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EFT Emotional Freedom Techniques a Perfect Tool for Integrative Cancer Care.

1 Sep 2023

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by Aga Kehinde, Kathy Adams and Bettina Falkenberg


Stress, anxiety, and emotional distress as well as physical pain and discomfort may be present along the entire cancer care pathway. These factors may impact treatment outcomes and recovery time. Most importantly, they present a significant burden of suffering to those affected by cancer and their loved ones. EFT is an effective, efficient management tool that can meet these needs and can be self- administered as well as used in a therapeutic relationship. The physical and emotional need for support can vary timewise along the cancer pathway and sometimes surprisingly patients can have significant mental and emotional needs as they recover, so well beyond their treatment phase (see the accompanying graph). Meeting these needs can contribute to long term well-being.


EFT, is well supported by clinical research (Stapleton, 2022). Benefits may include reduced psychological distress, improved quality of life, and a positive impact on various psychological and physical symptoms.

What is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)?

 Clinical EFT also known as Tapping is an evidence-based stress reduction technique that combines elements of established psychological techniques with the physical stimulation of acupressure points around the face, upper chest and hands, areas now known to have vascular density (Church, 2013a). It is actually the tapping process that enhances the therapeutic results (Church, 2013b).).

Clinical EFT has been validated in research studies and is currently under review with the APA in the US against the Tolin standards as well as being explored to be accepted by N.I.C.E here in the UK. So before too long it may be a therapy advocated within conventional health care!

EFT is easy to learn and can either be self-applied or used with an Accredited EFT Practitioner, which is recommended for more complex issues that require in-depth investigation. It is a safe, rapid, reliable, and effective treatment for psychological and physical support (Church et al, 2022).

EFT is effective whether delivered in-person or virtually online, and self-applied tapping in moments of distress can bring rapid relief (Church et al, 2017). Studies have shown that lasting changes can be achieved in 4 – 10 sessions (Sebastian, et al, 2017), after which people can continue to support themselves using EFT. In very complex cases a longer-term approach may be necessary.

How does EFT work?

 n to regulate the body’s stress response affecting the nervous system and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, as well as changing our emotional response through affecting the limbic pathway. When we are under significant stress, the prefrontal cortex of the brain, our rational thinking brain goes “offline”, and our levels of adrenaline and cortisol increase. EFT allows us to release the intensity of uncomfortable feelings like hurt, anxiety, guilt, fear, overwhelm, or anger and transform them. EFT can change the recurring thoughts and beliefs underlying our emotional experiences. Using tapping not only reduces stress immediately but also allows for the safe processing of difficult memories that may be contributing to the intensity of the current stress response.

Lived experience

“My diagnosis was a big shock. I had recently lost my husband to cancer; it was all a big emotional roller coaster. I felt with cancer I had an end date and I would join my husband… I went for EFT therapy which frankly transformed my whole approach to my cancer journey. Things I wasn’t consciously aware of became released, things that were very deep and hidden… At the end of the sessions, I would feel a huge weight off my mind… Tapping made me realise that I wanted to live…” 

CR, breast cancer diagnosis


EFT treatment is associated with measurable biological effects on neural activity in the brain and a wide range of biomarkers. Physiological indicators of health such as resting heart rate (RHR), blood pressure (BP) and cortisol may also improve significantly (Bach et al, 2019). Early research on gene expression shows that EFT may be able to change gene activity, e.g., downregulate genes associated with the stress response and upregulate genes associated with immune function (Maharaj, 2016).


How can EFT help people affected by cancer throughout their care?

 Tapping can be particularly supportive for people who are experiencing the emotional impact and physical side effects of their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Clinical EFT’s stress-reduction effects make it a useful tool for alleviating multiple psychological conditions, including phobias, PTSD, anxiety, and depression that are often associated with a cancer diagnosis (Pitman, et al 2018, Church et al., 2022).

There is an evolving body of evidence showing that EFT can be used to support cancer treatment. Studies found that EFT may reduce the side effects of tamoxifen in women with breast cancer, may reduce pre-surgery anxiety and may improve quality of life, reduce fatigue and provide support for ‘chemo brain’ (Baker et al, 2015; Tack, L. et al., 2021; Thomas, 2017).

EFT empowers cancer patients to manage their own emotional well-being at a time when they may feel helpless and frightened. It can also effectively reduce the levels of perceived stress, anxiety, and depression (Liu et al, 2017).


Lived experience

“It (EFT) gave me something in my toolbox for when I feel anxiety bubbling up. I have something I can go to. I can even do it at work.” 

SP, breast cancer diagnosis 


“I was very, very distressed and scared. My fear was irrational. I felt out of control, my head was in a frenzy. I couldn’t see a way out… (EFT) helped me put things in perspective, into a much calmer state.” 

J.G., breast cancer diagnosis 


EFT is a tool that is literally at your fingertips, meaning the person can use it any time they need to, including before hospital appointments, scans, surgery etc. EFT gives people the opportunity to find renewed meaning in life and to develop emotional resilience, as well as being able to make sense of lived experiences (Kalla et al, 2020). Consequently, the person may be better able to deal with challenges of cancer diagnosis and treatment. EFT can help people overcome the fear of treatment and undergo treatment with a more positive attitude, as well as supporting acceptance of physical changes and rebuilding body image.

Lived experience

‘’I used EFT during the weeks after the diagnosis, to prepare me for the operation. I used it in the hospital as I waited to be taken for my op and during my recovery.  It made a difference to me going through with the operation and dealing with the shock of the procedure. Being able to listen to appropriately guided EFT scripts pre-op was invaluable. It helped me feel I had some control. It was calming.’’  

NT, melanoma diagnosis


“The second chemo on Friday was a different experience. ..  I feel that the change in my attitude towards the treatment has played a very significant part – and this has come directly from our meetings and EFT.  Welcoming treatment into my body, trusting my body to work with it as it kills the cancer cells floating around my body, all in pursuit of strengthening and revitalising my health and my well-being.  The effect of forgiving and accepting my decision to try again has been extraordinary” 

RW, breast cancer diagnosis


“I didn’t want the mastectomy. I didn’t want to have the deformity. I believed it would be impossible to start a new relationship… I would never feel confident in my body again… I needed emotional support to understand why I didn’t want to give myself the best chance of living. EFT helped me understand that I wanted to live more than I was worried about the deformity. Now I have a new life and I am really incredibly happy”. 

CR, breast cancer diagnosis


By using EFT, we can reconnect with our innate sense of unshakeable wellbeing by releasing the intensity of emotions and transforming the way uncomfortable feelings like hurt, guilt, fear, or anger may impact our everyday experience. We become more considered and less reactive in our approach to our life.

Lived experience

“EFT was critical for taking me through this experience. EFT is empowering. It allows you to work on yourself any time of day, or night, or when a practitioner isn’t available. When emotions, or memories surface, EFT can soothe and regulate.” 

NT, melanoma diagnosis


EFT also has the potential to be a powerful tool to improve the care of people living with advanced cancer who may have ongoing symptoms (Quilty et al, 2017).

Lived experience

“I needed help with a recent cancer diagnosis, with the fear and anxiety coming up around the unknown future, the endless, difficult waiting for results, scans, operation and immunotherapy treatment. We met on Zoom which worked excellently…  the process seemed very simple. I started tapping for myself immediately and felt the power of it, it had a soothing, affirming quality, my anxiety levels diminished hugely and I felt empowered. EFT also helped me uncover parts of myself that were adding to my anxiety needlessly, which was incredibly helpful.” 

NL, melanoma diagnosis

What to expect from the EFT process

 The EFT process involves identifying a concern or an issue you wish to address and rating the level of distress. Then there is firstly a tuning into the concern and then a releasing process whilst tapping on 9 easy to learn and use points around the hands, face and upper body. An important aspect of the procedure is the turning towards the truth of the actual experience in a kind way which brings self-compassion using simple phrases for example, I accept how I am.

It is very possible that a short amount of this tuning in and tapping can resolve an emotional or physical issue or at least significantly reduce its impact.

 The Tapping Points

How can I be sure the EFT professional working with me is qualified?

 It is strongly recommended that patients use an Accredited Practitioner Directory found in international directories such as  the EFT International Directory or ACEP,  EBEFT and  EFT Universe.

As an International Professional Body for EFT Practitioners, EFT International is committed to advancing and upholding the highest standards for education, training, professional development, and promotion of the skilful, creative and ethical application of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques or “Tapping”) worldwide.

Practitioners listed on this website are recognised EFT International members who have agreed to hold appropriate insurance coverage, who have signed up to follow the Code of Conduct and Ethics, and to undertake an annual minimum number of hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Mentoring. EFT International only accepts members with a high standard of training and has a formal feedback structure.

Limitations on scope of practice and potential side effects

Over 1,000 subjects have participated in research trials of EFT without a single adverse event being reported, indicating a high degree of safety. EFT also appears to be safe whether administered by a therapist or life coach or self-administered. It is important to note that an EFT practitioner is not a chartered psychologist or medical doctor. Their role and scope of practice is limited to supporting you with EFT and not providing medical advice or treatment.


How to access EFT for cancer

Low cost and free access options


Private practitioners offering EFT may be found on the EFT International Practitioners Directory.


Content written and approved by:

  • Aga Kehinde, Oncio Expert Panel member,  Cancer Educator and Nurse, coach and Advanced EFT Practitioner
  • Kathy Adams, counsellor, Advanced Accredited EFT practitioner and Health Creation coach.
  • Bettina Falkenberg, Advanced EFT Practitioner and Trainer

The content was reviewed with Dr Peta Stapleton and Prof Liz Boath with many thanks for their time and kind comments.


Reference list

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