doubt on serotonin theory of depression

New Study Casts Doubt on Serotonin Theory of Depression

For decades, many people in the public, clinicians, and the scientific community have accepted the "chemical imbalance" explanation of depression. However, a new study by review by Moncreiff et al (2022) challenges this long-held belief. Their comprehensive review found scant evidence linking low serotonin levels to depression. This finding has significant implications for understanding and treating this complex mental health condition and casts doubt on the serotonin theory of depression.

The theory:

The serotonin theory of depression proposes that low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin cause depression symptoms. This theory has influenced public perception and treatment approaches for many years. However, the lack of robust scientific evidence supporting this theory has raised concerns among researchers.

The study setup:

Moncreiff and colleagues conducted a meticulous review of existing research on serotonin and depression. They analyzed data from 17 diverse studies, including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and genetic studies.

Study results cast doubt on serotonin theory of depression:

  • The review found no consistent evidence to support the link between low serotonin and depression.
  • Studies examining serotonin metabolites, plasma serotonin levels, and receptor activity did not show a clear connection to depression.
  • Interestingly, some evidence suggests that long-term antidepressant use might actually decrease serotonin levels.
  • Genetic studies also failed to find a significant association between the serotonin transporter gene and depression.

Beyond the Headlines:

These findings challenge the oversimplification of depression as a solely "chemical imbalance". While further research is needed, this study highlights the importance of considering broader factors that contribute to depression, such as psychological, social, and environmental influences.

Moving Forward:

Understanding the limitations of the serotonin theory can pave the way for more holistic and individualized approaches to treating depression. This includes exploring a wider range of therapeutic options, including therapy, lifestyle modifications, and alternative treatment modalities.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, it's crucial to seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide personalized guidance and support to develop an effective treatment plan. You can find an ACEP-aligned clinician here.

Do you love research? Stay up to date with the research on energy psychology here or ask to be added to the research mailing list.

Author bio:

Sarah Murphy, LPC, ACP-EFT, is an ACEP board member and communications committee chair. She is a counselor in private practice and specializes in working with people who have serious illnesses. A student of the Ageless Wisdom, she is dedicated to sharing the Great Invocation.

Crisis as a Path to Growth

Humans grow through crises. I am one of those who definitely and intensely resisted the crises I had to face and the sacrifices I was forced to make as I struggled along my path of personal growth. I recall having a joking-but-serious conversation with what I imagined was my Higher Self: She had the crook of a cane in the corner of my mouth, pulling at my cheek, saying in a Groucho Marx sort of tone: “We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.” So far, it seems to be a mix of both. It seems that crisis is a path to growth, and recognizing that may help us maintain some poise as we navigate the crises that punctuate our lives.

The burning ground

The burning ground burns, indeed. Human growth happens under the great law of sacrifice, and that law is associated with pain. Interestingly, it is said that in other places in the universe, sacrifice means bliss; but for us here on earth, it surely, unmistakably, and quite unavoidably, means pain. The best lessons in life are usually the least comfortable. Keeping this perspective keeps me grounded when I sit with clients who are truly suffering. It also helps when I’m in the midst of personal struggle.

Yet as much as crisis is awful and unavoidable, there can be moments of utter bliss – even during times of deepest despair. I can’t speak for everyone, but this certainly has been the case for me. I wonder whether we may all have experienced a strange mixture of bliss and pain that exemplifies the point – and points, perhaps, to a blissful future.

Transcending emotions through sacrifice

One of the greatest struggles that we humans face is loosening the grip of our emotional bodies and becoming more poised, more mindful, more grounded. This is not to say we should try to kill our feelings. It means that we feel deeply, compassion and pain, joy and heartache, bliss and boredom. But we don’t let those feelings drive our decisions and run our lives. Because when we do, we will find the ugly and unmanaged ones can destroy our relationships, our inner peace, and our reputations.

The law of sacrifice always means the death of the lower forms, whether they are the subtle bodies, like our emotional or astral body, or the physical body. These little forms are sacrificed to the evolving Self which we really are. There are human examples of this law of sacrifice playing out in triumph, of form being sacrificed to Life, and we can turn to some of the more famous of these examples when we need a little fortification. These exemplars include the Christ and the Buddha. The Christ demonstrated sacrifice and physical death, and the Buddha demonstrated sacrifice and death of desire.

Another example comes from the life of Vivekananda, who founded the Vedanta Society of New York in 1894. Some of his letters survive today. In April 1900, he wrote to one of his friends and supporters, saying that “I am very well indeed” yet “the glamour is off life. …Things are losing all their relative proportions to me, my body among the first…” About a year later, Vivekananda deliberately and consciously left the body, attaining the mahasamadhi (15:13).

Treading the Path

So, as we are called to make our sacrifices, let’s remember the example of those who have trod the path before us, and take heart, keep the faith, and keep thinking things through. Once we have endured the ordeal and the burning ground has done its work, the light, love, and will of the soul, with its group focus, will shine forth, the lower giving way to the higher. In the meantime, we face the fact, again and again, that crisis as a path to growth.

These are important points for us to remember as we tread our path, and it is also helpful always to remember that we are parts forming a whole. Indeed, humanity as a whole seems to be teetering on the brink of an expansion of consciousness. Clearly, just as it is difficult for the individual, so it is difficult for the collective, made up of these individuals.

There are examples of this everywhere. The news brings us stories of upheaval and tragedy around the world. It is probably not by accident that in parallel with our increased intercommunication, the impulse to help and to alleviate suffering is strong and growing. The whole idea of human suffering becomes less theoretical and more real when we see the faces of those who suffer.

Crisis as a path to growth

While crisis leads to growth, unresolved trauma can also temporarily trap people in a cycle of pain and despair. Fortunately, energy psychology tools are helping to resolve these traumas and free people to once again journey along their path of growth. This is particularly important because in the case of PTSD, simply shining the light of the mind on the problem is not effective; in fact, it is often retraumatizing. On the other hand, involving the body and energy systems is helpful indeed, and energy psychology tools do just that. Energy follows thought, and in this case, it seems that emotions and thought also follow energy in a virtuous upward healing cycle.

Trauma can be acute, like the kinds of events that we typically associate with PTSD – war, car crashes, rape, assault. However, the effects of adverse childhood experiences, or childhood trauma, tend to be more long-lasting, and they can be as devastating as they are insidious. They play a role in a lot of the problems and dysfunction that drive our fellow humans to do the dysfunctional, counterproductive, and pain-inducing things they do. People with a high rate of childhood traumas (such as poverty, violence, abuse, neglect) end up more likely to have relationship problems, health problems, obesity, addiction, poverty, depression, anxiety, and even have a higher chance of developing cancer.

Crisis in the collective

Although these problems are personal, in another sense their cause is collective, and I suspect the best solutions will happen at the collective level as well. As we look for solutions, we come back to the group: humanity continues to evolve, we will eradicate the problems of poverty, as well as the problems of neglect and abuse. In the meantime, as more people heal from their traumatic experiences, they will be free to progress again upon the Path of growth, and the collective will move ahead.

On this hopeful note, let’s wend our way back from the mundane to the sublime. Under the Law of Sacrifice, the lower always gives way to the higher, and we experience it often as crisis, suffering, and pain. This is the hallmark of life on Earth. Crisis is a path to growth. For us, it will be soul love, which is group love and which is what we really are, that allows the light of progress to stream in. As we tread our paths, passing through the harrowing experiences that spur us to grow, let’s rely on the love, strength, and clear thoughts of our higher Self and our fellow travelers to sustain us. We struggle up toward the mountaintop, sometimes lending a hand, sometimes needing a hand, but we never travel alone.

Author: Sarah Murphy, LPC, ACP-EFT
Sarah Murphy is ACEP board secretary and communications committee chair. She is a counselor in private practice and specializes in working with people who have serious illnesses.


scavenger hunt


We are not like you, Brooke.

I definitely come between these people and their Calvins.

(Or Sevens, or Lee, or True Religion...).

I keep things comfy.

Bet you don’t know that I’m a relatively modern invention

(less than 300 years old).

And only in the ‘60’s did I get colorful!



I’m mostly worn by men,

And of a certain age.

Today, I have to confess,

I am not all the rage.

I’m reminiscent of other days,

Of suit coats and collar stays.

In older issues of GQ,

I was often center stage.



You like me more in summer.

I keep your insides cool,

By cooling the things that you drink.




You like me more in winter.

I warm you up

When you drink me in.




Remember me from elementary years

(Though I matter still these days).

You oft did me in before the long part nears

Even just half her size.

My peers, who come in many shapes and colors,

And always very smart

Make it easier to correct your errors.

Five ways to take care of ourselves during turbulent times

It seems like everywhere we look all we see are problems. Given this, it is not surprising that according to the WHO, mental health problems are on the rise all over the world. While it is normal to feel upset when the whole world seems to be falling apart, we can take steps to reduce our feelings of distress. When we do that, we are better able to be a part of the solution – or at least, not create more of our own problems. Here are five of our favorite techniques to take care of ourselves during turbulent times:

Create a ritual of soothing.

The habits we create are the foundation of our experiences. To counteract the constant drumbeat of negativity, we need to set aside time to connect with our inner being, to calm our nervous system, and to relax our emotions and minds. Rituals are a great way to help ourselves feel secure and grounded. They can be small things, like hugging your partner when you come home (or emerge from your home office) or having a cup of chamomile tea before bed. They can be bigger events, too, like taking the family on a yearly trip to the local botanical garden to see the holiday display. Whatever ritual you create, pack it with intention. It is an opportunity to ground your energy, center yourself, and get back to the core of You.

Manage your energy with a little R4R self-soothing.

You may already have a favorite energy psychology exercise or two. It could be your daily meditation, or regular EFT or TFT tapping program. Maybe you balance your energy with some yoga or tai chi. If you had a practice but abandoned it, now is a great time to get back to it! If you don’t have a go-to favorite, check out the simple and effective exercises from our Resources for Resilience site. A dedicated and inspired team of ACEP volunteers put these together in response to the Pulse nightclub shooting. They wanted to get self-soothing tools to people in need. It is a fabulous resource, with nearly two dozen exercises broken down into five categories. All of the exercises are energy psychology or energy medicine standards, easy to use and super effective.

Go on a news diet.

Our parents used to read the news every morning, and maybe watch the evening news. Today, the constant reminder of the world’s problems can make us feel more distressed and less secure. We know that news outlets use amped-up headlines to get us to click on the stories. Worse, all those reminders do not do a single thing to help solve the problems. So, go on a news diet. Turn off your New York Times notifications. Set a boundary on the time you spend on Threads. Don’t read the comments below your YouTube news stories. Give yourself some limits so that you can live your life. You’ll still know what is going on, without being bombarded by doom and gloom stories.

Savor the good times.

Rick Hanson tells us that we are hardwired to notice, encode, and rehearse negative experiences much more than positive ones. When our ancestors needed to remember where the saber tooth tiger lived, it was a protective habit. Today, it is more destructive and leads to mental health problems like depression and anxiety. To counteract this negativity bias, Hanson recommends savoring good times. His Taking in the Good explains a 3-4 step process of noticing when something good happens, savoring the feeling for 10-30 seconds, and intending that the experience is becoming a part of you.

Get to work!

We can get overwhelmed by the tremendous world need, and sometimes feel responsible for solving all the world’s problems. Of course, we can’t actually solve all the world problems, and that sad fact can leave us feeling hopeless, helpless, and ineffective. But we are not. As Margaret Mead told us so clearly, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Our task is to find our area of influence and work at it. As each of us is dedicated to doing our small part of the work, thousands and thousands are doing the same. We are working together, even if we don’t know each other at all. We are creating ripple effects that will reverberate all over the world. Look how far we have already come! There is every reason to believe that it will keep going, and that we are doing our small part, together, to change the world.

We need to take care of ourselves during turbulent times.

Everyone needs self-care and healthy boundaries. It is especially important for those who spend their lives and careers taking care of others. Remember, you can’t give from an empty cup. And you matter!

Are you a clinician or stakeholder wanting to bring EP to your community? Enroll in ACEP’s free R4R training.

Want to learn more, deepen your skills, and build your community while earning continuing education credits?

Get trained in TFT or EFT. No matter what, please support ACEP!


Sarah Murphy, LPC, ACP-EFT, is an ACEP board member and communications committee chair. She is a counselor in private practice and specializes in working with people who have serious illnesses. A student of the Ageless Wisdom, she is dedicated to sharing the Great Invocation.

Pre-surgical fear

How to reduce pre-surgical fear? A study says, try EFT!

Many people who are facing surgery are looking for ways to reduce pre-surgical fear. Those of us who work with energy psychology understand how tools like EFT can help. For instance, I (Sarah) have often used EFT with my clients who are fearful of an upcoming operation, and I know – and my clients learned! – how effective it is.

Until now, there have not been clinical trials to back this up. The October 6, 2023, edition of the Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing changed that! They published a study by Menevse and Yavla to study the effectiveness of EFT for pre-surgical fear. Results show that, indeed, EFT significantly reduced fear by 54.4%.

The study setup

The research used a pretest, post-test, and randomized controlled experimental research design. A total of 112 patients participated and were randomly divided into EFT experimental and control groups. In order to have data to compare, the control group received standard treatment practices. Meanwhile, the experimental group received EFT.


Researchers used a patient information form, an Anxiety Specific to Surgery Questionnaire, a Surgical Fear Questionnaire, and Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) to collect the research data. There were no significant difference between the groups in terms of descriptive and clinical features (P > .05).

The surgery

All participants were facing laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This is a surgical procedure where the surgeon removes the gall bladder through small punctures in the abdomen to permit the insertion of a laparoscope and surgical instruments.


The post-test score averages of EFT group in the Surgical Fear Questionnaire, Anxiety Specific to Surgery Questionnaire, and SUD were significantly lower than in the control group (P < .001). Significantly, EFT reduced the SUD scores of the patients by 54.4% (P < .001).

The authors concluded:  "EFT was found to be useful in clinical practice in the preoperative period, reducing surgery-specific anxiety and surgical fear. EFT can be recommended for application during the preoperative period in clinics."

Why this study matters.

How to reduce pre-surgical fear and anxiety is an important question for patients and providers. Clinicians and healthcare workers can help their patients by sharing EFT. Most people would love a tool that gives them a 50+% reduction in their fear. That tool exists, and we should be using it.

 Want to learn more?

ACEP offers gold-standard training, designed especially for licensed clinicians, in EFT. Want to learn more while earning CE’s? Take our science of energy healing course. You can stay up to date with the research on energy psychology here, or ask research committee chair John Freedom to add you to the research mailing list. Want to be involved in energy psychology research? You can participate in ACEP’s research collaboration with Peta Stapleton.


John Freedom, CEHP, serves as chairman of ACEP’s research committee. The author of Heal Yourself with Emotional Freedom Technique, he presents seminars and events throughout the US and in Europe.

Sarah Murphy, LPC, ACP-EFT, is an ACEP board member and communications committee chair. She is a counselor in private practice and specializes in working with people who have serious illnesses.

a new way to heal traumatic memories

Logosynthesis: A New Approach to Healing Traumatic Memories

Logosynthesis® is an integrative energy psychology approach to healing and development that uses the power of words to resolve disturbing memories, fearful fantasies, and limiting beliefs. It is a relatively new form of Energy Psychology, and there had been no formal research conducted on it until recently. EP therapist and PhD candidate Natasha Jones recently completed and published her doctoral dissertation, A New Approach to Healing Traumatic Memories: Using Logosynthesis® to Resolve Subjective Units of Distress Associated with Intimate Partner Violence. Her research documented the effectiveness of this powerful technique.


Dutch/Swiss psychologist Dr. Lammers created Logosynthesis®. He discovered that his process of resolving blocks seems to restore the flow of life energy. Individuals reported experiencing an increase in energy after using Logosynthesis. This increase in energy, Lammers says, directly impacts our ability to be present. This allows us to complete tasks and to increase productivity. It seems to reduce reactivity to stressful triggers and emotional memories. Moreover, individuals reported significant improvement in mood and emotions in as little as one session.

The study setup

Four females, aged 35-41, participated in the study. Two identified as African American, and two identified as mixed-race African American and American Indian/Alaskan Native. They were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. The study was conducted online during four sessions over seven weeks and included a 30-day follow-up.

Study results

The study documented that two sessions of Logosynthesis® lowered the subjective units of distress (SUDS) as well as frequency of intrusive memories. The mean SUDS rating of the treatment group before the first session was 6; after the second, it was 0; at 30-day follow-up, it remained 0. Meanwhile, SUDS rating in the control group was 5.5 before the first session; 2 after the second session; and 5 at 30-day follow-up. These results demonstrate that Logosynthesis not only reduced SUDS, but that the results lasted. Moreover, participants reported that they no longer had intrusive memories, and even “struggled to recreate the memory.”

A new approach to healing traumatic memories

Logosynthesis® is a newer and less-researched method in the family of energy psychology therapies. This research is broadening the breadth of knowledge of the field, and helps us shift the paradigm to bring powerful healing techniques to more people.

Are you hungry for more?

Learn more about Logosynthesis here. You can stay up to date with the research on energy psychology and ask to be added to the research mailing list. Want to participate in energy psychology research? Join ACEP’s collaboration with Peta Stapleton. Do you like research? You can earn continuing education credits while learning about the science of energy healing!


John Freedom, CEHP, serves as chairman of ACEP’s research committee. The author of Heal Yourself with Emotional Freedom Technique, he presents seminars and events throughout the US and in Europe.

Sarah Murphy, LPC, ACP-EFT, is an ACEP board member and communications committee chair. She is a counselor in private practice and specializes in working with people who have serious illnesses.

Energy Psychology in Pakistan: Meet Shazia Shahzadi

Shazia Shahzadi is a psychologist in Pakistan where she has been working tirelessly to bring the benefits of energy psychology (EP) to her community. Since 2005, she has been using energy psychology in Pakistan, gaining a following and helping improve lives! In addition to her work with individual clients, she has led groups and workshops, including to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The gift of EP

Shazia holds three master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees, all focused on psychology and speech pathology. When she stumbled upon energy psychology (EP), she was intrigued. Her openness led her to experiment and learn more, and she found – as we do – that using EP gets better results, faster.

She first tried EP with her friends and family. Then she decided to take the practice further, using EP with her patients and students. She has used EP successfully with doctors, nurses, businesspeople, and athletes. She found EP especially helpful with her clients during the pandemic.

She uses EP to treat typical psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress, frustration, grief, and sleep disorders. In addition, she has treated communication difficulties and relationship issues with EP.

Energy Psychology in Pakistan

Initially, people in Pakistan were extremely skeptical of EP, she says. They asked, “what are you doing?” However, she did not stop! She says she motivated herself, intending that one day, people would come to her asking for energy psychology.

Indeed, today people in Alhamdulillah, Pakistan come to see her especially for EP sessions. They report that after the sessions they feel good. They relax instantly and appreciate the practice. In addition to EFT tapping, she says, she usually uses progressive relaxation, breathing exercises, therapeutic music, and her own soothing and relaxing voice.

A shining star

Shazia is leading the charge, bringing EP to Pakistan. Her tireless work and positive attitude have helped overcome the initial challenges, and today she is a leader in her community. Along with her EP work, she is an assistant professor, consultant in applied clinical, positive, and energy psychology, consultant in clinical speech pathology, and a mind-behavior transformational specialist.

August 2023 was an important month for Shazia. She was appointed director of the Lions Club in Islamabad, Pakistan. And an article on which she was the lead researcher appeared in an international medical journal.

Paying it forward

Are you a clinician or stakeholder wanting to bring EP to your community? Enroll in ACEP’s free R4R training. If you’d like to deepen your skills and build your community while earning continuing education credits, enroll in ACEP’s EFT certification. If you would like to help spread the word about EP, support ACEP.


Sarah Murphy, LPC, ACP-EFT, is an ACEP board member and communications committee chair. She is a counselor in private practice and specializes in working with people who have serious illnesses.


Treating Adverse Childhood Experiences with Tapping

David Feinstein contributed an article to Frontiers in Psychology’s recent edition which focused on “Changing the Score the Body Keeps: Somatic Therapies for Adverse Childhood Experiences.” David’s article, Using energy psychology to remediate emotional wounds rooted in childhood trauma: preliminary clinical guidelines appears in the October 18, 2023 edition. The paper provides a rationale and a roadmap for treating adverse childhood experiences with tapping (a form of energy psychology, or EP). It reviews EP’s efficacy and possible mechanisms of action, explores how tapping techniques interface with neural networks involved in childhood trauma, and suggests ways to incorporate tapping in therapeutic work with survivors of childhood trauma.

The ACEs

In the late 1990’s, researchers at Kaiser Permanente discovered a strong connection between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and problems during adulthood. ACEs are generally divided into three categories: abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. Higher numbers of ACEs are related to increased risk in health problems, mental health, and lifestyle difficulties.

As serious as the consequences of ACEs are, few psychotherapeutic interventions are effective in treating them. As Bessel van der Kolk memorably pointed out in his book, The Body Keeps the Score – and involving the body in healing leads to better outcomes. Other researchers have pointed to mind-body therapies as effective approaches for people suffering from the aftermath of childhood trauma.

The framework

Upon this framework, David proposes EP as a mind-body tool that may be particularly helpful in overcoming ACEs. EP emerged in the 1990’s, when it was largely ridiculed and dismissed by the mainstream establishment. However, its proponents found it quite effective! Today, more than 2 million downloads of the EFT phone app testify to its popularity. Moreover, a body of research points to its efficacy.


The paper includes an easy-to-digest review of the research on EP. David summarizes many studies and meta-analyses of EP. Additionally, he cites the amazing results that Sakai et al (2010) found after treating children who had survived the genocide in Rwanda. In that case, 47 out of 50 participants no longer met diagnostic criteria for PTSD after a single session. In treating PTSD, according to Stapleton et al (2023), tapping gets results in four to ten sessions. By comparison, it takes eight to 15 sessions of CBT to treat PTSD, according to Watkins et al (2018).


Is acupoint tapping a worthless exercise or an essential component of EP? David points to his 2023 review which found that five of six studies found that acupoint tapping is indeed relevant. In addition, a 2021 study by Mehdipour et al adds to the list.

In his 2021 paper, David outlines five empirically-supported premises that support the validity of acupoint stimulation. These include:

  1. Tapping creates an electrical impulse.
  2. These impulses turn on, or turn off, brain regions involved in treatment.
  3. The words and images used while tapping activate the relevant brain regions, calling the electrical signals to them.
  4. This creates neural changes, which make the benefits long-lasting.
  5. Tapping leads to other physiological shifts, including stress hormones, gene expression, immune function, cardiovascular function, and brainwave patterns.

How tapping is a good neurological fit for ACEs

Three neural networks are relevant to ACEs, as they may have become impaired during childhood brain development. These are:

  1. The salience network, which distinguishes the important from the unimportant. An impaired salience network can lead to hyperarousal, numbing, or both.
  2. The central executive network, which involves attention, self-regulation, working memory, and decision-making. This is where fear structure is coded, and mis-wiring here can cause a mismatch between threat or danger and a safe or unsafe response.
  3. The default mode network, which is responsible for our relaxed thoughts, reflections, daydreams, and where we reexperience past trauma. ACES can change the default mode network, causing a distorted memory retrieval, more distress upon these retrievals, and a biased view of interpersonal experiences.

David explains that tapping can help heal the salience network by pairing exposure therapy, which is highly arousing, with tapping, which is calming. This seems to depotentiate the neural network involved in the trauma memory. As the salience network calms down, the central executive network may reprocess data unconsciously. Moreover, tapping can address the mis-wiring of this network directly. Finally, as the salience and central executive networks become calmer, the ruminations of the default mode network may shift as well, becoming less distorted.

Treating adverse childhood experiences with EP

While there are few recommendations for treating adverse childhood experiences, the International Society for the Traumatic Stress Studies has investigated approaches to treating complex PTSD (cPTSD), which often involves childhood trauma. Among the cluster of cPTSD symptoms, David reports, the most important to treat seem to be poor self-concept, poor emotion regulation, and relationship problems.

The literature recommends a three-segment approach to therapy. Focus first on safety, then on trauma memory processing, and finally on generalizing gains. Within this framework, it is important to be somewhat flexible. Other life events will almost certainly arise and need attention. These clients may need continued follow-up care for tune-ups or as new stressors arise.


There are guidelines for using EFT to treat PTSD, and these can inform work with clients who have experiences ACEs. It is important to remember that the symptoms were initially adaptive responses to adversity. It is essential that therapists instill hope. Goals must be collaboratively created with the client. Finally, clinicians must be extra sensitive to their clients’ trauma histories. They may do well to interface with other treatment providers to help improve understanding.

David recommends introducing tapping “as early as prudent” by using it to address a low-level stressor such as an upcoming task. EP incorporates distress rating at every round of tapping. This is a great way to keep clients engaged in the treatment and assessment of progress. Moreover, EP allows gradual approaches to trauma memories, with each session allowing for a deeper dive into the memory. Perhaps most importantly, EP allows for downregulation during treatment at any time.

For these reasons, EP may be a great tool to bring to work with clients who have experienced ACEs or who have cPTSD. Kudos to David Feinstein for another well-researched and well-written paper that helps further the field of energy psychology!

Paying it forward

Are you a teacher or school employee? You can get trained to bring powerful energy psychology techniques to your school with ACEP’s free EP in Schools training. Are you a clinician or stakeholder wanting to bring EP to your community? Enroll in ACEP’s free R4R training. Want to build your energy psychology skills? Get trained in TFT or EFT. Click here to support ACEP. Stay up to date with the research on energy psychology here.

introduction to the meridians

Introduction to the meridians and the acupoints

A meridian researcher claimed that “if we do not understand the meridians, it is hard to understand TCM (traditional Chinese medicine).” In the world of energy psychology, we can add that we cannot really understand energy psychology tapping unless we understand the concept of the meridians. Interestingly, the meridians are very closely related to the nadis of Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. The ancients seem to have understood something about how energy flows through our bodies and affects our health and wellbeing. Here is an overview of what they knew, and an introduction to the meridians.

Introduction to the meridians.

Energy flows through our system along a pair of major vessels and a set of lesser meridians. The energy, or chi, moves throughout the body along these lines. Each line relates to a bodily organ and an emotion or set of emotions. We begin our coverage with the two major vessels, and then proceed to the twelve meridians following the order of tapping points from EFT, TFT, and TTT from top to bottom!

The governing vessel.

The tapping point for the governing vessel is the point on the upper lip under the nose. The vessel itself runs from there to the bottom of the coccyx. The governing vessel, along with the central vessel, store chi and “blood” for the twelve meridians.

We can trace lack of movement and pain to problems with the governing vessel. Additionally, there are several emotional issues related to the governing vessel. These include embarrassment and self-esteem issues. What’s more, they are related to the future and how we envision our future and our future self.

The central vessel.

The central vessel is sometimes called the conception vessel. Its tapping point is the spot under the bottom lip at the chin crease. The central vessel runs from the perineum to the bottom lip. Along with its partner the governing vessel, it stores chi and “blood” for the meridians.

If you experience issues related to sexuality and the organs of reproduction, you may be experiencing issues with your central vessel. (Menopause symptoms, anyone?) Imbalances in the central vessel also leave us feeling weak or depleted. Now, on the emotional side, problems like shame and inability to launch future projects may come down to a problem with the central vessel.

The bladder meridian.

The treatment point for the bladder meridian is located at the inside eyebrow corner by the bridge of the nose. Predictably, the bladder meridian relates to bladder functions. This is not only elimination, but possibly lower back pain and even problems sleeping.

The emotions associated with the bladder meridian include irritability. Additionally, the bladder meridian is an important point for trauma. Some schools of thought hold that the bladder meridian also relates to jealousy and suspicion.

The gall bladder meridian.

The gall bladder meridian’s treatment point is at the outside of the eye. Just as the gall bladder creates bile which we use to digest food, its meridian relates to digestion. Other issues related to the gall bladder meridian are headaches and jaw tension as well as pain in certain joints.

The emotions we associate with the gall bladder are visceral anger: rage, fury, and wrath. On the other hand, some schools of thought hold that the gall bladder relates to decision making and the ability to make sound judgments.

The stomach meridian.

The tapping point for the stomach meridian is under the eye. This meridian is related to digestion and imbalances lead to indigestion, reflux, belching, and nausea.

Fear and anxiety are the emotions we most commonly associate with the stomach meridian. Imbalances of the stomach meridian can also lead to greed or disgust.

The kidney meridian.

The kidney meridian tapping point is located just below the notches of the collar bones. This is the K27 point, which is renowned for alleviating anxiety! Kidney meridian issues include issues with urination, as well as night sweats, dry mouth, and memory problems.

Fear and anxiety are the main emotions we associate with the kidney meridian. To illustrate the point, people who are insecure or aloof may be experiencing problems with the kidney meridian.

The spleen meridian.

We use the point under the arms at the bra strap area to access the spleen meridian. As the spleen relates to our immune system and production of red and white blood cells, issues related to spleen meridian imbalances include tiredness, bleeding and bruising, a heavy menstrual flow, as well as poor digestion and a distended abdomen.

Worry much? If so, you may have an imbalance in your spleen meridian. Other issues related to the spleen meridian include overthinking and being obsessed with things.

The liver meridian.

The liver meridian tapping point used in TFT and TTT is on the bottom rib under the nipple, the LR 14 point. Surprisingly, this liver meridian point is not activated in EFT. Apparently, many larger-breasted women felt uncomfortable accessing the point! However, some classically trained, long-term EFT’ers out there still use it. Interestingly, there is another liver meridian point, the LR 13, just below the spleen point we use in tapping. We are probably getting a two-fer when we tap under our arms!

Headaches, dizziness, and eye issues may signify issues with the liver meridian. The main emotion we associate with the liver meridian is anger. Irritability, resentment, bitterness, and flying off the handle can also relate to liver meridian imbalances.

The lung meridian.

The lung meridian tapping point we use is at the thumb nail bed on the side away from the index finger. Issues related to the lung meridian, not surprisingly, include all the respiratory issues like coughing, congestion, breathing issues, sore throat, and loss of voice.

Sadness and grief are the emotions associated with the lung meridian. Interestingly, EFT does not activate the lung meridian directly. Neither does it directly use the large intestine, pericardium, or heart meridian. However, we may use these points we tap on the top of the head, for instance, and also if we use the fingers of one hand to stimulate the side of the hand during the setup phase.

The large intestine meridian.

The large intestine treatment point used in energy psychology tapping protocols is on the index fingernail bed on the thumb side of the hand. Not surprisingly, problems with the large intestine meridian include predictable culprits like constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Like the other finger points, these are activated in EFT during the setup phase and tapping the top of the head.

The emotions we associate with the large intestine include guilt. Other schools of thought, however, hold that the large intestine meridian relates to sadness and grief, and that it works in tandem with the lung meridian.

The pericardium meridian.

The tapping point for the pericardium is on the fingernail bed of the middle finger on the side close to the index finger. Symptoms of an imbalance here can range from restlessness to fluttery chest to chest pain.

The emotions we associate with the pericardium include life flow and issues related to sexuality. Additionally, others hold that the pericardium meridian is responsible for extreme emotions, including bipolar kinds of mood swings.

The heart meridian.

The heart meridian tapping point is on the fingernail bed of the little or pinky finger on the side closest to the ring finger. Again, as with the other finger points, these are activated in EFT during the setup phase and tapping the top of the head. Issues related to an imbalance in the heart meridian include high blood pressure and heart palpitations. Heart meridian emotions include hatred and specific anger as well as anxiety and insomnia.

The small intestine meridian.

The small intestine tapping point is familiar to everyone who does tapping: It is the side of the hand, where we do our setup statements and begin our tapping series. Issues related to the small intestine include pain in the cervical spine, shoulders, and shoulder blades as well as tongue sores.

Emotions that we associate with an imbalance in the small intestine include vulnerability and sadness. More importantly, the small intestine meridian helps us sort out our emotions. Just as the small intestines themselves separate the pure and useful from the impure that we eliminate, the small intestine meridian separates the pure emotions from the impure ones that we want to eliminate.

The thyroid or triple warmer meridian.

The tapping point for the triple warmer meridian is located on the back of the hand between the bones leading to the pinky and ring fingers. Indeed, this spot will be familiar to anyone who does the 9-gamut. Issues chiefly related to the triple warmer meridian include pain, swelling, problems with urination, problems with hearing and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Emotions that we associate with a blocked triple warmer include depression, overwhelm, stress, and sadness.

Now, what will you do with your introduction to the meridians?

Now that you have this basic understanding of the meridians, what will you do with your knowledge? All things considered, if you are a licensed clinician and would like to put this energy to use in your practice, consider ACEP’s EFT training, specifically designed for licensed mental health professionals. And don't forget to check out our foundations of energy psychology blog series!


Author bio:

Sarah Murphy, LPC, ACP-EFT, is an ACEP Board member and chair of its communications committee. She has a private practice where she specializes in helping people with serious or chronic illness.

research on energy psychology

Research on energy psychology: study validates the effectiveness HMR

Brent Baum and his colleagues researched the feasibility of Holographic Memory Resolution, or HMR, to alleviate depression, anxiety, pain and PTSD. They found patients’ depression, anxiety, symptom burden, and PTSD all decreased after just four 90-minute HMR sessions. The online journal Psychiatric Research and Clinical Practice published the study, The Use of Holographic Memory Resolution to Improve the physical and biopsychosocial symptoms of chronic pain: A feasibility, mixed methods study. It is exciting to see more research on energy psychology!

The theory

HMR is a bodymind therapeutic approach that incorporates verbal and somatic components to access and heal traumatic memories. Brent Baum, a psychotherapist and former Catholic priest, founded the method. He and his colleagues decided to investigate HMR as a protocol to address the symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and pain.

The study setup

The mixed-methods study included 60 adults. The study excluded individuals taking mood altering substances.  Eighty-five of the subjects were female, and 87% were Caucasian. Fifty-two percent reported high risk for toxic stress. Researchers used the Generalized Anxiety Disorder - 7, the Patient Health Questionnaire, the Somatic Symptom Scale, the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5, and the Subjective Vitality Scale to assess symptoms.  Participants received four 90-minute HMR sessions.

Study results

Four symptoms decreased significantly: depression (p = 0.05), anxiety (p = 0.03), symptom burden (p < 0.01) and PTSD symptoms (p = 0.01); vitality improved as well. The authors concluded, “HMR may be a feasible intervention to address chronic pain and accompanying biopsychosocial symptoms; a randomized controlled trial is the next step to measure efficacy. Unlike other mind‐based therapies, HMR® participants use their own internal language for identification and resolution of the pain. The trauma imprinting can then be gently addressed, and the memory‐based components of pain resolved or reduced, which empowers participants to improve their well‐being.”

Growing research on energy psychology

This study adds to the growing body of research showing that integrative approaches to mental health can be quite effective. And we are excited to see non-tapping therapies getting some research attention!

Do you love research? You can stay up to date with the research on energy psychology here, and ask research committee chair John Freedom at to add you to his research mailing list. Learn about the science of energy healing (and earn continuing education credits)! Want to be involved in energy psychology research? You can participate in ACEP’s collaboration with Peta Stapleton. Learn more here.


Author bios:

John Freedom, CEHP, serves as chairman of ACEP’s research committee.  The author of Heal Yourself with Emotional Freedom Technique, he presents seminars and events throughout the US and in Europe.

Sarah Murphy, LPC, ACP-EFT, is an ACEP board member and communications committee chair. She is a counselor in private practice and specializes in working with people who have serious illnesses.