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'Tapping': Crazy method, or effective life tool

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'Tapping': Crazy method, or effective life tool Image courtesy of the Tapping Solution

All over the world, there are people 'tapping on acupoints’ on their body. They say the process is helping them find balance and release stress and trauma from the body, and they say it is easy and effective. Now, more scientists, researchers and experts are showing that people that 'tap' in this way may be onto something. It is a new way of thinking when it comes to finding balance and a way to deal with stress, but does that mean it cannot work? 

Food for thought: Stress and trauma releasing methods are complex, require a lot of time and only work if conventional methods are used. Or ...not?


When the peculiar new tapping technique was introduced in the 1980s, it was not exactly welcomed with open arms, and it was soon ridiculed and brushed off as controversial. You had to tap in certain places on your body, and put some things into words at the same time, and today it is still considered strange that you could achieve something with it. Perhaps that's not too surprising, because we all think that if something is easy and straightforward, it can't be very effective. And yet, a lot has changed since that time. In particular, the number of people using this strange technique; all over the world and for all sorts of ailments. But also, the number of tests that have been done since, tests that all say over and over again: It works, for the relief of trauma, pain, fear, phobia, a variety of conditions and illnesses. But let's start at the beginning. What is this absurd technique?

How it works

According to people who use it, the process works thanks to the stimulating tapping on certain energy or acupuncture points, while the person articulates a physical or mental problem. This combination of Eastern-inspired acupressure points with Western psychology, proponents say, can help the body release stored energy or stress in the body, which could otherwise cause a range of mental and physical issues.

"When you experience a stressful, fearful, or traumatic event, your body releases cortisol—a stress hormone," writes  energy healer Carol Tuttle on her site. She also writes that: "The release of cortisol creates a memory of this event (whether conscious or subconscious) that disrupts the natural functions and energy flow in your body." This disruption, she writes, can "lead to chronic or acute illnesses, various injuries, physical or emotional pain," and even "certain negative psychological beliefs," which can turn into "negative relationships, financial problems, or low self-worth."

The words that are used in a session to express the problem are said to play an important role. When we tap at the same time, we can help calm the mind, explains Jessica Ortner from the Tapping Solution ─ a company that offers a comprehensive range of online solutions for a popular version of tapping called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) ─ during one of the site's online guided tapping sessions. Using words in this way can help us let go, and let the mind know it is OK. Even when we think these thoughts as it can help make them less powerful, she explains. In another online session she describes: "As we tap, we release the physical sensation that thought creates."

"Feeling safe to speak the truth about our current experience, not to anchor it in, but to acknowledge it and let go, is one of the most powerful things we can do to heal," says her brother Nick Ortner, the CEO of the Tapping Solution, in one of his guided EFT session recordings.

“Feeling safe to speak the truth about our current experience, not to anchor it in, but to acknowledge it and let go, is one of the most powerful things we can do to heal"

Jessica from the Tapping Solution

In practice

There are different forms of acupoint tapping, and, say some experts, the earliest formulation of the approach, Thought Field Therapy (TFT), and a popular derivative EFT, are still its most well-known versions today. Gary Craig is known as the founder of EFT and for his original and authentic form of EFT tapping. Today, the professional Gary Craig Official EFT™ training centres are ensuring the distribution of classical EFT around the world.

The technique of acupoint tapping is offered by dedicated and specially trained practitioners, sometimes as integrated into existing therapies. It can also be used as a self-help tool, and there are thousands of good, and sometimes not so good, guided tap videos and 'scripts' available online. Some experts liken the technique to a form of energy psychology and describe it as a combination of cognitive and exposure techniques (often used to help people face their fears).


Tapping is often used for stress and anxiety relief. The amygdala is known as the part of the brain where emotions 'get meaning, where they are remembered and linked to associations and reactions,' and acupoint tapping is especially known for helping to 'reset' the amygdala and create a strong reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. Or, as Tuttle describes it: Tapping can help "create a new energy pattern: Now in a safe, calm, and present state of mind."

"EFT Tapping helps to access the body's energy and send signals to the part of the brain that controls stress," wrote EFT Tapping Therapist Kim McPherson, a former nurse, in an article in the Australian Nursery and Midwifery Journal (ANMJ). McPherson, who told Breaking Perspectives she has been helping clients with eating disorders through EFT, refers in the article to an EFT study which was conducted among nursing students. Its researcher, Susan Patterson, had discovered "significant reductions in anxiety" among her test subjects. It was said that Patterson, who rated EFT as an "effective tool for stress management and anxiety relief," particularly found the "ease and convenience of the technique further enhanced by its immediate impact to be 'valued benefits.'"

“EFT Tapping helps to access the body's energy and send signals to the part of the brain that controls stress"

From insomnia to PTSD

But it’s not just stress and anxiety that tapping is used for, and since the initial controversy surrounding that strange new method of acupoint tapping in the 80s, as mentioned, a lot has happened.

It is now being estimated that "10 million people worldwide have used tapping," wrote Ortner in the Huffington Post. Today, an increasing number of people are finding benefit for a large variety of stress-related and other conditions, and tapping is now considered an "evidence-based, self-help therapeutic method," with over 100 studies that are said to "demonstrate its efficacy." It is said there has been a "growing body of evidence" that acupoint-tapping is "rapid and effective in producing beneficial outcomes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and possibly other conditions."

Burnout in health-care workers has shown "dramatic reductions" after EFT Tapping, and it is being found that, the efficacy of tapping in anxiety, phobias and PTSD extends across a wide sample of populations: From high-school students, veterans, pain patients, and overweight individuals to hospital patients. 

Certain forms of tapping are now also considered effective in psychology, and perhaps we can leave you with a reference to a paper of January 2007 in the Primary Care and Community Psychiatry journal, by Phil Mollon of the British Psychoanalytical Society, who wrote: "By working with the body's own facilities for encoding and releasing emotional information, TFT and energy psychology can provide the missing ingredient that vastly enhances the effectiveness of psychotherapy."

Mollon, who is the developer of something called Psychoanalytic Energy Psychotherapy [PEP], also asserted in the same journal that the combination of "gentle tapping and talking" can create "a powerful therapeutic synergy," and that it is one which can help "facilitate a speed and depth of change that can be truly astonishing."

When Mollon talked to Breaking Perspectives recently, he pointed to the fact that there is now, in fact, "considerable research to support the use of energy psychology, including a number of randomised controlled trials," and he said: "Energy Psychology methods, such as acupoint tapping, can be incorporated to enhance conventional talk-based psychotherapy greatly. By combining attention to the mind, body, and subtle energy system concurrently, we achieve a much greater effect than focussing on the mind alone. Emotions are of course bodily events as well as mental. The deeper patterns of emotion and behaviour are encoded in the subtle energy system."

“By combining attention to the mind, body, and subtle energy system concurrently, we achieve a much greater effect than focussing on the mind alone"

Growing body of evidence?

There have been conducted many studies on acupoint tapping. Here are just some samples of the many that are available online:

- EEG brain scans have shown a positive effect of tapping on combatting food cravings, and there has been talk about tapping being "more effective than psychodynamic, behavioural, or cognitive approaches"

- Tapping has been rated by some as having "strong efficacy, unusual speed, and special strengths in facilitating targeted shifts in the neural pathways that underlie psychological difficulties"

- The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has reportedly been looking at using Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and Emotional Freedom Technique(EFT) as one of its four PTSD research priorities 

According to some experts "clinical reports and early empirical evidence" have shown "acupoint stimulation to be substantially more powerful than other exposure -strategies such as progressive relaxation or diaphragmatic breathing"

- Acupoint tapping is also being used for psychotherapy uses, and is found to be helpful, for example, in case of old, conditioned thinking or thought patterns, and referring to the technique, wrote some experts, it has led to "conditioned fear pathways being overridden" 

Case Study:

Lydia Smith (real name known to Breaking Perspectives), 49, UK

When I first went to see an EFT practitioner, I was feeling pretty low. A relationship breakup after nine years, with the man I was hoping to be getting old with, as well as some various long-standing health issues, had brought me to her. I had sought and received treatments by many different medical doctors and other health professionals by then, as well as done a lot of self-development, but I was ready for something additional, something else, to put me firmly back on track.

It is hard to describe or put into words what happened that afternoon, but the closest would be this: I went into the door feeling low, depressed, desperate and hopeless, and I came back out with the sharp edges off of it, and a sense of hope. In the next days and weeks, my feelings of intense loneliness and sadness were still there, but in some way, they were less strong, had less power over me. My health also improved, and over time, I started to feel stronger mentally, as well as physically.

In fact, so astounded I was by its effect, that since that day, I continued my tapping with this practitioner on a regular basis and even over the years, even via video link if I was unable to come in. It seems to help me with all sorts of situations in life, and slowly I gained clarity, relief of pain, more improvement of health. I also learned the technique myself and still use it on a regular basis. I see it as part of a bigger picture (diet, lifestyle etc), and for me it works, it is convenient, it gives me a lot of power.

Acupoint tapping certainly involves a new way of thinking and a different approach to the norm, but does that mean it cannot work? What do you think? Or do you have your own EFT story to share?

Let us know!

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Brand new, international Life Mindstyle magazine, reflecting a variety of perspectives in different aspects of our daily lives. Are our perspectives our own? Are they good for us, for others, for the world? They might be, they might not be. Either way, wouldn't it be good to know? Be curious and see where it may take you. 

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