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What is EFT, and How Can This Therapy Benefit Children?

by Dannette Kallay MD

Children are the perfect candidates for EFT, also known as emotional freedom technique. It can produce quick results in children for a variety of issues such as fear, anxiety, trauma and pain. Children don’t have to believe and understand EFT to effectively use it, so it is especially helpful for adolescents who might have resistance to trying new approaches. So what is EFT? It is a biofield-based therapy that does not require a healing practitioner such as Healing Touch, external qi-gong and Reiki. Also known as “tapping”, EFT is included in the group of healing therapies known as energy psychology (EP). Often used in psychotherapy sessions, practitioners teach patients how to tap on specific areas of their bodies thought to be the points on meridians otherwise known as acupressure points. Gently tapping on a series of acupressure points on the hands, face and upper body while voicing an issue can move energy the has been “frozen” during an anxiety producing or traumatic event. In other words, it helps to consciously shift a person’s physiological state from the fight or flight stress response to a more calm parasympathetic state. It is really so easy and fun for a child to participate in a tapping session, and they can learn to tap alone without guidance. There are many randomized controlled trials and clinical studies that have been done on energy psychology, most of them focusing on EFT. The science shows it can be helpful for anxiety and depression and reducing PTSD symptoms. Many books have been published on this technique and some of the EFT tapping practitioners share their expertise on Youtube videos for free. Some of my favorites are Donna Eden and Dawson Church.

Here are some steps for tapping for a specific anxiety producing event:

  • Ask the child to recall the event and rate their feelings on a scale from 1-10 (10 being very intense)

  • Have the child start tapping on their karate chop point and create a phrase, “Even though I was bullied at school today” and a positive affirmation “I am okay.”

  • Move through the tapping points starting at the top of the head as shown in the image tapping 7-10 times and repeating the phrase.

  • After about three rounds, stop and ask the child to rate their feelings when they think about the event.

  • Continue until they are able to think about the event yet remain calm and relaxed.

This same technique can be used for specific emotions such as fear, sadness or anger, and also to help a child fall asleep. With practice, they can learn to use this technique on their own to reprogram their subconscious and increase resilience. It becomes empowering and confidence building to have this level of control over the body’s physiological states.

Photo credit: Judy Bartkowak, an NLP & EFT practioner and auther at

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