What Is EFT Tapping? A complete overview with Haley Hoffman Smith
Here’s my dilemma: I could tell you about how I’ve used it to reduce my anxiety, live with greater peace, or clear subconscious blocks I’ve had for over two decades. Or perhaps I should mention that since I started tapping, I’ve more than doubled my income and greatly improved my relationships, wrote for ten new publications in a single year and got published in a print anthology. Oh, and I went on a free trip to the Maldives!
Is EFT… magic? What’s the catch?
What I’m scared of is not overselling it, because I really do think EFT is a life changing practice, but the risk is that you start thinking I’m either making this all up or there’s some sort of catch to the whole thing.
Well, if there is one, I haven’t discovered it yet ––and neither has Haley Hoffman Smith, an entrepreneur, author, manifestation coach, singer, songwriter, Forbes most influential speaker, and the person who introduced me to EFT in the first place.
On her podcast, “Big Conversations,” Haley speaks about getting rid of limiting beliefs and sparking profound inner contemplation to welcome the biggest version of your life. Last January, I listened to an episode about EFT and got very, very curious… well, my hope with this article is to get YOU curious, and perhaps give you a tiny push to try tapping out for yourself. Let’s see where it gets you!
What is EFT tapping and how does it work?
EFT is a healing modality rooted in Traditional Chinese medicine, and like acupuncture, it's based on the belief that energy flows through the human body and can be stimulated and manipulated through certain pressure points. In acupuncture, this is done with thin needles, but when it comes to tapping -which some practitioners, like Brad Yates, have called emotional acupuncture-- all you need is your fingers.
EFT studies are rooted in the brain, and how the brain reacts to trauma and other negative events or memories. Its aim as a self-empowering practice is to help people heal wounds, rewire their mindsets, and shift their brain’s electrochemistry to change unwanted habits and behaviors and overcome emotions like fear, guilt, shame, anger, or anxiety.
It might sound like magic, but again: suspend your disbelief for a moment, because I promise it’s all real!
Research tells us that “the brain’s ability to alter neural pathways that are the source of many psychological disorders is far more extensive than previously believed,” and that “tapping on acupuncture points can rapidly alter the brain chemistry” which is causing us to retain the negative consequences of traumatic events. We hold our beliefs very dear, and tapping helps us release both these negative experiences and any limiting beliefs we might have inadvertently attached to them.
What can EFT tapping help with?
According to Haley, absolutely everything.” “I started tapping my freshman year of college,” she says, “when I was experiencing a lot of anxiety and depression, and it completely healed all of that. It changed my finances and career to a staggering degree, it changed the amount of peace and happiness I feel on a daily basis. I’m now super in touch with my creativity, my relationships are very fulfilling…” the list is long!
Haley uses EFT in her coaching work, and she’s seen incredible results in her clients, too, often just after a single session. “My favorite thing ever is tapping with someone for the first time. Sometimes people are like ‘I guess I’ll try it, whatever’ and then I do it with them and they feel so much better. You see it enough times and you experience it with other people enough times, you know there’s no reason to question it.”
It just works, and science backs it all up. Most of the peer-reviewed research on EFT revolves around PTSD, for which it has been found to be extremely effective, the practice is also known to relieve chronic pain and help heal phobias and addictions.
Randomized trials have found patients who used EFT to have lower cortisol levels than patients engaged in traditional therapy, less pain, distress and cravings in a 90 day timespan, and a 41% reduction in depression symptoms across 20 studies.
An overview of EFT points
In EFT, you lightly tap on the meridian points to rewire your brain and alter the neural pathways ––the neurons that send signals from one part of the brain to another–– that are responsible for your distress and limiting beliefs.
These meridian points ––which, as we’ve mentioned, derive from Traditional Chinese medicine and are the same ones used in acupuncture–– run through more than 2,000 acupoints across the body, so it’d be impossible to tap them all.
The nine major meridians used in EFT are:
- Side of the hand (karate chop)
- Front of the eyebrow
- Side of the eye
- Underneath the eye
- Under the nose
- Under the armpit
- Top of the head
In her coaching work and on herself, Haley uses a version known as Faster EFT, which targets just four of the meridian points over and over. “It’s the one my practitioner uses, and I love it,” she says. “I find it so satisfying and it just feels more fun.”
Faster EFT focuses on these four:
- Front of the eyebrow
- Side of the eye
- Underneath the eye
You could experiment and try both methods, then choose the one you prefer. It’s absolutely the same when it comes to effectiveness and the practice itself.
How do you actually do EFT tapping?
“I don’t think someone should go into their first time tapping and tackle their biggest memory,” Haley says. Instead, she suggests starting small and seeing how you feel before you go all in.
“Something that’s good for people to first start tapping on is something that’s just kind of bugging them,” she advises. “It’s not keeping you up at night, it’s just a ‘ugh, this is worrying me.’ That way, you can experiment and build up your faith.”
In your first EFT tapping session, you'll follow a sequence that looks something like this: First, conjure up the thought, block, feeling, worry, or any other reason you might have to feel distressed; then, rate it on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being "I feel completely fine!" and 10 being "I really, really feel this deep in my gut."
Now, you can perform your first tapping sequence, using your fingertips to lightly “tap” on the meridian points while you repeat positive statements of self-acceptance and general release. These are usually empowering affirmations, such as: “It’s safe to let this go. I watch this feeling dissolve and disappear right before my eyes. It’s safe to experience a life without this feeling. It’s safe to feel free of this feeling” followed by rewiring affirmations like “Instead, I feel…(positive feeling)” and “It’s safe to experience… (positive feeling).”
When you’re done, you’ll try to conjure up the feeling again, and check whether you still feel it as intensely as before, or whether it’s gone down a number or two.
You can perform your sequence as many times as needed, but as Haley notes, even a small release can do its job. “Even if you feel it, say, a 4 on a scale of 1-10,” she explains, “and after a few rounds, you get it down to a 1 or a 2, that’s amazing!”
Maybe changing your life feels like a really big undertaking right now, but something you can do is just release the heaviness of anything that’s bothering you right now ––just some light tapping to bring in some peace.
How to start doing EFT tapping on your own or a practitioner
As with any type of new practice, it’s recommended to be guided into it by a licensed professional and an experienced practitioner who can introduce you to it in a safe and effective manner. You can try looking for EFT practitioners in your area, if you’re interested in trying it out in person, or someone who does remote EFT sessions like Haley.
I recommend starting with Haley’s introductory YouTube video on EFT, or googling “EFT + (negative emotion you’re experiencing)” to find guided tutorials ––Brad Yates, for example, has one for almost any circumstance you could imagine.
Can EFT tapping be combined with any other practices?
Yes, absolutely! You can do EFT alongside any type of traditional therapy or alternative healing practices like breathwork, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, reflexology, reiki, and so on.
The good thing about EFT, besides how effective it is, it’s that it’s quick and inexpensive, so it’s easy to do alongside any other modality you prefer. For this reason, Haley describes it as incredibly empowering: “I used to be the type of person who was so scared of her emotions,”she says, “and now that I know how quickly tapping works, it makes me feel comfortable and confident to do a round or two and release the feeling.”
Are there any side effects to EFT tapping?
“There’s no possible side effects,” Haley reassures us “other than getting a bit tired at the end.” Well, that seems like a bargain!
Of course, as with any trauma-related work, it’s important to know what you’re comfortable tackling at any specific moment. “In a one-to-one session I can make sure you’re okay, that’s one thing, but I feel personally weary of working on significant trauma in group settings,” Haley adds. “I think anytime you’re asking someone to look within and look at the hard stuff, you have to take responsibility for your own wellbeing, as Brad Yates always says, and make sure you’re doing it with a licensed professional, like any type of therapy.”
A closing message
Haley has a combined social media following of over half a million followers, and she loves sharing the benefits and magic of EFT with her followers.
“I honestly just want people to know that they can change their lives,” she says. “For me, EFT is the greatest possible emotional tool in my toolbox. All the anxiety I used to experience, it felt like I was out of control with my own life… to feel the amount of peace I feel now? Even after one tapping session, you notice the difference.”
It’s a hopeful message, and one I hope will inspire you to check out EFT and see for yourself, just like I did.