Tapping Assisted Psychotherapy (TAP)
After having been a traditional "talk therapist" for twenty-five years, I began to incorporate tapping, a form of self-administered acupressure, into the therapy process over five years ago. In 2014, I received Level I and II training in this energy modality with Susan Bushell, AAMET Master EFT trainer.
In October 2015 I was delighted and honoured to assist Dr. David Feinstein as one of his teaching assistants for a three-day Energy Psychology training he offered for mental health professionals at the Canadian Association for Integrative and Energy Therapies (CAIET) Conference in Victoria, British Columbia. David is truly a rock star in this field. You can find links to a few of his articles below.
Since 2014, I have used TAP with many dozens of clients in my private practice, and have taught tapping to hundreds of people though group trainings.
If you are unfamiliar with tapping, I've provided answers to Frequently Asked Questions about tapping, some key references, and a link to tapping instructions below.
What is tapping?
Tapping, also known as Energy Psychology (EP) or Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), is both a self-help tool – a safe, gentle, easy-to-learn, fast and effective way to deactivate the fight/flight/freeze response and relieve distress or overwhelm – and a clinical treatment tool, used to treat anxiety, trauma and a wide variety of other clinical issues.
What does tapping involve?
Tapping is a self-administered tool, and involves gentle, percussive stimulation (tapping) of key acupoints on the skin using one’s own fingertips. These specific points are some of the same acupoints that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. While we tap, we repeat key phrases. Tapping combines gentle acupressure and cognitive restructuring, and the outcomes are generally immediate. In therapy sessions, I guide my clients though the entire process.
Is this a new modality?
Although acupuncture is thousands of years old, tapping as such was developed in the 1980s by Dr. Roger Callahan, an American psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders (Thought Field Therapy, TFT), and then simplified in the 1990s by Gary Craig (Emotional Freedom Techniques, EFT). Tapping may be seen as a marriage of the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine and modern western psychology.
What is Tapping Assisted Psychotherapy (TAP)?
When I use tapping with my clients as a treatment modality, I integrate tapping into the psychotherapy process. My clients soon become very calm yet alert, and quickly gain new perspectives on their issues and in many cases are able to let go of long-held problems, including traumas. I use the term TAP to represent the process whereby we talk, tap, talk some more, tap some more, and so on. Simply put, the tapping enhances and informs the psychotherapy, and therapeutic outcomes are generally expedited because of the efficiency of this modality.
What kinds of problems can be treated using tapping?
In a clinical, therapeutic setting, tapping is used to enhance the therapy process and clinical outcomes. Its effectiveness has been demonstrated in the following areas:
Resolving trauma, including PTSD
· Eliminating phobias
· Treating other anxiety disorders, stress and overwhelm
· Shifting sense of guilt, jealousy, anger, shame, unremitting grief
· Assisting in the treatment of mild–moderate depression
· Achieving clarity around a problem or decision
Can I use tapping myself between sessions?
Yes! Tapping can be used easily as a self-help tool to reduce anxiety and overwhelm in the moment. My clients love the fact that it is so simple, fast, and is free and portable.
Tapping seems weird. Will it work if I am skeptical about it?
It is very natural to be skeptical about this modality. You are not alone. To many western-trained clinicians and lay people alike, the notion of using such a simple, mechanical tool to enhance therapy outcomes seems implausible and perhaps even laughable. Fortunately, one can be skeptical about it and it will be just as effective. Having been a "talk therapist" for over twenty-five years, I have been profoundly humbled by the depth of the contribution that this deceptively simple energy modality can make to our health and well-being.
Is tapping considered an evidence-based practice? Is there research to support its efficacy?
There is a growing body of research providing evidence of its efficacy, including many randomized controlled trials, published in a wide variety of peer-reviewed journals. The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP), continues to do an excellent job of gathering and disseminating the energy psychology research, which it makes very accessible through its website, www.energypsych.org. Anecdotally, my clients often experience, and make note of having made, transformational shifts when using TAP with me, even when they have worked on the same issues in traditional talk therapy in the past.
Selected Tapping References and Resources
(Please note: if links are broken or unavailable, all of these resources are in the public domain and can be found through a search in your browser).
AAMET International (UK)
Association for the Advancement of Meridian Energy Techniques
Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology
Canadian Association for Integrative and Energy Therapies
Church, Dawson. (2013). Clinical EFT as an Evidence-Based Practice for the Treatment of Psychological and Physiological Conditions. Psychology, 4, 645-654.
EFT Hub – Excellent Online Resources
Feinstein, David. (2018). Energy psychology: Efficacy, speed, mechanisms. Explore.
Feinstein, David. (2015). How Energy Psychology Changes Deep Emotional Learnings. The Neuropsychotherapist.
Feinstein, David. (2012). Acupoint stimulation in treating psychological disorders: Evidence of efficacy. Review of General Psychology, 16, 364-380. ©2012, American Psychological Association.
Feinstein, David. (2010). Energy Psychology: Snake Oil or Designer Tool for Neural Change?
Yordy, Jan. (2009). Be the Boss of Your Feelings! Emotional Freedom Techniques For Kids
Pat Carrington, Dawson Church, Gary Craig, Donna Eden, David Feinstein, Fred Gallo, Nick Ortner