What Is Emotional Freedom Technique?

A close-up of a therapist applying pressure to a patient's neck.
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An emotional freedom technique is a specific form of alternative psychotherapy that involves a trained specialist tapping on specific pressure points on the body, while the patient focuses on a traumatic memory. This practice is closely related to the therapeutic practice of acupuncture. Specialists believe that this manipulates the energy field that is associated with the human body, allowing the patient to overcome the emotional turmoil caused by traumatic memories. Because of the potential dangers of the treatment, it is important that the treatment is practiced only by a trained professional. The emotional freedom technique has many different variations depending on the practitioner.

1 Baseline Phase

The baseline phase, often considered the preliminary phase, sets the stage for the actual treatment and treatment goals. Participants identify and rate their own level of fear related to a particular memory or instance. Then, several breathing exercises help relax the patient prior to treatment.

2 Treatment Phase

During the treatment phase of the emotional freedom technique, participants relax on a chair while they focus on a feared circumstance. This is often a difficult phase because it deals with reliving a particular experience that was traumatic for the patient. While the patient focuses on the experience, the specialist applies pressure to specific areas of the patient’s body, called meridians, to stimulate nerve activity. Pressure to the meridians is intended to unblock "short circuits" from your body's bioenergy fields, explains the article "Basic Steps to Your Emotional Freedom," published on Mercola.com.

3 Post-Treatment Phase

In the post-treatment phase, patients are asked to rate the current intensity of their fear related to the traumatic event or instance. The new rating identifies the treatment effectiveness. If the level of fear is not reduced, additional treatments are scheduled, and the treatment intensity is increased, which includes longer sessions and more pressure on specific points relating to the fear.

4 Alternative Use of Emotional Freedom Technique

Although the emotional freedom technique is most frequently used for the treatment of underlying or traumatic fears, it can also be used to stave off food cravings, implement positive goals, reduce pain in certain areas of the body, and otherwise remove negative emotions. For all of these different treatment goals the procedure is the same, patients focus on different traits, behaviors, qualities or objects while pressure is applied.

Cameron Burry has been a professional writer and editor since 2005. He has been published with Hasbro's Dungeons and Dragons as well The Onion: Online and Costa Rican Dentistry: Online. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and English literature from Murray State University.