EFT: Tap Away Your Stress and Pain with This Extraordinary Healing Tool

EFT Tapping points

Story at-a-glance -

  • You don’t have to keep suffering from pain unnecessarily. Research shows that pain can be reduced by up to two-thirds with a simple and easily-learned method: the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
  • Dawson Church, PhD, shares two fascinating stories on how EFT offered extraordinary healing benefits on his patients who were suffering from pain
  • Anecdotes like these have inspired a good deal of research into EFT over the course of the past 10 years, and that research provides fascinating insights that can help you deal with your own pain, whether it’s chronic pain or acute pain
  • Stress is a large component of what we think of as physical pain. When stress is reduced using acupoint tapping, our perceived levels of pain go way down
  • To unlock the full potential of EFT, you can train yourself in each step of the method at a Clinical EFT workshop. You can also engage the services of an expert practitioner trained in Clinical EFT

By Dawson Church, PhD

When you go to your doctor complaining of pain, what's likely to happen? You expect a diagnosis, and you may also expect to leave the doctor's office with a prescription for pain-killing drugs.

But what if there were a miracle cure that was scientifically proven to remove two-thirds of your pain in a few minutes without drugs or surgery? Would you be interested? Would your doctor even know about it?

This miracle cure actually exists, and its value has been demonstrated in several clinical trials.1 It's as close as your fingertips, though it's unlikely that you'll get a prescription for it at your doctor's office. It's called EFT or the Emotional Freedom Technique, and Dr. Mercola has been recommending it to you for more than a decade.

He was one of the first physicians to recognize EFT's potential for treating both pain and other physical symptoms, and his pioneering work has been a major factor in making EFT "one of the most successful psychology self-help techniques ever developed."2

Here are two typical stories drawn from the book EFT for Back Pain.3 Practitioner Roseanna Ellis and her clients use a 0 to 10 scale to assess the intensity of the pain, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the most extreme pain possible, as they use EFT on the emotional and physical aspects of pain.

EFT Success Stories: How Stress Can Trigger Back Pain

On a Friday night in the summer of 2006, I received a call from a woman begging me to come to her home because she had severe back pain. She said, "I threw my back out and I won't be able to see my doctor until Monday. Please come now."

When I arrived, Mary could barely walk. I treated her in the living room because she was unable to climb the stairs.

I tried all the therapy tricks I knew for about half an hour, to no avail. Then I asked her, "What was happening when you first threw your back out?"

She said, "I was watching my daughter try on her wedding dress." Then she talked about the stress of the wedding and how everything was going wrong. We used EFT for the stress, for everything going wrong, and for "I can't take it, I can't rely on anyone."

The pain decreased from a 10 to a 4. She was able to get on and off my treatment table with only slight discomfort, but she was very restricted in range of motion. I asked her, "Why would your body be afraid to move?"

She answered, "I am a control freak and the wedding planner is not doing things my way and it is freaking me out." We used EFT for those worries too, and this helped her a lot. She was able to move her body in every direction with a pain level that had fallen to 1. I asked her what was keeping the pain at a 1. She answered, "It is very hard for me to give up control."

Applying EFT to that fear did the trick. She sat up with a shocked look on her face and said, "You're right, it is more about me than my daughter." With that, she exclaimed that the pain was a 0, jumped off the table, and gave me a great big hug. I went over the next morning to give her a good stretch. She was still completely free of pain.

In another case, a 50-year-old man came to see me complaining of intense low back pain that measured a 10 on the 0-to-10 scale. He had very limited range of motion and could not bend over or twist without being in agony.

He was afraid that he would not be able to heal and would have to give up  golf, which he loved so much. He also feared getting old and becoming helpless.

We used EFT on the issues of being bent over, being afraid of getting old, being afraid to move because of pain, and fearing that he would have to give up golf, his favorite sport.

Within about 15 minutes, his range of motion had improved and his pain decreased to 7. Then he began to speak about his stress at work. We worked on his stress until his intensity fell to a 0 for stress and pain.

His pain fell to 0 and he began to move more easily. We used EFT before every motion he performed until he could bend without pain, and touch the floor. Needless to say, he was very pleased with his session.

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There Are Many Cases That Prove EFT's Pain-Relieving Benefits

These stories are just two of over 5,000 accounts of extraordinary healing published in the EFT online case history archive.4 They are typical of the results obtained when using EFT for pain.

Anecdotes like this have inspired a good deal of research into EFT over the course of the past 10 years, and that research provides fascinating insights that can help you deal with your own pain, whether it's chronic pain or acute pain.

A study published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Psychology examined the levels of pain in a group of people attending a three-day EFT workshop.5 It found that their pain dropped by 43 percent, and the results were statistically significant. When they were followed up six weeks later, their pain levels were still 42 percent lower than before the workshop.

I was part of a research team that conducted the first large-scale study of EFT a few years back. It's usually called the "Healthcare Workers Study," because most of the participants were psychotherapists, doctors, nurses, chiropractors, or alternative medicine practitioners. It was published in the journal Integrative Medicine.6

There were 216 participants in the study, and they were assessed before and after attending a one-day EFT workshop. We measured their levels of psychological conditions like anxiety and depression. After the workshop, these levels dropped by an average of 45 percent.

The results were highly statistically significant; analysis showed that there was only one possibility in 10,000 that the results were due to chance.

During one segment of each workshop, participants worked on physical pain. We found that their levels of pain dropped by an average of 68 percent. This improvement was obtained in just 30 minutes of EFT.

When the mental health of participants was tracked three and six months later, most of the improvements they'd experienced in the workshop persisted over time. Those that used EFT more frequently after the workshop got better results.

In a randomized controlled trial (RCT), veterans with high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms received EFT. After 6 treatment sessions, 90 percent of them no longer tested positive for PTSD. Their levels of pain were also assessed, and even though pain was not the primary target of the study, it reduced by 41 percent.7

An RCT conducted at the Red Cross Hospital in Athens, Greece tracked patients who suffered from tension headaches. After EFT, the frequency and intensity of their headaches dropped by more than half.8 Another RCT with a group of fibromyalgia sufferers found significant reductions in pain after an online EFT treatment program.9

Pressing the Right (Acupuncture) Points Is a Key Factor

EFT is often called "tapping," because it involves tapping with your fingertips on acupuncture points. Other articles written by Dr. Mercola show that there is a lot of scientific evidence that acupuncture works for pain, and that it is effective for a wide range of physical symptoms. Acupuncture uses needles to balance the body's electromagnetic energy system. Pressure on acupuncture points (acupoints), referred to as "acupressure," can have similar effects.10

Acupressure is used in a Japanese massage therapy called Shiatsu, and tapping on acupuncture points has been used for thousands of years in the Chinese exercise routine called Qi Gong. Over 50 scientific studies and review papers published in peer-reviewed journals attest to EFTs efficacy for anxiety, depression, PTSD, pain, and similar issues. 11

Here's one example, published in The EFT Manual, of how I used EFT with a doctor to eliminate acute pain. We again used the 0 to 10 pain scale, called Subjective Units of Distress or SUD, to measure the intensity of the pain.12

Ever Felt Like 'There's a Bowling Ball Stuck in Your Intestines?'

On the second morning of an EFT workshop, Howard, a physician attending the workshop, reported that he had a toothache. "I tried EFT on it last night and this morning, but it's still there," he said. I asked Howard how intense it was on a scale of 0 to 10. He said it was an 8.

I asked if there was anything that might be contributing to it emotionally. He was certain there was no emotional component, that it was "just a toothache." He was a doctor, after all, he should know!

It occurred to me to ask a metaphorical question. "Howard, what are you chewing on, emotionally?" He said that he had been ruminating on his relationship with his longtime partner in his medical practice. His partner had made some investments that had turned out to be very successful and were pulling his attention away from his customary devotion to his patients.

I inquired Howard how his own investments were doing, and he said, "I've lost most of my savings in the real estate bust." I asked him to think about his investment portfolio and give me an SUD level. The intensity was a 7. I asked, "How do you know it's a 7?" and he said, "Because I feel like there's a bowling ball stuck in my intestines."

I requested that he think about the first time in his life he could remember that physical sensation of a bowling ball down there. He said, "I was 6 years old. I was playing in the hallway of the apartment building where we lived, and a stranger appeared. He pulled down the zipper of his pants and exposed himself to me. I ran away and hid in the basement of the building."

We did some tapping around the memory of the flasher, but his bowling ball SUD did not go down below a 4, so we used EFT on each one of the "emotional crescendos" of the incident. They were all at a 0. I realized there must be additional aspects to the event that we had not yet addressed, so I asked him what happened right after the incident.

Howard recounted that after he left the basement, he went and told his mother what had happened. She said, "You're always getting yourself into trouble." He felt she was blaming him, and this led to a feeling that his misfortunes were always his fault, that he was never good enough. I tested his SUD level around his mother's response, and it was a 10. Suddenly, he gasped and said, "I guess I am more angry at my mother for not protecting me than I am at the man!"

We tapped on that memory 'til it went down to 0, and because time was short, we tapped on a lot of general statements such as "My feelings don't count. I don't deserve to be protected. Other people are okay, I'm not." I sometimes use generalities when we need to "sneak away" from an incident due to a lack of time. I asked Howard to tell me about the bowling ball in his gut, and he said that it had evaporated into dew. His SUD rating regarding his medical practice partner was also now a 0. So I asked what number his toothache was, and his eyes opened wide. "I can hardly feel it! Maybe a 1 or a 2."

EFT' Has a Profound Impact on Your Cortisol and Brain Waves

How is something as simple as tapping with your fingertips on acupuncture points able to relieve pain? The reason is that stress is a large component of what we think of as physical pain. When stress is reduced using acupoint tapping, our perceived levels of pain go way down.

At the same time, changes are happening inside your body. Your stress biochemistry and brain function are shifting. In an RCT examining levels of the stress hormone cortisol, EFT was compared to talk therapy, and also to rest. In the EFT group, a single treatment session reduced cortisol levels significantly, while psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression dropped more than twice as much as in the talk therapy group.13

Studies using fMRI technology to examine the activation of the parts of the brain responsible for the fear response have found that acupuncture rapidly regulates them.14,15,16 Other studies have measured the brain wave frequencies associated with stress, and found that tapping calms them.17,18,19 Such research makes it clear that EFT isn't just improving mental health, it's having a powerful effect on the physiological functioning of our bodies. It's regulating stress biochemistry and nervous system function.

Remember These Tips to Get the Most Out of EFT

There are several ways you can use EFT for pain. You can tap while focusing on:

  • The pain itself
  • Emotions associated with that part of your body
  • Events occurring in your life when the pain began
  • Similar events from your childhood
  • Fear of the pain persisting for a long time
  • Worries that the pain might get worse
  • Childhood experiences of pain
  • Images such as colors and textures at the site of the pain
  • Beliefs about aging and pain
  • Core beliefs about the necessity of suffering

Pain might be exacerbated by any of these sources, and by looking at all the possibilities, you're very likely to discover the emotions associated with your pain. Once you've identified them, you can use EFT to reduce the stress that accompanies each event and emotion.

There are a number of ways to get the full benefit of using EFT for pain. One is to try the simplest form of EFT on yourself, using this link that shows a basic demonstration of EFT. You can download the free EFT Mini-Manual which will have you tapping in just a few minutes, and testing your results on the 0 to 10 scale.20 To unlock the full potential of EFT, you can train yourself in each step of the method at a Clinical EFT workshop. You can also engage the services of an expert practitioner trained in Clinical EFT.  

The bottom line is that you don't have to keep suffering from pain unnecessarily. Research shows that pain can be reduced by up to two-thirds with this simple and easily-learned method.21 That's not to claim that EFT can replace drugs or other needed medical treatments. In the Healthcare Workers Study, participants still experienced 32 percent of their pain after tapping. That remaining pain is probably due to physical conditions that need expert medical care. But when you use EFT in conjunction with modern medicine, you get the best of both worlds.

About the Author:

Dawson Church, PhD, is an award-winning author whose best-selling book, The Genie in Your Genes, has been hailed by reviewers as a breakthrough in our understanding of the link between emotions and genetics. He founded the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare to study and implement promising evidence-based psychological and medical techniques. His groundbreaking research has been published in prestigious scientific journals. He is the editor of Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, a peer-reviewed professional journal. He shares how to apply these breakthroughs to health and athletic performance through EFT Universe, one of the largest alternative medicine sites on the web.