Using EFT to Treat Anxiety, Depression and PTSD

The Use of Emotional Freedom Technique with Clients Suffering from Mental Health Issues


Estimated watch time: 42 mins 

Available credits: none

Objectives and Summary:

The emotional freedom technique (EFT) is an innovative method of working with a wide range of emotional and psychological somatic problems. The method combines aspects of energy psychology, cognitive-behavioral psychology and brain retraining. Ongoing research has helped EFT become recognized as an evidence-based practice for anxiety, depression, phobias and PTSD.

After watching this presentation, the viewer will:

  • Increase their understanding of how this technique, a form of energy psychology, is relevant to Western psychotherapy and Oriental medicine
  • Be able to recognize the effectiveness of this technique in resolving acute and chronic anxiety, depression and PTSD
  • Experience a simple demonstration of an EFT technique for personal use

Presentation Materials:

About the Presenter:

Deborah S. Kaufman, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in individual, couples, and family psychotherapy. She maintains a private practice in Sarasota, Florida. As of March 2020, she has been providing these services virtually to create another level of safety for her clients. With over 35 years of experience as a clinician, and a graduate of Adelphi University in Garden City, New York and the Gestalt Center of Long Island, she is currently serving as a private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Her areas of expertise include the treatment of anxiety and trauma, depression, and relationship issues.


Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today’s webinar. My name is Michael Crisanto. I’m one of the clinical specialists with Advanced Recovery Systems. Advanced Recovery Systems operates nine different dual-diagnosis treatment facilities, specializing in the treatment of substance use disorder and mental health throughout the country. We’re happy to have Deborah Kaufman here today. Deborah Kaufman is a licensed clinical social worker, specializing in individual, couples and family psychotherapy. She maintains a private practice in Sarasota, Florida, and as of March 2, 2020, she’s been providing these services virtually to create another level of safety for her clients.

Through her 35 years of experience as a clinician and a graduate of Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, in the center of Long Island, she’s currently serving as a private practitioner, working with a broad spectrum of clients. Her areas of expertise include treatment of anxiety and trauma, depression and relationship issues. In addition, she has taught human development courses as adjunct faculty at the University of South Florida and presented at national conferences and to general audiences — topics that included stress management, the effects of domestic violence on children, sensory awareness and the use of various techniques, from crystal psychotherapy, EFT and EMDR in clinical work.

Deborah Kaufman is an experiential, solution-focused psychotherapist. Her treatment approach is a combination of cognitive-behavioral techniques that help clients understand how their thoughts and feelings affect their behavior, and existential techniques to help clients increase awareness of their relationship with themselves and others to resolve current problems and long-standing patterns. She incorporates a blend of conventional and alternative approaches, drawing upon a variety of styles and techniques to incorporate what will be the most helpful for each client with sensitivity and compassion. She works with each client to help them build on their strengths, to identify and achieve their goals for a more fulfilling life. So, thank you, Deborah, for being here today.

Thank you. Welcome, everybody. I’m excited to be here, and I want to — I think that any experience that we have is conveyed to you through different windows, and if we believe something is good, then it’s good. And if we believe something is sad or scary or terrifying, then it is that. I don’t know if any of you have ever been on the ride at — I think it’s the Epcot — called Soaring, and it’s a ride where you’re sitting in a room and, basically, your seat just goes up and down. It doesn’t leave, but it makes you feel like you’re flying over California, and it is absolutely amazing to have that experience. It’s all about perception. The truth of the matter is you’re sitting in a room in Orlando. Well, the seat is going up and down, but the experience is that you’re flying over a city in California. People who go on that ride who have air sickness would have that on the ride, even though they’re not flying. And that’s my introduction into working with trauma — that it is so much about the perception and changing the perspective.

Now sometimes, that’s a lot easier said than done, so I have found this technique that I’m really excited about called emotional freedom technique. Quickly through actually what EFT is: It’s a meridian-based treatment modality. This is the page — what is EFT. We’re already in base treatment modality using tapping. That’s also known as meridian tapping technique. It’s an emotional version of acupuncture without the needles and the most popular form of that. It’s the most popular form of energy psychology, and it applies principles of the electromagnetic fields and it works on the principle that all negative emotions are caused by a disruption in the body energy systems. That is also how acupuncture works, but the difference is that we’re not working with needles. We’re now working with the meridians, and we’re also combining cognition with the energy flow, which is why I brought up — I don’t know if any of you heard what it was like to be on that ride at Epcot where even though you’re in a room in Orlando, it feels like there was a plane flying over California — that’s the whole cognition piece. If you believe a trauma is a trauma, even if it’s something that’s long gone, it feels very real. So, the definition of healing in this model is to facilitate the return to balance. That means energy flow without disrupting, and best practices include the balance of art and science.

So, the three different disorders that I’m looking at are anxiety, which is defined as an elevated emotional and physical response to unpleasant cognition that is more than just worry or concern. Depression is a dulled emotional and physical response to unpleasant cognition, and many times, anxiety and depression exist together. Trauma is much more extreme. It’s a physical and emotional reaction to extreme disturbance or extreme perception of extreme disturbance. Sometimes, the disturbance may actually be real. Like, if you notice that there is a fire rapidly approaching you, that’s more than just perceiving — that’s real. But sometimes — I just saw an example recently of somebody who saw a hair clip and it looked like a giant bug, and she had that same elevated heart rate as if it was that giant bug. And then, of course, when she came up close, she saw it was just one of those claws. And then, of course, the feeling of anxiety left immediately. So, perception is really significant in all of this.

Often, physical symptoms match emotional sense symptoms. And often, there’s a secondary gain for senses that can interfere with the sense of metaphor and alternatives. Also, physical manipulation can trigger memories and emotional responses. So, in all of this work, it’s really important to create safety and to proceed at the level that the client is comfortable and safe before you jump into anything that is scary. One of the things I liked so much is that there are many ways to work — that you don’t have to actually have the client living through the negative experience if they’re not ready to. You can have them imagine it as if it’s happening at a distance, as if it’s happening not to them. And then only when you’ve created what their safety zone is — and for everyone, that’s a little bit different — you go and approach it a little bit deeper.

Just to give you a very brief history, that whole concept of energy — just to look at how long it’s been around. It was first talked about by Albert Einstein, E = mc2, in 1905. Long time ago. And then 80 years later, Roger Callahan, the psychiatrist, developed a form of energy psychology called thought field therapy. That’s very similar to EFT.  And then 10 years later, Gary Craig, who is not a therapist, developed this whole program that we’ve come to know today as EFT, with the tapping on the very specific points that I’ll be showing you in a little bit. Then that same year, Roger Quigley, who’s out of USF in Tampa, I believe, had this project called the energy therapy project, where he looked at several different techniques for working with trauma. And the one that was the most successful was the thought field therapy. This was before EFT was really recognized the way it is today.

And then five years later, Patricia Carrington, who’s one of many, many practitioners, came out with a technique called the choices technique and put out a whole manual, and that’s the one that I’m going to be showing you in a little while. The reason I like her out of all the many people who practice and teach EFT is because she has a firm clinical background. There are many people who were phenomenal practitioners that do not have a clinical background.

As a matter of fact, I was trained by two different women, one an LCSW who has since retired — Forrest Samnik, that’s her name. And I wanted someone who has that base for one thing. I got continuing education units and also knew what best practices were for a licensed clinical social worker. The other woman, Jenn — I just forgot her last name, but it’ll come up. I’ll show it to you later; when we get through the PowerPoints, I’ve given her name. Jenn Goddard, who actually has a practice in Orlando, has no clinical background. and she’s a phenomenal practitioner and a phenomenal trainer. So, it was really nice having that blend of people who come into it with a preexisting clinical background and people who come into it more from the energy background.

So, just to let you know, the three other things that were compared in Dr. Quigley’s energy project were traumatic incident reduction, visual kinesthetic dissociation and EMDR, which I have also trained in and found that as much as I liked it, there was something missing for me. And when I started EFT, I saw what was missing was the energetic piece because that is so powerful, and the whole idea of working with the body.

The reason that the TFT technique, which is very similar, stood out is because clients receive nearly immediate relief and the treatment appears to be permanent. It can be taught to nearly anyone, so the clients can treat themselves. It appears to do no harm, and it does not require the client to talk about their troubles, which can often cause more pain and discourage many from seeking treatment. And the major difference between that thought field therapy and EFT — emotional freedom technique — is that the thought field therapy utilizes different algorithms to create the different conditions, while EFT uses one simplified algorithm for all problems.

What I have found is that, even with Gary Craig points — you know, he came up with this algorithm with a number of points. There was the long version, the short version, and what he referred to as the ham sandwich, which was a combination of doing all the points, and that’s the bread. Then the ham is doing a few things, where you walk up and down with your eyes and you sing “Happy Birthday” and you count to five a few times, and I’ve never done that. I’ve never found that that whole thing was necessary. This really speaks to the importance of language and having it be specific to the client.

One of the reasons I was resistant to his technique initially — because at that time, I think I was probably vegan. And anything that has the word ham sandwich in it was something I just couldn’t quite — just didn’t quite resonate with me. But as I started learning it over the years and I learned that technique — that ham sandwich technique — I realized that for me, a lot of it was superfluous. That I really only needed to use the major eight spots and not even bother with the spots that are on the fingers, which you’ll see when I show you the diagram. But this is all stuff that we learn from trial and error, working with people. And also, there’s a fairly large body of research at this time that didn’t exist back in 2000 or even in 2012 when I became certified.

Now, the difference between using cognitive behavioral therapy — which is so touted as being helpful with many different issues — versus using a method like EFT is that cognitive-behavioral therapy does not address the positive component of symptoms. And this is just so, so significant — secondary gain. Because if a client has a reason for saying — we’ll call it sick, for lack of a better word right now — if they have a reason for maintaining that symptom, no matter what technique you use, it’s not going to go away. I’ll give you an example. If someone — let’s say it’s a physical sickness, and they don’t realize this consciously. On an unconscious level, the truth is that if this sickness goes away, they will no longer need to be married to the person that they married, and they’re afraid of that, so they’re never going to get well. That would be an example of that. EFT and also TFT, which we’re not really looking at here — that was just the precursor to EFT — address the psychological reversal, which is a form of secondary gain. And how we do that is by having it be okay. That you have this negative issue you kept to yourself, even with all the issues.

A really important concept in energy work is that belief affects biology. And that’s even bigger than just if you’re having an experience and you perceive it a certain way, that’s the way it is. If that happens consistently, it can actually affect your whole biological system. So, core beliefs are at the root of the problem, and that is why sometimes people can initially feel better and then the problem seems to come back. And the reason for that is because if the problem isn’t corrected at the root, it will return in another form. Now, you must know this, anyone who works with addictions, that if the root of why this person is in an addictive situation — if that route is not sufficiently addressed, it is very easy for that person to never pick up whatever it is. Let’s say it’s a particular drug — okay, they’ll never do that drug again, but then they’ll go to alcohol, or then they’ll go to overeating, or then they’ll go to being in addictive relationships unless the root is really dug up and eliminated. Somehow, people end up going back to the problem.

The other thing is that protection drains energy from growth. And that as human organisms, we are always growing. Even though I have heard that, after a certain age, there’s a certain amount of decline — and that may be true — but there is still growth going on, even as there is a decline. I remember when my mother was so old, she barely knew who other people were. She still needed a haircut. So, there’s still growth until we draw our last breath. But if we’re using all of our energy to protect ourselves from perception of harm, there is no energy available for growth, which is why it is important to address these issues. And in crisis or trauma, even in a small T trauma, like thinking that there’s a giant bug that’s really only a hair clip, which is far less traumatic than thinking your house is burning down, protection takes over.

So, the full basic recipe that I mentioned, which is that ham sandwich, is that you decline the issues, you check the intensity and you make a setup statement. And the setup statement would be something like, “Even though I am afraid of,” — let me think of something a person would be afraid of — “Even though I am afraid of fire.” Okay, “I’m afraid of fire, and the reason I’m afraid of fire is because when I was very young, I witnessed my house burning to the ground. So now, I’m afraid of all fire.” As we know, there are times when fire is very useful. So, I would set up the statement — will be something like, “Even though I am afraid of fire, I accept myself, I accept that the world is still a safe place. I can be okay with fire.”

There are many different varieties, but that’s basically what the setup statement is. Even though I’m afraid of X, I accept myself and, basically, the world is a safe place. Once we make that setup statement, we tap a spot called the sore spot, which is actually called the karate chop, which is the side of the hand that you would use if you were chopping a block in half. So, then I can show you. It’s right here — this is that spot where you say, “Even though I’m afraid of fire, I accept myself and that I’m safe.” So, you would tap on that, then you would tap on the different points around the head. I’ll show you them: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. The thumb, forefinger — I think this finger and that finger and the top of the head.

And then the nine gamuts, which we’re not gonna go into. Like I said, your eyes go in different directions and you say “Happy Birthday” a couple of times, then you repeat the tapping on the 14 points and then you test. And this is a very important thing. You have to test to see if the person — when you’re defining the issue, and the issue is “I’m afraid of fire” — you ask them how intense it is. Generally, if it’s a real significant trauma, it’ll be eight or higher. And if the tapping has been successful, the number will be much, much lower. Ideally, it will be below a two, but that doesn’t happen right away. That could take several rounds or sometimes multiple sessions.

So, here are the points. And the way I do it, I start with this point one, and that’s where I make the setup statements. And then I go here, the inner eyebrow, the outer eyebrow, under the eye, under the nose, the indent of the chin, the collarbone, under the arm and the top of the head. Now, doing it that way, what I have learned is so significant — and this is true also in EMDR, which we’re not really looking at today. One of the things that is so important in healing trauma is to be able to cross the midline of the brain because the midline is where the corpus callosum is that connects the left brain with the right brain. So, there’s something about making this circuit, where you start on one side and end up on the other side, that is very significant in healing.

So, this is something I would like us to try together so you can have an experience of this choices protocol. So, I’m going to invite you to take something simple that you are afraid of or that you would like to change. You know, like fear of public speaking — not something that’s your most traumatic thing that’s ever happened to you. So, I’m going to ask you to identify it and give it a number in intensity. How upsetting is it to you from zero to 10? And then once you’ve done that, I invite you to formulate a choice, which is the exact opposite of this negative condition. For example, if it was your fear of speaking in groups, the opposite would be, “I choose to feel wonderfully at ease when speaking in front of groups, even though I’m afraid of public speaking.” I choose to feel wonderfully at ease when speaking in front of groups — that would be the setup statement.

I’m going to presume that everyone has that, and I’m going to tap along with you. I’m going to use this word, the words, this fear. Even though I have this fear, I am at ease. And you will put in whatever the word is for you, whatever the words are for you. Like, everyone, I’m sure, has a different thing that they picked. So, let’s do this together. Even though I am afraid, even though I have this fear, I am at ease. Even though I have this fear, I am at ease. Even though I have this fear, I am at ease. Now, we’ll go into the top of the eyebrow. And you can look on the page, but if you can just look at me doing it. So, this fear, this fear, this fear, this fear, this fear, this fear, this fear. At ease, at ease, at ease, at ease, at ease, at ease, at ease. Now, we’re going to combine them — this fear, at ease, this fear, at ease, this fear, at ease, this fear, at ease, this fear, at ease. At ease, at ease, at ease, at ease, at ease.

So, that’s basically the choice of technique. It’s a very simple one that people can do on their own. And what I liked so much about it is that the negative and the positive are really interwoven so that every time you think, “I’m afraid,” you’re right away followed by, “Oh, I’m at ease. I’m okay. I’m good.” And it can get to the point where every time you start to think of that negative thing, immediately, the positive cognition follows. Now, this is something that can be done without anybody else’s help. It’s something I eventually give to clients. It is not something that can be used to do deep trauma work. That is something that you need a practitioner to help you with. However, if all of a sudden — this is a great example. I had a client who woke up in the middle of the night really panicked and did the tapping and was able to get back to sleep. And I’ve had a number of clients report back that they took this home with them, and when they were feeling a high level of anxiety, they were able to do this and get themselves to feel better in the moment and beyond the moment. But not to the degree of healing a trauma that has existed for a long time, and that’s where having a practitioner comes in.

If anybody is interested in having this, I will — at the end of this session — I will make my email address available. And if you want to, you can just — I think that what we decided was the easiest way to do it, I can just email it to you. So, the other thing —  we talked about the full EFT. We talked about the modified version, which is what I do and what most practitioners do. We talked about the choices technique. There’s also single point, and one point would be the triple gamut point, which is the third point on the triple warmer meridian. It’s in between the pinky and the ring finger, about an inch up. But you would feel it; you’d have to poke around and feel it because everybody’s hand is a different size. Mine are very small. On mine, It’s barely even an inch up. Sometimes, the single point can be a point and intuitively feels right to the person or the practitioner. To convey this spot here, if you press in, it’s near the collarbone, but a little lower. It’s called the sore spot, and the value of doing a single point is — let’s say you’re waiting in line somewhere and you’re starting to feel anxious. You’re not going to necessarily want to do a whole round of tapping all the points, but I liked this hand point ‘cause you can do it without somebody even noticing it unless they’re looking at your hands. So, there’s also that.

The important thing in doing this is to be as specific as possible, to ask a lot of questions, to find out what the real issue is because, sometimes, the issue is not what it appears the issue is. Sometimes, there’s a surface issue, and when you go in deeper, you find out that it’s really something else that is the real trauma. Because trauma is a magnet for prior trauma, and there may be something the person had forgotten about that doesn’t come to the surface until you start working. So, asking questions is very important. Finding proof for the negative belief and finding proof against the negative belief. ‘Cause sometimes, if a person realizes that there’s something askew about the belief, it’ll get them to start thinking in a different way. And the statement — the setup statement — is in the form of, “Even though I am the negative, I am then the positive.” So, even though I’m afraid, I am at ease.  You rate the intensity, the accompanying body sensations, and then you tap on the setup statement.

So, here are also a couple of resources. One of them is, and that’s Gary Craig’s site. There’s, which was formerly the Association for the Advancement of Energy Therapy. And there’s also Those are the two big organizations, international organizations, and then Roger Callahan also has a site: And I’ve already mentioned all the people I wanted to acknowledge: Samnik my original trainer, and then Jenn Goddard. Forrest is retired, but Jenn still practices in Orlando, and her website is, and Gary Craig is, and Patricia Carrington has a site, so

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.