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Articles & Ideas


How a physician uses EFT

Important Note: This article was written prior to 2010 and is now outdated. Please use my newest advancement, Optimal EFT. It is more efficient, more powerful and clearly explained in my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™.  Best wishes, Gary

Hi Everyone,

Listen in as Chuck Gebhardt MD tells of the methods he uses in his medical practice. Among other things he says, "As with all energy approaches, the risk and cost is near zero and in some cases illnesses unresponsive to conventional medicine respond in dramatic fashion.  These are strong arguments for using these techniques prior to higher risk medical strategies in many cases."

Hugs, Gary

By Chuck Gebhardt, MD

I have received a number of responses to my article about the treatment of an allergic reaction to a flu shot that appeared earlier in this newsletter.  I want to thank everyone who responded for their kind and encouraging remarks and to reply to the many requests for more details as well as requests for more information about my credentials as a physician.

I certainly understand the need for verification of credentials since the case I described seems so incredible.  This credential information may also help those who want to show my flu shot article to a physician or other therapist who is not familiar with energy medicine techniques. 

I received my medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.  I am board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.  I have had a busy outpatient and hospital practice in Albany, Georgia for the last 20 years.  I have also been the President of the South Georgia Physicians Association (an independent practice association with over 200 physician members) for the past 10 years and I was the president of the medical staff of one of out local hospitals in 2005 and 2006.  I include these last two positions only to show that my colleagues trust my integrity and my judgment.

I will call this new technique: "Superficial Meridian Stimulation" for convenience in referring to it.  I call it superficial since it does not directly deal with the core emotional issues that EFT does so well.  I use the term "meridian" since the only effective points I have found have been part of the traditional Chinese meridians that have been so well described by acupuncturists for thousands of years.  I have found it to be a useful augmentation to both my standard medical care as well as the use of EFT, but obviously not replacing either one of these.

As an introduction to the technique, I think it will be helpful to relate how I developed it.


I first encountered energy medicine techniques about a year ago when I read about survivors of war atrocities in Kosovo who dramatically improved with these methods.  I researched a number of energy therapies on the internet and found EFT to be not only the best documented by far, but also the most practical for me to try in my busy medical office.  After downloading the EFT manual and viewing the introductory CD's, I tried the technique for several patients with phobias and found it to be quite effective.

As it happened, one of my patients with a phobia for driving over bridges happened to have a headache at the time I was treating her with the EFT protocol.  While I was tapping on her collarbone points she told me her headache started improving as soon as I began tapping.  When I tapped other acupoints there was no further improvement. 

When I went back to the collarbone points there was additional improvement in her headache.  When I finished her treatment I found that not only did the EFT treatment resolve her phobia, tapping on that one point for a few seconds relieved a headache that she had suffered with for days and which was resistant to her usual headache medications.  I realized that I had come across a technique that would allow me to quickly and easily search for acupoints that might help all sorts of problems.  Further testing confirmed my initial impression.

At this point I will fairly briefly run through the technique in the current stage of its evolution to allow others to give it a try if they so desire.


I have not made any changes in my usual approach to my patients even when I use the meridian stimulation technique during a visit.  I take my usual history and do whatever exam that I feel is indicated to be sure I properly investigate significant complaints for any underlying pathology.  When I come across a problem or symptom that is a good candidate for this technique, I typically add it on at the end, after I have prescribed or adjusted the usual medications and treatments.

If my patient has not experienced this technique before, it is crucial that an explanation be provided that they can relate to (i.e., an effective bridge).  I most often describe it as "acupuncture without needles", since just about everyone has heard about acupuncture.

Next, I ask them to assign an "artificial" level out of 10 to their discomfort as they are currently experiencing it, with zero being no discomfort at all (a version of the level of intensity rating).  I explain to them that I will tap on various acupoints and I ask them to report immediately if, "the discomfort gets worse, if it gets better, or if anything else happening anywhere in your body," as I tap.

I then begin the search for effective acupoints by selecting several and stimulating them for about 5 seconds to see if there is any response.  (I will describe how I select acupoints in a later part of this article.)  Usually, a point that is going to respond will do so within 3 of 4 seconds.  Once I find a point or points that work, I request a new level of intensity to keep track of how it is going, I make note of the points that work and move on to test the next set of points.

If a point causes a sense of relaxation or warmth or other pleasant sensation somewhere in the body, I interpret this as encouraging and also make a note of it.  If a point causes discomfort somewhere or if the target symptoms get worse, I have learned to interpret this as an encouraging sign that I will find other points that will help.  Of course, I immediately stop stimulating that point so as to not induce further discomfort.

Sometimes, no points respond to a reasonable search effort (usually about 2 minutes of searching).  In this case I wrap up by saying something like: "Well this was worth a try, if it had worked for you it could have been quite useful."

If I am successful in finding several different points that decrease the level of intensity rating, I will often instruct my patient in self-treating.  Usually, with further effort, we can get the symptom to zero or very close.  I then ask my patient to pay attention to how long the beneficial effect lasts to report back to me later.  I also encourage experimentation at home to try to bring the symptoms back down should the symptoms worsen again.  I then explain that even if the initial response is minimal, repeated attempts may do a lot better later.

I finish by scheduling the follow-up visit, making a brief note of the final level of intensity rating and making a list of effective points in my office record.  I find this whole process usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes.  The benefits of this extra time spent is well worth it.  One indication of how well these interventions work is that it is pretty common for my patients to not need to fill the prescriptions I provide for them to treat their symptom or problem.

Next I will discuss some of the fine points I have found useful in point selection.


For those who are not familiar with the EFT standard recipe acupoint locations, a convenient chart can be found in the free EFT manual that can be obtained from the site.  This limited set of points is enough to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technique, but to begin to use it with its true potential you may want to significantly expand the number of acupoints available to you. 

The more acupoints I know the more effective my efforts have become.  Acupuncture books that include good point charts are also readily available.  In addition, there are a fair number of sites on the internet to download free charts. 

In general, the points closest to the site of the symptom are a little more likely to be effective than more distal points.  However, I am constantly surprised when I find situations where a point like the base of a fingernail improves an unrelated area like low back pain.  As you probably know, meridians and acupoints are mirror images of each other from left to right on our bodies. 

Usually, though, when a point on one side of the body has an effect the mirror image point doesn't, or it may have the opposite effect or even produce a response in a different area of the body.  It is important to stay alert and pay close attention to what is happening.  Everyone is different.  With this technique, it would be futile to try to apply a standard set of points for a given symptom or body location.

I typically try 50 or 60 points for a given problem (unless I find several useful points right way or one that is 100% effective early on).  This may seem like it would take quite a long time, but with the approach I am about to describe it can be done pretty quickly.


Acupoints are small, typically a few millimeters in diameter and they vary in location somewhat from person to person.  Accordingly, when I am tapping a single point I group all five of the digits of my hand into a larger tapping surface to increase the chances that I will hit the correct spot.

When searching for useful points and when there are 2, 3 or even 4 points within reach of the fingers of one hand, I will tap them simultaneously.  I also use both hands simultaneously in searching for useful points.  After I discover that a group of points produces a useful result, I then go back and check each point individually to determine the active one.  Tapping multiple points in this way is a big time saver.

Once I find several points, I will simultaneously tap them to more rapidly resolve the symptom.  I pause about every 10 seconds to ask for a new level of intensity rating.  If I find that the response has stopped improving and has leveled out, I then conclude that the maximum benefit for this session has been reached.

How hard do I tap?  I imagine I am tapping a drum and I want it to just barely sound a note.  Tapping harder does not improve the effect.  It is also notable that for some people just touching the point without tapping brings the level of intensity down more quickly than tapping, for others tapping is better.


When the symptom I am targeting has no underlying pathology, it is not uncommon to be able to eliminate it permanently in one treatment.

When there is chronic, unresolved pathology underlying a symptom, a good response may last for hours or days.  In this case, if a patient is properly motivated and instructed, they can self-treat as needed.  Such a strategy often augments or decreases the need for medication.  In some cases, the need for medication is eliminated entirely.

Unfortunately, it is also not uncommon for my efforts to provide no benefit or for the benefit to be so transient as to be of no use.  I have seen cases, though, where I've initially failed and then tried again on a subsequent day with a very good result.

Another possibility to be aware of is that a certain point or set of points will work in one session but the next effort produces a totally different pattern of effective points.  I wish I could predict all these possibilities, but at this point in time all I know to do is try and see what is working at the moment.

Next, I will briefly summarize what I have found to date about the types of symptoms where this approach has been useful.


Virtually every type of unpleasant sensation or symptom that my patients have reported that they are experiencing at the time of my office visit have responded in at least a few cases.  The easiest type of problem to treat, by far, is pain or discomfort that is present even as my patient sits motionless.  These problems are easiest because you can test the response continuously as you stimulate the acupoints by having your patient report changes as they happen.

When the pain or discomfort is only present during certain movements, or only when you press on problem areas it is tougher to use this technique successfully.  It takes longer because you most stimulate a given set of points for a while then stop to reassess progress periodically.  The biggest problem, though, is the difficulty in trying to be sure that you are consistent in moving a given joint the same way each time or that you press on the tender area with equal vigor to be sure there is a true change.

Highly responsive problems that I have noted to date include muscle sprains, fractures, surgical incision pain, headaches, back pain, gout flares, allergic reactions to insect bites, stomach pain and nausea from many causes.  Sinus congestion from allergies or viruses almost always respond well at first but improvement is often short-lived. 

I have been amazed how well numbness, pain and hypersensitive areas of skin from acute flares of multiple sclerosis and even long standing peripheral neuropathies respond to these simple interventions.  Loss of balance, weakness and dizziness sometimes respond.  I have not used this technique much with emotional distress, but the few times I have tried it has seemed to work well.  (I usually use a continuous tapping approach with emotional distress. This works exceptionally well)I will wrap with some thoughts about this technique which I hope will be useful.


For those who already use EFT or other energy therapies, I believe this technique will augment their usefulness.  As with all energy approaches, the risk and cost is near zero and in some cases illnesses unresponsive to conventional medicine respond in dramatic fashion.  These are strong arguments for using these techniques prior to higher risk medical strategies in many cases.

In my opinion EFT has enormous potential to introduce energy methods to clinicians who are unaware of their benefits.  By making use of the technique I have just described, though, it may be even easier to introduce energy methods effectively.  One could copy the page out of the EFT manual picturing the standard EFT tapping points, add a copy of this article and provide them to an interested clinician. 

The clinician could then test it on the next few patients with something straightforward like a headache.  At least one of those patients or clients is bound to have a clear, beneficial response.  There is nothing like positive personal experience to break down prejudice against a new and radically different treatment.

Perhaps the greatest value of this technique is what it clearly demonstrates about the mechanism of how the effects are achieved for energy therapies that rely on the stimulation of acupoints.  One unequivocal conclusion I have arrived at is that it does not operate as a placebo effect nor as a type of hypnotic suggestion.  I say this with such certainty since most of my patients are completely naïve to the approach and have no prior expectations. 

The benefits that are obtained occur only when very specific points are stimulated, the benefits stop accruing when the stimulation is stopped and restart when the point is further stimulated.  Tapping other points does nothing.  Neither the patient nor I know which points will work until they experience the effect.  Placebos and hypnosis do not work in this fashion.

The mechanism is also not simply a pain blocking effect.  I say this because I have witnessed peripheral neuropathies reversed by acupoint stimulation with significant return of normal sensation.  Pain blockage does not return normal sensation.  In addition, I frequently see edema, warmth and tenderness from inflammation disappear as I tap and observe.  Blocking pain never reverses signs of inflammation.

The dramatic improvements and cures we are producing every day indicate that traditional western medical understanding and theory are currently missing something very important.  Somehow, we need to get to the point that a lot more medical researchers accept energy therapies and seriously research their mechanisms. 

Since we lack unequivocal evidence for the mechanisms behind the effects we are producing and our methods seem to violate established scientific theory, our findings are easily ignored by most medical researchers.  It seems to me that the grassroots approach of demonstrating to more and more people how well energy treatments work and slowly but surely engaging more medical clinicians will eventually create a momentum that traditional medical science will yield to and take seriously.

I congratulate all the members of this newsletter for their contributions in moving us forward toward this goal.

Chuck Gebhardt, MD


Explore our newest advancement, Optimal EFT™, by reading my free e-book, The Unseen Therapist™. More efficient. More powerful.