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EFT for Pain

How can a technique which targets emotions work on the physical level? With skilful questioning in a therapeutic space, it is possible to pinpoint the emotional factors contributing to pain or other physical conditions.

EFT for pain

“Hi Alice, well you’ve definitely worked some kind of magic on my back. It’s so much better! 2 days later the pain has completely gone!”

No, I’m not a massage therapist. I’m not a physiotherapist. I’m certainly not doing any kind of magic! My clients get these kinds of physical transformations all the time by exploring their inner landscapes using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping.

How can a technique which targets emotions work on the physical level?

With skilful questioning in a therapeutic space, it is possible to pinpoint the emotional factors contributing to pain or other physical conditions such as allergies, high blood pressure, poor eyesight, and potentially many others.

*Always consult a medical doctor about any pain or physical conditions and remember that EFT tapping is not a substitute for medical treatment, nor should you change or reduce your medication without the approval of your medical doctor.*

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Negative emotions are like gasoline thrown on the fire of pain, not only making chronic pain much worse, but even causing it in some cases, says Beth Darnall, PhD, a pain psychologist and associate professor at Stanford University. Two-thirds of patients recently surveyed for the Arthritis Foundation’s Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment said they felt depressed. And depressed people are three or four times more likely to develop chronic pain than others.” [1]

What emotional factors can contribute to pain and physical conditions?

  1. Sometimes people have feelings ABOUT their pain or physical condition which prevent them from healing. For example, “I’m so frustrated this wrist pain is stopping me from doing yoga,” or, “I’m so worried this knee pain means I’ll never walk properly again now I’m old.” Once the emotions are released, the pain usually reduces much more quickly.
  2. Sometimes people have stuck emotions which have contributed to the CAUSE of their pain or condition, which again, prevents healing. A good question to ask is, “What was going on in your life when this condition started?”

For example, Sam had a frozen shoulder for six months. It seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, with no obvious injury. However, on closer reflection, around the time the shoulder froze, Sam had been having a serious argument with her boss and felt very stressed at work. She had then gone to an exercise class and vigorously exercised. The next day she woke up with the painful frozen shoulder. After we tapped through the emotions around her workplace stress and her boss, the shoulder pain immediately reduced and range of motion was noticeably and dramatically improved. Within a few days it was back to normal.

We can see here that although the argument with Sam’s boss did not cause her shoulder problem, the emotions she had at the time contributed to her body holding on to tension from normal vigorous exercise which otherwise may not have adversely affected her.

  1. Sometimes we have BELIEFS about our pain or physical condition. For example, “I’ve had it so long and tried everything, and it’ll never get better,” or, “People in my family always get this problem, it’s genetic, so I’m going to always have this now I’ve got it,” or, “This condition is incurable, that’s what the doctor told me,” or, “I’ve had this before, it’s always like this.” Again, such beliefs can be gently and completely released during consistent and patient EFT work.
  2. Sometimes there is a hidden BENEFIT to having the pain or condition. For example, getting attention from loved ones, not having to work, and so on. If you didn’t have this pain or condition, what would you have to do? How would people see you?
  3. In chronic conditions, including chronic pain, there is often a sense of identity with the condition – Who would I be if I didn’t have this pain? Would I even recognise myself? How would I live? Most of us fear the unknown and unfamiliar, and it can feel more comfortable to just put up with the pain that we know rather than taking steps to change things about ourselves.

Working directly with the pain itself

  1. As well as the emotional contributing factors, EFT is very helpful to use directly with pain and physical sensations. When we tap in EFT, we are stimulating the same acupoints used in acupuncture. Acupuncture for pain relief is a well-known alternative or complement to chemical anaesthesia. “Several clinical studies have demonstrated that acupuncture anesthesia can effectively reduce the dosage of anesthetic drugs and the risk of adverse reactions in surgical applications.” [2]

    In addition, the power of the mind alone has been proven to reduce or eliminate pain. For example, hypnosis has been successfully used instead of or as an adjunct to chemical anaesthesia. “An increasing number of studies on hypnosis has shown its capacity to modify the activity of [different areas of the brain] and increase pain threshold up to the level of surgical anesthesia.”[3]

    The placebo effect is well-documented, demonstrating the potential power of your brain to affect your physiology. In one study, “researchers discovered that the placebo was 50% as effective as the real drug to reduce pain after a migraine attack.” [4]

    In the UK there has been a surge of interest from the NHS (National Health Service) about a biopsychosocial[5] model of pain management, where people are encouraged by their medical professionals to rely less on medication and try other treatments such as exercise, mindfulness practices, and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). Studies suggest that the brain can become over-sensitised to chronic pain and that it can also be trained to be less sensitive to pain. [6]

    I hope that in the near future EFT will become one of the go-to treatments for biopsychosocial pain management – in my experience and that of my clients it really can be extremely effective!


[2] Sun Linxi et al. Research trends from 1992 to 2022 of acupuncture anesthesia: a bibliometric analysis. Frontiers in Medicine Vol. 10 2023. Available at

[3] Facco E. Hypnosis and anesthesia: back to the future. Minerva Anestesiol. 2016 Dec;82(12):1343-1356. Epub 2016 Aug 30. PMID: 27575449. Available at




If you’d like to explore how EFT can help us deal with life’s challenges contact me to set up a free 20 minute chat to see how I could help you!

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