EFT vs. EMDR: Your Guide to Choosing the Ideal Therapy

EFT vs. EMDR: Your Guide to Choosing the Ideal Therapy

In this article, you will learn about EFT Tapping and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), what are their benefits, and what differentiates the two.

There are various kinds of therapies available.

Some types of therapy, such as person-centered therapy, have been around for decades, while others, such as coherence therapy, are novel and yet to catch on. 

We'll go over two of them in this blog post, one being EFT and the other being EMDR and the differences between the two.


EFT Tapping; Tapping hands; EFT vs EMDR tapping therapy

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is an alternative therapy or method that has been clinically demonstrated to be useful in treating emotional issues, such as anxiety, trauma, and other mental health issues.

EFT Tapping is a stress and anxiety-relieving technique that is utilised by millions of people all over the world. It has been clinically shown to be over 80% helpful for stress, anxiety, sadness, trauma, addictive cravings, weight reduction, and a variety of other physical problems, based on discoveries concerning the body's subtle energies (1).

Gary Craig is the creator of EFT and the person who brought it to prominence in the 1990s when he first put his work around the therapy on his website.

EFT Tapping is helpful if you:

  • Want to learn more about emotional wellness or treatment.
  • Want to release yourself from limitations and heal from inside.
  • Are eager to assist yourself as well as others.
  • Are looking for a new career that will allow you to help others recover and transform.
  • Aim to improve your career as well as your emotional well-being.
EFT Tapping points; EFT Tapping statements


The theory behind EFT says that the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body's energy system. A distressing event or incident disrupts the energy system and leads to negative emotions giving you the high emotional intensity and beliefs that harm you.

Once the body's energy system is rebalanced, the emotional charge goes away. The underlying idea here is that you aren't "mentally blocked," rather you are “energy system blocked.” When you use EFT Tapping therapy, you can easily clear the blocked channels.

When you use EFT, it gives you relief by rewiring the energy system and bringing it back into balance, so you feel calmer, more at peace, and ready to let go and move on.


EFT Tapping is an alternative therapy that involves two primary aspects – talk and touch. 

Emotional Freedom Techniques -Talk Therapy


Communication is instrumental in EFT Tapping. Like many other therapies and healing modalities, Emotional Freedom Techniques is a form of communication.

Talk Therapies are psychological treatments that place a high value on communication in therapy. 

Talking about your feelings and emotions helps people develop a new perspective and evaluate things in different ways.

Conversation is an important characteristic of techniques like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Emotional Freedom Technique - Touch Therapy ; Tapping hands


Touch, one of the five love languages, is extremely important in tapping techniques.

Touch expresses care, affection, and presence, making it an enormously essential aspect of healing. 

Research shows that infants who are exposed to safe touch are less likely to develop psychological difficulties than those who have been deprived of touch or touched inappropriately.

The EFT Tapping therapy uses touch by tapping on certain areas of the body known as tapping points

The first step before working with oneself or others is to create a safe space that is non-judgmental, accepting, and understanding. Whether you are using EFT on yourself or with others the same rules apply.

If you want to create a safe space to use EFT, download the free EFT Tapping booklet now.


emdr therapy, emdr treatment

Francine Shapiro started developing EMDR in 1988.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a method of psychotherapy in which the patient is instructed to recollect upsetting images, after which the therapist asks the patient to perform one of several types of bilateral stimulation, such as side-to-side eye movement or hand tapping. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) published a practice recommendation in 2013 that states:

"This therapy (EMDR) is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are the results of unprocessed memories. The treatment involves standardised procedures that include focusing simultaneously on (a) spontaneous associations of traumatic images, thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations and (b) bilateral stimulation that is most commonly in the form of repeated eye movements (2)."


EMDR therapy is becoming increasingly popular, especially for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. Military combat, physical abuse, rape, or car accidents are some examples of what leads to PTSD.

EMDR continues to be controversial among certain healthcare providers, despite ongoing studies.

At first look, EMDR appears to take a unique approach to psychological disorders. It does not rely on medicine or talk therapy.

EMDR relies on a patient's own quick, rhythmic eye and brain movements, or energy systems. These eye movements reduce the emotional impact of terrible memories from the past.

Reliving painful events becomes less emotionally upsetting when your attention is redirected, this is the root of the effectiveness of EMDR.

This enables you to be exposed to disturbing memories or thoughts without experiencing a strong psychological reaction.

This technique is found to diminish the impact that memories or thoughts have on you over time.

EMDR Therapy for PTSD


EMDR therapy is broken down into eight different phases by an EMDR Practitioner. Usually, 12 individual sessions are required for treatment.

phase 1

History and Treatment Planning

Your therapist will begin by going over your medical history and determining where you currently stand in the treatment process. Talking about your traumatic experiences and finding potential emotional issues to treat specifically are all part of the evaluation step.

phase 2


Your therapist will next assist you in learning a variety of coping mechanisms to deal with the emotional or psychological trauma related disorders and stress you're dealing with. Deep breathing and mindfulness are two stress management approaches that can be implemented.

phase 3


Your therapist will identify the precise traumatic memory that will be targeted as well as any associated components (such as the bodily sensations that are produced when you concentrate on an event) for each target memory during the third phase of EMDR treatment.

phases 4-7


Your therapist will then begin treating your specific memories with EMDR therapy procedures. You will be instructed to concentrate on a negative idea, memory, or image during these sessions.

Your therapist will ask you to do precise eye movements at the same time. Depending on your situation, the bilateral stimulation may also comprise tapping or other movements.

After the bilateral stimulation, your therapist will advise you to relax and notice the ideas and feelings that naturally come to your mind.

Your therapist may ask you to refocus on one terrible experience or go on to another after you've identified these thoughts.

Your therapist will help you return to the present if you become distressed before moving on to another terrible memory. The discomfort associated with certain thoughts, pictures, or memories should lessen over time.

phase 8


After these sessions, you will be asked to evaluate your progress in the final step. The same will be done by your therapist.


Since psychologist Francine Shapiro developed EMDR in 1989, more than 20,000 practitioners have been trained to administer it (3).

Shapiro noticed that as her eyes wandered from side to side while walking through the woods one day, she noticed the emotional intensity of her own unpleasant emotions faded. Then she discovered that patients experienced the same effect.

EMDR appears to be a risk-free treatment with no known side effects. Despite its growing popularity, mental health professionals continue to question EMDR's efficacy.

Most EMDR studies have only had a tiny number of participants, according to critics. Other researchers, on the other hand, have published findings combining data from multiple studies to demonstrate the treatment's benefit.

EMDR therapy is regarded to be particularly beneficial to people who are struggling with traumatic memories or who have PTSD. It's most helpful for people who find it difficult to talk about their past experiences.

Although there isn't enough evidence to support its treatment in these areas, EMDR therapy is being used to treat:

Some people might prefer this approach to using prescription drugs, which can have unpleasant side effects. Others may discover that EMDR therapy improves their medication's effectiveness.

Make an appointment with a licensed therapist if you believe EMDR therapy is correct for you.


Efficacy of EFT Tapping and EMDR on negative thoughts

EMDR is a therapy that has some similarities to EFT, but it has been around for a lot longer and has a very well-established evidence base as a treatment for trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Significant therapeutic benefits were reported post-treatment and during follow-ups for both the EMDR treatment group and the EFT treatment group in research conducted by Thanos Karatzas and Theresa McGoldrick from NHS Fife.

They found equal treatment effect sizes in both therapy groups, while the EMDR group had a slightly larger proportion of patients who showed significant clinical improvements.

With such a small difference in impact findings, it is plausible that EFT has the potential to be equally as beneficial as EMDR in the treatment of PTSD (4).

Similarities of EFT and EMDR Therapy

  • Both therapies emphasise the importance of focusing on the body and its connection to emotions, acknowledging the physiological aspect of emotions alongside the mental.
  • Both involve rhythmic tapping on the body to provide additional somatic sensory input, potentially disrupting negative thoughts and emotions.
  • Both incorporate eye movements, such as EFT's '9 Gamut' process, which may have been inspired by EMDR and is designed to address buried emotional disturbances.
  • Both stimulate free association, prompting the development of additional memories, images, fantasies, thoughts, and emotions, although this feature is underutilised by practitioners.
  • The therapist's personal thoughts and observations are pushed to the background. The client's own words, images, metaphors, and other expressions are given careful consideration in both therapies. 
  • Unpleasant and traumatic childhood memories are transformed in both therapies, allowing the emotional charge to dissipate and the client to develop a new perspective on the experience. The earlier experience, which had been so emotionally overwhelming, can now be shared matter-of-factly, simply as part of the person's history. This lack of emotion is not related to dissociation, however, the distinction can be useful to understand at times.
  • Both approaches may entail making an attempt to be thorough, examining for any lingering or hidden emotional pain.
  • Both therapies have a lot of research backing them.

Differences between EFT and EMDR therapy

  • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) involves tapping specific meridian points. In EMDR, tapping on both sides of the body is done bilaterally.
  • Various forms of bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, alternating audio signals, and vibrating items to grasp, are available in EMDR but not in EFT.
  • Eye movements in EMDR appear to be highly evocative, bringing to mind disturbing images and emotions, which might sometimes put you and your clients at danger of getting overwhelmed.
  • EFT Tapping, unlike EMDR therapy, focuses on modifying the feelings, thoughts, or behaviours stirred by a painful issue. EMDR Therapy is more focussed on allowing the brain to continue its natural healing process.
  • Tapping seems less prone to triggering intense emotions. EFT also incorporates safety measures like "Tearless Trauma," "Movie Technique," and "Following Physical Feelings" (also known as "Chasing the Agony") to approach painful experiences indirectly and safely.
  • The mechanism of action of EMDR can be explained totally in terms of standard neurobiology and psychological principles. Although the operation of EFT can be explained in comparable conventional ways, there are additional energy psychology modalities and phenomena related to the subtle energy system that cannot be explained in this way (5).


  • When used correctly, EFT is a very gentle therapy that allows trauma to be dispersed securely and gently, whereas EMDR is recognised for its potential side effects.
  • During an EFT session, the client can learn the fundamentals of EFT for Emotional First Aid, which can be used on their own and be very helpful in between sessions. Thus, if a client's unpleasant feelings reappear between sessions, EFT can benefit them, whereas EMDR is less accessible in self-help scenarios.
  • With EFT, no expensive equipment is required to create a movement for the eyes to follow. Although many people prefer in-person sessions for PTSD, EFT can be done over the phone.
  • Only expensively trained psychologists and accredited mental health specialists are allowed to utilise EMDR. EFT Tapping, on the other hand, can be facilitated by many well-trained EFT practitioners.
  • Most people prefer Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) over Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) (6).

"We may define therapy as a search for value." 



EFT Tapping and EMDR Therapy have certain similarities in that they are both excellent alternative healing techniques that help thousands of people today.

You can learn EFT Tapping phrases for yourself and others, as well as become a professional EFT Practitioner who can help people with physical and emotional problems. You can also learn EMDR with the help of a professional or licenced practitioner.


Dr Rangana Rupavi Choudhuri (PhD)

P.S. Want to discover if EFT Tapping is right for you? Book a Complimentary Discovery Call.

In summary, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a type of alternative therapy that helps people overcome physical and emotional problems. It entails tapping on certain energy areas on the body, most notably the head and the face. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that was developed to help people cope with the pain of traumatic memories. While both EMDR and EFT attempt to help people let go of distressing or traumatic feelings, they are not the same.

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