can become stagnant. Furthermore, some may find it difficult to express themselves in front of a stranger.
Emotionally Focused Therapy centers on unpacking trauma, understanding dynamics, and dispelling negative patterns. The therapist is the one dissecting these problems, which can be a drawback, as the therapist can disrupt the process. Therapy through this route can help clients better understand themselves and their relationships while strengthening their personal bonds.

What is Emotional Freedom Techniques?

Emotional Freedom Techniques combines acupressure (tapping on acupuncture points) with psychology’s exposure therapy (focusing on whatever is distressing you) and cognitive behavior therapy (reframing). Tapping on the nine to 12 points takes only a few minutes. It’s easy to learn and the tapping points soon become automatic. EFT can trace its roots back thousands of years to acupuncture and the use of acupoints in Qigong, Shiatsu, and other ancient energy-based techniques. Acupoints are the points on the body’s meridians (energy channels), which form the basis of the medical practice of acupuncture.

Over 100 peer-reviewed medical and psychology papers about Emotional Freedom Techniques have been published demonstrating its effectiveness. Clinical tests of Emotional Freedom Techniques for anxiety, depression, and PTSD have shown significantly decreased scores in each condition after EFT intervention. In addition to reducing emotional distress, EFT is effective at alleviating physical pain.

Research has shown that Emotional Freedom Techniques can halt the stress response in the body. Studies show a reduction in cortisol, a primary stress hormone, after EFT application. If you’re angry about something, Emotional Freedom Techniques can help you get to a calmer state. Feeling stressed or worried about something? EFT can help ease your thoughts. The technique is simple. You just have to tap lightly with your fingertips on a short series of acupoints on your hands, head, and torso. This makes it a popular form of treatment for those who know the benefits of acupuncture but may have a fear of needles or don’t want to puncture their skin.

How does Emotional Freedom Techniques work?

Emotional freedom techniques work by stimulating energy points on the body by tapping on them, hence the “tapping” nickname for the treatment. These energy points are the same points used in traditional acupuncture. Tapping on these points can halt the stress response, which occurs in emotional states. Accessing and restoring your energy through tapping sends signals to the brain’s stress centers, reducing stress or negative emotions.

Tapping is divisible into five steps and repeatable for each unique problem.

1. Find the Problem

Focus on only one problem for steps 1-5. EFT works by focusing on one specific problem at a time, such as a headache or feeling anxious about a test you will take tomorrow. Focusing on one specific problem will enhance your tapping results.

2. Rate the Problem

Rate the problem on a scale of 1-10. This serves as the scale to determine how much the pain or discomfort is alleviated per tapping session.

3. Prepare to Confront the Problem

A conditioning statement is required to accomplish two goals. The first goal is to acknowledge the issue. The second is to accept yourself despite the problem. Conditioning statements pertain only to you and how they can assist you in feeling better. For example, a way to phrase a conditioning statement is “Even though I am deathly afraid of clowns, I deeply and completely accept myself for that.” Mold the statement to suit the obstacle, but only the person practicing it can be the subject of this mantra.

You also need a reminder phrase that sums up the problem, such as “afraid of clowns.” You will use this in tapping through the points.

4. Tapping Away the Problem

Next, the tapping begins. Tap lightly 5-7 times on the side of the hand point (the fleshy part between the wrist and little finger) as you repeat your conditioning statement three times. This point is on the Small Intestine meridian.

Tap 5-7 times on the following points, in descending order, repeating your reminder phrase at each point.

  • Top of the head (Governing Vessel)
  • Eyebrow (Bladder meridian)
  • Side of the eye (Gallbladder meridian)
  • Under the eye (Stomach meridian)
  • Under the nose (Governing Vessel)
  • Chin (Central Vessel)
  • Beginning of the collarbone (Kidney meridian)
  • Under the arm (Spleen meridian)


5. Rate the Problem Again

Rate your problem on a scale of 0-10. This shows you how much the tapping session alleviated your pain or discomfort. If your number has not gone down to 2 or less, repeat the steps as needed.

Pros and Cons of Emotional Freedom Techniques

Emotional Freedom Techniques comes with many pros and very limited cons. It is practicable virtually anywhere and can be self-administered, without the need for a therapist. (Note: for serious trauma, working with a certified EFT practitioner is recommended.). It is easy to use and the results are often immediately apparent, with quick alleviation of anxiety, trauma symptoms, and phobias. One of the problems in acceptance of this method in the field of psychology is disbelief that such a simple technique can produce such rapid results.

Emotionally Focused Therapy and Emotional Freedom Techniques are the two EFTs paving the way in improving the mental and physical health of people worldwide. At EFT Universe we can help you begin tapping today to decrease your pain, stress, anxiety, PTSD symptoms, depression, and other issues that may be plaguing you.

EFT Universe

Kari Millar

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