The History of EFT

EFT has been around for about 20 years now. It has its roots in a number of different fields and owes acknowledgment to several pioneers – Dr George Goodheart, Dr John Diamond, Dr Roger Callahan, and last but not least, Gary Craig, who created EFT from these different strands.

Applied Kinesiology and The Body’s Subtle Energies

Dr George Goodheart was a renowned chiropractor who developed applied kinesiology. This is a muscle-testing method, or more precisely, a way of testing the energy flow in a muscle which makes it either strong or weak. When we say something that’s true for us like our own name, muscles test strong. When we say something that is untrue for us or that causes us internal conflict or anxiety at any level, conscious or sub-conscious, an energy disruption results and muscles test weak.

A psychiatrist named, Dr John Diamond, took a class with Dr Goodheart and used ideas from applied kinesiology with his patients to reach the core of emotional problems much faster than using traditional psychotherapy. Gary Craig recalls that Dr Diamond was one of the first psychiatrists to use and write about the body’s subtle energies.

Dr Roger Callahan was a psychologist who was not satisfied with the results he was getting with clients. He integrated applied kinesiology with acupressure using the fingertips to tap acupuncture points in order to treat emotional problems. He brought ‘meridian tapping’ to the public despite severe opposition from his profession. His first major breakthrough was with a client called Mary who had a severe water phobia.

Mary’s Water Phobia

Dr. Callahan had been working with Mary using conventional psychotherapy techniques, such as cognitive therapy, hypnosis, relaxation therapy, systematic desensitisation, biofeedback and more, to address her absolute fear of water. Since childhood, Mary’s fear of water was so extreme that she was terrified when it rained, she couldn’t take a bath in a full tub of water, she couldn’t even bathe her two children, she couldn’t go to the beach and she had nightmares about water. Mary was now in her 40s.

After over a year of therapy, Mary could only sit on the edge of Dr Callahan’s pool and dangle her legs in the water but she couldn’t actually look at the water. She was still filled with anxiety and stress during the sessions which gave her severe headaches.

Mary frequently mentioned that thinking about water caused a terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. Dr Callahan had been studying the meridians which carry qi or vital life force energy used in Chinese medicine, and he knew that the endpoint of the stomach meridian was directly under the eyes. (The whole meridian can be accessed through the endpoint.) Dr Callahan had a flash of intuition and, not expecting much to happen, asked Mary to tap under her eyes.

After just a few minutes of tapping, much to his astonishment, Mary exclaimed, “It’s gone! That horrible feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I think about water is completely gone!” At first he didn’t believe her but she leapt up and ran towards his swimming pool. Her fear of water was completely gone! Over 30 years later, Mary continues to be completely free of her water phobia and accompanying nightmares (which disappeared straight after she tapped under her eyes).

Thought Field Therapy

This break-through session with Mary was in 1979. Throughout the 1980s, Dr Callahan spent time honing his discovery, combining traditional psychotherapy with tapping on different parts of the body. He developed a set of ‘algorithms’, or tapping sequences, to address different issues and was successful in the treatment of phobias, trauma, loss and grief. By the 1990s, he had a set of rapid, effective techniques which he called Thought Field Therapy.

The Creation of EFT

One of Dr Callahan’s students was Gary Craig, a Stanford-trained engineer who was also an NLP Master Practitioner. He learnt and used these algorithms and then refined and simplified them to a ‘basic recipe’ –  a single set of acupoints – which could be used to address any problem. Using this basic recipe, results became consistent and reliable. This was the basis for what he later called Emotional Freedom Techniques or EFT.

In 1998, he launched, creating an online community around the technique. He documented case after case of people using it for themselves and shared their incredible results with the world. Gary Craig’s EmoFree site is still a wonderful resource for anyone interested in EFT.