Making sense of chronic disease using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): An existential view of illness

Mahima Kalla, Margaret Simmons, Anske Robinson, Peta Stapleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: This article explores chronic disease patients’ personal symbolic meanings of their diseases, as emergent from their experience of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) therapy. The present study is part of a larger study that explored chronic disease patients’ and EFT practitioners’ experiences of using EFT to support chronic disease healthcare. Design: Eight chronic disease patients who had received EFT were interviewed for this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted face to face, or via telephone, or the online videoconferencing platform, Zoom. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis methodology. Results: Three themes emerged, namely ‘illness as an embodiment of unresolved emotional issues’, ‘illness as body's call for time-out and attention’, and ‘illness as a boundary from other people’. Conclusion: EFT offers promise as a suitable therapeutic approach to help chronic disease patients make sense of their life stories and lived experiences, and consequently, symbolic meanings of diseases. The exploration of illness symbology and meaning-making may offer therapeutic value to patients, from both an existential and a health behaviors perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-224
Number of pages11
JournalExplore: the Journal of Science and Healing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Chronic disease
  • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
  • Illness construction
  • Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)
  • Symbolic disease

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