The EFT Definition of Terms

The Vitality Living College™ (VLC) Definition of Terms identifies and defines essential EFT concepts and skills used in VLC training. 

It is a reference resource for EFT practitioners, trainers and students. These agreed-upon standards are considered the backbone of successful application of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques).

1. Main Definitions

1.1  EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)

1.2 The Standard EFT Protocol (aka Standard EFT)

1.3  The Setup

1.4  The EFT Sequence

1.5  The Basic Recipe and the 9 Gamut Procedure

1.6  EFT Art of Delivery

2. Foundational EFT Concepts and Skills

2.1  Abreactions

2.2  The “Apex Effect”

2.3  Aspects

2.4  Body Sensations

2.5  Borrowing Benefits

2.6  The Box Technique

2.7  Calibration

2.8  Chasing the Pain

2.9  Cognitive Shifts

2.10  Core Issues

2.11  The Discovery Statement

2.12  “Do Not Go Where You Don’t Belong”

2.13  Doing Your Own Work

2.14 The 9 Gamut

2.15  The Generalisation Effect

2.16  Global to Get Specific

2.17  The “Inner Child” & EFT

2.18  Intensity Levels

2.19  Measuring

2.20  The Movie/Tell the Story Technique

2.21  Persistence

2.22  The Personal Peace Procedure

2.23  Rapport

2.24  Reframes

2.25  Reversals

2.26   Specific Past Events

2.27  Sneaking Up

2.28  Surrogate Tapping

2.29  The Tearless Trauma Technique

2.30  Tail-Enders

2.31 Tell the Story (Coming Soon)

2.32  Testing

2.33  “Through Me Not By Me”

3. EFT Extras

3.1  The Collarbone Breathing Exercise

3.2  Floor-to-Ceiling Eye-roll

In case you just want to jump to the relevant section, just click on the links above.


1.1  EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)

EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a form of therapy method which involves a process of intentional tapping (gently, with fingertips) on acupuncture meridian end-points on the face and upper body while saying statements based on psychology out loud.

An EFT intervention utilizes the same pathways/channels found in traditional Chinese energy medicine, whilst also capitalising on our ability to think about or "tune-in" to our problem or issue in proactive ways.

EFT or “tapping” is easy to learn and flexible enough to be used by anyone.

It can allow us to transform the way we respond to uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and troubling memories (with pain, tension or stress, for example).

Whether it is used alone or together with an experienced practitioner, EFT can bring surprising – and lasting – relief, change the energy we bring to any life situation, and so much more.

As we explore EFT for ourselves, we can become more aware of how our thoughts, beliefs and emotions affect us physiologically – and we can make changes for the better.

Read more by downloading a free booklet on Emotional Freedom Techniques,

1.2 The Standard EFT Protocol (aka Standard EFT)

The Standard EFT Protocol is the “Setup” and “Sequence” of tapping points that comprises one full round of EFT.

It is based upon the shortcut to the original EFT Basic Recipe and is designed to align with EFT developer Gary Craig’s Gold Standard EFT protocol. 

The Setup: Speak aloud, “Even though I have [this issue], I deeply and completely accept  myself” (state 3x while tapping the Side of Hand point). 

The Sequence with Reminder Phrase: Speak aloud, “[This issue]” while tapping each point in the Sequence:

  1. Top of Head (TOH),
  2. Eyebrow (EB),
  3. Side of Eye (SE),
  4.  Under Eye (UE),
  5. Under Nose (UN),
  6. Chin Point (CH),
  7. Collar Bone (CB),
  8. Under Arm (UA)
  9. Thumb
  10. Index Finger
  11. Middle Finger
  12. Little Finger

Options Tapping Methods:

  • The Setup phrase can be spoken only 1x at EFT Advanced Practitioner Level
  • Additional points like Gamut Point or the Finger Points may be added
  • Top of Head may be tapped last or for positive phrases
  • Additional strategies like the 9 Gamut Procedure, Under the breast, On the wrist, Ankle points, Thymus Points and Sore Spot may be used as needed

Sample round of EFT:

1. The Setup – Tapping Side of Hand: “Even though I have this headache, I deeply and completely accept myself,” Repeat 3x

2. The Sequence with reminder phrase:

  • Top of Head: This Headache
  • Eyebrow: This Headache
  • Side of Eye: This Headache
  • Under Eye: This Headache
  • Under Nose: This Headache
  • Chin Point: This Headache
  • Collar Bone: This Headache
  • Under Arm: This Headache
  • Thumb: This Headache
  • Index Finger: This Headache
  • Middle Finger: This Headache
  • Little Finger: This Headache

3. Closing the sequence – Tapping Side of Hand: “Even though I have this headache, I deeply and completely accept myself,”

1.3  The Setup (or “Setup Phrase”)

The EFT Setup is the first part of the Standard EFT Protocol, done at the beginning of a tapping round to prepare us for the changes we seek and/or to help us refocus the tapping when a separate Aspect arises (see Aspects). It is not necessarily a required component for every tapping round, but is highly recommended for achieving optimal results.

The Setup Phrase itself is a two-step process:

1. The first step is to tap on the SOH (Side of Hand, originally called the KC or Karate Chop) Point (or rub the Sore Spot, as original teaching described, outlined in the Vitality Living College Free EFT Booklet), while speaking aloud a phrase acknowledging/ tuning-in to the energy of the problem, uncomfortable feeling, thought, challenge, or body sensation (e.g. “Even though I have this             ,”)

2. The second step is to continue tapping while stating an affirmation of self-acceptance, acknowledgment or positive intention – to “balance” the negative focus. This allows stepping back more objectively from the problem (e.g. “…I deeply and completely accept myself)

For example: ”Even though I have this pain in my neck, I deeply and completely accept myself.” 

Either part of the Setup Phrase can be flexed in style, language or emphasis, based upon on the needs of the EFT client, e.g. Even though I have this pain in my neck, it feels better than it did 5 minutes ago

1.4 The EFT Sequence (or “Sequence of Tapping Points”)

The Sequence is the second part of the Standard EFT Protocol. It refers to tapping 8 EFT meridian endpoints in succession

  • Eyebrow (EB)
  • Side of Eye/Temple (SE)
  • Under the Eye (UE)
  • Under the Nose (UN)
  • The Chin (CH)
  • Collarbone (CB)
  • Under Arm (UA)
  • Top of the Head (TOH)
  • Thumb (TH)
  • Index Finger (IF)
  • Middle Finger (MF)
  • Little Finger (LF)

While saying a short, specific Reminder Phrase (e.g. This red headache in the side of my head).

The Reminder Phrase is the issue-at-hand from the first half of the Setup phrase – the words that describe the subjective experience of the client (feelings, thoughts, body sensations, etc.). It is used to maintain focus on the specific Aspect the client has chosen to address.

1.5 The Basic Recipe and the 9-Gamut Procedure

The original version of EFT as taught by EFT developer Gary Craig included four parts that are not often used in the more common shorter versions.  

The four additional parts are called:

  • Tapping on Finger Points
  •  Adding the 9-Gamut procedure (using the Gamut Point)
  • The Liver Point
  • The Sore Spot

Each of these extras can be used flexibly. Many experienced Practitioners, Advanced Practitioners and Trainers incorporate these elements in their EFT practice from time to time.

Add the Finger Points, Sore Spot, Liver Point or the 9-Gamut procedure to extend your Sequences, shake up the normal tapping procedure, and see what happens. 

The Original EFT Basic Recipe

  • Focus on the negative emotion and assess its intensity on a scale of 0-10.
  • Perform the Setup: While tapping on the Side of Hand point or gently rubbing the Sore Spot, repeat the following three times:
  • Even though I have this [uncomfortable emotion], I deeply and completely accept myself.

Tap through the Original Sequence while stating the Reminder Phrase with each point: Eyebrow, Side of Eye, Under Eye, Under Nose, Chin, Collarbone and Under the Arm. (In the Original Sequence, Top of Head was not used.)

              This [uncomfortable emotion]

Now tap the Finger Points*. For each finger, tap at the base of the nail on the side of the finger that is towards the body, starting with the Thumb, Index Finger, Middle Finger, Little Finger (you skip the Ring Finger, because the same meridian is tapped when you tap on the Gamut Point). *These points are actually on the thumb-side of the hands, along the L-shaped borders of the fingernail beds.

The Gamut Point is on the Back of the Hand between the knuckles, at the base of the ring and baby fingers (see the EFT Booklet for illustrations).

For the 9-Gamut Procedure (called this because there are 9 steps), you continuously tap on the Gamut Point while performing the following 9 steps:

  •  Close your eyes
  •  Open your eyes
  •  Eyes hard down to the right (head stays still)
  •  Eyes hard down to the left (head stays still)
  •  Roll the eyes 360° in one direction 
  •  Roll the eyes 360° in the other direction 
  •  Hum a bar of a tune (such as “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat” or “Happy Birthday”)
  •  Count, 1-2-3-4-5, then Hum the bar of the tune again

Return to the Original Sequence and tap through all the points again, stating the Reminder Phrase at each point:

  •  Eyebrow Point (EB), This [uncomfortable emotion]
  •  Side of Eye (SE), This [uncomfortable emotion]… etc.

This is the complete Original EFT Basic Recipe (now called “The Full Basic Recipe”).

Helpful Hint: “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat” and “Happy Birthday” are merely suggestions. You may find that “Happy Birthday” can bring up aspects around anniversaries, so you may want to be cautious in choosing this for the tune.

We find that what you start with tends to imprint - so choose your tune with care. It should be simple and brief, and, either emotionally neutral or positively meaningful for you.

One trainer had a musician client who chose the first two bars of a melody from his favorite composer, Franz Liszt.

1.6   EFT Art of Delivery 

Skillful application of EFT is called Art of Delivery. The term was coined by EFT developer Gary Craig to describe what happens when a person moves beyond doing EFT mechanically and becomes more adept at its application.

The focus in EFT Foundational (Level 1) is on learning the basic steps and processes of EFT and in EFT Practitioner Training (Level 2) is learning the Art of Delivery.

In other words, we may learn the mechanics of EFT in the classroom (and begin putting them into practice), but Art of Delivery is built on the quality and consistency of our practice, combined with mentoring and practice sessions, encountering a range of real-world people and issues. 

At EFT Advanced Practitioner level, the Art of Delivery is defined as nuanced, practical, creative and adaptive application of foundational and advanced EFT. 


2.1   Abreactions 

Abreactions are normal but intense emotional reactions – when a client is hijacked by strong emotion or simply overcome with emotion.

These often display as a marked increase in negative emotional intensity (uncontrolled sobbing, disconnecting from emotions and or emotional overwhelm). For example the client can suddenly:

  • Cry
  • Feel panicked
  • Feel overwhelmed 

The chance of having an Abreaction can be minimised, or potentially avoided, by mindful, careful, and gentle application of foundational (Level 1 and Level 2) EFT skills, especially Rapport, and the Gentle Techniques.

Sometimes Abreactions (or strong emotions) occur despite our best efforts, and involve more intensity than the client or practitioner can safely and confidently handle (see Do Not Go Where You Don’t Belong).

When an abreaction happens, despite all our cautiousness, it is best to stay calm and keep on tapping until the emotional intensity has been neutralised.

Some approaches that can be followed when the client is Abreacting are:

  • Say to the client, "Stay with me, stay with me, breathe, breathe."
  • Say to the client, "You are safe now, just breathe."
  • Say to the client, "It's ok to cry. It's ok. Just let it happen."
  • Ask the client to tap, "Under the eye, collarbone, under the arm", this is known as the Triple Point Calmer
  • Ask the client or ask permission to touch the 9 Gamut while breathing (follow your local safe touch COVID procedures when touching the client).
  • Gently Tap down the spinal column. For online sessions you can get the client to imagine you are tapping down the spinal column.
  • Tap on the front of the feet while letting the client know they are safe (follow local safe touch COVID procedures) 
  • You can also interrupt the abreaction by asking the client to breathe and take a sip of water
  • Let the client know that you will continue to tap, using their words, and they can follow along silently until the intensity comes down. If you chose this approach also let the client know, in case you say something that is not right, then they can stop you straightaway. This still empowers the clients even if they are not repeating the phrases out loud with you. This is because when an abreaction is happening, the client may not necessarily be able to communicate verbally. 

Also, in some cases where the client says or otherwise indicates they are “checking out,” for example, a higher skill set or mental health experience may be required to safely assist the client.

When in doubt, practitioners are required to refer out to more experienced practitioners specifically trained to handle such circumstances.

2.2   The “Apex Effect” 

The Apex Effect was a term coined by Roger Callahan to describe the cognitive dissonance of change.

In EFT, changes happen so quickly and tapping can be so foreign to one’s existing beliefs that results received in the session can be attributed to almost anything but the tapping. This could manifest as denial or reluctance to seeing the original severity of the problem, or attributing it to other causes or efforts to manage the problem.

The existence of the Apex Effect is another reason for doing rigorous and thorough Testing, and the taking of notes, to demonstrate the before and after effects of tapping. 

2.3 Aspects

Every problem has a series of aspects. Aspects are defined as the separate parts, features, and pieces of a larger, more “global” problem or issue.

Aspects can be:
• Feelings
• Events

• Beliefs

In EFT it is recommended to work through one aspect at a time. Begin with the aspect that is most present for the client. 

This can be the one with the highest emotional charge (other than when working with the movie technique when you begin with the part of the memory with the lowest charge) or with the aspect the client feels safest working with.

As the SUDs of the original aspect lowers move to the next aspect. Sometimes you will notice aspects are inter-related.

Never assume you know your client’s aspects. Work with their aspects using their words at the pace they are comfortable. 

At times when the intensity goes up it is usually a new aspect that has emerged. When this happens begin afresh and treat it as a new part of the problem.

When a new aspect emerges start then tapping sequence at the Karate Chop or any of the points that clear psychological reversal.

Fear of Flying, for example, is a global (vast and complex) issue, likely comprised of many smaller aspects. In other words, there are probably a number of specific fears involved. 

Several specific aspects of a fear of flying might be:

  • Fear of plane crashing
  • Fear of enclosed spaces, claustrophobia 
  • Fear of not being able to breathe

BBC Documentary on how EFT cures fear of flying.

Once identified, each aspect must be handled separately for optimal results.

Aspects may also include specific events. For example in the case of fear of flying:

  • I watched a plane crash
  • My brother surprised me with a spider in my face

The term “Activated Aspect” describes the most intense, current, or present aspect at any given moment in an EFT interaction.

Examples of Global Issues versus Aspects provided by our EFT Students

Global: Fear of failure


  • Fear of exams
  • As a child looking up for approval from parents
  • As a child scolded or often corrected while doing chores
  • Laughed or mocked in the class by teachers
  • Perfectionism

Global: Lack of self-confidence


  • Judgement from parents during childhood
  • A prior attempt to do something (on a much smaller scale) that failed
  • Perfectionist archetype
  • Limiting belief

Global: Relationship Complications


  • Rejection in relationship
  • Betrayal

Global: Anxiety about future


  • Low self confidence about meeting new people 
  • Feeling uneasy to go to a friend's party

2.4   Body Sensations 

When a person can describe their physiological awareness of emotional intensity (i.e. “fear in my stomach,” or “a tightness in my throat” etc.), the client’s wording can be used as Reminder Phrases as you tap to reduce the intensity of this experience. Helping someone bring awareness to what their subjective experience is like or feels like in their body is one way of being gentle, and can help reduce emotional intensity, positively affect symptoms, etc. 

Examples include: “This iron bar in my shoulders,” “This pleasant pink feeling in my chest,” This spiky black steel ball of anger in my belly,” “Feels like a liquid feeling in my arms,” “A ton of bricks on my shoulders” are examples of a person’s subjective awareness of body sensations.

If someone does not readily feel body sensations – this may be a sign of being disconnected from emotions, or it might simply be the hallmark of someone not accustomed to accessing physiological information. In this case, it may be helpful to ask someone to feel their feet on the floor or how the chair feels or their hands on their thighs. Asking the client, “If the pain had a shape, what would it be?” or telling the client to “make it up” is often helpful, because they will be drawing on their own experience to do that. Practitioner patience and discretion is required regarding the need to ask further or to change the approach. 

Chasing the Pain describes the concept of when a physiological symptom appears to move around the body and we “chase” it by tapping on any new Aspects of it. For example, a shoulder pain may begin in the middle of the back, and after a few rounds of tapping, move down the arm. We would apply EFT to each Aspect of the pain (see Chasing the Pain).

2.5   Borrowing Benefits 

Borrowing Benefits is a phenomenon that happens when we experience a reduction in emotional intensity (or a shift in awareness) after tapping along with a group, audio, video or live EFT session – especially when the client’s issue mirrors our own.

Borrowing Benefits is also a strategy. It involves setting an intention to work on our own specific issue before turning our complete focus towards assisting someone else to tap through an unrelated issue. After tapping (and speaking) along with the other person, we often find a reduction in the emotional intensity (or a shift in our awareness) around our specific concern, even when it was not specifically addressed in the tapping.

As a strategy, Borrowing Benefits can be used formally with a group to help each attendee clearly identify an issue to address in preparation for ‘tapping along’ with a demonstration.

2.6   The Box Technique 

Principles of protective distancing are sometimes taught in a variation known as the Box or Container Techniques. In “boxing,” the event is placed in a container as described by the client and safely put in any location the client selects. Boxing is a valuable distancing technique that works especially well for visual learners. Boxing gives the added benefit of returning the client to some control over the troubling event or memory. 

This type of containment can be offered anytime there is a need to minimise emotional intensity. For example, a practitioner might say, “If you were going to put this issue in a safe place or container for now, what does the container look like?” or “Where would you like that box to be?” 

Boxing is one way of offering effective closure or a putting away of any remaining intensity or ending an EFT interaction safely.

Other means of closure include “tapping down” remaining intensity in creative ways, putting the issue in a locked container in the client’s choice of safe place (bottom of ocean, on Mars, etc.), or freezing the event in the memory. Tapping on the Aspects of the box also works as a metaphor and lowers intensity (e.g. Even though it’s large and heavy, I deeply and completely…).  

In class I had shared the example of my client who has signed up for EFT sessions so she could make peace with a past sexual abuse incident.

In her case:

1. The first session started with splitting the whole incident into 6 episodes. The episodes were placed in DVD boxes and then in another box and then a trunk at the bottom of the sea. The client chose the DVD boxes and trunk as well as bottom of the sea. The first session we only tapped on the box being at the bottom of the sea and the complex emotions she felt as a result.

2. Then each session we work with an episode at a time.

3. The second session we worked only on the first couple of minutes where she had an intuition to get out of her friends house but did not act on it. So we mainly tapped on the regret.

4. The next session we combined box number 2 and 3 and the next session 3 and 4. When we got to box 5 and 6, it did not seem as important anymore.

5. At the root cause was a lack of self love and confidence and ability to say no.

6. The closing sessions were on my client letting go of beliefs associated with the incident and to open to a healthy relationship.

7. On finishing the 6th session, my client finally felt safe to go to a party at another friends house.

2.7   Calibration 

Observation, of even minute details of a client’s breath, movements and behaviors, is a critical skill in working successfully with others.

Calibration means taking meaningful measurements of these details on a variety of levels (see Measuring).

When a practitioner assesses a client’s subtle cues for changes in emotional intensity or cognitive understanding (physiological, verbal, etc.), such as body language or non-verbal cues, this is called Calibrating.

Calibrating client responses is a key skill in having EFT be as painless as possible by going only as fast as the client is ready to go.

For example, a client might verbally say they are ready to approach tapping through a specific troubling memory, but a practitioner calibrates for example, that the person has otherwise shallow breathing and short phrasing indicating that there is more tapping to do on peripheral Aspects (see Sneaking Up) before the specific troubling event should be addressed more directly.

2.8   Chasing The Pain 

Chasing the Pain is the process of identifying and then following a physical sensation as it may move or change within the body. Working with the body sensations is one of the most common approaches of using EFT (See Body Sensations). Chasing the Pain can also be an appropriately gentle approach and may help Sneak Up on a problem (see Sneaking Up).

As the name implies, one “chases” the physical sensation - whether merely a physical sensation, discomfort or an actual pain – wherever it moves or however it changes. 

Patiently and diligently “chasing” the pain around the body will often lead to the discovery and/or release of an underlying emotion or “contributing” emotional issue.

Helpful Hint: Tapping with specific descriptions for physical sensations of any kind is better than using more general (i.e. global) statements. Using the related medical terms, when they are known, can also be useful, but as a rule, the client’s own descriptors for the sensation are best.

How to Chase the Pain

  • Get as specific as possible with the description of that physical sensation … where exactly, how big, how deep, how wide, sharp, dull, tingling, tight, etc. 
  • Ask the client (even if the client is you) to rate that physical sensation from 0-10 
  • Use the Standard EFT Protocol on the physical sensation until it either goes away or changes quality/location (e.g. “Even though I have this tension in my neck…”) 
  • If it changes quality or location, get a new description, a new intensity rating, and start a new tapping process until it goes away or changes again 
  • Continue releasing all the various versions of the pain until there is nothing to report or the sensation is “as low as it will go”
  • Finally, check on the intensity level of the underlying emotional issue/event and, chances are, there will be significant improvement. If not, look for other angles of the issue/event to address…

2.9   Cognitive Shifts (or “Client Reframes”) 

Cognitive Shifts or “Client Reframes,” are when a client begins to see their issue in a different way or in a different context, and these usually after tapping thoroughly on Aspects or after systematically addressing Core Issues and Specific Past Events. 

Cognitive Shifts can be incorporated into EFT by replacing the acceptance portion of the Setup with the client’s own words (e.g. “Even though I have this problem, I’m realizing it truly wasn’t my fault”) or utilising those words in the Sequence (i.e. Top of Head: “This problem,” Eyebrow: “This problem,” Side of the Eye: “I’m realizing it truly wasn’t my fault,” Under Eye: “This problem wasn’t my fault,” etc.). 

Sometimes, an EFT practitioner can invite the client to offer her or his own Reframe. For example, a practitioner might invite a client to say, “the truth is…” and the client will respond by saying something akin to, “The truth is… I didn’t know what I didn’t know, because I was only 5 years old.” In this example, there is a cognitive shift (“I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” but also a realization, “because I was only 5 years old,” that reframes the situation. This change in perspective was invited by the practitioner, but arose from the client in his or her own words.

2.10  Core Issues (or “Limiting Beliefs,” “Tabletops,” “Writings on the Wall,” “Rules we live by,” “Vows” etc.)

Core Issues are generalized conclusions we have drawn about ourselves, our skills, abilities and limitations or life in general based upon our relationship to specific and generally adverse, and often early life experiences.

Core Issues are our beliefs and values we hold about others, the world and ourselves. These ‘rules’ often guide our decisions and actions. “I’m not good enough,” “the world isn’t safe,” or “people in my family don’t get educated,” “it’s my role to take care of others,” “rich people are greedy,” are all examples of various Core Issues. Core Issues can also be the vows or decisions we’ve made, which become the rules we live by (e.g. “I’ll never be ok”, “It’s always going to be like this”, “It will never...” “I’ll always...”).

EFT developer Gary Craig created several metaphors to help us understand the origin and impact of Core Issues:

  • Writings On Our Walls is a metaphor for how events in our lives create our beliefs about the world. The metaphor continues, describing how each of us is born into a “Palace of Possibilities,” an expansive mansion (representing our potential) that we rarely allow ourselves to enjoy, because of all the “rules” we (or others) have written on our walls – kept in place by our negative self-talk, and reflected in the quality of our lives. EFT works directly on this writing or negative self-talk
  • The Tabletop Metaphor* relates to the specific beliefs we hold about the world, our abilities or ourselves as a Tabletop, supported by “legs” of life experience. In this metaphor, the Legs once provided the personal, learned evidence that supports our beliefs as true (see Specific Past Events)

*The Tabletop Metaphor is also useful for describing the presenting or “global” issue (e.g. anxiety) as a tabletop that is supported by “legs” of Specific Past Events

In EFT terms, Core Issues are generally “global” or too broad to resolve successfully without addressing the specific events (legs) that support them (tabletops)

Experienced EFT practitioners believe that finding and resolving Core Issues is intrinsic to the ultimate effectiveness or success of an EFT intervention. 

Core Issues are often implied (i.e. subconscious) and don’t always easily surface clearly during the EFT process. For example, a limiting belief such as, “I don’t deserve to be happy” can remain implicit, hidden or unexamined – even though it may be at the core of a person’s present difficulties. During tapping, it may only arise, for example, when a Cognitive Shift has occurred (i.e. the client remarks, “After tapping through [those early events], I feel lighter and more at ease than I have in years. I don’t think I ever felt I deserved to be happy,” etc.). 

Tapping on the global “I don’t deserve to be happy” may yield little in the way of permanent results (e.g. banging on a tabletop), yet tapping systematically through past events that played a role in creating that belief may indeed help the person begin to question and change the perceived limitation about her or himself (see 2.25 Specific Past Events). 

All Core Issues are not necessarily created equal either. Some, like “people in my family weren’t educated,” may rest on larger, vaster beliefs such as “we’re bad people” or “I’m a bad person.” A metaphor for this phenomenon is called “multiple tabletops.”

In general, beliefs that speak to our essence as human beings such as “I’m not good enough,” “I’m broken,” “I only have value if I take care of others,” etc., are usually at the heart of Core Issues.

2.11   The Discovery Statement 

The Discovery Statement is EFT Developer Gary Craig’s original theory underlying the roots of emotional distress. It says, “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system”. One premise of EFT is that the tapping of acupoints on the face and body addresses the energetic disruption while the words target the problem/issue at hand. The Discovery Statement is a foundational part of EFT history and a starting point for discussion of the roots of emotional distress.

2.12   “Do Not Go Where You Don’t Belong” 

Learning to use EFT does not necessarily qualify anyone to work with specific groups of people they are not otherwise qualified to assist. For example, if someone has a serious psychiatric condition, including addiction disorders, EFT may only be safe for them if they are working with someone who has both EFT AND a psychiatric or clinical psychology qualification. 

It is another reason that we need to get a thorough history with clients and this includes, besides asking them their story, asking about medical conditions and recent treatments and psychiatric diagnoses and prescriptions. We also need to be on the alert for symptoms of conditions and anything else they do not disclose. 

Inexperienced practitioners should not consider working with people with serious trauma histories, until or unless they have done additional training in setting a safe framework in which to embed their EFT work with such clients, and until they have built up their EFT expertise through experience. 

It is also essential that we do not, even inadvertently, encourage anyone to use EFT for physical conditions instead of conventional medical assessment and treatment. EFT can, however, be an extremely helpful complementary resource in many medical situations. For example, someone may decide to have chemotherapy for cancer and EFT for their feelings about having cancer and for side effects of the chemotherapy. 

If we are in doubt about EFT’s suitability for someone in their present physical/psychological health we can, with their permission, ask for input from their doctor or consultant both for their protection and for our own. We can also refer out, for example, to someone with an appropriate mental health qualification.

How Do We Know?

How does a practitioner know if s/he should work with someone, or whether s/he should refer that person to someone else? One of the biggest issues here is that we don't know what we don't know*.

One issue here is capacity to cope with intensity – both the client's capacity and the practitioner’s capacity. In terms of the client, there are various factors that suggest a smaller capacity for coping with intensity may be more likely, such as in instances of chronic abuse and childhood trauma, severe physical health conditions, or severe mental health conditions.

However, there can be clients with no diagnoses of conditions, or memory of trauma, who still have a very low capacity for coping with intensity, and likewise, clients with a history of trauma or severe mental or physical health conditions who have a high capacity for coping with intensity.

It is therefore important to:

  • Check for general indicating factors of low capacity, and
  • Check-in with the client about her/his personal capacity. For example, a practitioner can ask what a client does to feel better if they feel very angry or upset.  A practitioner can ask how it tends to affect them when they experience strong emotions. A practitioner can ask what kind of support they have around them. From this, a practitioner can gauge a great deal about the client's capacity for coping with intensity. If they don't tend to cope with it well, then practitioners must consider their own capacity for managing what may come up

The practitioner’s own capacity is often much harder to gauge, as it requires a high degree of self-awareness and acceptance of one’s own limits. Firstly, if the client has a diagnosis of severe or complex trauma, how much does the practitioner know about this area, and how might the client be affected if something is too much for working with them?

Secondly, what is the practitioner’s capacity for managing, holding and calming high intensity in another person without being adversely affected? If the honest answer to either or both of these questions is, “I don't know,” or “I'm not sure,” then the practitioner needs to consider whether s/he belongs with this client. Mentoring can help practitioners develop their own resilience and capacity to manage, hold or calm high intensity. 

*Much information can be revealed in a thorough intake or information form.

2.13   Doing Your Own Work

When we apply EFT to ourselves regularly and consistently, we not only feel better, but also remove possible obstacles and triggers that can hinder our delivery of quality EFT to clients.

By tapping successfully on our own behalf (for the issues, triggers or challenges that arise professionally with clients and interpersonally with friends, family, etc.), we develop and maintain congruence between what we say we are able to do and what we are actually able to do

Proactively handling “our own stuff,” whether tapping on our own, or together with a tapping buddy, or with an EFT practitioner, we significantly increase our level of awareness and can more naturally and easily be fully present, accurately assess each situation, be objective, non- judgmental, and free of our own agenda, in addition to other positive benefits.

EFT mastery comes, in part, from ongoing quality self-work and diligent, consistent, and, more often than not, creative day-to-day application and experience of foundational EFT skills and strategies (see The Personal Peace Procedure). Effective ongoing mentoring with a more experienced practitioner also plays a role in our ability to see our abilities (and ourselves) more clearly.

2.14   The 9-Gamut Procedure

The 9-Gamut Procedure has been called the Brain Balancer. The eye movements, humming (right brain) and counting (left brain) help to engage and “balance” the right and left sides of the brain. It was a part of the original EFT Basic Recipe, but in EFT history, Gary Craig stopped using it routinely around 1998 when he realized that he usually got excellent results without it. 

Many practitioners still find it quite useful. The 9-Gamut Procedure generally creates a pleasant feeling and it can also help loosen things up – sometimes by adding a needed dose of humor to a session – especially when working with a problem that is persistent. 

In terms of the larger field of Energy Psychology, the 9-Gamut Procedure is akin to a popular modality called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), created by Dr. Francine Shapiro. 

A major feature of EMDR is stimulating right and left brain hemispheres through eye movements. EMDR is considered an evidence-based methodology and is accepted as a standard trauma treatment in many countries.

2.15   The Generalisation Effect  

When EFT is applied to several Specific Past Events or Aspects, an interesting and useful phenomenon occurs: Similar Events or Aspects to the one in process may also lose their emotional charge, even though they remain specifically unaddressed. 

In other words, skillful EFT application can cause a Generalisation Effect across many similar Aspects. This is one example of why EFT has been known to work so well – one does not need to apply EFT to all or even many Specific Past Events or Aspects to get a positive, lasting result. However, how many varies with each client, history, issue, etc.

2.16   Global to Get Specific

Applying EFT thoroughly to a specific Aspect is ideal for optimal results, yet there is often a need to start tapping more generally, broadly or “globally” before we are able to get more specific. This strategy is called Global to Get Specific, and can be used when specific Aspects are not yet clear or there is a need to reduce presenting intensity.

When specifics are not yet clear, we might tap on the more global fear of flying, initially, in order to ascertain which specific Aspects of the “flying fear” are the most intense or currently present for the client.  

As a variation of Global to Get Specific, a practitioner might begin by tapping on, “I hate flying…” and then add the word, “because...” followed by a pause, to help the person be more in touch with specific factors (Aspects) that surround the fear. The client, in response to the “because,” might then say, “…because I’m trapped in there with so many people,” which is a more specific Aspect.

A practitioner could then ask what is the worst part of being “trapped in there with more people” which could lead to even more Aspects and perhaps lead to the core behind the fear of flying (using their words is important). This “drilling down” to the more and more specific is a more beneficial avenue for applying EFT (see Sneaking Up or Core Issues). 

Global to Get Specific can also be used as a way of gently approaching an intense problem or issue (see Sneaking Up). In other words, tapping “globally” can reduce presenting intensity before getting more specific.

2.17   The “Inner Child” & EFT

We can use EFT and our inner visual, imaginative, or otherwise felt senses to connect with younger parts of ourselves – “inner child” parts that did not get what they needed from caregivers or early relationships. Using EFT, we can acknowledge the experience of these younger parts, get in touch with emotions the child never had a chance to process, and facilitate whatever is needed (e.g. releasing anger, soothing fears or sadness).

In skilled hands, work with EFT acknowledges the child’s reality with respect, compassion, and understanding – including awareness of how the child got to that state. Through the tapping process, the practitioner helps the client become a compassionate witness to what the child went through, how it affected them or how it is affecting them to this day. 

For more about how to use EFT with the “Inner Child”, see the VLC Level 3 Syllabus, Training Points, and Learning Outcomes

2.18    Intensity Levels (or “SUDS: Subjective Units of Distress Scale” or “VOC Scale: Validity of Cognition”) 

EFT borrows two popular psychology concepts: SUDS (Subjective Units of Distress Scale) and VOC (Validity of Cognition) to help us ascertain emotional intensity or the perceived strength of a personal limitation or limiting belief. 

To use the SUDS scale, we ask the client on a scale of 0-10 how intense or charged something feels. This can be done before, during or after a round of EFT (e.g. “How bad is that headache?” “How painful is that memory?”  “How much does it hurt?”). It is useful as a benchmark for Testing, to help a client recognize their progress, and more (see Measuring).

When a client is asked how true something feels, they are being asked for their VOC, or Validity of Cognition, as a benchmark. VOC is intended to measure emotional – or felt – truth as opposed to logical truth. For many mental health professionals, the VOC scale is known as a 1-7 “truth” scale, but for ease in Vitality Living College, a 0-10 or percentage 0% (feels not true) to 100% (feels true) scale is used.

VOC is especially useful when assessing (or Testing) how limiting beliefs have reduced as a result of tapping on Core Issues or Specific Past Events. For example, if a client says, “I’m a disappointment to my father,” a practitioner may ask, “How true does that feel now from zero to 100%?” 

Variations or combinations of these processes can be used based on a client’s needs:

  • A child can illustrate Intensity Levels using the space between the hands (e.g. “I feel this bad”)
  • After tapping on a specific event such as “that time I was humiliated in class,” a practitioner may ask for a VOC level on a limitation a client had mentioned earlier (to ascertain what might have changed), such as “I can’t stand up in front of people and talk” and then use SUDS to measure the intensity of a presenting issue, such as “fear of giving my speech in front of the class”
  • The VOC scale can be particularly helpful for those who have some difficulty accessing their feelings directly (e.g. “You used the word ‘devastated’ to describe life after your breakup. How true does that word feel now?”)

2.19   Measuring

Measuring is the way a client or practitioner assesses Intensity Levels before, during and after tapping. Measuring is ideally not limited to the SUDS or VOC scale, but can take many forms, e.g. using the space between one’s hands, child-friendly descriptions, such as “yuck,” range of temperature (hotter or cooler), range of colors (warm to cool), line scale, amount of distance, identifying whether something is S, M, L, XL, etc., and even a simple sense of thing or assessment of a state of affairs.

The key to effective Measuring is to use a measurement that is meaningful to the client. This may include a description of how they experience intensity or an emotional “charge” in the body, whether numbers are used or not. Metaphor and cognitive shifts and changes in body sensations are all ways of measuring change.

Measuring is often used as a benchmark for Testing any remaining emotional intensity, felt truth, etc. It can be verbally reported in a casual manner (i.e. one might say, “It feels a bit better” or “it seems lighter now as we tap,” etc.). Casual Measuring of progress is a useful option when a client does not positively respond to other measurements.

Since there are many ways of assessing progress, no one approach (or way of Measuring) must ever be pushed on a client. Because it can reassure the client that issues are moving and can give practitioners information, Measuring in some meaningful way is a key factor in utilizing EFT successfully. 

2.20   The Movie Technique/Tell the Story Technique

The Movie Technique is for gently and thoroughly reducing the emotional intensity of past troubling memories or other Specific Past Events, one crescendo of intensity (handled as one Aspect) at a time.

The purpose of this approach is to disarm the negative impact, whether known or unknown, a specific event has had, and continues to have, on a person’s present life experience.

Whether the emphasis is on imagining what happened visually as in a specific movie scene, describing what is happening in each frame of the scenario, OR telling a linear narrative story of what happened, moment-by-moment, the Movie Technique allows the person to use tapping – together with their inner senses and imagination – to gently engage the specifics of a past troubling event and release the negative impact, in a thorough and step-by-step manner.

In the early days of EFT, “movie” and “story” were not clearly differentiated, and the value of a movie/story approach was that it could allow us to contain the upsetting event, work through it in a gentle and controlled manner, and slow things down to reveal and clear all the crescendos of emotion or spikes in emotional intensity. It’s the slowing down and the working on each crescendo (i.e. Aspect) separately that allows EFT to have measurable results.


In the Movie Technique, we begin by choosing a specific event or moment in time – something short and manageable in length - usually about two minutes or less - with a beginning, middle, and end. We then give this story or movie scene an appropriate title (according to the client) and tap on the title (i.e. tap rounds using the title as the Reminder Phrase) until the person is comfortable with the idea of narrating the story or movie scene. 

Giving the story or movie scene an appropriate title is a “protective distancing” strategy that allows us to gently approach and handle any negative emotional intensity found within the narrative. Titling minimizes the possibility of an intense emotional reaction (see Abreactions) or more suffering. An appropriate title is one that does not, in itself, cause more emotional intensity, such as a code word or a generic title (e.g. “That day at the beach”). In other words, tapping on the title helps the client begin processing the emotional intensity of the memory, so they can ease gently into telling or narrating their story.

In practice, there are different ways of applying Movie/Tell the Story, based on the needs of the client. The client will either “watch the movie” or “tell the story,” depending upon their perspective and comfort level. 

How To Do The Movie Technique 

While there can be different emphasis and metaphor depending upon how the story or movie is narrated, the same steps apply:

  • Choose a short movie or story, something you can picture in your mind that is about two minutes in length. If it is longer, you’ll need to make several scenes/smaller movies or stories out of it for easier handling. There should be a starting point and an end point. Choose this one scene and give it a title. Measure the intensity of the title
  • Tap to reduce the negative emotional intensity of the title as low as it will go (down to at least a 4 on the SUDS scale) or until you/client are truly comfortable with the idea of narrating the story or watching the movie
  • Begin recounting the scene or story from a place of neutral emotional intensity, stopping to tap thoroughly (apply as many rounds of EFT as needed) on any rise (crescendo or increase) in negative emotional intensity along the way. Finally, Measure and Test for any remaining negative emotional intensity by narrating the movie or story again
  • If needed, use creative suggestions of “rewinding" or using an imaginary remote control to create an even gentler or more thorough facilitation. The scene can also be narrated silently for privacy (see below)

In practice, the Movie Technique is nuanced – not everyone will facilitate it or walk through it in quite the same way, and it is natural to blend “watching the movie” and “telling a story”.

Creative variations (for the purposes of being gentle, private, etc.) can include running the movie silently, keeping the picture images at a distance, imagining the scene unfolding in slow motion, running the movie in black and white, tapping on the title from a distance, etc. In practice, it is easier to assist the client if the movie or story is narrated aloud.

The benefit of having the client runs the movie or story silently is that privacy can be maintained. Keywords can also be used to keep details private (e.g. for working with groups or intensely personal issues like sexual assault). In every case, practitioners must Calibrate, Measure and

Test effectively to ascertain which approach is the most appropriate.  

Specific tapping strategies like Sneaking Up, Tearless Trauma (or Guessing) & Awareness of Body Sensations are often necessary companions to the Movie & Tell the Story Technique, especially when there is a need for an even gentler approach.

2.21   Persistence 

When we keep looking for ways to use EFT to assist ourselves – despite setbacks – we are being persistent. Persistence is considered a foundational EFT skill because it means we are always thinking creatively about how to tap through some of our most challenging or complex issues. 

Persistence means we don’t give up. Instead, we remain open to approaching our issues from different angles. When we value our successes and don’t let our apparent lack of progress get us down, we can learn from our supposed “failures” and become more confident and more effective EFT practitioners. See Doing Your Own Work.

2.22   The Personal Peace Procedure 

The Personal Peace Procedure is a useful method for addressing one’s own issues with EFT. It involves making a list of all the specific scenes or events you can remember and methodically working through the list. 

There is no recommended way to order the memories. They can be chronological, grouped in themes, or random, as long as safety is maintained by starting with memories that don’t evoke high emotion (as when learning EFT).

Memories can be addressed in any order you choose (e.g. by starting down the list or working on the most intense or the least intense ones first, etc.). The idea is to address each issue in the gentlest way possible, just as you would with a client.

It is not unusual when working solo to find that you prefer the assistance of another EFT practitioner. It can be very helpful to utilise the energy and objectivity of another to help us resolve some challenging issues – particularly regarding early and repetitive childhood trauma. 

The Personal Peace Procedure is a systematic way to do EFT for our own self-care. It is a prerequisite before we start to work professionally with others, and a way to deal with issues that arise in our lives and work thereafter. 

The procedure involves working through all the recalled negative memories – one at a time – until neutralized (until the intensity is zero or as low as it will go). Typically working on one memory will bring another into awareness. When it does, add it to the list (but complete work on one specific memory at a time).

A “negative” memory in this context is a memory we remember as having been negative, whether the emotion attached currently feels intense or not. Often when we begin to tap on memories, which seem to have a SUDs level of zero, tapping lifts the repression of the emotion and we experience it, and then work through it.  

 A detailed “how to” guide to the Personal Peace Procedure can be found on this link, add link.  

2.23   Rapport 

Rapport is the quality of the connection between practitioner and client (or mentor and mentee). 

In general, Rapport involves being in tune with the other person, and Calibration is how we stay in Rapport with them – by observing, paying attention, and adjusting to their cues. A quality of relationship must be nurtured with our clients, comprised of careful listening, close observation, sensitivity, and mindfulness of our role in the EFT interaction. Without it, Rapport cannot be established or will easily “break”. 

Rapport can thrive when the client feels understood and trusts that the practitioner is on their side at any given moment. When there is strong Rapport, practitioners have wide latitude to try varied approaches, make appropriate offers (Reframes), and approach all areas of the interaction with greater sympathy, understanding and humor. 

It cannot be overstated: The success of an EFT interaction rests on having and maintaining a robust, healthy and considered Rapport, and it is in the best interests of all involved to maintain (or sometimes, regain) Rapport by behaving ethically and professionally – with great care and consideration for the relationship and the quality of the connection – at all times. 

More information on Rapport in EFT can be found in the Vitality Living College Mentoring Handbook the Vitality Living College Level 1 and Level 2 Training Guides, and The Vitality Living College Case Study Guidance Manual.

2.24   Reframes (or “Practitioner Reframes”) 

In EFT, Reframing is when an EFT practitioner offers words to help a client see their issue, current situation, past situation, etc., in a different way and incorporates them into the tapping process. Reframes can be particularly useful when the client indicates readiness for a change in perspective after an issue has been brought down to a lower intensity level (3 or less).

To work successfully, Reframes have to land: They must be accepted or “picked-up” by the client. To maximize the probability that a Reframe will be a match for the client, it must be well timed, appropriate and mindful of Rapport. 

Great care must be exercised when offering a client any opportunity to consider an idea that has not come directly from her/him, and it is important to pay close attention to whether or not the client is ready to receive the new idea. When in doubt, a practitioner should ask (e.g. "Is that right?" or “I used my words there, not yours. What was it like to say those words?” or “Is that true for you? How would you change those words to be true for you?”)

How to Reframe

When Reframing, a practitioner either replaces the acceptance portion of the Setup with an offer to see the situation differently (e.g. “Even though I have this problem, that was then and this is now”) or incorporates that offer into the Sequence (e.g. Top of Head: “I have this problem,” Eyebrow: “but that was then, and this is now…”). 

The term “Rambling Reframe” was coined by Gary Craig to describe when a practitioner improvises incorporating various Reframes throughout the Sequence, (i.e. Top of Head: “that was then and this is now” Eyebrow: “I’ll never get over this.” Side of Eye: “And you can’t make me.” Under Eye: “I want to get over this,” Under Nose: “but a part of me does and a part of me doesn’t,” etc.).

Humorous or exaggerated Reframes like the example above can be useful as long as careful consideration is given to Rapport and timing. Here is an example of a humorous, exaggerated Reframe that landed successfully because Core Issues and Specific Past Events had been thoroughly addressed and the timing was right (e.g. the client had indicated readiness to make light of the situation): “Even though I learned in high school never to trust a relationship, I’m going to keep believing relationship advice from a sixteen-year-old, because sixteen-year-olds know everything there is to know about relationships.” Timing is crucial because a Reframe can only truly land when the client is ready to receive it – usually after careful and thorough EFT has been done first. 

Some Reframes land with a client, and others do not. In many cases there is no harm done offering a Reframe that doesn’t work, as the practitioner can return to reflecting the client’s own words and incorporating his/her Reframes into the tapping. In the worst-case scenario, the wrong Reframe (at the wrong time) or an over-abundance of or careless use of Reframing can actually damage Rapport (see Rapport). This is usually because the practitioner has an agenda and is no longer listening to the needs and subjective experience of the client. 

Vitality Living College recommends Reframes be used sparingly, with particular emphasis on using the client’s own Reframes whenever possible (see Cognitive Shifts). If there is an over- abundance of Reframing, a practitioner should question whether opportunities are being missed to work with what the client is bringing to the table.

2.25   Reversals (or “Psychological Reversal”) 

Psychological Reversal (also called “PR”) was a term introduced in the time of Roger Callahan to describe any conflict (or block) in the person’s energy system OR subconscious resistance that may impede the tapping process. Originally, the Setup Phrase was designed to correct for this “blockage” and allow for temporary energy flow correction by tapping on a specific meridian point. For example, tapping on the Side of Hand point and contrasting “Even though I have this problem or issue”, with the affirmative, “I deeply and completely accept myself,” was designed to allow EFT to be effective, even in the presence of Psychological Reversal. 

The term “Reversal” specifically referenced the concept of a polarity reversal or “batteries in backwards” metaphor, including forms of toxicity in the environment that can/could defeat the EFT process.  

Reversals as Separate Aspects

In recent years, it is generally accepted among experienced EFT professionals (including EFT developer Gary Craig) that “reversals” are best identified and handled as separate Aspects. 

Therefore, Reversals are defined as a specific group of Aspects that can negatively affect the EFT process. These can be conscious or subconscious and include secondary gains, resistance, conflicting beliefs or protective parts that stand in the way of progress. When EFT progress is slow or stalled (i.e. Intensity Levels are not dropping, emotional intensity is returning with frequency or presenting issues are not changing measurably), Reversals (i.e. hidden Aspects) are often present.

Examples of Reversals

Reversals can be the thoughts and fears about what might happen if we were to let go of the problem or achieve the success we say we want. Conversely, if a part of us perceives a benefit from keeping the problem, the Reversal, once identified, can be addressed using EFT.  

Reversals can also include the self-judging thoughts that prevent us from either allowing the changes we seek or allowing us to successfully use tapping to address the problem. 

For example, a person might feel quite stuck in patterns of behavior that are detrimental to them like “I can’t say no.” Not only is this quite a significant conclusion or Aspect on it’s own, the person might have self-judging thoughts about “I can’t say no” that are more present (more intense) like, “I’m so ashamed of my inability to say no.” This Aspect likely requires attention before “I can’t say no,” can be meaningfully resolved.  

In another example, after tapping for some time with little or no change to a “3” Intensity Level on the specific Aspect, “small and insignificant around my sister,” an explicit Reversal might arise in the form of, “Heck no, I’m not letting go of feeling small and insignificant! That would let my sister off the hook for what she did!” In this case, “I’m not letting go…” is an explicit Reversal that arose after tapping. This more intense Aspect now likely requires gentle and thorough attention with EFT (see Core Issues).

Identifying Reversals

Reversals can require a keen eye to spot. Because they might be operating under the surface of an EFT interaction, they will require gentle, curious and skillful questioning on the part of the practitioner to bring them into more conscious awareness. 

For example, a practitioner might ask, “Have there been any unexpected benefits of having this problem or issue?” This question, in turn, might help the client see that there might be some very specific reasons for their situation, and proffer fruitful avenues or “healing doorways” for tapping.  

Some common Reversals take the form of specific inner conflicts, such as  

  • Don’t want to be free of an issue
  • Don’t know who I am (identity) without the issue
  • Not safe to be free of an issue
  • Lack of permission to be free of an issue
  • Not deserving to be free of an issue
  • Some parts don’t want to be free of an issue
  • Some parts relevant to releasing the issue are somehow isolated from other parts
  • Don’t know how to connect to ancestors without the issue
  • A belief that letting go makes what happened OK – or the perpetrator will “get away with it”
  • Lack of self-acceptance and self-love 
  • Self-judgment (including not being OK, something specific about not being OKnot being OK with not being OK, etc.)

Some starting points for effectively handling Reversals:  

  • Wanting: "Even though I don’t want to be free of…”
  • Parts: "Even though some parts/layers/levels or dimensions/times/phases of me do not wish to be free…"
  • Identity: "Even though I don’t know who I am (or who I’ll be) when I am free of…"
  • Safety: "Even though it is not safe to be free of…"
  • Permission: "Even though I don’t have permission to be free of…"
  • Deserving: "Even though I don’t deserve to be free…"
  • Isolation: "Even though some parts of me relevant to being free of (x) do not have access to this healing, I grant this access now because…"
  • Ancestors: "Even though I won’t know how to connect to my ancestors when I am free of…"
  • Being OK: "Even though it feels like letting go of (x) feels like I am making it OK, I can choose to know it is not OK, and still let go, because…"
  • Acceptance: “Even though I have this problem…”
    Sometimes, when people are not aware of any blocking belief, dissenting part, or other relevant issue, it can be helpful to use a formula, which covers possibilities but does not provoke resistance such as: 
  • Possibility: "Even though it is possible that a part of me… “ This approach can help cover all likely bases…

There are also EFT strategies designed to physically correct for Reversals: In original EFT, the Setup was considered a correction for Psychological Reversal. The Collarbone Breathing Exercise (see The Collarbone Breathing Exercise) was another such strategy.

It is worth noting that Reversals will often arise organically (i.e. after tapping systematically with all presenting Aspects) when the client has a clear readiness to recognise and handle them. Many of them are indeed Core Issues in their own right, each requiring a gentle, skillful, and thorough approach. Remember, sometimes EFT success is measured in millimeters rather than the “5-minute miracles” found on the Internet.

2.26   Specific Past Events (or “Legs”) 

In an EFT exploration, it is more effective to address Specific Past Events because they often directly support a client’s presenting issue (e.g. anxiety) Core Issue (aka “limiting belief”), whether or not the client or practitioner knows the Core Issue. 

Specific Past Events can be actual events in a client’s experience or events a client has “made up” that closely approximate something that happened – for the purposes of applying EFT more specifically and thoroughly to a past experience. 

The “legs” metaphor is one that can be used to describe how past events created, strongly influenced and/or continue to support present “tabletops”. For example, they are often the evidence that proves the validity of an unhelpful, generalized conclusion, “limiting belief” or Core Issue. They can also underlie a presenting issue like, “anxiety”.

The question, “What does this remind you of?” is considered foundational because it is an open-ended invitation for the client to connect with any Specific Past Events that may be supporting current challenges. 

2.27   Sneaking Up

In EFT, when we tap on the peripheral Aspects of a potentially intense problem or issue (including a Specific Past Event) in an effort to be gentle, we are “sneaking up.” Sneaking Up is a strategy of carefully approaching a problem to minimize the level of pain and/or suffering for the client.

 Sneaking Up is a system of gentle approaches (see Tearless Trauma or “Guessing and  Body Sensations) used in EFT as needed to reduce or minimise emotional intensity. The goal is to take the “edge off” of the intensity of the issue before further discovery or resolution is attempted. One example of Sneaking Up is to tap on the person’s exact words about proceeding further (e.g. “I’m afraid to go there”) until the intensity is as low as it will go and/or other (more peripheral) Aspects arise. 

Conversely, “sneaking away” is when we need to step back from an intense emotion or detail we’ve encountered in an effort to facilitate being more gentle.

2.28   Surrogate Tapping 

Surrogate Tapping is using your own body as a surrogate for the other person and tapping on their behalf. Usually that person is not physically present. A practitioner may also tap on/with another person who is acting as a surrogate for a third individual or animal.

In some cases – as with a baby or small child, an animal, a person in a coma, or one’s own ‘inner child,’ – the tapping is on behalf of someone who is actually present but unable to tap for themselves.

Clearing Ourselves First

Tap first for any agenda you may have. Your primary goal must be to let go of the outcome, and cultivate pure intention. In other words, start by acknowledging all the ways you feel about the situation:

  • Even though I’m worried about how anxious my son is right now about his new job and I want him to feel better, I deeply accept myself...
  • Even though I know he can do it and I really want to convince him of that, I deeply accept myself and how I feel…

Tap for your own feelings until you feel clear and able simply to be present with and for the other person – as you would with a client. 

Surrogate tapping is NOT about trying to fix things for others. Instead, it is about connecting with them and offering support with respect for their own process. To do this, we must first acknowledge our own feelings.

3-2-1 for Surrogate Tapping

There are three possible ways to provide Surrogate Tapping: talking about the person, talking to the person, and speaking as if you are the person. We usually begin with the 3rd person (i.e. talking about them, as above). 

It is not necessary to go through all three modes, but many people find it useful to do so. As you begin to connect intuitively, words will often come to you and flow easily. 

  • Talk about them (3rd person = he/she/they):  
  • Even though my son is anxious about this job, he’s afraid he can’t handle it, he’s not feeling confident...
  • Talk to them (2nd person = you):
  • Even though you’re feeling insecure about this new job… you don’t know if you can do it… 
  • Speak as if you are them (1st person = I), by tuning in to the person's feelings as best you can, using what you know about them plus your imagination and intuition: 
  • Borrowing my son’s energy for a moment and tuning in… what would he say? 
  • "Even though I’m so scared — what if I can’t handle the new responsibilities? What if I’m not good enough? What if they’ve made a mistake hiring me for this job?"
  • As a closing exercise, you might tap to reclaim yourself: I’m me now... this is my energy...  

Question: What do we use for the second part of the setup statement?

Answer: Whatever feels right to you. Some people continue using “I deeply and completely accept myself” throughout the Setup. Some feel more drawn to express their acceptance of the person being tapped for (e.g. “I love and accept my son and accept how he feels”) or the intention for healing can be expressed (e.g. “I offer love and support for their highest good”) 

Additional Surrogate Tapping Considerations

Surrogate Tapping allows a profound opportunity to step into another’s shoes, and you may be surprised by what you feel moved or inspired to say at each step during the process. As you work intuitively, you may feel moved as you tune-in to the other person’s emotions, feel much empathy, and receive new understandings of what they may be experiencing.

As with any “distance healing” method, questions of permission do arise. Some people prefer to get express verbal permission. Others see Surrogate Tapping as a type of prayer for which kind or compassionate intention is sufficient. In some methods, people ask the “higher self” of the other person for permission. It is your personal decision how you offer your helpful intention. 

As with any EFT session, when we create the space for slow, methodical practice as well as clarity or stillness, we have better access to our intuition and understanding about the needs and feelings of others. 

As a reminder, Surrogate Tapping is not about imposing our desires on another. Instead, it is an offering of love, attention, and intention for another’s highest good – on their own terms. 

It is sometimes helpful to remember that while Surrogate Tapping, we are always working within our own vibration, even when tapping on behalf of someone else. This is why we address our own feelings about the person, animal or situation – first.

2.29   Tearless Trauma (or “Guessing”) 

When a practitioner asks a client to guess how intense a problem or issue would be if they were to imagine it or tune-in to it or describe it, this is called the Tearless Trauma Technique. Tearless

Trauma, also called “Guessing,” is another gentle way of Sneaking Up. The client guesses what the Intensity Level would be if they were to think about the issue.  

Tearless Trauma is also a form of “protective distancing” – a deliberate strategy of tapping from a distance to ensure greater safety, comfort and/or to take the edge off emotional intensity. It can also be used in combination with other gentle techniques.

For example, a practitioner might say, “If you were going to focus on just the title of that movie, how intense would it be?” A more nuanced variation might be: “Imagine this issue is on the other side of the mountain. What’s the charge on that issue, way over there?” Tearless Trauma might also include the value of “placing this issue in a safe container” if there is more to do (more intensity to address), but there is a need for closure at the end of a session (see The Box Technique). 

2.30   Tail-Enders 

Tail-enders refers to the natural “Yes, but…” negative self-talk that lies beneath our stated goals (e.g. “Yes, I want to succeed, but it’s not safe”). By bringing awareness to these hidden objections (e.g. “’s not safe”), we can begin to see how we might be sending ourselves mixed signals, operating at cross-purposes, and ultimately preventing ourselves from achieving the success we desire (see Reversals).

We can tap with Tail-enders by measuring how true they feel (see Measuring) and following intense Aspects as they arise. As we tap, we can begin to uncover any thinking – including unhelpful conclusions, decisions or vows (see Core Issues) and the roots of these thoughts (see Specific Past Events) – that may be limiting our chances of success. 

For example, a specific aspiration such as starting a new career (e.g. I want to be an artist) can bring up Tail-enders. What are some of the “yes, but...” statements that arise when you imagine yourself embodying the characteristics you aspire to achieve?

2.31   Tell the Story

(Coming Soon)

2.32  Testing 

Together with Measuring, Testing is a hallmark of effective EFT practice. In EFT, we can assess or “test” our progress before, during or after a session to see where we are, where we’ve been and how much further we wish to go. It also helps the client see progress (see The “Apex Effect”).

Testing is done by measuring and assessing progress towards a goal – by asking questions that help the client tune-into (or otherwise vividly imagine) the presenting problem or a future possibility of a problem, and by using SUDS, VOC, outstretched hands or other methods to ascertain the associated Intensity Levels (see also Measuring).

In the case of a fear of taking an elevator, for example, we might begin a session by asking what the SUDS level is when the client imagines approaching an elevator. If the SUDS level is high, during or at the end of a session, we can ask again about this particular Aspect. Any Aspect can be “tested” in this way, and EFT is unique in that we can test progress during a session.  

Calibration of the client’s subtle physiological and behavioral cues can also be used to Test or otherwise ascertain a client’s relationship to the issue at hand (See Calibration). For example, once we ask about the possibility of taking an elevator, we can look for physiological cues, like flushing, sweating or pausing that indicate remaining emotional intensity.

A “real-life” test, if possible and safe, may be the most accurate measurement of the success of an EFT interaction. In the case of the elevator phobia, the client might try riding an elevator (if that was their particular issue) or simply consider riding one the next time the opportunity presents itself.

We can also invite the client to say what would be a suitable test at the outset. In any case, the “test” that matters most to the client is how he or she responds in a more productive way to the issue in the future. 

2.33  “Through Me, Not By Me”

“Through Me, Not By Me” was a term coined by EFT developer Gary Craig. When we are fully present with a client, able to let go of having an agenda of our own, and work with what the client is bringing to the table – we can better allow the process to work through us, as opposed to by us. This concept is a reminder to practitioners to trust the EFT process and let the tapping do the work.

3. EFT Extras

3.1   The Collarbone Breathing Exercise 

Collarbone Breathing was first introduced by Roger Callahan and used initially by Gary Craig. It is not included in the Vitality Living College Level 1, 2 or 3 syllabi or learning outcomes, but can be a useful strategy when other methods have failed.

The collarbone points for this are slightly below (approximately 1 inch or 2-3cms), and to the exterior sides of the collarbone notch in your collarbone (approximately 1 inch or 2-3cms).  

During this exercise do not let your elbows touch the sides of your body or let any part of your hand other than the two finger pads or knuckles touch your body.  The exercise has five breathing steps:

  • Breathe normally. Take half a breath in and hold it for at least seven taps
  • Breathe in deeply, and hold it for about seven taps. Let half the breath out and hold it for at least seven taps. Let the rest out and hold that for at least seven taps
  • Breathe normally. Touch one of the collarbone points with two finger pads of one hand, while tapping the Gamut Point on the back of that same hand with the other; Tap at least seven times as you go through all the breathing stages above. Then move your two fingers’ hand across to the other collarbone point and repeat the procedure
  • Now bend those same two fingers, down to the knuckles, touching the collarbone point while tapping the Gamut Point and breathing through the five breathing stages. Repeat the same on the other side
  • Change hands and repeat the process

3.2  Floor-to-Ceiling Eye-roll 

When the intensity level is low (below a 3), an alternative to another round of EFT is the Floor- to-Ceiling Eye-roll:

  • Tap Continuously on the Gamut Point
  • While holding head steady, roll the eyes from the lowest point on the floor in front of you to the highest point you can see on the ceiling
  • Take a deep breath and Measure the intensity level This brief process often clears remaining slight intensity.