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 in early 2014. Later that year, I received Level I and II training in this energy modality with Susan Bushell, AAMET Master EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) trainer.
In early October 2015 I was delighted and honoured to be selected as a teaching assistant for Dr. David Feinstein at his Clinical Fast Track three day Energy Psychology training for mental health professionals at the Canadian Association for Integrative and Energy Therapies (CAIET) Conference in Victoria, British Columbia. Dr. Feinstein is truly a rock star in this field! You can find links to three of his articles on Energy Psychology, below.
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 of key acupoints on the skin using one’s own fingertips. These are 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.
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 talking.
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
· Reducing or eliminating cravings
· 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
· Reducing or eliminating pain
· Increasing capacity and potential in all spheres of life
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 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 energy therapy modality can make to our health and wellbeing.
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 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. Tapping is being used increasingly as a trauma treatment tool following natural and human-caused disasters in many countries throughout the world.
Selected Tapping References and Resources
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. (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