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What's the Difference Between EMDR and EFT Tapping? | They're 2 popular options to heal trauma, both backed by science. Read on to learn what's the difference between EMDR and EFT Tapping.

I’m super excited for today’s podcast episode because I’m bringing on my first guest expert ever!

I had the honor of interviewing one of my dear colleagues. Some of the things we discussed are:

  • What inspired you to become an EMDR and EFT Tapping Practitioner?
  • What’s the difference between EMDR and EFT Tapping?
  • In which cases would we pick one modality over the other?
  • What should we look for in a practitioner?

Now, I’ve had guests on my show before… I co-created a live EFT Tapping session with a guest on the fear of being seen in episode #37 and self-doubt about success in episode #39

But I first got the idea of welcoming other experts when I kept getting asked, What’s the difference between EMDR and EFT Tapping?

Other ways to heal trauma

In my research interviews, people often tell me they’re open to other ways of healing trauma than traditional talk therapy.

EMDR and EFT Tapping are two popular options, both backed by science. So how does one choose?

I thought, I know someone who does both EMDR and EFT… Why not record our conversation and share it with others?

I’m grateful that my colleague Jennifer “Taz” Vazquez agreed to share her wisdom with us today!

Taz is a Licensed Mental Health Counseling Associate, an EFT Master Practitioner, Life Coach, Fitness Instructor, Writer and a Veteran.

With over 29 years of coaching, mentoring, leadership and counseling experience, she specializes in helping others overcome PTSD, trauma, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and navigating challenging life transitions.

Taz is a life-long servant leader and learner. She retired from the Air Force in 2018 after 25 years of service. While she had a successful military career, she spent her adult life battling depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, low self-esteem and suicide ideation and successfully overcoming these challenges. 

She’s now on a mission to let others know they’re not alone and they can live a SoulFULL life of:

  • Passion (love of self, others, community)
  • Purpose (your calling, professionally and personally) and
  • Play (zest and hope)

As a fitness instructor, she loves teaching dance, cardio kickboxing and Rock Steady Boxing (for people with Parkinson’s disease).

Our intention for this conversation is to help you understand the difference between EMDR and EFT Tapping, so you can make an informed decision on your healing journey.


What’s the Difference Between EMDR and EFT Tapping?

*This transcript has been lightly edited for ease of reading.

Annie: Hi, Taz! Thank you so much for joining me in this podcast episode. I’m super excited to have you here.

As an EMDR Therapist and EFT Practitioner, you’re going to bring us so much insight that my audience has been asking me about. So thank you so much for being here.

Taz: Thank you so much, Annie.

We were just recalling that we’ve known each other for about four years now and just our love of being able to serve and help people and then being able to bring EFT to make it really accessible for others.

I’m excited to talk more about that and EMDR. So thank you so much for having me on your podcast.

Annie: Oh, my pleasure. Well, let’s dive in!

My first question is what inspired you to become an EFT Practitioner and an EMDR Therapist?

Taz: So for me, my healing journey really is what inspired me or brought me to EFT.

I had gotten my Master’s in Counseling about 15 years ago and got introduced to EFT then. And I’ll be honest with you, I thought it was a little woo-woo at that time.

I was very much still in the military at the time and I was very much cognitive behavioral, just show me the facts. And so I had kind of discounted tapping.

Full circle, after I retired and was still on my healing journey from post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression, I was figuring out now what am I going to do in my life. And I was trying to decide what was going to happen.

Was I going to go back to being a therapist and finish my licensure at the time? Did I want to start all over with hours given the new state that I was in? And it was also COVID. So there was a lot of change that was happening in my life.

And I ended up deciding to be a coach, a life coach. And so I had gone down that route.

And along the way, I love geeking out on self-help and learning about what’s going on with the brain and body—always have.

And I came across a coach for coaches. She was an EFT Practitioner and she was doing a free webinar at the time. And it was for coaches who were feeling imposter syndrome, who were feeling money scarcity, things that I think most of us as we branch out into entrepreneurship, we go through at some point in time.

And I was like, “Alright, let me give this webinar a try”. And I was just in the audience, tapping along, and I was shocked because I’m like, “Oh my goodness, this actually works”. That’s what piqued my curiosity.

So then from there, I was like, “Alright, well, I want to add this into what I’m doing as a life coach”.

As I was researching different programs, I came across the Center for EFT Studies and that’s how we met.

Through that certification program, I realized how much I loved EFT and that I really wanted to have that as part of my practice. Along that way as well, I distinctly remember, I was still working through post-traumatic stress.

I remember one of the group classes where the instructor, Deborah, had said that she can tell in my voice—I had gotten emotional as I was talking about my history.

And she just stopped and she said, “Let’s tap on it”.

I’m like, “We’re doing this in the group? Let’s do it!”

Honestly, one session and that’s what it took for me to—because I had done a lot of healing work before—but that session really was the turning point for me in terms of my post-traumatic stress.

There were some other things along the way that also helped.

The Permission to Start Dreaming Foundation supports veterans and first responders. Their Warrior Path Program is a program that enables veterans and first responders to be able to have a space to learn 31 wellness practices and to realize that what happened in our past is what happened to us.

It’s not who we are. And then being able to take that post-traumatic stress and turn it from stress to thriving in our lives and then giving back. So that was also about the same time.

Then we did another session in another group with Deborah and, same thing, we worked on the military trauma that I had.

And then I continued to do my own self-work and then started working with others. And that just was a night and day difference.

‘Cause I remember distinctly there was one fourth of July here. In Washington state where I live, folks love fireworks.

And I used to hate fireworks because five, six, seven hours of just indiscriminate loud noises and my nervous system was so overstimulated and just on edge where I just wanted to hide under the covers.

That particular one after this journey, I was outside and all the cacophony—I mean, it sounded like a war zone—and I had tears streaming down my face, but it was because I wasn’t jumping.

I wasn’t kind of doing this with my nervous system. I was able just to take the sounds and the indiscriminate sounds and I was okay.

And I’m like, this is that freedom that we talk about—that emotional freedom—when you really process and reprocess those emotions and/or those memories to move them on into the past where they no longer are impacting you. They’re no longer triggering you. It’s so profound and such a huge difference that I’m like, “I want everybody to be aware what’s feasible when it comes to EFT and then EMDR”.

That’s the EFT journey. Along the way, being a practitioner, periodically, I kind of felt called, “Should I go back to counseling or to be a therapist?”

And I was like, “No, I’m fine not starting over. I love doing what I’m doing”.

And along the way, I got introduced to an opportunity of presenting an EFT workshop to EMDR Therapists and got invited to also take the course, the basic training.

And I jumped at it because like anything, I love learning, I love trying new things. I could really see the beauty and the integration that could take place and the healing and how the parallel, the ways they intersect, the ways they’re similar, the ways they’re different.

And I could just see that I wanted to do this. I did the training, loved it and said, “Alright, because EMDR is for licensed therapists only, I’m fine doing my thing as an EFT Practitioner and a coach”.

Along the way, that just kind of kept coming back up into my intuition. I realized I needed to listen to it because I really wanted, I was called to do EFT and EMDR. I love also art therapy and being able to integrate those with clients, so they can really have that freedom to live their life in the way they want with more passion, purpose and play.

And that’s why I’m so passionate about helping others and letting them know that they’re not alone, that there is help out there.

Annie: Wow, what an extraordinary story! Thank you, Taz. I don’t even know what to say. You’ve been through so much. I resonate so much when you found that emotional freedom with EFT. 

I mean, it is shocking. It’s amazing how transformed we can be in so little time. [EFT] needs to get out there more and more.

And it is, it is coming in. It’s in the mainstream, especially with Nick Ortner, all the mainstream channels we see.

Taz: Yeah, with The Tapping Solution.

Annie: It’s wonderful to see you grow in both modalities. I think that’s why it was so evident for me to invite you to my podcast because you have this unique perspective of being in the EFT and the EMDR world.

And I get clients who have experienced EMDR and who are looking for a new modality because they didn’t get what they needed in EMDR.

And then I also had clients who had a great experience with EMDR, but they feel like they need something different this time.

So both modalities can be helpful. It depends on each person and where they are on their path, what they need at that time.

And so I’m curious to hear more about that.

I don’t know if it’s necessary. Do you think that we should take just a minute or two to briefly explain the difference? What is EFT briefly and then what is EMDR? Just for those who don’t know.

What is EFT Tapping and EMDR Therapy?

Taz: So when it comes to EFT, if you think about it as a modality, it’s a way of integrating neuroscience, modern psychology and ancient Chinese medicine with acupuncture. It’s kind of an integration of those worlds.

Basically, you’re tapping along your acupuncture point. By tapping along those acupuncture points, you’re actually starting to automatically calm your nervous system, which is beautiful. By calming your nervous system and also by the dual awareness of the physical sensation of the tapping.

As we talk about whatever the issue is or the emotion as you’re doing the setup phrase or the reminder phrase, you’re keeping your attention in the present and you’re also working on something from the past. Usually, starting with a feeling—hence the emotional freedom—and working through that and processing those feelings. Because they tend to get stuck in the body if we haven’t processed something.

It doesn’t matter if it’s trauma, depression, anxiety, sports performance or enhancement, there are so many avenues that tapping is effective for. And that’s the beauty of it.

Now the difference is that it’s very accessible. We all can do it.

I like to share [EFT] with clients, even therapy clients. I show them tapping first if they’re comfortable with it. And that’s the biggest thing: Are they comfortable?

You said it beautifully. It depends on where they’re at on their journey, how comfortable they feel with the therapist or with the practitioner.

What are some of the underlying issues where they’re at?

Because for both modalities—the therapy and the modality—if someone is feeling very disassociated, disassociative or very stuck, and they’ve really numbed out in terms of their feeling comfortable changing or feeling comfortable because they’ve had to protect themselves for so long, you kind of have to work with that first.

Otherwise, you run the risk of neither one being very effective for a client. It’s really then about the relationship that you’re developing, the trust, that ability to feel safe with someone. That’s just as important.

And then on the EMDR side, as I mentioned, it’s for licensed therapists. It can be a little more intense because both kind of have an aspect…

In EFT, when we’re tapping on the back of the hand, closing the eyes, opening the eyes and moving them, it’s connecting left and right brain. EMDR is doing the same thing, traditionally, with that eye movement. 

The idea behind that is that through that eye movement, it mimics REM sleep, where our body and our brain are processing. And that’s where it’s reintegrating and processing emotions.

If it’s something that’s been interrupted, [the event] was so overwhelming or it happened over and over again and we lost our resilience to be able to process things, it gets stuck. It gets stuck in our brain, it gets stuck in our body. EMDR enables you to start processing that. 

It’s a little bit more intense because you’re doing it for a little longer in that sense. You’re enabling walking through a memory, starting it, letting them process it, letting them keep going. It gets to a point—kind of like tapping—where all of a sudden, there’s this acceptance, there’s this resolution and that reintegration of a memory.

But also, because the eye movement—just like the tapping—you’re keeping your nervous system within its window of tolerance. So that way you can stay with it. And then when you’re done, it’s kind of like riding a wave.

So it’s a little more intense, but then when you’re on the other side, the processing can be very complete and sometimes a little quicker, sometimes not.

Once again, it depends on the person because I’ve had clients in both sides where it’s taken longer. It’s not right or wrong. It’s just a matter of what feels more comfortable for a client at the time.

Annie: Yeah. So that takes me to my next question. How do we know then? If I’m a client looking for therapy or an alternative to therapy, I’m open to a new modality, I have the choice of EMDR and EFT.

There are many studies proving how effective both of them are for trauma. So how do we go about choosing one and in which cases would one modality be better than the other for a given person?

EMDR vs. EFT Tapping: Which one is better?

Taz: Good question. To start with, it kind of comes back to the relationship with the practitioner or with the therapist. 

Some people still have hangups in terms of going to a therapist.

Some prefer looking for a practitioner or someone that’s outside of the traditional medical or mental health model and then looking for alternatives, such as practitioners. Or on the energy side of the house or with Reiki or with other modalities.

And so it really depends on the person and what they’re looking for.

It also depends upon are they looking for just basics of, are they looking for insurance or not? Typically, because there are therapists who don’t take insurance. Or maybe they’re working with an agency or they’re part of insurance panels. And sometimes that financial constraint may be an impact, so then it’s looking at what’s feasible.

But beyond that, just in terms of which is which, it really depends on the person and the connection.

If practitioners just jumped too quickly into it, saying, “Alright, let’s get to your deepest, darkest, painful past”, it may spook someone and they’re never going to come back. They’re not ready yet.

It’s really about developing that connection and that rapport and that trust and holding that safe space to be able to see: Does this person feel safe? Does this person feel comfortable?

Education and information are really important because you want to— we’re just guides, right? But we want to make sure someone feels comfortable, tuning in and checking in with them. It’s not about us. It’s not our ego. It’s about them and making sure that we’re in that space.

Some people find this to be really weird. They’re like, “Hey, what is this tapping along your acupuncture points?” They don’t like it or it’s too weird at the time.

I’ve had clients who initially were like, “Nope, don’t like it”. And then after a period of time, they try it again and like, “Oh wow, okay, that does really work”. And so it just depends.

EMDR, there’s a process. It’s more of a scripted protocol where you’re guiding someone through. You’re not just jumping in because there is sometimes a little more activation, a little more processing that can be a little more intense.

And it’s not to say EFT can’t be because it can. It’s just, we tend to then stop, stop, stop to always bring things back down. And a good therapist will do the same thing on the EMDR side as well. But sometimes that’s kind of scary, that idea of going right into that.

And there are so many alternative ways to work tapping and EMDR. It doesn’t have to be this [moving her fingers left and right]. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable, there’s auditory, there’s tapping, there’s doing this [demonstrating Butterfly tapping].

That’s really that bilateral stimulation—that left, right, connecting the hemisphere. That’s the activation for the EMDR that helps the processing and the reprocessing of a maladaptive memory that got stuck.

And tapping is kind of doing a lot of the same thing. That dual action is really what’s key between both.

The nice thing is the tapping you can take with you, so you can keep doing it on your own.

And with both or with EMDR, we like to have additional resources before we really jump into the EMDR.

So can a person calm their nervous system on their own? Because if they can’t, it’s going to be really hard to do that reprocessing. And it may not be right for them.

Annie: Yes, yes. That’s one of the biggest concerns I have.

I hear from people—I do these free market research interviews in exchange for a free EFT session. And there are many people who come to me and they say, “I’m looking for a new modality. I feel like that’s what I need”.

And the thing with EFT is that it’s accessible. I love that I have a tool that I can use in between sessions. I really want that tool.

They’re looking for something where they can support themselves and feel empowered about their journey.

And I think it just makes sense. We don’t want to become dependent on a practitioner or on a therapist.

We want to be able to eventually give ourselves that support and co-regulate with friends and family instead of with a therapist. That’s the goal.

Taz: Very true.

Annie: So I guess it’s not quite… Someone would ask me, “Oh, this is the issue that I have. It’s childhood trauma. Which one is best?”

It’s more about maybe financial concerns, maybe what you’re comfortable with. If tapping seems a little too odd, maybe you should go towards EMDR.

Some people I meet have found more research on EMDR than EFT. But then they came to me, curious about EFT, tried the free EFT session/interview and had a better rapport with me than with their previous EMDR therapist. And they jumped into working with me.

And so I really think that is the key thing to finding the next therapist or practitioner you want to work with is how you feel in their presence.

Do you feel soothed by their presence? Do you feel safe?

Do they look you in the eyes? Even if it’s online, do you feel like this person is completely listening to you and you feel supported?

I think for a long time, I just assumed that that’s what all therapists do. And eventually people would tell me, “I don’t get that from my therapist” or “I had this really awful experience with this other therapist”. I was just so shocked.

But that’s just in any job, I guess there will be people who are more competent than others. There’s room for all of us and there’s room for improvement for even those who are very passionate and supportive.

Taz: And you think about the studies that are out there. So right now EMDR, on the mental health side of the house, so American Psychological Association and so on. EMDRIA, which is the national body for EMDR, those international and national bodies recognize EMDR as a kind of a gold star standard, along with talk therapy or exposure therapy or dialectic behavioral therapy for trauma.

Tapping is something that, while it came about around the same time, it kind of went the route for a while of “energy psychology”.

Dr. Peta Stapleton likes to talk about different waves of the mental health movement—from the traditional psychotherapy model to moving towards behavioral, to positive psychology, somatic and then this energy piece.

Tapping sometimes gets—like I did, not knowing what tapping was and like, “Oh, that’s woo-woo”. And there’s aspects there because it feels like it.

And depending on your spirituality, depending upon the practitioner and the other, where they’re coming from and their worldview and what experiences they bring to it, there may be more of that energy psychology piece to it or that energy aspect. That’s just something to be aware of.

With EFT, there are many well-renowned practitioners and/or therapists who do EFT like Dr. Peta Stapleton in Australia. She’s also leading, working to get EFT recognized like EMDR.

There’s actually a lot of evidence-based research on both. So that’s something to keep in mind. They’re both very effective.

It’s just right now, from a traditional standard, EMDR is what’s recognized and tapping is considered more of an alternative therapy.

Although the Department of Defense does recognize it as another second tier, meaning that it’s an effective modality.

And so progress is being made and over time, I fully expect to see EFT to be right there with EMDR.

Annie: Yeah, because we have the Veterans Stress Project, this nonprofit that helps veterans with free EFT sessions because it’s been proven so effective for PTSD.

In Australia, I think it’s Peta Stapleton who said that their insurance companies or certain insurance companies in Australia are accepting EFT. Yeah, it’s a very well-respected modality in Australia, apparently.

It’s just a question of time that it reaches all four corners of the world.

Taz: Yeah, and I’m part of the Veterans Stress Solution. I’m a provider that provides those free services for military, military families and veterans.

It’s beautiful to be able to support others on their journey, no matter where they’re at in that way.

Annie: I’m curious if you have anything else to say about what people should look for in a practitioner because they can go towards EFT and EMDR.

We touched on some points already, but what are the main keys we should look for in a practitioner?

What should we look for in an EFT Tapping or EMDR Practitioner?

Taz: I think for each person, they’re going to have to ask themselves, what is it that they want? Are they looking for something in particular? 

What’s [the practitioner’s] experience? What’s their background?

And it’s not so much pedigree. Where do they get their training from? It’s more along the lines of what experience do they have?

Are they comfortable working with trauma? Are they comfortable working with depression? Are they comfortable working with anxiety?

Same thing on the therapy side of the house.

You’re looking at, is this person going to help me feel safe so that I can work on what I want to work on?

And it may be, what is their experience with gender or gender roles or sexual orientation? Or are they comfortable with LGBTQIA+ [issues]? Different communities in that sense.

And so—

Annie: Cultural therapy.

Taz: Yeah, cultural therapy.

And so all of those, depending on the person, because they want to be validated, right? They want to feel heard and safe.

Because if they don’t feel safe and they can’t trust in that space, then they’re not going to heal. Their nervous system is just not going to let them do it.

Annie: We don’t heal alone. We have to learn how to co-regulate with someone—

Taz: Exactly.

Annie: —with whom we feel safe.

Taz: Yes. Exactly. Because we’re social creatures, right? And that’s part of our biology.

That’s why I think both modalities are so impactful over traditional talk therapy and some others, because of the fact that it’s keeping your nervous system within its window of tolerance.

And that’s what—that and then that dual attention, the past and present— is really what enables us as a practitioner or a therapist to help a client really start to process those memories and then reintegrate them into their long-term memory.

That way, trauma, “I was abused as a child and I had chocolate today”, little dramatic effect. But you can say those statements without feeling triggered, without feeling numb and just go, “Yep, they were part of my life. And here’s where I’m at now”.

I’m more in that post-traumatic growth phase, where we’re able to take whatever happened to us and then use it to be able to support others around us and then in our community.

Annie: Gosh, I think it’s so important to highlight the point about someone looking for a certain modality and considering the importance of the person’s wisdom, the person’s experience and what they’re bringing into the session as well.

There’s so much talk about different modalities… I think I just got a huge wake-up call today from my mentor that I am bringing so much more into my sessions than just EFT.

I tend to be a little too humble. If there’s some miraculous or amazing shifts that happen in a session, I say, “Oh yes, it’s the EFT”.

It’s an extraordinary tool. But I think that it’s so important also for us practitioners and for people who are looking for a new modality to consider the fact that the person you’re working with is bringing a lot more to the table than just the modality.

They have a certain energy that you’re attracted to for some reason.

Maybe you agree with their perspectives on life or you have the same values as them.

That all plays a huge role in that feeling of safety that we feel in a session and it can really boost the healing sessions.

Taz: Yeah, and that connection. Study after study shows that it’s not so much the modality or the therapy, right?

It’s really the connection, the relationship, that sense of trust and that co-regulation. Because without that, like we said, you’re not going to heal.

Annie: Yes, wonderful. I love this. Thank you so much, Taz. How can people connect with you?

Connect with Taz

Taz: The easiest way is going to be my website, which is

Of course, there’s always email or social media and I’m sure we’ll provide that so folks have it.

But the easiest way is

Annie: Okay, wonderful. And do you have a last comment, something that you want to leave listeners with?

Taz: If you’re listening to this, you’re identifying or curious or saying, “Hey, wait a minute, tapping or EMDR, I don’t know about those”, go try it.

I seriously say they’re life game changers. I am so passionate that there is such a sense of freedom and such a sense of soulfulness, of playfulness, of passion, of purpose when you have really gone down that road of your healing journey.

And it’s not a one-stop thing.

It takes time, but to be with it and to be in that process and to really know that healing is feasible.

And if you’re curious, go try tapping. If you’re curious, try EMDR. They really are life game changers for people.

Annie: Thank you so much, Taz. I so appreciate you and I appreciate what you’re doing in your work and how much love you’re bringing into everything that you do.

I just love watching you grow and seeing you support more and more people. You’re a luminous soul.

So thank you for being in this world and to be doing your work. We really need your presence. Thank you so much.

Taz: I appreciate it. And I feel the same about you.

Annie: It’s a pleasure. Thank you so much again and I’ll talk to you soon.

Connect with Taz via her coaching website, Instagram or email: For WA residents, check out the Northwest EMDR Therapy website or email Taz:

Want some free support?

I’m offering free EFT Tapping sessions in exchange for a short interview via Zoom.

I enjoy connecting with other women and learning about their challenges related to confidence, boundaries and relationships.

In the first 15 minutes, I’ll ask questions like “How did you discover me?” for new content ideas. In the last 15 minutes, you’ll get an EFT session to feel calm and clear. (Yes, things can shift that quickly.)

This offer isn’t a discovery call, where we discuss my paid services. It’s a fun opportunity to connect and support each other!

If you feel inspired to work with me, we can book a free call to make sure we’re a good fit.

I look forward to connecting with you!

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